#eye #eye


Am I Black Enough?


words by Olivia Kellerman
The story that we perpetuate a lot when it comes to the mixed experience is that a mixed person doesn’t belong anywhere. In the case that someone is bi-racial, half black and half white, you’ve got two very established, dominant races that are very identifiable and distinct. The mix person in the middle usually has that story that they’re not accepted fully by either community. From what I know, there are no identifiable communions of mixed people, no mixed scholarships or activist groups going on, which may change in the next 10 to 20 years from now. And if there is then I’ll take the L on that one. But because of that, I feel like mixed people are sort of this mangrove, just their individual island floating around with no sense of belonging.  

Belonging is massively important; identity politics matter and you can go to any natural habitat and see that birds of a feather do flock together. We are biologically wired to want to be around people who look like us because subconsciously we feel safer; we understand those individuals and they remind us of people that love us and treat us with respect. So, if you don’t look like anybody that’s where you can end up becoming that mangrove who doesn’t have anywhere to go.

But when you say that story, that mixed people don’t belong, we’re really slapping in the face the community that has truly embraced those who are mixed with black and have been so gracious in many ways beyond reason, which is the black community. The black community has carved out such a beautiful door for mixed people to feel welcome and to feel a beautiful sense of belonging. It has made all the difference in my life and I am a better person because I have been loved and welcomed by that community. I am mixed with black, but I can never be a representative, or sit and try and tell that story because of the way that I look. I can’t write about adversity that I haven’t faced and nor have I faced the same sense of welcoming, but even just that percentage that I do get has made all the difference in my life.

My story of growing up in a mixed household differs to others as it does with many. I grew up in a mixed Jamaican and Scottish family in Birmingham, being three-quarters Jamaican meant that I was more in touch with my Caribbean roots, rather than my Scottish. I always identified as a black woman; from a young age, I saw myself as that. It wasn’t until I got older and in teenage years that I started to see differences between me and my black friends, mainly from the way they were treated. When conversations between friends stated to become political and racially driven, I started to notice how things were different for me than it was for them. That’s when it became difficult for me to feel that full acceptance, I couldn’t participate in all conversations, small comments were made about me being ‘lightskin’, I had to accept it and realise my place.

There is a privilege that comes with being racially ambiguous, I don’t face the adversity that other people face. I understand and acknowledge my ‘lightskin’ privilege but, to judge someone off their skin colour and what is portrayed in the media for me to be is unfair as I want to support the community that has accepted and supported me. It would be ignorant for me to sit here and preach about times I’ve had it tough because I know so many others have gone through way worse.

There are moments that bi-racial people feel that sense of being alone and a little othered, but for me those moments when you are praised by the community like I have experienced creating The Blacklist are invaluable. I’m still navigating this space on how I can be proud and contribute to the black community, while also giving others a chance to share their experiences from their point of view. And I have grown up surrounded by strong black women who have inspired me through my life so far and I will continue to be inspired by them and make them proud in the things that I try and achieve.