About Lakia Shavon Lightner
I am the eldest of eight children and I was born in Connecticut, USA. I am 35 years old. While I was growing up my mother was a single parent. I never knew my father. My mother was married only once but the man cheated on her with a woman from his country of origin. In the end, during the divorce proceedings, she found out he had only married for citizenship. She was devastated because she had no idea about this and truly loved him.
I am multiracial and I have Native American, African and European heritage. My mother also has the same racial and cultural heritage.
I am self-employed as founder of Mixed Chicks Sorority and I am a professional in Public Relations and Women’s Studies. I have a new role as an aunt to my second brother’s son.
Were you raised to have a connection with all sides of your racial identity?
I grew up celebrating all aspects of my cultural identity. My mother is a professional teacher. She instilled in me that connecting with all sides of my racial identity was important.
Did your parents discuss mixed race identity and racial issues with you?
Of course, my mother discussed mixed race identity and racial issues with me. She said to me, ‘Although you are young when you become an adult make sure you embrace and love who you are. Never worry about what society says in regards to who they assume you are.’
What was your school life like?
During my school years the teachers were racist towards me, to the point that my mother had to make visits to the school and hold meetings with them. They treated me differently to the other students. I was extremely smart so the teachers would often try to disagree with me. They did not understand how I, as a mixed race girl, could have equal intelligence with the white students.
The students knew I was different from them because our school was predominantly white. At school I only had one friend, Sharis Fuller, who was mixed race like me. We understood who we were and why we stood out. Our parents taught us early on not to worry about others not liking us and not to care either.
Next my mother moved us to a predominantly ethnic minority school and the students, especially the girls hated me. Every day they used to harass me and pick fights. They used to question me, asking ‘Who are you?’ and saying ‘You’re not like us’. They disliked it that I used to stand up to them. Again I only had one friend, Nyscheele Brown. She was much older than me, but she treated me well and vice versa. Sadly she passed away at age fourteen.
How do you think your environment affected your understanding of your mixed race identity?
I think the neighborhoods I grew up in showed good examples of how our world is. Although I was young I already knew how to deal with people’s ignorance.
Do you feel you have been affected by any racial stereotypes? If so, have any of these been specifically about being mixed race?
Yes, growing up often girls and women who were African American and dark-skinned used to say things like; ‘light girls are only good for sex, no man ever marries them’, ‘you think you are better’, ‘look at your hair, it’s different from ours’ and ‘your kind don’t even finish school’.
Did your relationships with your parents impact how you felt about different parts of your racial identity?
Yes. The fact that my mother taught me about the different parts of racial identity at a young age, has helped me to deal with others and helped me to love, embrace and be proud of who I am.
Do you have any siblings who are also mixed race and do they have similar experiences to you?
My siblings are mixed race too and of different races, as we all have different fathers except for two of my siblings.
Do you think perceptions of mixed race people have changed over the course of your life? If so, in what ways?
I feel strongly that the perception of mixed race people has changed over time. Our identities are more accepted and there is less ignorance. Mixed race people are able to embrace their true identity now rather than hide.
Is it important for you to be part of a mixed race community? If so, how does this benefit you?
It is extremely important for me to be part of a mixed race community. Being a part of a mixed race community benefits me greatly. I feel at home every time I am in a mixed race community.
Do you feel you relate more to other mixed race people rather than monoracial people?
I relate equally well to both mixed race people and monoracial people.
Do you feel affected by portrayals of mixed race people in the media?
No, because as a mixed race community every day we show the media who we are, and we show such beautiful, powerful and positive examples.
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