The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
What are you? I’ve been asked that question countless times. Whenever I meet someone new, that person is immediately itching to find out my background. You’d think it would get annoying after a while, but, in all honesty, I’d rather people ask than make assumptions.
Graphic by Anton Mwewa
I’m of mixed race. My father is African and my mother is European.
People always comment on how unique that sounds, and I always tell them it’s not unique at all.
The world’s mixed-race population is growing faster than ever in the 21st century. But despite all the strides it has made, things are still far from perfect.
Most people of mixed race have been fortunate enough not to have crises of identity. I, on the other hand, wasn’t that lucky. All my life I have been pushed and pulled in different directions to identify myself as either white or black. The problem is I am both and neither.
Many other mixed race individuals have fought this battle, and I will say this: it’s hard to find your own identity when everyone else is trying to create one for you.
I have never wanted to be associated with any particular race. I am proud to be what I am and I don’t need to feel part of a "whole." I have never wanted to be labelled just black or just white or anything else that I am not and I fail to understand why people can’t acknowledge that fact.
I found it slightly shocking that the One Drop Rule is still referenced and relevant today. For those who may not know, the One Drop Rule stated that a person with as little as one drop of black blood in their heritage is to be considered black – a slightly racist idea, don’t you think?
And so we have the rule, an echo of the United States’ racist past used today, albeit unmentioned, to classify a person of mixed race as black.
People have the right to determine their racial, sexual and national identities. No one, not even society, should have the right to tell anyone who or what he or she is. It is up to us to determine that for ourselves.
There are people of mixed race who feel more comfortable associating themselves with one side of their heritage and there is really nothing wrong with that.
However, when all of us are expected to pick and choose, or just fall in line with illusionary expectations, then it becomes a violation of our freedom.