As a biracial woman, every time I hear of police brutality happening to my Black brothers and sisters, I am sickened. My heart quivers, and shakes, and inevitably breaks. Although I am not physically connected to the Black side of my family, my Blackness is still in me. It still matters to me.I am half Black. Black people are my people.
I took some time to go inward and really think.: has my Blackness ever held me back or negatively affected me?
After wracking my brain endlessly, I couldn’t answer that with a yes. My Whiteness has given me privilege. I am privileged. But then I have conversations and think a little bit harder.
And my mother reminds me of the time when I was twenty years old driving home from a festival, and got pulled over by two White police officers in Utah. The first question they posed to me, “Do you have any meth in this car?” I was shocked, and even more shocked when they continued to pull every single piece of camping material needed for a four day festival out of the car to insure that I, Mia Latoy Nissen, had no meth.
And then I think of all the times white women or white men come up to me and comment on my “Exotic” looks and ask me where I am from, shocked to hear I grew up in a little desert town in Southern California and not whatever “Exotic” location their minds were hoping I would say.
And then I remember just how many times complete strangers have come up to me and touched my curls, and think it is their right to play with my hair because it is “unique.” It isn’t.
And then, I lament on how many times I have had to deal with random men telling me that they were “betting” on what race I am and continuing to think I am up for playing their guessing game. I’m not.
And then I also think of the time when I went to get my hair straightened and the stylist proceeded to tell me that I walked in looking “Urban” and once she straightened my hair I looked like “the popular girl.”
I am a half Black, half White woman. I am proud of my rainbow of heritages and all of the people I get to call, my people. I am also dating a half Black, half White man. One day, God willing, we will bring half Black, half White babies into this world. It is our job to lay the foundation for all future generations to be safe and educated.
Guessing my races is not an activity to bring you entertainment. Black people are not here for your entertainment. But if you do benefit from Black culture, and enjoy it, you have no choice but to be an ally. And be aware: Black culture is intertwined into everything from the music you’re dancing to at the club, to the injections you’re putting inside of your body to appear more voluptuous. So again I say, if you are one to soak up Black culture and enjoy it, you have no choice but to be an ally and to join the fight,
You must fight. And I, as a privileged half Black and half White woman, must fight. While I am biracial and have been affected by inequality and racism (Even if it wasn’t “meant” that way)…I am more so in the position to use my privilege and platform to be a voice and bring relief to my hurting brothers and sisters.
I don’t have the answers on how to fix this. I am scared. I am proud to see people I love using their voices and stepping up. But please, don’t just do this because it is expected of you or choose to give this issue your attention only while it’s a hot topic on social media.
Although I am terrified, I am looking forward to participating in my first protest next weekend. I have donated money, and will continue to find ways to donate time to uplift my local Black community. I will be better at connecting with Black high school students to help them with any college resources I can. I will keep having conversations. I will do better at standing up for those that can’t.
And to end, I have a few questions you can ask yourself, that I am also asking myself:
- Have I done a good job at uplifting and amplifying the voices of Black women and men? How can I do better?
- What is one resource I have listened to, read, or watched to broaden my understanding of the current state of the world for Black people?
- What can I do to bring relief to the Black members of my community?
- When was I silent when I could have used my voice to protect someone Black?
All artwork by @broods.psd