I chose to be childfree. I did not choose to be mixed-race.
As I watch the events unfold in the United States from the comfort of my home in Canada, I’m feeling removed from the situation because I am a half-black woman who doesn’t relate to black culture. As the demand for voices to speak out against racial injustice increases, I have struggled to know what to say. How do I share my story and be seen by both the black community and the white community?
Below is a candid, 12-minute video sharing my own experiences with racism and colorism. The transcript is below the video.
The intent is to bring awareness to mixed-race voices and our stories. It has taken me 37 years to be able to voice my struggle with racial identity. It’s more comfortable for me to publicly talk about choosing to not have kids than it is to talk about being half-black.
Thank you, in advance, for watching, reading, sharing, and listening to my story.
It sucks to be judged based on your skin tone and what you don’t do with your uterus.
My dad is a black man and he comes from a family that rarely acknowledges the fact that they are black, even though they are very obviously black.
I don’t have specifics, I know that they came from the States and settled in Canada. I was raised primarily around white family. My parents were married until my mom died. So I had both parents at home. But race was not discussed so essentially I come from a color-neutral household.
My nickname in elementary school was “brownie” because I had a darker skin tone than this *holds up a white piece of paper*.
Do you know what my comeback was?
“Well, you’re a vanilla ice cream cone!”
It’s important for black voices to be amplified. We’re seeing this all over social media. Here’s the thing- for me, I realize I have a black voice. but I have allowed other people’s expectations of what a black person should look like, what a black person should sound like, how a black person should act, and even my own expectations, the stereotypes that I’ve bought into, (because of these) I have silenced my own black voice.
I have felt that because of how I look- this is the hair I’ve been given, this is the face I’ve been given, because I don’t feel like I’ve ever been held back from any opportunity because of what I look like, I feel like I don’t have a voice. I don’t have a black voice. I’m not entitled to say anything.
Yes, I can stand up against racism but I don’t even have a story worth sharing because I am not black enough.
I’ve always had that feeling because when you were mixed-race you’re too dark to be white but you are to light to be black. And then when something huge happens you are required to pick a side.
People being mistreated based on the color of their skin is wrong.
You know, the worst (time) for me was from kindergarten to grade 12, being picked on for the color of my skin or being told “you’re trying to be black” until I brought my black father to class to prove that yes, I am part black. Just because I don’t have the hair, my skin is this color, and I don’t act like black people act on TV — see I grew up without a TV so I never knew about black culture in the States. Being Canadian, I don’t know what black culture is here. Again, it’s a mixed-race thing. Maybe it’s mixed-race privilege, I don’t know. This is the conversation.
I don’t want my voice to be silenced even if it comes from a mixed-race background because I have struggled with my racial identity all my life. I don’t deny I’m one race or the other, I don’t understand completely. I come from two very diverse families. For example, my grandfather, (my mom’s dad) did not come to her wedding because she married a black man, even though he respected my dad and he treated me and my brother really well.
I found out later (I was in my 20s when I found this out and actually even in my 30s speaking with an uncle) that my grandfather was concerned about my mom having mixed-race kids because of the struggles that we would go through.
He was right, my brother and I definitely have had our struggles with racial identity and fitting in and where do we stand and how do we voice how we feel and be accepted in both communities.
If you’re a white person watching this you may look at me and go ‘well you don’t have the problems that a full black woman has’ and that’s fair. And then you may be a black person watching this and going ‘you’re a white girl with a tan! What are you talking about?’ and that’s also fair.
But, that’s a judgment against the color of my skin right there. All we can really do is listen to each other’s stories and right now the stories of black people and I’m gonna say mixed-race people because a lot of times mixed-race people look black — look at Barack Obama, look at Trevor Noah. Halle Berry. There’s a whole long list of people that look more black (than I do) who are half (black).
There are a lot of stories out there and we all have our struggles with it.
What I’m struggling with right now is what my responsibility is. My struggle is in voicing my racial identity on issues that I feel so removed from.
There’s a reason why I’m not silent about the childfree lifestyle because it brings awareness and it helps younger generations realize that they have a choice in the matter.
Growing up in a color-neutral household where race was not discussed, I know this was done on purpose and this was intended to be a good thing — just like when people comment saying ‘oh I don’t see color I see people’ they’re probably coming from a good place.
But in a moment like this where black people who have been silenced for so long, I think of all of my ancestors, my black ancestors who were silenced their entire existence. I’m not procreating so I am the last of that energy, that pain that’s been handed down to me from previous ancestors. I have to voice it because, I’ve said this before in previous episodes, that I believe that children are just the previous generations unfinished business.
Because I’ve chosen not to have kids, I am finishing all that unfinished business on behalf of all those who came before me. So even though I have this face, even though I have this hair and even though I might not be black enough for you, I am here to voice how I feel. I’m here to voice my story because of those that came before me were silenced and their sacrifice has given me the life that I have now.
I have freedom.
I have the ability as a woman, as a single woman, as a woman that is not having children. I have complete freedom to live how I want. To express myself.
For me to not say something about it, even though I don’t feel like I am black enough to say something at a time like this, then that would be no better than someone else saying to me that “yeah, you’re not black enough to talk about your struggle and how you feel in a time like this”.
We can’t understand other people’s struggles but we can listen to other stories. I think the best thing right now is to listen to other people’s stories who don’t live like the way you do.
The last couple of days I was really upset about feeling obligated to talk about race especially because, well I guess I didn’t feel ready. I think people should express how they feel in different ways and I think it should include private conversations and not just public displays of “hashtag black lives matter”.
I love social media. I love using it to connect with other members of the childfree community. I see value in it but there’s so much inner work that has to be done with all of us.
As a mixed-race person who has silenced her own black voice, I have to do the inner work first.
I am making this video and I’m struggling while I’m doing this video right now because I still feel very inadequate but I have to start somewhere. This is what I can do.
I’ve had conversations with other black women from around the world who also don’t feel connected to the struggles that black American women have. Even other black American women I’ve talked to who feel removed from the situation because they don’t identify with what’s going on either.
I realize that I have had my assumptions about the struggles of black people. Speaking with them privately, with other people who I would assume have more experience than I do, realizing ‘oh we’re kind of in the same boat’. Everyone has a different experience. Everyone has a different struggle, a different battle and we don’t know until we connect with somebody and share how we feel.
Go into the conversation without assuming anything. Looking at the tensions that are happening in the States and of course, racism happens everywhere — I know that because I experienced so much of that school. It’s having the conversation in a low expectation kind of way.
We wish we could say the right thing that would magically fix everything. Bur clearly humanity has always been fucked up. Read the Bible.
All we can do is share where we can and listen to other people’s stories.
Even if you don’t understand.
Even if you cannot relate.
Just listening is a step, it’s a start. And then, we just have to see what happens from there.
My advocating is for the childfree community. That is where I feel more comfortable and confident speaking.
Anyway, that’s what I have to say on this matter. You can always reach out to me if you want to chat further about this.
To all of my fellow biracial people who are struggling in this moment, trying to figure out where the fuck do we stand — because we’ve kind of always gone through life like this — it’s okay!
Write out how you feel.
Talk about how you feel. Text someone, DM me.
For us, this is not a social media trend. This is our life. Whether we feel adequate enough or black enough to talk about it or white enough, or whatever identity you feel, it’s complicated. It’s complex.
I just hope that we all learn something from it. I hope we learn how to communicate better with each other. I hope we learn how to share our stories and listen better.
That is all I can think of in this moment. Thank you for watching, stay safe, and keep sharing your stories.
LeNora Faye is founder of The Bitchy Bookkeeper: a childfree lifestyle brand. She is also creator of Childfree Journals and 1/3 of the founding non-mothers of Childfree Girls.