Who are you? What are You? … Ever been asked these questions?
Identity for many of is a unique cultural recipe… little of this, a little of that.
Does your unique identity empower you? It should!
You are such a beautiful mix of so many things and people are so curious to know about your ethnic mix. It has been a journey to become so proud of your special mix. But, here you are and the hardship that you have faced along the way has made you strong and confident.
I know what the journey of a mixed race person can feel like. I am one. Sometimes, we forget how strong uncomfortable questions and situations have made us. Day to day life can beat you up and leave you feeling less than amazing.
But, we all find ways to pick ourselves back up and dust ourselves off. Fo me it is so important to have a reminder around me of how much of a badass I really am.
Skin color was rarely discussed and thus naively believing that the world would be brown one day was not inconceivable.
I was born bi-racial and also black. My mother is Black Irish and Dutch (Moors from Spain who migrated to Ireland) and my father is African-American. I was raised by my mother and aunt because my father was an absent alcoholic who was not intricately involved in my childhood. His absence would leave a void in my life that would be filled by harsh realities of a group of people that I would not encounter.
I was one of the first people I know to be raised by two moms before it was popular. We lived in a two-family house in a salt and pepper community in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was a very naive brown child living in a bubble that appeared to be indestructible. Skin color was rarely discussed and thus naively believing that the world would be brown one day was not inconceivable. Cincinnati was culturally “black and white” where being mixed and/or biracial meant being classified by others in the absolute colors of “black” and “white.”
I attended the Cincinnati School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) high school where my perspective on life would rapidly change. SCPA was a big eye-opener and more importantly, it is the foundation from which my artwork begins, as I encountered groups and individuals who where physically similar to me, but no other commonalities could be distinguished.
“Girl, that’s just that white girl in you,” is the phrase that was repeated to me and hurt like daggers throughout my adolescent journey that extended into my adulthood. “Girl, that’s just that white girl in you” is my fuel. These words are the foundation and genesis from which most of my pain, anger and confusion lived. However, the above phrase has also formed the roots from which my artwork continues to grow.
As a 2004 graduate of The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, I found being mixed/bi- racial on the East Coast had more gray areas and more pots to mix. In a strange way distinguishing my “mix” became more important, especially regarding social courtesies and customs, dating and mating. I wasn’t sure why they needed to treat me differently, but they needed to know. I relished the fact that I could blend into any culture if desired. Only then did I understand why people needed to know what I was. People acted differently when other cultures mixed in social settings. The push and pull of being ambiguous was something that I experienced firsthand. I had the advantageous, secret ability, and pseudo privilege of becoming “invisible.”
Not everyone can understand this privilege, but I cannot tell you the depth of interesting situations and conversations I have been privy to because of this “gift”! Thus, I reframed some of my experiences because of it. My current artwork encompasses the emotions of these moments.