The title reads Dear Mixed Girls, but this is going to be more of a story of my journey into self-acceptance of who I truly am despite the check box society places me in.
Growing up in a predominant African-American household has always shaped me in the idea of how beautiful people truly are. But it has also disabled me from learning more about me and the other half of me. My name is Autumn Myers, and my background is Puerto Rican, Black, French, and everything under the sun. I am considered Puerto Rican and Black according to society (another issue, another day).
Being raised by my two black pride parents, I didn’t get to experience the full joys of being a Latina. I am not complaining but it raised questions growing up. My mother and my real father had a falling out and she was young in college. She picked up the pieces and continued on with her life until she met my current father. Many would call him a step-dad, but this man raised me before I could even crawl. He was the male figure in my life and I never known anything less. He is truly a great tough love southern raised man. I love him with all my heart and I love him more for not sharing less love with me than my brothers and sisters.
Growing up with my Creole mother and my BlI experienced the joy of soul food, soul music, and being a part of this beautiful culture and having pride in it. It never made me feel less Black to be half Latina, but to other people, they saw it. They would say, “what are you mixed with?” I would respond, I am Black. This raised a lot of questions and the whole no you are not comments came about from an early age. Having to always prove my black identity and honestly I never fit in. Not because of my skin tone but because I didn’t feel like proving it. I was nerdy light skinned reading Harry Potter while other girls were practicing dance moves from the ‘Goodies’ video. I hated proving my Blackness to the other kids. They would say “that’s not your dad.” It tore me up inside because at the time I didn’t know the truth about my mom and my real father.
One day my mother opened up to me and told me the truth about my dad. I felt so torn up and just had so many questions. She wasn’t ready to open up and I understood. She went through a lot when she had me and I didn’t want her to relive the pain of a heartache. Finding out that my real dad was Puerto Rican made me feel weird. I never identified with Puerto Rican because I was never brought up around it. I always just thought if I grew up being Black that’s all I knew. I thought being Latina meant just speaking Spanish and having that culture brought into your life.
My perception changed however when I moved west, I saw so many Latinx that were proud of their roots but didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. It opened my eyes up more to see that dang, you don’t just have to speak Spanish or grow up heavy in your culture to identify with it. It made me wonder and caused me to research more about who I am. Reading about the beautiful ingenious people and seeing how historic the land of PR was made me fall in love. Soon, I asked questions and my mother approved my curiosity and she told me it was okay to find out who I was.
Moving back to New York, I feel it. I feel the rhythm in my bones when I dance to Salsa. I feel a bit of Sazón (this bomb seasoning you cook with, highly recommend) when I step onto the street. However, it was a new challenge again trying to explain people I identify with both. Having those comments of “you don’t look black” or “you don’t speak Spanish” used to tear me up inside. I felt like that confused kid all over again when I didn’t really fit in. Then I did my research and found more stories of bi-racial women who have Latinx background and African American background. I have seen the uprise of Afro-Latinx culture and people began to voice their distress. I found a place to identify with. I found women who had kinky curls and was not your typical “Latina”. I found women who enjoyed both sides and more of culture. It made me proud to say I am a Black-Latina. I fully began to accept all of me and wanted to embrace all of me.
As I learned more about who I am, I realized damn, I come from pretty great backgrounds. So beautiful Mixed girls, you can have both worlds and you don’t have to define yourself as one or the other because that’s not who you are. Whatever or whoever you are, just find self-acceptance within yourself and not society. You are born to be beautiful and you don’t have to prove how “Latin” you are, how “Black” you are, or whatever to anyone. Prove to you that you love you.
Be the queen that you were designed to be and have a little Sazón with a pinch of Tabasco in every step you make.