Thoughts from a biracial girl: ‘Being biracial is its own identity’


Rory Schoech

My mom, Tawnya, and my dad, James.

From an early age my mom has always been really good about exposing me to black culture, tv, music and history. She is my biggest role model. (Schoech family photo)

Sometimes I forget who I am.

I’m biracial. My dad is white and my mom is black. Though, most people wouldn’t really be able to tell unless I told them because I don’t look it. I am what is called whitepassing. I look white to almost every person I meet. A pale, freckle faced girl with bright red hair. If I had a dollar for every time I had to explain to someone that

“No, I’m not adopted.” 

“Yes, that is my real mom.” 

“I’m not kidding, I’m actually black.”

Well, I’d have a pretty nice allowance.

I didn’t think much of my racial identity until I reached middle school, a place where almost every kid has some sort of identity crisis or self realization. It was during this time I experienced being around all cultures. Kids blossomed into teens who became more aware of race. And I was no exception.

I remember one day in seventh grade after a long day of STAAR testing, a couple of black kids at my table started quizzing me on my “blackness.” Asking me questions like “Do you like watermelon?” If I answered correctly, I was one of them. If not, I must not really be black. When I did answer “correctly,” I felt so much pride. But now looking back, I cringe. Having to prove my identity to someone was damaging. People doubting who you are only makes you doubt yourself more.

My mom has always impressed upon me black pride. Ever since I was little, I’ve been jamming out to Destiny’s Child and watching documentaries and movies starring black people. She has always wanted me to fully accept my black culture. 

So why do I forget?

The self doubt I had about my race held me back from feeling accepted by both the white and black communities. At some points, I felt like I was too white for the black kids but too black for the white kids. 

There were moments in time where I forgot I was black all together. I look in the mirror and my reflection isn’t convincing. And the world around me doesn’t necessarily help. 

When taking tests or signing legal documents, there is always the same question.

Race: Select one box.

I always checked the box that said white because that’s what people see. I felt so guilty doing this. I felt that I was betraying my mom. Betraying half of me. I felt that if I checked black,  I was lying to everyone. But really, by not checking it I was lying to myself.

These past few years have opened my eyes. All of the racial turmoil in our country has forced me to sit down and have long conversations about race and my identity. Time and time again, I see my people being harmed, discriminated against, and killed because of their race. The injustice in our country has enraged me. In turn, it’s made me extremely aware of my racial identity. 

A voice in my head saying, “You are black and don’t you forget it.” 

I can’t speak for all biracial people, but I know I’m not the only one who has felt the way I have. Society likes to put people in boxes. But being biracial is its own identity. I’m not just one, or the other. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Finding my space in the world of racial identity has been a journey, one that isn’t over yet. I plan to find opportunities to immerse myself more into the black community. That being said, now is the most secure I’ve ever felt in my identity. And it feels good.