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General

Due to circumstances way beyond my control. My family and I were forced to move back to Mississippi where my mother grew up. When my father was killed by some crazed crack head for $188 dollars and 73 cents in change at a Time Saver Gas Station/Store, we had no choice but to uproot from our suburban home in Tallahassee, Florida.

My mother who is black never finished high school and never worked with an IQ will over 144. Her only job was to raise us six children by my white father who was and Executive Branch Manager for IBM.  He attended Florida State and lettered in 3 sports. He could have went pro in any one of those sports but when my mother got pregnant at 18 years old he felt if was his manly duty to work right away after his college graduation.

Us siblings still don’t know how the two of them ever met. Could you imagine once living in a middle class suburb of Florida to Yazoo City, Mississippi of all places. I never understood why my mother continued to tell us children that we weren’t some chocolate-vanilla swirl cone. "You're human children. Mixed, I later understood, was an insult. Things are mixed, not people.

The poverty rate in Yazoo City is 49.0%. One out of every 2 residents of Yazoo City lived in poverty. The Poverty Rate of black residents in Yazoo City, Mississippi is dramatically higher than the national average of 25.2%. 4,840 of 9,012 black Mississippians live below the poverty line. Approximately 80.5% of the total population of Yazoo City, Mississippi are black. Even though I am of a mixed race. In Yazoo City I was considered black even if I was never excepted by both white and black races.

I was in my junior year in high school at the time and received letters of intent offers from many of the top division 1 universities in the country.

In Yazoo city I was cut from the football team before I threw a pass. That team hadn’t won a game in 3 years with a record of 0-24. When I tried out for the baseball team I was told that I was too light skin and would cause too many riots when the team played on the road. The basketball coach said that I was too tall at 6’7” and would mess up his perfect no win seasons at 0-112.

I couldn’t even join up or be excepted by any poverty street gangs.

I graduated with honors and excepted a full scholarship with the University of Mississippi, even though I hadn’t played high school sports in two years.

When I get to college, I tack up a photo of Mom and Dad in my dorm room, show up to the Office of Black Student Affairs and Hillel events in equal measure and let those who did not know me do the math. "Mixed" is not in any equation they were accustomed to figuring out. I hear it in passing but shrug it off like any casual slur. When "What are you?" does come up via strangers at the gym, on the bus, in barbeque rib joints, any public library and movie theaters, whether I’m entering or exiting. I take a deep breath and dive in. "Well, my mother's paternal grandmother emigrated to the U.S. from what would now be called Kinshasa the Democratic Republic of Congo’s," I begin, to the dismay of everyone involved. I'm thrilled to pieces when my little mixed American idol from Blackish (Yara Sayeh Shahidi an Mixed American actress, model, and activist. She gained recognition for her starring role as the oldest daughter Zoey Johnson on the sitcom Black-ish), makes it big and I can finally say, "You do know Zoey? One day I hope to surpass her success. That confession leaves many of my name callers speechless. One fine sunny day deep down south I point out to my teammates on Code Switch folks who traverse the very frontiers of race, culture and ethnicity for a living expecting an outpouring of finely worded indignation. To my surprise, I soon discover that no one really cares. Stuff like this keeps happening. My college quarterback coach talks about the adorableness of "mixed" babies out of the clear blue at football film studies. A multiracial friend of mine posts an article about dating as a "mixed" man on Tinder. I come across a line of hair-care products at Target called Mixed Dudes and even I have to admit it's a catchier name than "shampoo for semi nappy hair men with ancestry from multiple parts of the world whose hair isn't traditionally catered to in mainstream hair products."

I don't want to start throwing around pejoratives willy-nillies, but it would be nice to have a single-syllable answer the next time someone asks, "What are you?" But first, I need answers. Is "mixed" a slur, or what? Where does it come from? Who is it for? More broadly, who gets to decide which words work and which are verboten?

There are very few spaces left in America where calling someone a "mulatto" wouldn't elicit some serious side-eye, but for a long time, the word mulatto, like Negro or Oriental, was largely a nonissue. So what makes one term fall out of favor and another take off?

In a country where the share of multiracial children has multiplied tenfold in the past 50 years (United States), it may be a good time to take stock of our shared vocabulary when it comes to describing Mixed Americans like me.

I started digging into the history of that vocabulary, over time and around the world. It turns out we've had a dizzying multitude of monikers, many of which are offensive. Don’t skip ahead if you want to avoid some of the worst otherwise funny and ignorant slurs, here we go: muwalladeen, mulattos, mestizos, mestiҫos, blended, biracial, interracial, multiracial, multiethnic, gray, high yellow, half-breed, mixed-breed, cross-breed, mutt, mongrel, mixed blood, mixed race, mixed heritage, quadroon, octoroon, hapa, pardo, sambo, half-cracker but a black jigaboo, too.

I think that I have given you enough information on why people of a mixed race are hardly excepted by any groups of people or organization just because they are “MIXED”!

August 25, 2020 18:52

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Corey Melin
02:54 Aug 28, 2020

Very eye opening read. Having two children that are white/black to read of the challenges of life that hopefully one day is a non issue.

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