Identity

How Am I Doing? It’s Complicated.

When you have a mixed identity, you're trying to reconcile your own oppression as you understand your privilege as the oppressor.

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“How are you doing?” is such a weighted question. We’re conditioned to say, “I’m good.” But I’m here, I’m alive. And some days, that’s good enough for me right now.

There are days I want to cry, especially because I have to mourn by myself. What I’ve realized is when you’re someone of a mixed identity, you’re trying to understand your own privilege as the oppressor, but also come to terms with what it means to feel that oppression as well. It’s an intricate and delicate thing that I’m still unpacking and will continue to unpack the rest of my life. It’s hard to navigate.

Exploring My Identity

For me, it’s just been a lot of — no pun intended — mixed feelings. It’s been helpful to have community at work and outside of work with Girls in Tech, and to be able to have these conversations. They’re hard, but they’re so important.

It’s less about not identifying as black or feeling that there’s this idea of being blacker. But in a lot of the spaces that I’m in, it’s important to know when it’s my time to be vocal or when it’s my time to carry the weight.

Racism is just one of the isms. I think even within people of color communities, especially black communities, there’s this huge issue around colorism.

I’m just enough of a minority to check a box, but I’m not that scary stereotype. I’m coming to terms with the dichotomy of what that means.

I know and recognize that I have privilege. My mother is white, and I carry some of that with me as a partially white person, as someone who’s light-skinned. I know I’ve had a lot of passing privilege where I don’t have the same fears that some people do — for example, if I see a police officer, I’m not conditioned to have the same reaction.

For me knowing the way I show up or the way I’m visible as a black person in America is very different than for other people. For me to say that my experience is the same would be wrong and harmful to not only myself but to others. I need to recognize that I deserve to feel pain and that I’m allowed to feel that pain in my own identity, but also recognize that there’s an intersectionality to that. Then, it’s really important for me, when it’s appropriate, to make sure that those who are visibly black in our community are able to be in the spotlight and have their voices heard.

I’m the model minority. I’m the comfortable person. I’m light-skinned. I have the “good hair.” I’m usually the person that’s put in the spotlight because I’m just enough of a minority to check a box, but I’m not that scary stereotype. I’m coming to terms with the dichotomy of what that means.

Parts of Me Are Invisible

My father is also mixed. He’s black and indigenous, and my mother’s white. When you’re of multiple races, it sometimes feels like parts of you are invisible. You have to choose one, and so then, the others are invisible. It’s something I didn’t even realize that I was doing, but it shows up in so many ways in my life, even in dating. Dating is already hard, but when you’re a person of color and you’re also a plus-size person, it’s very easy to feel like you get lost in the crowd.

Looking back at every moment where I said something and I thought no one heard it or it didn’t matter, and then finding evidence contrary

I wonder: Am I just not putting the right photos out there? Am I not putting the right things in my bio? Or is it just that I get lost in the mix — that I’m less desirable in society. That can feel super isolating. It happens in dating. It happens in the workplace. It happens in our social lives.

When I Realized My Voice Has Power

I hired a life coach, and it was helpful to have someone help me recognize that I have already been visible in so many ways. I wasn’t able to see that. Looking back at every moment where I said something and I thought no one heard it or it didn’t matter, and then finding evidence contrary to that and seeing how many times what I’ve said mattered or how it impacted someone.

I know from the messages I get on my blog and on my Instagram that sharing my feelings helps others feel less alone. I think we forget how powerful that is. I don’t believe that we need to be fully affirmed externally by others, but I think when another person out there in the world sees you and is able to share in that experience with you — that is super powerful.

It’s been about finding that evidence to step up into my power and know that even if I don’t have the platform that I think I should have, or I want to have, or need to have in order to have an impact, that I already have enough to have what I do and say matter.