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My Problems Faced As a Mixed Race Kid

My Problems Faced As a Mixed Race Kid

“So, what are you?” Sigh. Once again, for the thousandth time, this question is thrown my way. It’s usually by someone who has examined my complexion, along with my other features, and can’t quite place my background. Although I'm not the only one who's ever experienced this situation, having to explain how I was born to parents of different races can be awkward and uncomfortable. Sure, sometimes people from different cultures and ethnicities fall in love and have unique-looking children. However, the products of these interracial families—aka the kids!—can find themselves in difficult and frustrating positions.

I was born to a Hispanic father and a black mother (more specifically, Creole). This tends to cause a lot of confusion for some people, especially when they see us together as a family. I pretty much look nothing like them because of my complexion, my hair type, and some of my facial features. I am neither light nor dark-skinned, and I have the curliest hair in my family. Thanks to my face full of freckles and moles, and dark, caterpillar-like thick eyebrows, I was bullied in elementary and middle school. It’s usually the ones who stand out the most who receive both bad and good attention. For me, the good attention didn’t come until years later, when puberty hit.

I realized in high school that I would never be able to look like the girls on TV or in magazines. My hair was too puffy; my face wasn’t as flawless as theirs, and I was either too light or too tanned. That was probably the most difficult time period in my life so far, but it taught me the value of self-love and acceptance. There were times when I’d get so upset because I couldn’t wear a certain shade of lipstick because it didn’t match my skin tone. I still remember crying in frustration over the fact that I simply couldn’t manage my hair and wanted to straighten it so badly. Although I couldn’t help it back then, now I feel silly for letting vanity take over my life. My appearance became more important than other things like school, family, and my writing.

Growing up in an interracial family is an amazing way to find yourself (and I don't just mean learning to smile politely when strangers ask you where you’re from). In my opinion, self acceptance is the key to a happy life, so find out more about your racial background, drink enough water, get enough sleep, and treat yourself every once in awhile. Learn to love every inch of your body and nourish your mind and soul. Most importantly? Be proud of who you are. Never, ever forget there is nobody else like you.

By Jomarie Lanza, 17
 

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