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HumaniTeens: Biracial Students Share Their Perspectives

August 24, 2017

In this growing international community, biracial and intercultural relationships have skyrocketed. The amount of people who are biracial is at an all time high. However, these students face conflicting issues of identity and acceptance from an early age. Racial tensions within America have contributed to a rough experience. Additionally, within the families, there is a matter of acceptance from both sides. We spoke to three biracial students in an attempt to more deeply understand the struggles they experience as young Americans.

  • What are your ethnicities?

Ashley: “My mom is white, and she has a lot of German blood. She’s basically Caucasian. My dad is African American.”

Madelyn: “White because that’s my mom, and my dad is Filipino because he was born in the Philippines.”

Lauren: “So I’m half Chinese, there’s like an eighth Cherokee, and there’s German and a bit of Irish, and I don’t know what the rest is.”

  • Which side do you identify with more, if you do?

Ashley: “Probably because I look more white, I would say white. But as I grow older, I identify with both more, and I realized that it’s not right to pick one.”

Madelyn: “I don’t really have a preference, I usually just say I’m both.”

Lauren: “Probably the Asian side. It’s pretty obvious… I think we don’t really know much about my dad’s side, it’s just like generally mixed. Plus, I live with my mom’s side, so of course we would embrace that side more.”

  • Do you understand the language(s)?

Madelyn: “When I’m with my grandmother I understand bits and pieces, but I do not speak the language.”

Lauren: “I understand the number characters when we play Mahjong, we say Happy New Year, hi, hello, thank you. We don’t really speak it. My cousin used to work as a teacher in Taiwan, and she was the only one that tried to learn it.

  • Do you feel accepted by both sides of your family?

Ashley: “I feel accepted by my white family more sometimes because I look more like them.”

Madelyn: “Yes.”

Lauren: “Of course I feel accepted by my mom’s side because I see them almost every day. We don’t see my dad’s side that often, the most we’ll do is probably Thanksgiving or a week in the summer. I feel pretty accepted, I guess. My grandma loves me, but I think that’s by default. But I think it’s just kind of awkward because we barely see them. But yeah, I think okay, yes, they tolerate me.”

  • Do you feel accepted/represented by society?

Ashley: “No, because I don’t encounter that many biracial people. I look more white and most biracial people look more black. I think that in society people want you to be either one or the other; they don’t appreciate you or accept you for who you are.”

Madelyn: “Not the Filipino, no. People identify, for Filipino, they say they’re Hispanic because Spain had control over the Philippines for several years and because people will go with their actual DNA, so they’re Spanish. The national language is Tagalog which has very similar words to Spanish words because Spain had control over them, so some of them will just say they’re Spanish to feel more included in society in the United States anyway. Otherwise, there are pockets in Delaware and Pennsylvania that are predominantly Filipino, and they take ownership of, ‘Oh I’m Filipino.’ It’s definitely not a race that’s talked about a lot. It’s just not there, there are several others that are a lot more prominent. There’s no coverage in the media.”

Lauren: “I’m not really sure how well I’m being represented in our culture considering how mixed I am… not a lot, but there’s always gonna be that one stereotype where we’re either all wicked smart, some of us can’t speak English, or I don’t know, we can’t see. I mean, I can’t see. But, it’s pretty sketchy. Thankfully, we’re in a society that is at least trying to be more open, but with recent changes in the country, it’s harder to do so. I mean there’s always gonna be some people that are not as open to it. When my parents and my aunt came over from Jamaica, which is another long story, there would be people that would give microaggressions like “Oh, you speak English really well!” or “Oh your English is really good!” and my aunt was just like… what? It would be kinda tough for them to get a job. I mean, I guess because I’m so mixed it kind of doesn’t come off as well? Someone thought I was Latino, someone thought my brother was Greek, and he got invited to the African American dinner at UD. I think sometimes people can’t help judging based on a look, but for the most part I’d say we’re getting better.”