I recently watched Harry and Meghan on Netflix, as many people have, but I don't want to talk about the obvious problems with the tabloids and the royal family. I want to talk about Meghan and being biracial.
It's something, I feel, isn't talked about enough.
I am biracial myself. My mother was Canadian (white), and my father is Guyanese. I look white - until you stand me next to my mom's side of the family who is mostly blond and blue-eyed. I also live in a very "white" city where our diversity rests upon the local colleges and universities with international students.
Thus, like Meghan, I never had that "talk." I didn't have to. But I bet my cousins, who are much darker skinned than I am, did. I know my father and his siblings struggled with being bullied when they first immigrated to Canada.
I think many of us who are biracial try to fit into one category over the other - black or white - because of the social-political standing of both "races." Race is in quotation marks because it doesn't really exist. The "colour" of our skin is based on three factors:
Genetics (who our parents and grandparents are)
Melanin levels (which is the "substance in your body that produces hair, eye and skin pigmentation," the more melanin you have, the darker those attributes)
Biogeographical location (where you and your ancestors are from)
See the image and description below.
The twin role played by the skin – protection from excessive UV radiation and absorption of enough sunlight to trigger the production of vitamin D – means that people living in the lower latitudes, close to the Equator, with intense UV radiation, have developed darker skin to protect them from the damaging effects of UV radiation. In contrast, those living in the higher latitudes, closer to the Poles, have developed fair skin to maximize vitamin D production.
In truth, being black or white is just another unnecessary dichotomy the world has collectively held on to for too long. It doesn't matter where we fall on the scale, what matters is that we recognize the biases and stigmatizations within ourselves and our cultures and understand that those have real consequences if we don't do anything about them.
Do I identify as white or black? Well, it doesn't really matter. People will see me as they want to see me. What matters is that I recognize the privileges I have because my skin colour is lighter. What matters is that I support the #BlackLivesMatter movement, even -and especially - when I haven't experienced the injustices that my relatives have personally.
Like Meghan, I've often wondered where I "fit in," but then again I've always cared more about just being myself.