Imagine growing up, you are from the best of both worlds. In reality it’s all one world. But the way society portrays these races, it would make you think one is better than the other.
On the outside looking in, I always felt like “mixed chicks” never really were teased about their looks. I didn’t think they have problems with identifying themselves or how others identify them. I used to get this vibe, that they thought they were better than others. Until I met my Afro-Latina friend, and she proved me all the way wrong. I love how dope her personality is and she definitely show me that being mixed gets a negative impact from society, just like being black does. I sat down and had a conversation with my friend to learn more. I wouldn’t think she experience, people coming at her because of her race. I wouldn’t think she was teased about her ethnicity or people guessing what she is. She has brown chocolate skin, with beautiful long flowing hair that some females would question her and ask if it’s a weave. Since she’s not pale like her mother, people just automatically assume she’s black & not Puerto Rican, and that she and her mother were not related at all. Since she has a head full of hair, people automatically assume she’s not black since her hair is not kinky and she got a lot of hair. She also informed me that people think Puerto Ricans are not part of Latin descent, since it’s not part of South America and part of North America. Just like how some Africans feel that African Americans are not part of African descent because we were not born in Africa.
Her ethnicity has made a big impact on her life and made her into the woman she is today. Ever since she was 3, her mother made sure she was aware of her race and where she came from. She was always proud of her culture and who she was. She loves that she knows more than one language. She learned to speak Spanish on her own by listening to others around her and it was not forced for her to learn it. She was not around African American culture in her household, only around Latin culture. So she had a hard time identifying with the culture, but her friends that were African American helped her out since growing up she had a lot of black friends. There was never confusion to her of who she is, but she had to constantly explain herself and tell people her race. She found out young, the harshness of the world when she was in a pageant for National American Miss and one of the Caucasian mothers, told her and another Spanish contestant that they were in the wrong pageant because of their skin color. It makes you ask yourself; well what makes an “American?” Growing up as a black woman, I can feel her pain with this situation. As black woman we are criticized by our hair often, and how it should be straight instead of kinky. Afro-Latinas get criticized mostly by their skin complexion and their hair. It just makes you think, like how can somebody get criticized so badly especially through the media by how they should look to fit in with their “race,” or why do people expect another race to change their appearance to be accepted. Isn’t America a big “melting pot?” Media affects us as woman so bad, that we are drastically changing ourselves just to feel like we fit in. Women are bleaching their skin just to be lighter, women are chemically damaging their hair and scalps just to have straight hair. Women are altering their physical features just to feel sexy. All of this is a cry for help, a cry that all these beauty standards have to end.
As a woman we are always worried about what men think of us. We think “Will he find me attractive?” Or should I change this or change that. At one point in my friend’s life, she did not think Latin men were interested in her. She always was more interested in African American men. She grew to realize that what she preferred in a man was not important at all, and she went for whoever made her happy. That’s what we have yet to realize is that happiness and love is all that matters when it comes to relationships. Happiness and love has no preference.
Becoming a mother recently to a little girl who is mixed with multiple ethnicities from both parents, my friend is making sure her daughter learns who she is. She wants to make sure her daughter is exposed to all the opportunities that she was not exposed to. She wants to warn her daughter that there will be people who will bully her, and to not let it get to her. Also, she wants to teach her daughter to know her worth, and to not tolerate negativity. She wants to teach her to embrace her culture and to not think she is better than anyone else. This is very important because among women I have seen a divide sometimes between mixed women and women of one ethnicity, yet we are all a little bit of everything. It’s important for us ‘women to see each as one. It’s heartbreaking how society and what we define as beauty has divided us. It’s time for us to break those barriers, feel beautiful in our skin and come together as one to defy the stereotypes.