I Love Being A Biracial Woman, But It Still Comes With Unique Challenges

I Love Being A Biracial Woman, But It Still Comes With Unique Challenges ©iStock/m-imagephotography

Canadian comedian Russell Peters said that “one day, the whole world is going to be beige” in reference to the growing amount of mixed race couples having children. I’m one of those biracial babies he’s referring to — I grew up with a Fijian mother and a Canadian father — and I wouldn’t change my heritage for anything. But aside from having a unique complexion and an exposure to a multicultural lifestyle straight from the womb, there are some things about growing up biracial that have been challenging.

  1. Constantly being asked what I am. “What are you?” is a question I get asked all the time. I guess it’s cool that I get to have a conversation about where I come from with every new person I meet, but sometimes I just want to state my heritage and be done with it (or not be asked at all). I’ve told my story so many times that it feels like a rehearsed monologue.
  2. Assumptions of my race. If I’m not straight up asked what I am, people try to play the guessing game. I’ve been asked if I’m Hawaiian, Italian, Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Portuguese, Indian and the list goes on. It usually ends up with me reciting my monologue, so I can’t win.
  3. Never having the proper race option on questionnaires. The only box I’m ever given that remotely relates to who I am is “Other.” So, because I’m not Caucasian, Hispanic, African American or Native American, I’m just a wild card, like the Joker in a deck of cards. Can we please have a “biracial” or “mixed race” box? That’d be great.
  4. Being left out of the “white girl problems” phenomenon. When all my friends are talking about being “white girl wasted” or referring to their “white people problems,” I sit in silence. Does half-white count?
  5. Being spoken to in one of my languages that I don’t actually speak. When I tell people my cultural heritage, sometimes they immediately start speaking to me in one of the languages spoken by those cultures, assuming I know it, too — and then I have to explain I have zero idea what they just said to me. Talk about awkward.
  6. Explaining my last name. My father and his family are born Canadians and honestly, I’m not even exactly sure of where we came from before then. But when I say I’m half Fijian, people say to me, “But your last name is white.” Ugh.
  7. Holiday traditions. When you’re biracial, you get exposed to more cultural traditions than the typical single cultured household, and for me, that means cultural garments to match. For weddings, I sometimes need three different outfits for a week-long celebration in which I attend multiple events. Even the way funerals are held are completely different in some cultures, so I’ve had to adhere to proper conduct on both sides. Growing up with two religions isn’t easy, either, but thankfully, my parents never really forced anything on me and let me decide for myself.
  8. Racist remarks. Unfortunately, racism is very much alive and well, and when you’re a mixed race, you have twice as many chances at being rudely verbally attacked for your culture. Even worse is when someone tries to racially insult you under assumptions of what your race actually is and they get it completely wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talked down to. I never chose who I was born as, but I love and embrace who I am.