Kimberly (Left) Samantha (Right)
What are your parent’s ethnic backgrounds?
Our dad is black and our mom is Chinese.
Did you have any struggles growing up mixed race, such as any internal or external issues?
K: When I was younger, my mom always brushed out my curly hair, which if you don’t know, it’s a big “NO-NO.” I don’t blame her because she and everyone else in her family have straight hair. She didn’t know how to take care of curly hair. I remember not liking my frizzy big hair and wanting to have straight hair like everyone else. I felt bad about my hair and through out middle school I got my hair chemically straightened. Now, I appreciate and love my curly hair because it’s different. I know how to take care of it and people complement me for it.
S: Externally, I never had any issues growing up. All of our classmates treated us with respect and no one discriminated. Since our town is mostly white, our friends said we were their exposure as the “one black person they knew.” Internally I felt, and still feel, a little guilty since I felt and I identified more as Asian than I did black. Growing up we were exposed more to the Asian culture since we saw our mom’s side of the family more than our dad’s side.
Do you identify as mixed race or by one race?
K: I identify as both black and Asian, or as my friends call it “blasian”, but I know more about the Chinese culture than the Bajan culture.
S: Despite the problem mentioned above, I still like to identify as both black and Chinese. I’d like to embody the best of both cultures and show how being multicultural is something to embrace.
Do you feel, or have you felt, like you didn’t belong to either one of your ethnic groups?
K: Even though I look more black than Asian, I sometimes feel distanced from my Bajan heritage. I have visited Barbados, but I don’t see my dad’s side of the family as often as I do my mom’s. I miss out on family stories of my grandparents and great aunts/uncles.
S: Around my family I feel as if I do belong to both cultures. However, in public places, such as the city, I sometimes feel as if I don’t belong to the black culture. Seeing other black students in my school and observing them in public places makes me uncomfortable because I can’t identify with them. I wish I could learn more about their culture and be able to confidently say I belong.