I am half black and half white. I did a 23&Me and truly am 51% white and 49% black, so I am the quintessential mixed girl.
Growing up, I was fortunate. I lived in a predominantly white neighborhood with my blonde-haired, blue-eyed mother. My mother would receive the occasional confused look when she picked me up from soccer practice and I received the occasional stereotypical messaging around being fast in track & field. However, for the most part, I never felt like being mixed was something that I needed to focus on. It was just a fact of who I was.
College is where my mixed race journey began. For context, I didn't get lucky with my freshman college roommate experience. She would not become my best friend and I did not find my core group that would be my tribe for the remainder of my four years. I didn't know why. I am pretty extroverted, I like to think I’m funny, and I am empathetic towards others. The perfect sauce of a friend, right? However, when I started to look around at the groups that were forming, it became apparent. People tended to group towards the familiar which is not uncommon behavior, but the homogeneity was exclusive. For the first time, I started to really feel like I didn't belong, I was going to be alone, and I wasn’t enough of one group/race to ever find my spot within the culture groups and social circles that surrounded me.
So sophomore year, in slight panic, I joined a sorority. At the time, I also had a boyfriend (who was also mixed race). The sorority was predominantly white, while my boyfriend was part of a multicultural fraternity, which was predominantly black. When I hung out with my sorority friends, I found myself straightening my hair. When I hung out with my boyfriend and his friends, I found myself wearing my hair naturally curly. This became my new reality. Every week, I would carefully plan out what my day looked like, who I was likely to encounter, and thereby I would determine how I needed to style my hair. I went through a mountain of curl serums and multiple flat irons. I could feel the toll of my identity crisis on my hair as it started to become dry, broken, and my curl patterns were less defined.
Then came the night I will always remember. I had both a sorority formal and an event with my boyfriend. I had to ultimately decide which identity I would choose for the night. I remember the shower running, the flat iron on and the room filling with my overwhelming anxiety and panic. I looked at myself in the mirror and just felt completely torn down and defeated. That night, I ended up staying in because I was “sick”.
On that same night, I called Ruby. I remember venting about my night and yelling that I could not be the only person feeling this way. The mixed race experience had to be one that was shared by others.
This is my story, and it’s one of the many reasons that we decided to start Mixed Millennial. We knew that our experiences were shared by others and we wanted to help elevate the voices of the mixed community. I am so excited to hear your stories, connect with you, and start these important conversations together!
Written by Taylor Clarkson