My Head Under the Covers: Being Biracial in a Racially-charged Society

In Life Reflections by Stacey Whitaker

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Stacey Whitaker

Stacey Whitaker

I try to keep my posts encouraging and uplifting, but tonight I am choosing to express my own feelings of defeat in hopes that something positive will come out of it. I do not expect you to feel inspired, but perhaps, if you are open to it, you might gain a new perspective, or know someone else who could.

Can you think back to when you were a child for just one moment?

Do you remember what it felt like to listen to your parents fight?

Scream at each other?

Say nasty things about each other?

Act hatefully towards one another?

Then you know a little bit of what life is like for a biracial person with all that is going on in America right now.

Just like the home is meant to be a place of solace and safety for a child to grow up in, the United States of America is supposed to be a place of freedom, liberty, and justice for all to thrive on. And yet, more often than not now, I feel like a child hiding under her bed with a blanket draped over her head, trying to drown out the sound of her parents screaming at one another. Both parents hurl accusations, insults, blame, and hateful things at the other, and the less they feel heard, the louder they become, until irreversible damage is done.

I can say these things because I was that child. The sanctity of my parents’ interracial marriage fell apart and I still remember how I felt. Strangely, it is not very different from how I feel now with all that is happening in America.

With every argument and harsh word, you find yourself wanting to distance yourself from your parents more and more out of anger towards both of them. How could the people you love and trust so much be capable of so much hurt? These people once loved each other so much that they created you together, and now here they are, destroying their marriage, themselves, and you. It makes you sick to listen to, but you cannot distance yourself. Both parents still need your love, and it breaks your heart to withhold it from them, so you don’t.

When things have calmed down (or at least both parents have stormed off into separate rooms), you muster up the courage to go to them one at a time. Your intent is to provide comfort, and hopefully be comforted in the process, but instead, all they can do still is speak negatively about each other.

“Your father will never understand.”
“Why can’t your mother just get over it?”

“He needs to handle his anger better.”
“She needs to quit being so sensitive.”

It’s almost funny how they seem to forget that you are the one on the outside looking in; a perspective that they don’t even seem interested in trying to see from anymore. Some of the things that they say about each other are true, yes. Maybe Dad does need to work on managing his anger and not resort to yelling over the littlest matters. Perhaps Mom has been bitter for too long. You see the areas of weakness in both parents, but dare not say anything about them, lest you face being accused of “siding” with the other. The last thing you want is to feel as though you’ve turned your back on one or both of them, so you say nothing at all.

Few of your peers understand. Some of them come from happier homes and have little to no experience with this kind of hurt. A handful of them will respond accordingly; with love, empathy, and prayer. Others will brush it off like it is no big deal (because to them, it really isn’t). Others still will begin to look down upon you and your situation, because it is too far from their own for them to realize how much you are hurting inside. Maybe, just maybe, you will be spared of any laughter or ridicule, because that just might be the most painful experience of them all. Then there are the friends who are also from broken homes, some of whom will understand, while others are still being consumed by their own anger and bitterness and are unable to look outward.

All you want is for your parents to listen to each other, ask for forgiveness, reconcile their differences, and begin functioning like a family again (or maybe even for the first time). But as you sit under the shelter of your mattress with your blanket of safety and comfort wrapped tightly around your head, your hopes weaken with each passing day and argument.

We have a lot of work to do in this country if we are ever to free ourselves from the grips of racial tension. The majority will not be able to see from the other perspective (few will even try). Meanwhile, there are those of us who have to see the world from both. Like a child standing between their screaming parents, we will stand between our races, praying for change as we listen to them in their hateful exchanges.

You might feel powerless, as I do, but rest assured that you are not.
You might feel forgotten, as I do, but rest assured that you are not.
You might feel hopeless, as I do, but rest assured that you are not.

Keep praying. The Creator of both sides is listening, and His heart is breaking just like yours is.

Do not be corrupted. Do not let the ignorance, intolerance, bitterness, and unwillingness to change turn your heart cold. You were given your perspective for a purpose. Use it to be the voice of reason.

And no matter who you are, take some time and reflect upon who you might be in the metaphor. Are you the child? One of the parents? One of the peers? You decide.

Photo (FlickrCC) by ArTeTeTra

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Stacey Whitaker

Stacey Whitaker

Stacey is currently in pursuit of a master’s degree in counseling at Cincinnati Christian University and aspires to someday specialize in grief & crisis counseling as well as suicide prevention. In the meantime, she enjoys her daily misadventures whilst entering into her 6th year of working at Chick-fil-A. In her spare time, one can usually find her enjoying good company, listening to music, reading, writing, or sipping on some herbal tea.