Note from Steve Moran: Since Marvell Adams posted about being told to “stop being so white” I have had a number of conversations with friends, people with good hearts, who kind of feel like it is making a mountain out of a molehill. It is a mountain that must be flattened. It is something that happens every day, all the time. Don’t believe me? Read this written by our own Rachel Hill and first published on her blog.

By Rachel Hill

I suppose the main purpose of this post is to do my best to describe my experience navigating growing up, my formative years, not really identifying as black or white. While not every bi-racial person experiences this, it seems that many of us do. I feel it’s important to open our society’s eyes to how others may be navigating their place in the world in hopes that we can all be a little kinder to one another.

Black in High School

In high school, I was the girl who was friends with everyone. Not in that super cool, popular sort of way, but more in my a little nerdy, but not too much, way.

I played sports but was not a super dedicated athlete. I was in honors and AP classes, but hardly any of my fellow classmates in those classes were black.

The black kids in my school basically thought I talked funny, dressed funny, and certainly did not act “black” by their definition.

I would often get dirty looks from the black girls and be made fun of. One girl even threatened to beat me up because I accidentally threw a french fry at her lunch table (a story for another time).

It was not all the black girls in my school, but certainly the majority.

Not White Either

Don’t think everything was perfect with my white friends. Today we live in a culture where most millennial white people are ‘woke’ (man, I hate that word). But in high school, I had friends say things like, “they respected Hitler’s work ethic”. They would drop the ‘N’ word, and one white male friend told me he was growing his ‘fro bigger than mine.’

So . . . not great with white people. But let me clear, in my heart I believe most people are good. And while you’re likely reading this with your mouth agape, trust me when I say that these things were the ignorance of teenagers. And that I can forgive.

What’s not okay is to let trends like this continue. So I think the goal moving forward is to just communicate with one another. And for any minority to move forward, we all must band together.

Growing Up Biracial

Race has always been a tricky topic for me.

I never really quite felt black and I certainly couldn’t identify as white. So, what was I? 

Who was I?

I was always just Rach.

A part of me always felt guilty for feeling that way.

Growing up biracial you’re told to identify with your African American side.

The pressure clearly comes from the hard-fought battle by the Black community for racial equality. My Dad would tell me, “Rach, you can’t be black and good, you have to be black and better.”

As you can imagine, that’s a lot of pressure for someone to have growing up.

I remember I would get into these awful fights with my older brother, who, in full transparency, has had a number of run-ins with the law, about how we racially identify. We both are fairly light-skinned and he, with more certainty than me, identified as Black.

A Thanksgiving to Remember

I will never forget what I believe is the last holiday we all spent together as a family.

It was my junior year of college, and I came home over the Thanksgiving holiday to have my wisdom teeth out. (Yes, I know, terrible timing to not be able to eat anything!)

My mom, who decided to stay at my dad’s place to help take care of me was helping dad prepare the dinner. And I was looking forward to all the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie I could eat.

It seemed like it was actually going to be a pretty “normal” dinner. Not long before dinner was served, my brother rolled in. And at first, the conversation was pretty light.

Then, somehow things took a turn when it came time for dessert. 

Mom was cutting us slices of pie and asked if we wanted Cool Whip on top. I immediately said yes. I mean, who doesn’t want that deliciously sugary goodness on top of more sugary delicious goodness??! Am I right?!

My brother chuckled to himself before answering no.

I couldn’t resist, so I asked him, “What was that about?” And he turned to me, and dead-face serious said, 

“Having Cool Whip on your pie is a ‘White people thing’.“

For some reason, this response sparked something in me and I basically lost my shit.

I went on a rant about how ridiculous a statement that was and that we are part white, to which he quickly retorted, “I’m not, I’m Black.”

When I told him that in saying that he was disowning our mother, he just shrugged it off.

But for me, I couldn’t just pick a race and say, “Hey this is me; this is who I racially identify as.”

To this day, I still mark, “Two or more races” when filling out paperwork.