I was extremely moved by an article I read today. The piece was called “Coming Out as Biracial”. Interesting title right? When I hear “coming out,” I automatically think of the pinnacle moment in some LGBT people’s lives where they disclose their sexual orientation to those they care most about. This moment is very special, but I imagine it to be very scary. Scary, because they are not sure how everyone will take the news. Maybe some people already had a hunch, maybe some people are unsure how to take the information and then you have those “great” homophobic people. I’m not sure if Stephanie Georgopulos gave much thought to this title, but I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect fit. Stephanie explains how she feels the need to “come out” to people about her race, sometimes not very gracefully, so that all of the cards are on the table. At the predominately black school she attended, students had a hunch of her race, but of course there are those racist people. Those that had no idea and continue to make racist comments, not choosing to put themselves in the other person’s shoes, proving there are still ignorant, closed-minded people around, unfortunately.
This topic touches close to home for me because I come from a very racially blended family. Not to get too far into it, but growing up many people thought I was biracial. My mom is very fair-skinned and I spoke differently than the other African-American students. I was often called an “oreo” (black on the outside, white in the inside), I was told that I “talked white” and it seemed as though I didn’t fit into one specific group. I struggled with hearing my “friends” say the n word and then excusing it in front of me, because I was “barely black”. I had to deal with “best friends” choosing to take another friend on family trips because as my mom explained to me, “the area that they were vacationing was not very accepting”, in other words making excuses for racism. It was not easy and then when it came time to date, I was able to see things even more clearly. I have had two real boyfriends in my life, both of whom are white. I am used to getting stared at, I am used to men of my own race putting down my partner, I am used to the term “sell-out,” but to me it’s just life. How is that okay to be “used” to such an awful thing? I honestly do not even notice these things anymore, becoming numb to injustice.
I kick myself now when I look back on these awful moments, because I should have stuck up for myself more. The experience has definitely given me quite the sense of humor. I find myself making racial jokes when I first meet people. It’s almost a defense mechanism that I have created, so that I can make fun of myself before anyone else can. Sad truth. Now that I am married, I can only hope when I have my own little biracial babies it’s a different world. Wishful thinking. If it isn’t a different world, I hope that Matt and I raise our children with the same open-mindedness, understanding and love for all people, that both of our parents instilled in us.
And it’s coming out. It’s coming out to strangers, and friends, and lovers on the off chance that you might convince them that race isn’t one size fits all. It’s coming out to see the look on some bigot’s face when he realizes his idea of white is wrong. It’s coming out so that interracial couples don’t have to fear the America their future children will grow up in.
Without further adieu… Stephanie Georgopulos’s Coming Out as Biracial. If you are like me, you might need to get some tissues. Please enjoy!