I am Black and Mexican. My partner is Black. We are similar in some very important ways. We are different in some very important ways.Growing up I thought that I was just like my Black friends though they often referred to me as “Barbie” because they thought I had “light skin and long hair”. My parents divorced when I was about two years old and I grew up in a household full of Black people. I really wanted to be like them. I even tried to use a hot comb on my hair (mixed kids, DON’T use a hot comb on your hair) and iron it to make it straight like the girls in my neighborhood that permed their hair.
I listened to similar music. I wore similar clothes. I ate similar food. I thought I was doing a great job blending in! I had heard people make comments that I “wasn’t really Black” growing up, but those comments were in the background, never to my face.To Blacks I wasn’t “Black enough” and to Latinos I wasn’t really Latino. I dated Asians throughout high school.
In college I joined a Black student organization and was told that I “shouldn’t even be here because you’re not even Black” and it stunned the hell out of me. What? I’m not Black? What do you mean? I wanted to shout that I was “just as Black as you are” but I didn’t feel that it was really true.
When I started dating my partner, we lived in a small apartment with a Latino on-site manager. I thought the manager was great. He always said hello to me and fixed whatever I required pretty quickly, so imagine my surprise when my partner pointed out that the manager might be nice to me because I was Latina? Huh? He said that we spoke Spanish to each other and when he entered the room the manager would stop talking. He said the manager never spoke to him. Never smiled at him. He said that he purposely sent me to deal with the manager because he felt I would get a better result.
I tried to argue if the manager didn’t like him because he was Black then he wouldn’t like me either, because I am just as Bla …. wait … am I? I had to come to terms with the fact that as much as I love and respect both of my parents and their cultural backgrounds I am not really Black OR Mexican. I’m a hybrid. I’m a mixed-kid. I’m a new type of person. Though I pull things from both sides, they are both colored (ha!) by my experience of being neither and both.
Naturally, when we started the adoption process I wanted a kid that was Black and Latino. I wanted a kid to look like me. I wanted to kid with hair that’s similar to mine. I wanted a kid that I could teach Spanish to and play with and laugh with and … does it really matter what the ethnic and cultural background of the kid’s birth family is?? Absolutely!
I may be wrong for this, but it’s how I feel. I want a kid with a similar background. We’ll have enough problems getting through the adoption question without layering on the why-is-my-dad-Black-and-my-mom-is-Black-and-Mexican-but-I’m-just-Black questions.