More than “just a Black girl”

Jolie Anne Chevalier,
San Jose, CA.

This is me at eight years old back in 1979, the daughter of an African-American/Seminole Indian mother, and a Irish-French-American father. Growing up, I was faced with contradictions in a world of opposites; although I was multiracial my mother told me I was Black, and to identify as such due to the “one-drop rule”. My father was silent on the matter. I was mistaken as Puerto Rican by my paternal grandfather, and was called “tanned” by some of my White classmates. Grammar school was an alienating time for me; all of my classmates had parents of the same race, except for me. I was deemed to dark to really fit in with the White kids and too light to fit in with the Black kids. So I ended up making friends with two friends who looked past my background; one was White and the other Guyanese/Indian. In high school, most of my closest friends were Latinas since I seemed to look more like them, and once I entered college, I found liberation in open-minded friends who came from all around the country and world. During this time, in my search of my identity, I became somewhat militant, immersing myself into African American culture, and speaking disparaging about White people in general. As I matured out of that phase, I decided to eschew my mother’s influences; that it was okay to listen to “White” aka pop/rock music, that speaking properly did not equate with “speaking White” and that I was free to embrace all branches of my family tree despite my skin tone. I was overjoyed to check the “Other” box on forms once they were finally implemented rather than just “Black”, and even happier that nowadays, I am free to check all races that apply to me. I am proud of my heritage, and will never make allowances or explanations for it ever again. When asked of my background, I simply answer “Triracial” or “multiracial”.


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