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As mixed people, we’ve become accustomed to identifying by our labels.
It’s just so natural to say that we’re part of one racial category mixed with another. And we pay no mind to what the labels of Black, White, Asian and all the others truly mean.
The labels are words designed to reinforce social constructs. They are markers of a system designed to subconsciously remind us of one’s worth in society. And many times we get these markers confused with genetics.
With the increased popularity of Ancestry tests, along with a fundamental misunderstanding of how DNA works, we hear a lot about Black or white blood as well as African DNA. But we need to keep in mind that the markers that make up our genetics are small ones that are found within a particular region. Because as human beings we share most of the same DNA.
All of the genetics markers that comprise our ethnic heritage arrived because of human adaptation to a particular environment. If those same people were to move someplace else, several generations later they would have different traits based up their environment.
So when I say that I am part Black. I try to think of the context. My mother’s side of the family originated where all humans did – Africa. They settled there for generations until they were sold into slavery and taken to America where they were labeled as Black because of how they looked and so the economic system of slavery could continue. My father’s side of the family also originated in Africa, but eventually settled into the country of Latvia for countless generations. During the end of World War 2, the Russians invaded their
country and they forced to flee to Germany and eventually came to America. And in America they, for the first time, considered themselves as White. Which my paternal grandmother initially took to mean she was superior but then learned to think a little differently when I was born.
Race is so ingrained in America that it’s the first identifier we go to. There is a cult like belief that these social labels of external descriptors define every aspect of our being. And when someone is mixed, our country is trained to quickly try to explain how our falsely constructed beliefs still work to describe our existence.
I understand that this is the reality we face. But at the same time, we don’t have to subscribe to it.
What’s expected is that we regard ourselves as a confused mixture of categories that should define how we think, act and feel. When in reality, we know that this is a lie.
The truth is that we are simply the children of two people whose parents genetic history happened to be from people who had settled in different parts of the world. Two human beings who originated from the same continent but then traveled elsewhere for a better opportunity.
Like everyone else, we are simply a testament to the great wonder that is the human experience.