I'm Not a Puzzle, I'm a Person.

Lauren, Cincinnati, OH

If it's winter and my hair is black, I'm Asian. Sometimes I'm Hawaiian or Lebanese. Or people will just start speaking to me in Spanish. People are always trying to figure me out. My mom is actually of German decent with brown hair and blue eyes. When I was little I wanted blond hair and blue eyes. When we'd go to the pool in the summer I would slather on sunscreen, it didn't work. I've since decided I'm just going to be Lauren.

Like when I would have rap music on and my white friends would say "you've got your black music on. I'd say, no, this is just a black rapper whose music I like. Or when black friends would say, "you talk so white," I would say, this is just how I talk. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, but I like my hair like this (straight). I get Brazilian blowouts. I tried the "creamy crack" for awhile but it destroyed my hair. 

My advice to parents of mixed kids: Make sure that they know about all the sides of them, and let them choose to be the person they want to be. Let them choose once they know all the background on where they come from. 

I feel like I have a lot more history of my black family than white, perhaps they (white family) don't feel the need to preserve the history in the same way. My grandfather was born to sharecroppers in South Carolina and was there until he was 5. Until then he didn't even have a full name, he was just LC. It was an elementary school teacher who told him he could do more. In addition to being a Tuskegee airman, (a group of African-American fighter pilots who fought valiantly in World War II without ever losing a plane), he went on to help redesign the junior high and high school system so it would bring neighborhoods together and promote desegregation. Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins then went on to become the first black dean at the University of Cincinnati, among many other things. 

My advice to a young mixed girl: Nobody else is better than you even if they look different. And there's only one version of you and your special so be the best version of YOU. 

What frustrates me most about "identity" is that people want to force labels, put you in a box, that I just can't be me. Even people who want to call themselves "black" don't look anything like their ancestors who came off the slave ships. But everyone wants to separate themselves. There aren't enough people just talking about being YOU.