Stereotypes and misconceptions about mixed race people are very interesting to me, particularly because I feel they are rarely acknowledged in our society. I asked some mixed race women of white and black heritage what stereotypes and misconceptions they hate the most about mixed race people. I got the following answers:
- That identifying as mixed is a sign someone wants to be white/ is anti-black
- That mixed race people think they are better than black people
- That mixed race people are conceited
- That mixed race people are ‘exotic’
- That mixed race people have better health than mono-racial people
- That mixed race people can only be of fair complexion
- That mixed race people have it easy
- That because you are mixed race you will automatically be popular when it comes to dating
Here are some other stereotypes and misconceptions I have come across in my own experience as a mixed race woman with white and black heritage:
- Mixed race people are confused/ unhappy/ mentally unstable
- All mixed race people hate their black heritage
- Mixed race people are all beautiful/ have beauty privilege
- Mixed race people are always of black and white heritage
- Mixed race people always have one white parent
- Mixed race people are of two races only (some mixed race people are 3 or more different races)
- Mixed race people are here to end racism and mediate between black and white people
- Mixed race people represent a post-racial society
- There is something innately special and superior about being mixed race
- Mixed race people don’t experience racism
- Mixed race people are smarter than mono-racial people
White people AND people of colour (including mixed race people themselves) often perpetuate these stereotypes. Perpetuating stereotypes about mixed race people is often seen as ok since mixed race people are frequently seen as an over-privileged group who do not experience oppression, and also some of the stereotypes about mixed race people are viewed as positive and therefore harmless. Perpetuating stereotypes against any oppressed group is not ok under any circumstances. Mixed race people experience racism, mono-racism (prejudice and discrimination towards people of more than one race based on their multiracial identity), and anti-multiculturalism.
As a mixed race woman with black heritage I also find that I am open to stereotypes about black people in addition to stereotypes about mixed race people. It’s been assumed that I am not intelligent, take drugs, that I am hypersexual and so on, simply because I have black heritage. It’s commonly ignored that mixed race people can be exposed to racial stereotypes for all aspects of their racial identity including their mixed race identity itself.
People in oppressed groups can internalize stereotypes about themselves and behave accordingly. It’s really important to be vigilant against stereotypes and to allow people their full individuality. Even the stereotypes that seem positive can be harmful to mixed race people. As an example the stereotype that all mixed race people are beautiful made me feel inadequate as a child because I knew I did not live up to that stereotype. When I was older and found it easier to meet the stereotype I had to deal with a lot of racial fetishization, which is another issue caused by this stereotype. Now even if someone says a positive stereotype to me about being mixed race, I experience it as racism because that’s ultimately what it is. Generalizations based on race are always problematic because they are never true in every case and no-one wants to be seen and judged by their race only.
Can you think of any other stereotypes and misconceptions that I’ve missed? How do you respond to mixed race stereotypes?
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