My name is Amy Haverkort and this is my Stages of Being Biracial. I publish a site called This Mum Likes, which is a collection of my ramblings and (over) sharing about stuff I like. It celebrates Mum life and love that comes in all shapes, sizes, races and ethnicities.
Thank you Multiracial Media for sharing my Stages of Being Biracial.
I was born in England in the Winter of 1990. ‘Ice, Ice, Baby’ was the No.1 song on the radio. Appropriate much? My White mother gave birth to a mixed race baby that she loved with all her heart. Nothing that anyone said could change the fact that she was going to bring this baby into the world. As far as I know, my Black father didn’t have much to do with me after I was born.
As a baby I only knew the love of my family. I didn’t know I was different.
Are you adopted? Is that your real mum? That can’t be your real dad, he’s White? They were talking in reference to my step-dad whom I called Dad because he was the only father I’ve ever known. As a child things were confusing. Why would people ask these things? Why would people look at me, then at my mum and then back at me again?
Mum explained things to me in ways I could understand so even as a child I had the tools to answer these ‘adult’ questions. I was still confused about why people would keep asking me if my mum was actually my mum. Even as a young kid I knew that we looked different but wasn’t the love between us obvious?
As a kid I used to get out the bath and wrap a towel around my wet hair. I’d flip it back over so the towel trailed down my back. I’d parade around in the mirror admiring my ‘straight and long hair’ that was totally opposite to my short afro hair. I’d be angry. “Why can’t I have straight hair? It’s not fair,” I’d wail.
I also remember covering myself in body lotion and then looking at my skin admiring its Whiteness. Getting angry when it would soak into my skin and I’d be left with my true skin tone.
After the anger came the pure hatred in my early to mid teens. Nothing that anyone said to me made a difference. Not my friends, not my family. Even strangers compliments I deemed as insults in disguise. I can’t tell you the number of times my mum told me I was beautiful and perfect just the way I was.
I didn’t look like the girls in magazines or on TV. I hated the way I looked and truly believed it would stop me from achieving all my goals in life.
One thing I obsessed about (like many teenage girls) was boys. On a basic level I used to get upset that none of the boys at school found me attractive but as I headed into my late teens I had a deep set panic that no one would ever love me. I’d never get married. I’d never have my own family.
From about age 16 I started to realise that my Biracial identity made me stand out in a good way. I didn’t have to bother with fake tan like my friends. I had so many different hairstyles with hair extensions and braids and cornrows. I’ve been jokingly called Rihanna and Beyoncé, which of course I took as huge compliments because these women not only have dark skin but are beautiful, strong and confident.
When I made plans to join my parents in Australia my main concern was that “none of the Australian surfer boys would like me cause I’m not blonde”. Looking back now I can laugh at how that comment was wrought with silly stereotypes! I soon found out when I arrived in Australia that it wasn’t full of surfer boy clones.
For like the first time ever at aged 18 I liked the way I looked. For the first time I felt like my uniqueness was a positive. I made a path into accepting myself although on occasions I still lapsed into hating the way I looked.
True acceptance came when I met Stuart. Most men I came across in Australia asked about my English accent, asked where I came from, asked about my background. They treated me kinda like this exotic thing.
And Stuart? He never really asked any of these questions. I actually had to bring it up. Like, “Hey. You realise I’m not White yeah?” Stuart saw ME. He didn’t see my colour. Sounds cliché right? But that’s how it felt.
Of course it wasn’t all sunshine and roses when we began dating. I was nervous about meeting his parents and made sure he gave them a heads up before I met them. I think they were a bit surprised but once again they just saw ME. They saw someone that made their son happy.
Over the years we got to know each other. Whenever I’d feel insecure about my identity, Stuart was there to help me heal. His favourite thing to say was “Calm down you’re not that different.” with his chilled out ‘She’ll Be Right, Mate’ Australian accent. This used to enrage me (how could he not see how different I am!) but also put things into perspective.
Accepting my identity and being proud of it were two very different things to me. When looking up the meaning of acceptance it reads the ‘process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable.’ I felt like this for a very long time. Adequate. This wasn’t enough for me and I have worked incredibly hard to be proud of myself and who I am as a person. If this sounds bigheaded I don’t care. I think it is just something that every human being is entitled to feel.
I am 26 years old. I’m married (to Stuart of course!) and we have a 6 month old baby girl. I can now confidently say I am proud of my mixed race identity. I will shout this from the rooftops and I will say it to myself in the mirror every day.
What This Mum Likes and Doesn’t Like
Because I don’t want my daughter to have to go through these ‘stages of being biracial’. I just want her to skip to the last chapter and be proud of everything she is.
My name is Amy Haverkort and I am English born, Australian living, part Caribbean, Dutch surnamed, first time mum. It may seem like the start of an identity crisis but I like to think it makes me sound interesting. I blog about #MumLife over at This Mum Likes.
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