MY PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE:
Growing up biracial was a little difficult for me at times. I would get asked questions like, “Do you feel more white or black?” or “Do you wish you were full white or full black?”. A lot of biracial teenagers feel like they are too black for white people and too white for black people, so they don’t really know where they belong, or if there is an in-between that they can fall under. I never really thought much about those questions until I became a teenager. I wondered if maybe being biracial was not a good thing if I needed to choose just one race. What if people only liked half of me? It made it hard for me to love myself at times because what if I wasn’t good enough for either race?
I grew up in a very diverse area but for some reason I felt very alone. I felt like I didn’t look like the typical “mixed” girl because I didn’t have green or blue eyes and light hair. I had to learn to accept myself for who I was. I started to realize I didn’t have to straighten my curly hair to be beautiful and I didn’t have to try be one race to be me. I am biracial and I am okay with being biracial. I get to experience two culturally different sides of my family and that is a very amazing thing that I am blessed with. I started to understand what makes me “me” is being biracial and having my tan skin and my curly hair.
Challenges I faced from being myself helped mold me into the person I am today. I remember when I was in high school I competed in a state level DECA* conference with two other girls. Our project was called “Love Yourself” and it was designed to help teenage boys and girls with self esteem issues in our county. My partners asked me to straighten my hair for competition because they said my curls were not professional. I felt very hurt and saddened by their request because not only did I find it hypocritical to our project, I also felt like they wanted me to change something that was a part of me. I never told them how that made me feel because I didn’t want to start any problems with them so I just ignored their comment and straightened my hair.
If I knew any students struggling with being biracial, I would tell them to embrace it. Why would you not want to embrace who you are as a person? Learn about both sides of your family and be proud of who you are. Embrace your hair; embrace your skin color! You do not have to change how you look or how you act for anyone to accept you. You need to accept yourself and love yourself first. If you don’t love yourself how could you expect other people to love you?
WHAT I WANT COMPANIES TO KNOW:
For corporations that are looking for racial diversity but don’t really understand hiring people who are different than themselves, I would advise them to educate themselves on diversity first. Learn the politically correct terms about the races to avoid accidentally saying something that could be considered offensive. Be sensitive and understanding if a person tells you that something you said was offensive. And always remember, that no matter the skin color, they deserve equal respect.
Hallee Marie Jones is a freshman at Northern Virginia Community College. She is a two-time state titleholder with DECA. She was the Vice President of her schools DECA chapter and is currently planning to be in collegiate DECA. She is in the marketing program and hopes to transfer and continue her degree in marketing and minor in marketing education.