For many years, I identified as a black. Now, don’t get it twisted; this isn’t some Rachel Dolezal or Rebecca Skagg mess. My father, while his complexion is light, is black, as are his parents. There are a plethora of black people on my mother’s side, though I wouldn’t consider her or her parents black. Like me, they have yellow skin, curls that sit between tight and loose, and features that are small and thin but not quite white.

We are mixed. My maternal grandmother’s mother was a white woman and her father was a black man. A white man generations ago raped one of my great-great grandmothers on my father’s side. More mixing beyond what I’ve mentioned has occurred, resulting in me.

One phenomenon I find curious is this: what a society believes to be true can be considered erroneous in the future. My parents and grandparents lived in a world where, despite terms like “mulatto”, “octaroon”, “creole” and the countless others”, someone who looked like me may have been considered black without question (or at least, without vocalized question). Race was decided by white people, meaning white people had the power to determine if a person was black or white and prior to the 21st century, a sliver of black lineage meant black.

Today is a new day. Access to information has grown exponentially and it is easier to form and share opinions with the like-minded and those who oppose. On social media platforms like Facebook, black figures such as Cree Seven and Kinfolk Kollective are opening the minds of countless followers by positing what now, to me, seems so obvious: everybody ain’t black. Specifically, both women point out that blackness, like whiteness, is judged based on physical appearance, like the width of one’s nose and where the eyes sit in relation to one’s lips. Ms. Seven has even created an algorithm to determine whether or not a person is a black, something that has caused many conversations about how to determine blackness in a person who has a white parent.

These conversations make sense. Cree Seven and Kinfolk Kollective, along with the many other public figures analyzing race, seek to reclaim blackness, as it should be reclaimed. White people do not accept a person as white just because said person says he or she is white but black people are expected to accept someone with 1/8 black ancestry as a black person. This practice dilutes blackness and consciously and subconsciously leads to people who look me being upheld as the black standard, furthering the dire self-hatred plaguing black people.

As humans, we make sense of our world through labels. I don’t think we should use labels like “black” or “white” to incite hatred, though it pays to be honest: these labels have incited hatred. Racism, and specifically, anti-blackness, is rampant worldwide, and has been, from what I’ve gleamed, for a long, long time. I don’t yet know how to solve this problem. I do, however, know, at least right now, that black people deserve to have their blackness recognized. I no longer identify as black. I am proud and thankful that I get to claim black ancestry, that my father is black. I am thankful that I get to study the white people who are part of my DNA, two of whom are a white man who felt emboldened to rape a married black woman who lived next door and an alcoholic and possibly schizophrenic white woman who divorced her white husband and abandoned her white children to marry a black man and bear his children, who she resented and abused. Because of them and the others, whoever they are, I am mixed. And so it is.

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