Navigating a Blasian Identity in America

My identity has been a journey for much of my life. I know that I'm not the only one that can attest to that statement. I am the product of a Black father and a South Korean mother. For much of my life, I've struggled to find where I stand with my ethnic background. I've constantly asked myself, "Who am I in this world?" 

When I was younger, I always battled with each side of my ethnic identity. At one point, I wanted nothing more than to be one "full" thing. I would switch between either one. I just didn't want to be in between anything anymore. 

I'm more than familiar with phrases like "you're not really Black", "you don't count", or "you're only half Asian." For the longest time, I let that weigh down how I looked at myself and let the perceptions of others influence my identity. I've had hostility towards both sides. I've let negative stereotypes feed my perceptions. 

For a time period, I believed that the worst part of me was the Black side. I went to a middle school in Mechanicsville, Virginia. A school that was predominantly White with a strong affinity for the Confederate flag. I remember during the 2008 election, a boy on my bus had drawn a picture of Obama with a turban and crossed out his name and wrote "Osama Bin Laden". I remember calling my dad to talk about it, telling him how I heard that Obama was a terrorist, that the end of America would come if he was elected, or that the KKK would assassinate him. 

Parts of my Korean family doesn't view Black people in the best light. In their eyes, there are good ones and bad ones. For a while, I carried that same view. In middle school, I thought like this. From twelve to sixteen, I thought this way. I thought that the Black side of me was lesser. I lifted my Asian side on a pedestal. People view Asians as the "Model Minority" and I thought that was better than being Black. But there is no such thing as a positive stereotype. 

Then, I went through a period where I felt the need to prove that I was Black and to prove that I'm Korean. I needed people to see that I was both of the cultures. I wanted people to see that I'm an assimilation of both. Maybe I thought that if I could represent the diversity of both, it could represent what our world could be. However, that's just thinking that I have that much power as an individual. 

In order to change my views and thoughts of how I saw myself and POC, I had to educate myself. I had to look at myself and ask why I viewed a whole people the way that I did. Why did I view myself lesser or better than others? 

But, I can't take for granted the privilege that I have being mixed. First off, I look ambiguous. As I've grown up, I'm often compared to being Hawaiian or some kind of blend. I remember being asked, "what kind of mutt are you?" Being Black and Korean is not an immediate guess. I'm not sure how many experiences that I've gone through that can be traced back to race. But, it doesn't matter whether I've experienced it. It's happening. This is not anything new. This has been going on for years. To ignore this treatment of POC is the same as those directly committing the atrocities. 

There are experiences that I do not fully understand being mixed, but again, it does not make those that have experienced these injustices invalid. 

I know that I have to be aware of what privilege I do have and know that I cannot "play" a side. Who am I to ignore my Black brothers and sisters in favor of my Asian side and vice versa. To ignore a side is to deny the heritage of my parents or silently admit internal self-loathing. No one has a choice in how they come into this world, so why are there systems that are built against them? 

Check your privilege. Educate yourself. While your life experiences may differ from others, it does not make theirs invalid. It does not make it okay for things to continue the way that they are. For some people, racial identity does not matter. If that's your way of thinking, then think of in terms of respect. If people genuinely respected each other or if people did not stay centered on their own selfish gains, the problem that we're facing in the US and all over world might not be at the extent that it is today. Respect our POC. Respect the lives and generations that want to live without fear and anxiety of being targeted for the color of their skin.