Growing up as a biracial child with only knowing the white side of my family was something that shaped me as a person for a number of years. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that knowing that other half of me was vital for discovering that missing side of myself. This is the story of how growing up biracial lead me to finding myself.
Growing up in an all white household
By the time I was starting elementary school I had been living with my grandparents for half of my life. I remember that we lived in the middle of no where, the only things around were farmland and crops. My grandmother who I called nana would always wake up in the early morning hours and try to brush through the wild mass of curls. Both of my grandparents had little to no expertise when it came to my Shirley temple curls, so we always ended up putting it up in buns or ponytails. It wasn’t until my aunt would come over that she would deal with trying different hairstyles.
When it was summer break I would stay with my mom and siblings, I loved it but it was different. My mom is a white long blonde beauty with hazel eyes, but when I looked around at the people she introduced us too they weren’t. It was my first time meeting people that looked like me or around my shade of brown besides my siblings. I felt like I had been transported into another world.
Breaking through barriers
There was one time I had stayed with my mom over the summer where she had taken my sisters and I to get our hair braided. I knew absolutely nothing about getting braids besides the fact that I hated them. Whenever my nana, aunt, or mom tried to braid my hair it would hurt and I would cry until they gave up. My mom said that her friend had been braiding hair for years, and when she opened the door for us I was shocked.
The women was draped in a colorful patterned dress, and wore a head scarf styled in a way I had never seen before. I had never seen a woman like her before, throughout our time there she along with the others doing hair would speak in a language I didn’t recognize. What I did notice though was that she knew how to tame down my hair where it didn’t hurt, and weave it into a pattern I didn’t fight. She also used hot water to smooth down any hairs that stuck out. This was the first entry point into learning more about my black side.
You’re a white girl
Now even though I said that had been the entry point into learning more about my black side I wont lie and say the rest of the journey hasn’t been hard. Example one comes in when we moved away from Michigan to Arizona. Now coming from a school system that only had predominantly white children and switching into one where kids were white, brown, and black was a shock.
Throughout my school career people have called me ‘white girl’ or ‘Oreo’ and I used to feel hurt by it. I didn’t understand why people labeled me those names, until I grew up.
Today in college I have owned who I am. I don’t let labels bother me anymore. Instead I own who I am. I love being both races, because it’s the best of both worlds. It hasn’t been an easy process learning about different hair products, and finally stopping when it came to straightening my hair. I don’t have all the answers now but I am figuring it out one day at a time.