At the end of May I hosted my first “Mixed Girl Meetup.”
The goal was to give fellow mixed gals a place to feel safe talking about the struggles and joys of being mixed.
There were eight of us and we talked for a little over an hour. There were differences but also many similarities in each of our individual mixed girl experiences. Without telling their stories completely, I created a quote wall of words that stood out from our discussion and posted them daily on Instagram (@rj_is_rebbyjohnson). They are here in their entirety below.
If you are mixed, I hope that you will find some quotes that make you say, “Yes! I’m not alone in this!” I also hope that you see some words that challenge your thinking, as all of our mixed experiences are different. And ultimately, I hope you feel compelled to share your story in whatever way feels natural and safe to you. If you would like to be a part of our next mixed girl meetup, please send me a message!
If you are not mixed, I ask that you read these quotes with a kind understanding that this was a safe space for us to speak freely regarding our mixed girl experiences. Yet, every woman felt that there was power in sharing the vulnerability of our stories. I hope you would read with empathy, and see some of your own story within the mosaic stories we share. I hope you would seek relationship with people who look different than you. I pray that you would both give and receive joy from having friendships with mixed girls like us.
Without further ado, I give you snippets of our mixed girl meetup:
Many of the women in our group had parents who immigrated to the United States. In light of trying to fit into a new culture, some of us were told to act more like the culture around us, as usually demonstrated by white Americans. As mixed women, many of them us told to leave the traditions of our parents’ culture behind.
Some of us felt forced to deny evidence of the color of our skin to the point of not engaging in traditions such as quinceaneras, or even being told to “act white.” Growing up as kids, this idea was confusing. Did that mean changing the tone or accent of our voices? Changing our language? Being quieter in conversation? All of the above? What did it mean to act like a color?
Some of us, in our mixed heritage were told they were “not enough” to participate in some cultural traditions. We didn’t know the language well enough. We acted “too white” to even have a quinceanera. We didn’t speak the language well enough to be accepted by our extended family.
Some of us felt it was unsafe to engage with certain family members due to strong and dangerous racial divisions.
Some of us had experienced very little familial discussions on race and ethnicity, causing us to seek out ways to explore our ethnic identity on own as adults by seeking out new friendships, history classes, learning new languages, visiting countries, or some online Googling.
One of our women had a white mother who taught her about her ethnic identity in its entirety, as well as how the world would perceive her. She did not shy away from difficult conversation in order to prepare her daughter the world’s commentary.
It was very clear to all of us that no race is better than another. No part of our ethnicity is superior to another. Yet, because of our ethnic mix, some of us are not acknowledged by family members. Some of us have been in the middle of family that cannot stand each other’s presence.
Many of us felt robbed of participating in cultural traditions, or being able to have meaningful relationships with family members. And there is a sincere mourning and sense of loss that comes with being mixed. However, we have to find other ways to see that our mixed experience provides something “more.”
Some of our parents would say unknowingly racist things about other people. They would use offensive terminology. We have had to call out our family members and be brave enough to stand up for others as well as have grace in showing our family how their comments can hurt us as well.
For some of us, our family members had no clue how to teach us about our ethnic identity. Some of us came from blended families. So, whether it was hair care, cultural traditions, or social norms, many of us had to learn the intricacies of our ethnic mix on our own.
Growing up mixed, some of us felt that seeing people of many ethnic varieties was normal because it was represented in our families. Skin colors and ethnicities were of little importance to us in relationships. Because of this, we didn’t find connection and friendship based off of skin color, but found more heart connections based on personality, acceptance, and genuine joy within our interactions with people.
All of us felt a struggle to fit in. We didn’t know which kids to sit with at lunch, and often were not “enough” or were “too white/black/hispanic/Asian” to sit with different groups. We could feel uncomfortable differences with any and every friendship group.
People often pressure us to “identify ourselves.” We are asked to pick sides. “So are you black?” “Oh, well, you’re not really Mexican where it counts…” One of our women said in light of this she felt that she could only really identify as…herself. This happens when never feel wholly one “side” or another, because we’re not. We are mixes of many. Therefore, we often identify with our experiences as mixed women vs. being wholly black, white, or brown.
We are often called exotic. None of us are amused by this. People always ask us, “What are you?” And sometimes people are disappointed when we tell them the truth because it’s often not what they expected. For the women in our group who don’t have wild a wild geneaology to share, they often are told, “No, you have to have some Cuban/Guatemalan/African/Something Exotic in your mix!” People’s fascinations with our ethnic mix can give us big headaches!
For some of us, hair care was an issue. To brush the curls or to let them be? How to hydrate them? Tame them? Tease them? Press them? Who knows? Our mothers didn’t know what to do, so we had to learn what to do.
Our parents were often getting an ethnic education right alongside us, if not after we had to learn on our own.
We ended our meetup with a reading of 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old is gone and the new is here!” This chapter of scripture talks about a ministry of reconciliation, in which we as mixed women have a great advantage and opportunity!
Every woman in the chat was also a follower of Jesus, so we ultimately find our identity in Christ. However we also believe that God was intentional in how he formed us, ethnicity included. Because of our unique experience as women of different cultures, worlds, ways of thoughts, and gorgeous beauty, who better to help bring reconciliation to a broken world.
So we left challenged to share our mosaic stories- the broken pieces of our identity along with the hope of how God makes it whole, so that others may find confidence in their identities and as relationships with others.
Do you want to be a part of our next Mixed Girl Meetup? Shoot me a message below along with any topics you would like us to discuss.