Blackish: Not black, not white but somewhere in between

My journey as a biracial person

March 6, 2015

I am a biracial girl. My mom is black and my dad is white. I grew up in a diverse suburban area in California and my character, my talents, and my attitude is what defines me. At least that’s what used to define me. It seems like now my race, my skin color, my hair, my look is what defines me. I’ve never experienced the colorism and segregation that I’ve experienced here in St. Louis, Missouri, here at my school, or from my friends. I don’t have a good sense of who I really am anymore.

All my life I’ve had one of the most outgoing and determined personalities. I rarely let anyone tell me what to do or what to be, and if they tried they would know not to do it again. Life isn’t always easy, but you learn that it most definitely goes on. I moved to St. louis when I was 12 and very quickly learned that people are separated by what they look like and are treated in certain ways because of it. Call me naive, but I didn’t know that existed to the extent in which it did until I saw it here.

I never understood why being educated or being respectful was associated with white people or why black people themselves would associate wrong behavior with acting black.”

— Lexi Brunsma

I always got comments and questions on my race and my family makeup, and after the constant badgering I never forgot I was a biracial person again. Now I’m 15, and going to a school in the city which is predominantly black. I am always reminded that I’m not “really” black, or that I look like a little Cuban girl. It sounds pretty innocent and to be honest it is, until it becomes the only thing people see and the only thing people talk about. I used to laugh it off because I was just trying to get by at a new school and place. I’ll never forget the times when people have said I’m not black enough to participate in certain conversations or when my “so called friends” tell me I’m so white. I’m so white because I don’t act “black”. I’m acting white if I’m respecting teachers and authority or talk like a valley girl. I’m acting black if I’m using words like “ain’t” or going off on somebody.

I never understood why being educated or being respectful was associated with white people or why black people themselves would associate wrong behavior with acting black. Everybody acts differently based on who they are around and what they grow up around, and that has nothing to do with the color of their skin or their genetic makeup. Apparently, having curly hair and being from California makes me believe I’m better than everyone, crazy right? But that’s my life on a daily basis.

After about 2 years of brainwashing, I simply wasn’t the person I had known myself to be. I had let the ignorance of what other people said become my truth, and taint my vision of myself. Never in my life have I examined others and myself the way I do now. Just like all white people don’t look the same and all black people don’t look the same, not all mixed people look the same. I identify as a biracial person and there’s nothing more to it. It seems as though the southern thinking ways of St. Louis have caused me to have an identity crisis, one that I currently still struggle with. The complex has caused a lot of harm, but if I could pull any good out of it I would have to say that all of these things have shown me how some people are, and how I don’t ever want to be or become. I don’t think people realize what they’re doing when they do it, or what they’re saying when they say it, because it seems funny, but it isn’t. The only thing that has helped me have compassion for others is the simple fact that I know where the ignorance comes from. It comes from a place of not knowing, given that they haven’t been exposed to diversity like I have. My wish for others is that they become educated on race and culture, so that as people, we aren’t defined or fixated on that. My wish for myself, is simply that I gain the love that I once had for myself again.

I never want to allow somebody else’s uneducated opinions and way of thinking to become my thoughts. Though I wish people judged me based off me as a person, I’ve unfortunately accepted that that’s not the mindset or space that everyone is in. Until then, I somehow have to figure out how to teach myself to love me again based off my character and not anything else. It’s difficult because I’m still trying to figure out who I am, but I guess this is just another part of my journey.


Update: May 6, 2015

This story was a finalist for the Missouri Journalism Education Association’s Opinion Story of the Year competition. Click here for more information.

About the Writer
Photo of Lexi Brunsma
Lexi Brunsma, Staff Writer

Finalist for the Missouri Journalism Education Association's Opinion Story of the Year competition for Blackish: Not black, not white but somewhere in...


9 Responses to “Blackish: Not black, not white but somewhere in between”

  1. Justice McCaston on March 6th, 2015 8:14 pm

    This is amazing. I’m not biracial but I completely agree . Many people haven’t had the ability to recognize that everyone isn’t the same and you cannot “act” like a race nor a color. I think everyone struggles with dealing with judgemental statements because of their skin complexion , the way they dress, and even the way they act. Sometimes it takes someone to be introduced to diversity in order to stop being so bias to one race and sometimes all it takes is communication and a broader mindset .

  2. Mr. Smith on March 12th, 2015 1:29 pm

    Fantastic! Thanks for your courage in writing this.

  3. Tanisha Stanciel on May 6th, 2015 3:34 pm

    “I never want to allow somebody else’s uneducated opinions and way of thinking to become my thoughts.” -This is a powerful statement and a powerful piece of writing. Stay encouraged, continue this way of thinking and you will continue to rise above it all. Education is everything.-Ms. Stanciel

  4. Michelle Cardenas on August 26th, 2015 7:25 am

    Great perspective, Lexi! It will carry you far. You are your own person. You are completely right that you define yourself, not others, not your skin color, not the judgment of others. Young men and women with this strength and courage will help to bring about a truly positive social revolution in the way many Americans think about race. You are an inspiration.

  5. Debra on August 26th, 2015 1:57 pm

    I’m glad that you spoke out, and I’m glad you’re finding your own path. My guess is that if you had been dropped into a predominantly white environment in Missouri, you would have endured similar racial stereotyping. These are old wounds in this country, and we all get to experience the remnants of racism at some point in our lives. I believe that if you are willing to look, you will find excellent African American students who engage in the same courteous and respectful behavior that you do. Not every African American teen is illiterate or emulates street culture. But being new to an area may mean that the kids who are easiest to approach, the group with the most permeable boundary, may be the least desirable group to belong to. I encourage you to look for the kids who behave in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Be sure not to paint all African American teens in your school and your area with the same brush. There are other teens who are working hard to get ahead just like you. Best wishes for your continued success.

  6. Tracie McGhee on August 29th, 2015 8:16 am

    Your journey is a story I hear waaaay to often as a therapist and founder of Sistakeeper for girls! You Rock and STL is caught up in the Black/White defining line. I’m glad that you have not fallen for it and have decided to stand for who you are and all the gifts that you have inside! We often say in SistaKeeper “I Define ME!” And yes you are a Keeper! Keep defining you!

  7. Lexi Brunsma on September 12th, 2015 7:35 pm

    I just want to give a huge thank you to everyone who has commented such positive things on my story! Although I don’t attend GCAA anymore, as of this year, I am so happy that people are still reading it and responding to it. This blog/editorial has gone places I really didn’t expect, and I just hope that each and every person can take something more than just a different racial perspective or view but to also understand the importance of finding yourself and knowing what you stand for and what you don’t. I still have a lot of growing and learning to do myself and I thank everyone who has been in my life good and bad because that has enabled me to write the story I wrote, tell the stories I tell, and to sing from a genuine place. Also, thanks to Mr. Armknecht because he let me be controversial and write this haha and allowed journalism to be another form of expression for me at the school!

  8. Miriam Johnson on April 2nd, 2016 7:59 am

    My name is Miriam.
    I have a vivacious ,intelligent and gorgeous 13 year old girl.
    She is mixed and we live in a predominantly white neighborhood in St.Louis.
    To make it short…
    I am looking for other mixed teens or/and groups to connect and who celebrated their uniqueness in a world who is critical to otherness.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

  9. Jesse on August 15th, 2017 9:16 pm

    I always thought maybe it was just my family and my specific life that caused me never to give thought to race. And I tell people that and they think, “yeah right, like you don’t immediately think oh she’s white or black”. But, it’s true. I grew up in California and I never once thought of black people as being different or uneducated. Fast forward 10 years and I now live in St. Louis. This area is hyper aware of race. I once never gave it any thought and now it’s every where. It’s almost like living here as turned me into a judgmental person who bases my opinion on race. I fucking hate it. I would give anything to go back to my youth … when my white friends were no different than my black friends. St. Louis has perverted my thoughts. It sucks. And now my kids have the terrible reality of growing up in St.. Louis where race is everything.

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