Sunday, May 31, 2009

Am I a token black friend?

Whatever someone looks like, that's what we call them. Barack Obama is black, Halle Berry is Black, but Jennifer Beals is white, as is Wentworth Miller. Each have a black parent and a white parent. People identify me as white, because that's how I look, though I am quick to correct people, and can't help getting a little angry when their response is "oh...ok". I hate that human nature makes us want to place people in certain groups, the way kids organize building blocks. I'll admit it, I don't have any close friends who are black. My husband is white, and the majority of our friends that we see on a regular basis were his friends first, so they're white as well. I can't lie, I feel guilty about this. I feel as though black people think that I think I'm better than them. The family that I've grown up with is the family on my mother's side. As a kid I never felt there was a difference between my cousins and I, but lately I do. I see very few of my cousins at all, and those times are few and far between. Is it because life gets in the way of seeing family, or is it because they just feel like they have nothing in common with me? I'm not exactly reaching out either. So now I wonder, to my friends, am I the token black friend? Sure, I'm just biracial, but I wonder how many comfort themselves with that, or use that to claim they aren't racist when someone takes something they said as such.

It used to be fun to slam people who don't know me when they use the N-word in front of me, but now it's just frustrating. I don't have the energy, time, or responsibility to teach people not to be morons.

ethacordulaheatherjuergen

Mom, Cord, Me, Dad, circa 1995 maybe. How ridic of a family photo is this? My poor dad is standing to the side like he isn't supposed to be there lol. I'm sad, all of my family is together in NY, except me. :(

14 comments:

TrishaRitchieNC said...

One of my favorite stories about being biracial is from my friend Linda. When her son David was a little boy, she tried to tell him about being "mixed" and he asked what that was. She said, "you're half black". A few minutes later she passed the bathroom to find David perched on the bathroom sink. She asked what he was doing, to which he replied "I'm trying to see which half is black". Bless him, David is a happy biracial man today.

Unlikely Oilfield Wife said...

@trisha, that's adorable!

The first time I realized that I was not like the other kids was in preschool. We were coloring the letter Q and a picture of a queen. I colored her brown, and the kid next to me asked me why. I said because my mom was brown, and a queen lol. He just shrugged his shoulders, and said ok. It was no big deal to him lol!

sixmats said...

The comment on Barack Obama is spot on. If he looked white, no one would have said that he was the first black president.

TrishaRitchieNC said...

To say you were "not like the other kids" would not be as true in today's world as it was even when you were a kid. I live in a very small town in the NC foothills, and there are many bi-racial kids - one whose grandparents live next door and one whose Mom works downtown. It does not seem to be a big deal here. The kids are just accepted as kids.

lemonseeds said...

I am loving this picture of your family, if only because of what you mentioned with your dad being cast off to the side, he looks all awkward and lonely hahaha

Re: Obama, Halle, etc. being labeled as black instead of both... classic 1-drop bullshit.

Kendra said...

LOL at your dad! My dad does the same thing. If I want to take a picture of him and my son, he's always like, "Oh, you want ME, too?"


And this is going to sound crazy (because I have bad vision AND I never remember anybody) but did you graduate from OHS in 1999?

Unlikely Oilfield Wife said...

@sixmats, exactly. Though I love what my sister said to me after he won, "you and I now have a president that represents OUR race!" lol. Thanks for the comment :)

Unlikely Oilfield Wife said...

@trisha, you're absoultely right. Even though I'm still ::ahem:: fairly young at 27 lol, it's amazing how much the world has changed. But sometimes it's sad to see how little it has. Shockingly enough, even here in southern Louisiana, things aren't, and haven't been, nearly as bad as I think some northerners might believe.

Unlikely Oilfield Wife said...

@lemonseeds, as a kid, some other kids would say that I was black because my mom was black. some said I was white because my dad was white (and he has the "seed"). I was too grossed out by it all to give a flip what they said though lol.

Unlikely Oilfield Wife said...

@Kendra, I left a comment on your blog. Small world!!

52 Faces said...

Very nice to meet you through the BlogHer ad network!

I'm not sure if you've addressed this elsewhere - what do you identify as? I always go with self-identity with the race issue.

I'm full-blooded Chinese (though extremely mixed as to what kind of Chinese) and that's how I identify myself, as well.

I know plenty of Asian and HAPA kids who don't identify with the Asian side at all. It's an added privilege of the HAPAs, especially those who "pass", to try to ignore the ethnic side if they want to (unfortunately lots of half-Asians identify as white, which always saddens me). My boyfriend's co-worker is half white, half Korean and he HATES his Korean side (and Korean mother) and pretty much tries to hide its existence, though he looks unmistakably HAPA.

Unlikely Oilfield Wife said...

@52faces, nice to meet you! I always identify myself as biracial, usually followed with my mother and my father's racial backgrounds (too much information for some! lol). Oh paperwork I tend to mark "other" or multiracial if it's available. In school I annoyed school and standardized test administration by always filling in both the black and white circles lol.

It's always a little sad when someone tries to pass as one half of themselves, or doesn't want to identify with it. I mean, there's always a time when passing will help you in life, but it's sad that that's the way it still is.

Thanks for your comment!

lovelila said...

Nice post. One of my former friends has a niece who looks white (blonde hair, I think green eyes), and she doesn't identify herself as exclusively white or black. She just says mixed. She grew up knowing both sides of her family.

Just Being Me said...

I am so glad you wrote this! Things like this have always confused me! People who usually share two races have to, at one point pick one. I have always wondered how they came to the decision they did! I always thought that (you know the whole dominate color thing....brown eyes are dominate over blue eyes so chances are you'd have brown eyes..) They would go with the dominate "color".

Funny thing about this subject is just the other day my Aunt was telling me about one year she enrolled my cousin Josh into school. My Uncle is black...she said they wouldn't allow her to select both race boxes and she had to pick on. She said what is the difference of which race he is. The lady told her that white kids would be subject to being bused to the other side of town (and something else, I don't remember what). My Aunt said she quickly told the lady...."okay, I guess he is black this year!" lol

It is strange that at this day and age it is still an issue. Won't be long before everyone is a mix of 5 or more things!