Reflections on Race: Sierra Zareck

“Oh, I thought you were Indian!” This phrase is something I’ve heard time and time again. Having my race mistaken is a problem I’ve dealt with for many years, with my straight, dark brown hair and reddish-brown skin. I am actually biracial: half-black and half-white.

When I was younger, I had always identified as biracial. However, as I grew up, there was more and more societal pressure for me to “pick a side.” Having been told by my family that I was both black and white, the media confused me.

As I grew older, I decided that being biracial is part of me. I have often debated whether or not to just say I am black. However, when I imagined telling people this, it felt like a disservice to half of myself. My white dad is just as much my parent as my black mom—to claim one over the other would be to make them unequal. Finally, I had truly discovered my own racial identity: of two races, biracial, black and white.

Although I have come to terms with my race, others have not. For example, when taking a standardized test, I asked if I should fill in the bubble for a scholarship for black people, a teacher said to me, “Well, you’re black, aren’t you?” This is just one case when someone tried to put me into a box where I did not fit. I have heard other people of my race endure “black jokes” about fried chicken, basketball, and so on. Although I am just as much white, people often choose only to see the black in me, and totally disregard my other half. I struggle with this, and there are times when I do wonder if the world will only ever see me as black.

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