The Privilege of Racial Identity

Mixed people do not owe anyone an explanation for their Blackness.

Kiara Jackson

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I can’t, nor will I ever speak for all mixed-race people, because every story is different. Every story has its own challenges. But, I can try to speak for myself.

I can’t, nor will I ever speak for all mixed-race people, because every story is different. Every story has its own challenges. But, I can try to speak for myself.

No one gets to decide their race. But most people get the privilege to say “I’m Black,” or “I’m Native Hawaiian.” They get the privilege of knowing exactly where they come from, exactly what to tell people when asked and exactly what bubble to fill in on standardized tests. 

They get the privilege of racial identity.

Being mixed, you don’t get this same privilege. I can’t, nor will I ever speak for all mixed-race people, because every story is different. Every story has its own challenges. But, I can try to speak for myself. 

I am part Black and part white. While I identify as Black, present as Black, and see myself as Black, I am not always seen as just Black.

As a Black woman who is mixed with white, In a white supremacist society, I have the privilege of being a lighter shade of Black, and the privilege of being seen as closer to white because of it. 

What I don’t have, is the privilege of racial identity. 

I identify as Black. I am seen as Black. And racially I am Black. However, society has this idea that because I am mixed with white that I must be “superior” to my peers. 

When people — usually white people — find out that I’m mixed they have this idea that my mixed-ness means that I can’t experience Blackness, Black trauma, or the Black experience. 

They have this idea that my whiteness shapes my life experiences.

News flash: my whiteness isn’t what gets me followed around the store. 

My whiteness isn’t what makes people see me as an aggressive, angry Black woman. 

My whiteness isn’t what makes my heart skip a beat when I see a police officer. 

My whiteness isn’t what gets me called the n-word or causes people to make monkey sounds at me while passing Towers. 

My whiteness does not shape my experiences, and that is just a fact. 

Because we live in a society that upholds colorist ideas, I hold privileges that many of my Black counterparts don’t. However, I also face the same oppressions and oppressors as my fellow Black peers. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand my privileges.

I understand that people see me as more palatable, and I understand that people see me as being closer to white. 

But me being part white does not mean I am racially white. A person’s race is how a person appears. I look Black and I have Black in my DNA, therefore I am Black. 

I shouldn’t have to question what race box to choose on a test just because I’m mixed with white.

I should be told that I’m somehow “racist towards white people” because I only identify as Black. (Listen here Karen, you can’t be racist towards a majority group. Prejudice, yes. But racist, no.)

The privilege of an obvious racial identity is to not have people question your every experience just because you’re mixed. 

The privilege of racial identity is to not have to be told “you’re white too you know, start acting like it.”

It’s the privilege of not having your life questioned. 

So just a little PSA to anyone reading this: if a mixed person or a racially ambiguous person is talking about their experiences, please stop doubting them. 

Jackson can be reached at [email protected]