BHM: REFLECTION: Black History Month from a biracial perspective

Ofelia Mattingly

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Black History Month means a lot to black people — that’s a given. But it also means a lot to people who aren’t fully black like I am. I am half-black and half-Mexican and my whole family is mixed, besides my parents.

Black History Month is an important topic for everyone, including people who are mixed with black. When I was in elementary school, we really didn’t talk about Black History Month like we should. Back then, I felt kind of awkward about talking about it because I wasn’t fully black. Now, I understand that it doesn’t matter at all, but back then, I didn’t feel like it was my place to take pride in Black History Month.

A lot of people didn’t think I was black, and honestly, I was surprised by that. I grew up in what is considered a good neighborhood, and I guess some people fueled by stereotypes didn’t consider me black.

“What are you?” was a common question I got asked when I was younger. In middle school, I had a substitute teacher who said she was good at telling someone’s race and ethnicity, so I decided to put her to the test. She guessed I was middle eastern and I took offense, but I couldn’t say anything because I had allowed her to guess. I just calmly corrected her and made sure she knew I was what I was.

Another time in middle school, I was grouped with two black girls and we were given a sheet to finish. I finished the worksheet quickly and got the answers right and the girls told me I was smart — then they asked if I was Indian. I was surprised that they assumed my race. Of course, I corrected them, but then they looked at me weirdly, like there was no way a Mexican girl could be smart.

I will always remember these moments because they made me feel really awkward about being biracial; but as the world continues, more people will be biracial, and with that will come more acceptance.

I do take pride in Black History Month. Even if I am not fully black, I am glad I do have both that blood and my Mexican blood — it makes me who I am today.