Unapologetic Identity

In Sara Luzuriaga’s ’16 article, “Not Just an Other,” published in the January 22 issue of The Phillipian, one particular line stood out to me: “I am sick of being regarded as ‘not Hispanic enough,’ ‘not British enough’ or ‘not white enough’ to fit into where I know I should be able to.” I could not agree more – as a biracial person myself, I am too often excluded from one race and expected to resemble another.

I grew up stereotypically “white.” I was raised in a predominantly white town, attended a predominantly white church and was immersed in white culture. I am an avid Freddie Mercury fan, a downhill skiing enthusiast and a dedicated violinist; yet, somehow all of this is “unexpected” because I am also black.

Before I came to Andover, I never had to think about race – I had never had a black community with which to interact. My friends back home knew I was biracial but never really brought it up. In my mostly-white neighborhood, it never occurred to me to be nervous about the police targeting me due to my skin tone. On my Andover application, when asked for my race, I selected both “black” and “white” without thinking twice.

After my acceptance to Andover, however, dozens of emails from on-campus cultural clubs prompted me to take a closer look at my racial identity. While I was excited to connect with a group of people that looked like me, my first reaction to these emails was a mixture of discomfort and fear. Was I obligated to join these specific clubs just because I was black? And, considering my background, what if I was not “black” enough to attend? Would they not like me or consider me too different from them?

As it turns out, my worries came to fruition. I felt – and still feel – not “black” enough.

Ultimately, I ended up not joining any affinity groups or racially-oriented clubs because I didn’t have the time. But I feel as though my black identity seems to be contingent upon my attendance of certain clubs. Even now, my peers continue to assume I am a part of Afro-Latino-American Society (Af-Lat-Am). When I remind them that I do not go to Af-Lat-Am meetings, I am often met with strange looks, judgmental tones and even laughter – they look at me as if I forgot that I was black. They seem to forget that I am also white.

“You obviously weren’t raised black,” is a comment I frequently hear from black and white peers alike. Am I supposed to be offended? Proud? They joke about my taste in music. They comment on the fact that I wear leggings four out of the five days of the school week. These people expect me to conform to societal expectations of what it means to be black, but I just can’t do that. That’s not me.

Because I do not fit into a racial mold, I feel like I am neither black nor white enough by societal standards. But rather than bend to the will of stifling and unfair cultural stereotypes, I am not going to apologize for who I am.

I love Andover – really and truly. I’m not trying to complain, because Andover has given me everything I wanted in a school and more. But ever since I arrived, I have been expected to choose between two sides: black and white. I am trying as hard as I can to incorporate both African American and mainstream American culture into my life, but ultimately, my personal identity should dictate or limit what I like or who I am. I am biracial— simple as that.