There is a lot of mental stress that comes from being biracial and growing up in a predominately white town; most of it was not something I was able to name or recognize until recently. There is so much unspoken, but thick, pressure to be respectable. To fit in a box and play a part. And it wasn’t just my town. The issue I am highlighting followed me to college and in my career. The main theme was predominantly white spaces.
I think sometimes “we” think that if people are smiling and inviting us to social events, we are equal. We fall into the whole facade of “I don’t see color/you as black”. What does that mean? I spent a large portion of my young adulthood asking that question. I am sure many won’t be surprised to hear me say that I never received an answer. Want to take a stab at why that is?
I honestly don’t believe there IS an answer. It’s this particular subject’s “what about black on black crime” answer – meaning, it’s just a pin. A pin used to stop the conversation, leave it up on the board where you have to really stand on your tiptoes to read it.
The more I open my eyes and allow myself to dissect the painful demise of most of my relationships, the more I understand what was ‘wrong’ with me growing up. Do I have anxiety?
*Side note: Yes, I do. Clinically diagnosed (one of the best days of my life, btw)*
Initially I chalked up all my painful moments, and general feeling of being lost and unable to tap into who I was inside, as a result of my anxiety. Right? It was literally taking me from me. They say that’s a common feeling those with anxiety experience.
Only as a biracial woman with my background, the complexity is overwhelming.
When you grow up one of few, you never truly have the opportunity to have your experience and viewpoint validated. That’s so important as a child. It is to intricately tied to your self worth and how you view yourself as a piece of this puzzle in which we exist together as individuals. So when you have an interaction with someone where your primal instincts tell you it was demeaning or downright dangerous to you, you can’t exactly turn to your mom or aunt and repeat the scenario to them and have them say “Oh, yep. I’ve had that happen. You read that right.” Thus validating your ability to read and protect yourself.
Instead you get hit with “are you sure? Well maybe what they meant was… I know their family and they are nice people.” and everything alike. The effect of that dismissal and watering down of your instincts doing their job is detrimental to a young adult’s view of themselves and their ability to feel of value to the world around them. At least in my case, that was a giant hurdle. One I couldn’t even see because every time I experienced racism and/or opened my mouth about it the air around me got dirtier and foggier until the point that I forgot the hurdle existed. At that point you’re just trying to survive and disappear into the thick suffocating air around you.
That isn’t anxiety. Anxiety didn’t take me from me. And what a blessing and weightlifting realization that is.