By Gabbie Fouché
FOREWORD (BY EVA): WE OFTEN FORGET THAT AS POC WE TOO CAN MICROAGGRESS EACH OTHER. A BIG MICROAGGRESSION EVIDENT IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR IS THE TENDENCY TO DENOUNCE SOMEONE OF THEIR RACE AND DISASSOCIATE THEM FROM THEIR CULTURE. ALTHOUGH BEING WHITE PASSING IS A PRIVILEGE, IT CAN SEPARATE PEOPLE FROM THEIR BIOLOGICAL RACE BECAUSE OF PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS. WE OFTEN FORGET THAT BEING A POC DOESN’T ALWAYS DEPEND ON HOW YOU LOOK. WE COME IN DIFFERENT SHADES AND WITH DIFFERENT FEATURES. THESE FEATURES DON’T ERASE CENTURIES OF HISTORY, CULTURE, AND OPPRESSION. THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS A STORY OF STRUGGLING WITH RACIAL IDENTITY BY A MIXED BLACK WOMAN.
I grew up never really contemplating the idea of racial identity. Raised by my Haitian father and white mother, I was used to the idea of racial and cultural ambiguity. However, this environment of acceptance made me blind to the subtle cruelties of micro-aggressions until my early teen years. At that age, people begin forming an identity for themselves, but in doing so they also start to put others into boxes. I fully understand that this helps people understand each other’s differences, but it becomes a problem when you don’t fit into the boxes that you’re provided with.
I began to hear remarks like “you’re not really white though”, followed later that day by some kid pointing at my relaxed hair and saying, “Ha! What are you talking about? You’re not black!”. These comments were usually followed by me desperately trying to explain my background to them. This normally included me pulling up a map of Haiti on my phone and mentioning the 2010 earthquake. I was always too black to be white and too white to be black. It was exhausting to have to validate my identity to everyone who questioned it. To make things easier for myself, and because I could often pass as such, I just started to identify as white. Of course this never really felt right to me. Yes, I am half white, but I am also half Haitian. And identifying as white always felt like a lie, like I wasn’t representing my true self. My issue then was this, black people weren’t accepting me as a POC, but the white label didn’t fit me either. This internal struggle persisted, but I slowly began to realize the privileges I had as a white-passing person of color. So I continued to suppress my feelings about my racial identity, and decided to go along with the ideas of people who decided they knew more about me than I did.
Only recently did I see the importance of identifying as black. Ignoring that half of me was not helping aid the struggles faced by POC. Visibility is extremely important, and I’m beginning to understand this more and more. Yet, how I personally identify is only part of the problem. Black people need to understand that telling a mixed person that they’re “not black enough” is damaging, insulting, and unacceptable. You are telling these people, who don’t easily fit into any box, that they don’t belong anywhere. And as someone who has experienced this a lot, I can tell you that it’s one of the worst feelings. Everyone deserves to feel that they belong somewhere. In this society, we all need support. It’s as simple as that.
Gabbie Fouché is a 16 year old cis-gender Black/White artist from California. For more Gabbie, follow her on Instagram @heyitsgabz