I was fortunate enough to grow up in the era of the “Disney Kids.” What this means is I was at the perfectly ripe age to immerse myself in the magic of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and all the other classics. And like many children my age, a favorite game of mine was to imitate the characters and act out the movies scene by scene and song by song.
Now, I don’t know if it’s human nature, a learned societal construct, or whatever, but most children, when picking a character to dress up as, usually pick the one that looks most like them.
So, being seven-years-old, I picked the one Disney character that looked most like me: Pocahontas. Simultaneously, my older sister chose to favor the one Disney character she felt resembled her the most: Princess Jasmine. At the time, I thought nothing of it. Looking back, it’s interesting to reflect on how children identify themselves with the options they are given.
Growing up, it was difficult for me, and I suppose many other mixed children and adults as well, to find representations of themselves in everyday media. There were many light brown girls, African-American girls, girls with curly hair, but few who were black and white like me.
As a kid, you really think nothing of it, but as a teenager and a young adult—those years when I struggled most with my identity—it became vital that I found some source, some voice telling me that I wasn’t some rare, exotic creature not normally found in nature. I needed to be told that I was ok being me, and that particular moment didn’t happen until my freshman year of college.
In October, my school invited Kip Fulbeck as a speaker for a one-night event. Fulbeck is the author of multiple books, including one of my favorites Part Asian, 100% Hapa. I was so excited to see this man in person, and let me tell you, it was as magical of an experience as watching Simba climb Pride Rock.
Everything that I had been feeling—every doubt, fear, and insecurity—Fulbeck addressed it all. For the first time in my life, I felt like someone understood that part of me—that big black and white elephant in the room that no one ever wanted to discuss before.
I was on such a high after the event that I ran back to my dorm and e-mailed him right away. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for websites, books, newsletters, organizations, anything and everything having to do with mixed individuals in order to gather resources for myself to hold my hand through my identity journey.
Sometimes it’s a full website like that of the Mixed Heritage Center. Other times, it’s a Tumblr blog like The Daily Multiracial featuring noteworthy and famous mixed individuals. Either way, I pay attention to and draw from these resources when need be. And my hope is that this blog will become one of those resources someday for someone like me.
Where do you find comfort in who you are? Is it in the music you listen to? Is it in the books that you read? What about blogs or documentaries or even the people with whom you surround yourself? Where has your identity journey lead you?