I once had a white co-worker say to me, “April, you’re not black, you’re whiter than me” stretching his arms to reveal his suntanned skin. I was insulted. I’m also insulted when a black man or woman tells me “If you're half black, you're all black.” Both are ignorant mentalities. As if I’m supposed to deny any part of my heritage simply because I look a certain way or because of some ignorant 1800’s race rule. I refuse to give into any of these ways of thinking because I am proud to be who I am. God made me this way, and it is a blessing – even with the ignorance I encounter. While I’ve had many negative experiences because of my insistence to claim both sides of my race, I am happy to be who I am because I was raised by wonderful parents. Unlike many biracial children, my parents are still together - 41 years and counting. Their union, along with their refusal to try to make me into anything I didn’t want to be has made my bi-racial experience a mostly healthy and loving one. While society has dished out some harsh realities regarding racism, my parents made it possible for me to survive it all.
As a child in elementary school, very often, what I heard when I met someone new was "Oh you’re April, that pretty mixed girl.” In high school, it was “Oh, you’re the one with the pretty hair I heard about.” This was generally from those in the black community. White people didn't seem to care about me. I now realize that was more of a class issue than a race one, although I did from time to time have a white person in high school say "oh, you’re that girl who hangs around all the black people." I'd then inform them that I hung around “black people” because I was black myself. In college, I discovered what some today call "hateration." Being so naive and sheltered as a child and teenager, going into my 20's I didn't understand why "hating" existed. But what I did understand was that not everyone was so positive about my bi-racial status. In the black community, women are very competitive with one another. This is unfortunate, because it’s the women that hold the black community together. If anything, we need to unite, not fight. If I had a dollar for all the hateful stares I've received, I'd be a billionaire.
The hateful stares usual occur when I’m on the arm of a black man. However, black men themselves at times have hated on me too. In my clubbing days, I was once at a black nightclub and a man sitting next to me - out of the blue, without saying as much of a hello said “What are you doing here? You light, bright, and damn near white.” The insults use to be really hurtful, and even now it gets frustrating constantly having to defend myself. But I realize it is society that makes some believe that lighter skin is better, in turn making them hate their own darker skin. More frustrating is the belief that my life is somehow easier because I’m light-skinned or “high-yellow,” because nothing could be farther from the truth.
Fortunately, all my experiences have not been all bad. I have met many beautiful black sisters and brothers who are completely accepting of my white skin, and treat me with love, and respect me as a fellow sister. And black men for the most part, love and accept me, but usually are taken aback when they discover my pride in being black. Some appreciate it, some don’t. Either way, I’m going to keep on being who I am because I refuse to give into any kind of hatred from whites or blacks. Because it is my mission in life to educate - not to hate.