I didn’t feel judged at first since I grew up in a multiethnic area. My neighborhood had people of all races represented and everyone got along. No one had an issue with an interracial married couple moving in with my sister and I during my childhood. Having parents of differing ethnic stock was normal to me and I didn’t think that much about it. Sure, I was darker than my dad and lighter than my mom, but I didn’t had any issues with it when it came to my family.
During this time, I read a ton of books, yet I also watched a lot of TV shows (balances it out, right?). I didn’t think too much about the heroes at my young age. I wanted to see the coolest and unique characters. Maybe in hindsight, I should’ve paid more attention like how it was a bad idea for Zach to be the Black Ranger or even how Trini was the Yellow Ranger way back when. I collected action figures of various superheroes of different ethnic groups, but to be honest…most of the heroes were Caucasian that got attention for the toy marketers and whatnot. I know they’re inanimate objects, but maybe Bishop, Sunfire, and Warpath felt like tokens and I didn’t realize it (can’t you tell I was big into X-Men?). Deep in my mind though, I wondered why not many heroes looked like me. I certainly didn’t see that many superheroes who did and certainly not Disney protagonists.
I was fortunate not to deal with as much racism (that I know of) during my elementary school years. Sure, I had my own issues growing up, but nothing too severe as far as bigotry was concerned. With that being said, they slowly became more obvious as I was in my teenage years. Life wasn’t as innocent as I thought even with the history they did teach me in school. When my family moved to a majority-white suburb because of my dad’s job, that’s when it became more apparent as I didn’t see that many Black let alone other POC groups with the exception of a few people of Asian or Indian descent living there. People didn’t believe my mom and dad were married to each other. There were some neighbors who only saw my dad and said to him “At least you’re not part of a Black family moving in”. I didn’t know about that conversation until years later and it broke my heart that anyone would say that. I’m glad my dad called them out on their bigotry and we didn’t associate with them during our time in this town.
Besides that history, there was some dualism in the perception of me existing. There were people who were curious about my heritage which I wasn’t offended by them asking as long as they didn’t say “What are you?” or “Are you American?”. I’ve been mistaken for Indian, Arab, Polynesian, and Native American before (Side note: I’ve had two people directly from India ask if I was Indian and two people of MENA descent [Egyptian and Iranian respectively] wonder if I was a Middle-Easterner). There were people who didn’t have an issue with having both African and European ancestry which is awesome. Unfortunately, there were others who did low-key digs at my ethnic background or considered me worthless. I certainly had enough melanin to not look Caucasian which made me a racial bullying target for some white people and there have been been a couple of Black people who assumed I thought I was better than them because of my mixed heritage while also claiming that I didn’t know anything about being a victim of racism. Those assumptions made me so furious even though I kept quiet since I was bullied into silence back then. Even now, my self-esteem is low enough that I don’t believe I’m better than anyone and I could do an entire post listing all the times others said or did racist crap around me or to me.
I wasn’t the most cognizant of some of these factors when I was far younger, but I certainly got my wakeup call ages ago. Granted, I’m still learning and I can’t stand being put under a microscope by so many people including those that should know better. It’s due to all these jerks that I sadly have to prove my humanity or competence to anyone and everyone.