My name is Holly Belinda Chaney. I am from Flint, Michigan and I’m 41 years old. My birthday is Jan, 12 1975. I work as a Certified Nursing Assistant. My father is black and his father was half Blackfoot Indian. My mother is white with some Native American heritage (my grandma was half Cherokee). I would love to do an ancestor DNA test to know for sure the specific percentages of different parts of my heritage, but I usually just say that I am mixed, black and white.
What was your neighbourhood like growing up? Were there other mixed race children there?
My neighbourhood was all black. As far as I know there were no other mixed kids there.
Did you feel like you fit in at school?
No, not at all. I was ignored when I wasn’t being bullied. I was called half-breed, high yellow, chocolate vanilla swirl etc.
Did your parents discuss your racial identity with you when you were growing up?
No, not really. They never said you are this or that. I just realized what I was from going to school. I know that if I was black I wouldn’t have got the ‘what are you?’ question all the time. I had big curly hair so they had to know at school that I was half black, but not black enough I guess. I always felt stuck in the middle, which I used to hate until I got out of high school and saw this whole mixed identity movement. Then I realized that it was ok being mixed and to identify as biracial, mixed or multiracial.
Do you have siblings? If so were you close growing up?
I have four brothers and one sister and they are all black. They are a bit older than me and always lived in Georgia with their mom and step-dad, but did come to visit.
Did you experience any racism growing up? If so how did you handle it?
Yes I was bullied for being biracial and it just made me very insecure in school. I pretty much kept myself to myself.
What music did you like growing up?
I think being biracial made me more open to different types of music. I listened to pop, rock, R&B, and rap. I know that I was mainly influenced by black culture from listening mostly to rap and R & B.
I started really getting into music in the 80’s at about 10 years old and my first record was Karma Chameleon by the Culture Club. I loved popular artists like Wham!, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Cyndi Lauper.
Did you ever struggle with liking your appearance or your hair?
Yes, I’m not putting my mom down but with her being white she had no idea what to do with my hair. When I turned 11 I got my first relaxer which made it easier to do my hair myself, but my hair was so thick and curly that it never really was completely straight. Now I have learned to love my curls and I wear my hair naturally.
Has race affected your choices in romantic relationships?
Not really. I don’t discriminate racially in my dating choices and I have never had anyone treat me differently for what I am.
What do you think are the advantages of coming from a multiracial background?
I think we have the advantage of being more open to people of different backgrounds and have empathy for the struggles of people whether black or white, or whatever their background/ identity is.
Are you a part of any mixed race communities?
I am a part of the Mixed Chicks Sorority along with Lakia Shavon Lightner. I am also am a member of a few Facebook groups for mixed people like Against the One Drop Rule, Biracial Awareness, Mixed Race Nation, Mixed World United, MEGA: Mixed Ethnicity Global Alliance, and the Topaz Club which is for women who are mixed race with some black heritage.
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