I like to link the two together, because coming to terms with both of them have had great similarities for me.
I am a mixed POC. I am 3/4 black and 1/4 white. My grandfather on my mother’s side was (was because he’s dead now and did the year I was born) a white Portuguese man, his wife a black Vincentian. My father’s parents are both black Vincentians. (Vincentians is the term for people who are from St. Vincent & the Grenadines).
With that out of the way, growing up mixed was hard for me. For someone who is 3/4 black, it only really shows up in my facial features. My skin is quite light due to my mother (who despite being mixed equally can pass as white 99.9% of the time, skin and features included. Accent not included, as she has one). In elementary school I always tried to be friends with other black children considering how my schools were a sea of white faces. Most of my friends, because of this, were white. People knew I was mixed. I knew I was mixed. But back then, I didn’t think about colour much. But I still felt a feeling of “not belonging.”
I hit high school and the feeling of not belonging got even worse. Again, I tried making friends with other black kids but I just could not fit in with them. And it hurt terribly. I was told by a girl that “[I] wasn’t black. [I] was red.” I was made fun of by other black kids at my church for “not being black enough” because of how I acted.
By then I had mostly white friends, with a few Asian friends and Indian friends. But probably 1 black friend. This didn’t make it any better, especially among my white friends. They knew I was black, but at the same time they didn’t. I was visible to them, but invisible at the same time (to quote Invisible Man by Ellison.) They would make racist comments around me. I hated it. One day we were all sitting at our usual table in the cafetorium. A group of black kids were behind us, playing dominos and being loud. One of my friends snarled in a disgusting tone
“I fucking hate black people.”
I was in such shock. I immediately shot back a “Oh thanks.” And I was given a “I wasn’t talking about you” response.It was at that point that I knew I could not fit in within that sphere either.
I went through a stage of being no where. “Not black enough to be black and not white enough to be white.” My parents behaved the same. “How can you be black and not like rap/hip-hop?” and “You act/dance/play with your hair like such a white girl.” I told my father I really wanted to go see my favourite metal band in concert one day. His reply was “You’d be the only black girl there.” I would tell them that I am mixed, and they would say “No you’re not. You’re black. You can only be one or the other.”
I hated being mixed. It took me a long time (in fact, just right before I went to university) to except the fact that it is okay to be mixed. It is something I cannot change, and it is apart of me. Yes, I am black. But I am also mixed as well. And that’s okay. By saying I am mixed, I do not reject my blackness. I embrace being both black and mixed. Both are important to me.
Realizing that I was asexual went through a sort-of similar path for me. I felt the same “out of place-ness” growing up that I did with being mixed. I couldn’t connect and relate to the same experiences when it came to sex and dating and attraction. I felt awkward. I felt wrong and broken.
When I stumbled upon the term asexual, at first I thought “This is me! I found me!” but I then had a second thought that perhaps it wasn’t. The term still floated in my mind, but I was very unsure. Leaving high school, I adopted the term. I was asexual.
But I hated it. I had broken up with a boyfriend in grade 11, and during the summer before university I explained to him how I believed that I was asexual during out relationship. Things started to click with how I had behaved and how I felt. I was never sexually attracted to him. Things started to make sense.
But despite making sense, I hated being asexual. I hated how it made me feel so different. Again, as if I didn’t belong. I would tell others that I was asexual and they would tell me you could only be either gay, straight, or bi. Nothing more, nothing less. Friends called me some horrible names and told me some horrible things. It hurt and only made me hate myself more. With my newer boyfriend, I felt as though I could not love him how he wanted because I was asexual. I felt horrible. I took out my anger and pain on my artwork, and channeled all those feelings into it.
I believe that accepting that it is okay to be mixed and there is nothing wrong with it helped me to quickly accept that it was okay to be asexual. Despite people telling me otherwise, I learned that there was nothing wrong with me. That I was okay. That I was “normal” despite believing for so long and being told that I was “abnormal.” And it felt so good.
I was at peace. With being black and mixed and being asexual. I was finally happy with me.
Do I still deal with racist shit in the racist society I live in? Yes. I do. But I feel that by accepting myself, I am in a better place in deal with how society feels about me. I am able to defend myself and my heritage and speak out against racism. I am no longer afraid to call out my friends on the harmful things they say, whereas before I would never do so because of how much I hated myself.
Accepting my asexuality has helped me too. I now have some clarity on the issues I face, and I can face them without hating myself over it. Again, I’m in a better position to face those problems.
Accepting that I am black and mixed and how it is okay greatly helped me accept my asexuality. All three are apart of who I am as a person. Despite what society feels about me, I am okay with myself. It is okay to be black and be mixed at the same time. It is okay to be a gray-romantic asexual. I am normal.