Who Speaks for Your Multiracial Experience?
Fifteen-year-old Veronica was getting a ride from her best friend’s cousin, a white college guy who was dating a fellow co-ed named September, who happened to be black.
He says, “I’m really curious to know what it’s like to be mixed. September and I were wondering if maybe you could tell us.”
“I don’t know what you want to know,” Veronica tells him. “Do you want me to speak on behalf of all biracial people around the world, including your future children? All I really know is myself. Because the truth is that I don’t think about being mixed unless
I’m around people who remind me to think about it. I think of myself as me, this person sitting right here, not as a biracial person, not as a girl with a white father and a black mother, and definitely not as somebody with a big secret.”
In this excerpt from my novel, Race Home, Veronica, this kid clearly touched a nerve! But dammit, she’s right. And not just because I created fictional, young adult protagonist Veronica to explore coming of age in the context of being biracial, but because no one can speak for another’s multiracial experience.
Even my sister and I, who are a year and a week apart, have entirely different experiences and we lived in the same house, went to the same schools, and had some of the same friends.. We were even roommates during two of four years in college.
So imagine how world views change, multiplied by all the factors that make our lives our own. I’m a big believer in walking a mile in someone’s shoes before even considering to have an understanding of who they are. Of course, we can’t walk in anyone’s shoes but our own. So we can ask. And empathize. But we certainly can’t let anyone speak for us.
So what you say, as an adult, if someone were to ask you “what it’s like” to be multiracial? Could you answer that question — or would you just get defensive like Veronica and not answer the question?