22 February 2010

Why I talk about being biracial

Why I talk about being biracial

By Nicole E. Avery
GVL Columnist

An apology by definition is either a form of justifying one's actions, defending them or an admission of remorse. This column is none of the above but rather a in-depth description of my own writing process.

There has been some annoyance and acceptance from Lanthorn readers about my habitual mention of my biracial heritage in past columns.

There was an assumption in a comment on the Lanthorn Web site that I wrote last week about stereotypes because I was either made to by my editor, I couldn't think of anything else to write about or because I take any possible chance to mention that I'm biracial.

None of these reasons are true.

I make it a habit to read the Lanthorn and other news and if I can, I try to write about something that stirs any kind of emotion in me. If it raises a question in my mind, such as whether or not a stereotype can be seen as positive, I pursue it and try to offer a tangible discussion and possible answer in my column.

There are two other main reasons why I mention my ethnicity in my columns: it is my personal life experience and provides an enriching point of view and insight other people might be interested in because it is different from their own, and out of admiration and respect for my parents. I owe it to them and myself to not be ashamed of who I am.

For me, mentioning my heritage is as natural as telling someone my name and my favorite color. I'm very comfortable with talking about myself and that openness is displayed in my columns when I reference my family, friends, relationships or personal struggles.

In many ways, mentioning the fact I am biracial and talking about the issues that come with being both white and black is therapy for my soul. Talking about who I am helps me accept and understand myself better not only as a writer but as a person. I strongly believe to know myself is to love myself.

When it comes to race I believe it is an individual's choice what they identify with, but it isn't always that simple. Everyone still has to deal and cope with the way they are perceived regardless of whether you are a minority or not.

I could refer to myself simply as being black or African-American and that would be acceptable by the black community and is also commonly done.

If I were in the south even as few as 20 years ago, I would have been considered black even though my mother is white. However, I was raised to identify with both races and that is what I do. To not mention one, for me, is omitting a part of myself and I simply cannot and will not do that.

This is me. Either accept it or don't read it.


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