It was an early morning in the green room where I was working wardrobe for the day. The actors waited for their makeup as I waited for the art director to come approve the outfits I had pulled. This was day three of production on a commercial shoot and I just wanted to do my job well, be proud of what we’d shot, and GTFO to indulge in a Netflix marathon before bed. That’s why when two actors started to turn guessing my racial background into a game (this is REAL LIFE), I mustered every molecule in my body to be A Good Girl. Minutes before the camera rolled was not the time to call the actors out on their prejudices. It was a time to zone out and think about the ice cream I had waiting at home. Oh, they think I’m “African” or “exotic like Israeli or Portuguese”? That’s nice.
Related-ish: 13 Women On Why They Never Want To Get Married
Because, honestly, sometimes a biracial gal just gets tired (cue Rashida Jones explaining her “tan” on the red carpet). Exhausted, even. I wish I could say I always raise to the occasion to fight and educate, but c’mon. Sometimes I don’t have the energy, especially since my biracial body is mine 24/7 and the obnoxious comments never cease. It’s easier for me to dwell on something later than to potentially lose a gig and a paycheck.
Here are 12 things biracial women—not just me—are sick of hearing:
What are you?
A human. And you? Are you a martian or an alien? Something else? The universe is a big place. Please tell me about your planet since you want to know everything about my racial background. While you’re rattling on, I’ll map out my family tree. But forgive me because I can’t remember the name of my paternal great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, so there might be a gap there.
Where are you from?
Planet Earth, thanks. The implication with this question is always that a biracial gal foreign, which she may or may not be. Sometimes this question comes from a place of innocent curiosity but it comes with an assumption that’s not OK to make. And it’s definitely never OK to ask this question with malice. Xenophobia is uglier than pimple pus.
You must love (insert pretty much anything here.)
Because of my racial background? Um, no. I like what I like because I am me, moi, the one and only, baby. This is Cultural Competence 101. Don’t generalize. Cool? Cool. Now put that into practice. Mwah!
You look so exotic. / You’re so spicy.
Calling biracial women “exotic” others us. It implies that white is normal and everybody else is abnormal. Exoticizing us fetishizes and hyper sexualizes us, too. We mixed race women are not foods or flavors. We are humans—though if you know how to make pupusas and Mayan chocolate sprout from my skin at will, I’ll listen. And if you’re a rich white male, I may just copy the idea, claim it as my own, and make a lot of money off it. You know, as payback.
I knew you had (insert race) in you. It’s in your (insert physical feature here.)
Oh, did you make a bet? How long have you been staring at me? Your bedroom walls wouldn’t happen to be plastered with Nazi anthropometry posters, would they? Just wondering. Some people have music posters and family photos on their walls, but to each his own—except not in this case. Gross.
OK, but you’re really white.
Many but not all mixed race women who have one white parent or grandparent are white-passing, as demonstrated by our lobster-red sunburns and the fact that we don’t put up with the same level of B.S. that our black and brown relatives do. Still, we’re more than one race. “White” doesn’t cover our full racial identity. That’s kind of like looking a someone who’s just wearing a bikini top and saying she’s wearing a bikini. No, she’s not. That’s only half of a bikini. (Hopefully she brought a lot of sunscreen.) Oh, and “acting white” isn’t really a thing, either. Even if it were, it wouldn’t make us “whiter.” *rant not over*
Oh, you must know a lot about (insert stereotypical cultural aspect of race/ethnicity.)
Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. But don’t make assumptions. Instead, make an effort to relate to me on some other level. Biracial women have opinions about the same things as everybody else—current events, movies, sports, and more. You love apricot oil? ME, TOO!
You don’t act (insert race) at all!
Yeah, I really need to catch up on my segregation-era caricatures and use them as a template for my habits and personality. Otherwise I don’t really exist. Time to paint my face and take the stage.
Mixed people are the most beautiful. / Mixed babies are the cutest.
Though this is meant as a compliment, it’s still annoying. First off, biracial women don’t exist for your pleasure. Stop ogling us. Second, do you actually think this or do you have nothing else to say? In my experience, the people who say this tend to not be in interracial relationships and that baffles me since they apparently want a mixed baby so badly. Like, what Tumblr social justice warrior badge are you trying to win?
I had no idea s/he was your mom/dad. You don’t look anything alike!
Hmm, and yet I carry half of his/her genes. Trust me when I say this is my parent and go take a refresher course on human genetics. Chances are you aren’t your mother’s clone, either. Mini-Mes are hard to find.
You only got into college because of affirmative action. / You got that scholarship because you’re (insert race here.)
College acceptance letters and scholarships are earned, betch. I I worked my buns off, just like every other college-educated biracial woman I know. If you’re jealous about what a biracial woman has achieved, find a healthy way to handle that jealousy or cry us a river and drown in your tears—whichever you prefer.
Mixed race people are the people of tomorrow.
No, we’re the people of today and we’re here now. Stop romanticizing race relations in the future. A lot must change first. Add this list to the pile of evidence.