The author, Dr. Chinny Maia and her mother, Dr. Obasi

Let’s talk about being of mixed racial heritage. This is a topic that many people have no idea what it really feels like…unless they are mixed race.

There are many misconceptions about people of mixed racial heritage, which are so egregiously false! And honestly quite rude and insulting. And frankly, some are hilarious.

As a mixed-race person myself, let me try and educate you about what it is like from my perspective at least. Consider some common beliefs:

“You are very lucky you have the best of both worlds…”

However, as we debunk these myths about mixed-race people, we will discover that we don’t actually belong anywhere. I am sure this would resonate with many of my fellow mixed peeps. The funny thing is you are not fully accepted into either one of the races of your parents, let alone both.

Dr. Chinny’s parents.

This is true especially for someone like me, who has an Indian mother and a Nigerian father.

And then to complicate matters I’m dark skinned, meaning I have the less desirable skin tone of the mixed community.

Back to the topic of not fitting in anywhere, I am not Nigerian enough for Nigerians and I’m not Indian enough to Indians. I get stopped while travelling and often have to prove that I am a Nigerian. And they still don’t believe me even after seeing my Nigerian passport. Instead, I get cheeky remarks like, “oyinbo ok nah I will believe you but let us feel that dollars.” Sigh…It’s always so annoying at the airports.

There was an incident that happened when I was younger: my mom was travelling with us and was stopped at the airport as she was suspected of kidnapping me and being part of a child trafficking ring. Picture this: a petite fair skinned expatriate lady walking with this black, big chubby bushy and curly haired kid claiming she’s hers; and to worsen the matter my mother was holding my younger sister who is a tiny version of her and my baby sister who looked like a darker version of her, but not as dark as me. Ever since that incident she always travelled with our birth certificates, and even up until her death, many never believed she was my biological mother.

Now another strike against me is that I can’t speak my local language, which is Igbo. For those that are not familiar with Nigeria and its many different tribes, Igbos are indigenous to the south-eastern part of the country. However, I grew up in the north of Nigeria and therefore, I have the northern accent, since my dad died young and I didn’t have anyone who could teach me. The painful part is when Igbo people see my name and realize I can neither speak nor understand the language, they get really nasty and abusive and make hurtful statements such as: “You are a disgrace to Igbos,” or “Your father should be ashamed of himself for failing you,” “You should drain your blood and remove the Igbo in you, because you are not one of us…” etc., and the list goes on.

Then you meet your Indian aunties and you are a pariah for adulterating and tainting their gene pool, or they happen to be really ignorant and ask you stupid questions and make hurtful statements too.

In the end as a result of this, the only place you truly feel at home is actually at home with your nuclear family, and sometimes sadly, that’s not even the case.

Thus, we don’t have the best of both worlds but rather belong to neither and have to create our own world, which is a very sad thing and quite isolating as we have no one that understands this uniquely alone quality of ours and most incorrectly envy us, when really we don’t even get things we deserve such as being regular  whole human beings and being part of our parents’ communities. We certainly don’t get any favors from this alienation.

Dr. Chinny and her sister, Pooja.

Moving on to debunk another myth: All mixed-race people are rich or always have money.

This is another very annoying presumption, since you are always perceived as being rich and influential just because you are mixed. Consequently, you are often charged extra; people are always expecting financial assistance from you; you never get any financial assistance when you need it!!! And then people get upset with you when you say you are not what they think and then they call you selfish and greedy, etc. It’s like money is supposed to be genetically transmitted!!!

The irony is that most times, the opposite is the case. Our parents are not often rich, since mixed marriage is usually a taboo among the well-heeled and the elite have a way of steering clear of social stigmas or things that will negatively affect their status in society. Even when the partners in a mixed marriage come from rich homes, their mixed relationship is often viewed as a rebellious act that ostracizes them from their class and motivates their parents to disown them. They may have been cut off from their family and inheritance because they married outside their race. In many cases, the father may be deceased, and the mom is trying to stay afloat and scrape a living alone in a foreign country, just to make sure her children are taken care of. In a foreign country, she finds that just like her kids, she doesn’t get help because she is oyinbo and by default she is viewed wrongly as being rich. Wealth supposedly just comes with not being black to people living in Africa, it seems. These were some of the frustrations my mom had to deal with when she became a widow living in Nigeria. Indeed, she had come from a wealthy Indian family, but was practically disinherited by her extended family, once she married my dad who had come to India as an engineering student.

The author’s parents: Dr. Obasi and Mr. Obasi, an engineer.

Both my parents are now late, and being the first born, I shouldered the responsibility for my siblings. Although I am barely surviving, I keep getting told I look fancy, I’m rich, I’m enjoying…hahaha I wish!

Debunking the myth that, “Everything comes easy for you/you don’t have to work for anything.”

I find this bizarre statement to be the most damaging. My sister is a horrible victim of this misrepresentation and remains adversely affected from it to date.

I have always been perceived wrongly in this light. But except for my family, people tend to have no clue how hard I work and the sacrifices I have made to succeed or get an education. I worked hard to put myself through school and become a medical doctor. However, after my parents passed, I have worked even harder to support my younger siblings and put them through school without the help of relatives. Remember that a mixed family is often ostracized by their relatives. While my mom’s parents had accepted the marriage, unfortunately they also passed on early, and we were rejected by their extended family. I’ve had to work extremely hard to get to where I am and surviving every day without our parents or even the emotional support of our extended family, has been a challenge for my siblings and me.

Although I have been blessed to get a good career as a medical doctor through hard work, I find that I am the victim of acrimonious talk and misrepresentation: such as being viewed as rich because I happen to be a doctor, without considering the fact that I am responsible for my siblings who were orphaned early by parents ostracized by their extended families. To add insult to injury, people seem to think I snapped my fingers to become a medical doctor and to get a job. Well…

Dr. Chinny Maia and Pooja.

 Addressing the myth that mixed race women get all the MEN!!!

Everyone seems to think we have men just falling like flies at our feet, because we are mixed and some kind of exotic “breed” that magnetizes the opposite sex.

Perhaps in a way that may be true for some, but the truth is most if not all of these guys that come to you are not there for you, but for what you represent to them as someone of mixed racial heritage; or they are there to claim you as some kind of trophy, or satisfy some kind of fetish.

They want to gain bragging rights by being in a relationship with you, and claim they have a “red-boned” woman; they want to have mixed kids with curly hair, they believe you are a ticket to take them “abroad” and you would be a nice ‘décor’ in their home, etc.

Nobody comes to you for you or even tries to get to know who you are. Instead, it’s always about them and how you give something to them, such as boosting their ego for possessing someone exotic.

I personally have had all these said to me. I will give one example to drive home this point. I once had a guy who tried hard to date me. He pursued me hard and to be honest he kind of checked all the boxes on any woman’s list for the “perfect man.”

He was tall, really good looking, good job, church goer, good family, etc. I had all my friends saying I should give him a try, and so I did. And then it all went south. He only talked about himself…and then all about what I would give to him…bla bla bla. He told me what he expected from me as his future wife, how many kids he wanted and how the girls should look like me and have long hair…It was an unmitigated display of delusion! And he wasn’t the first or the last to have these fetishized ideas.

Moving on to dispel another myth about mixed race people: This one purports that mixed-race women are loose and promiscuous. I find this to be the most degrading and most dangerous of all misconceptions. Many jobs, relationships and friendships have been lost because of this false belief.

You meet someone for the first time and instead of being respectful they pressure you for sex that first night perhaps in part due to pent up fetishization and anxiety that the one time opportunity will fade forever if not taken; the perpetrator operates under a false belief that mixed-race women are more sexual and hornier than most and are used to random sex with random strangers, and you are not allowed or expected to feel insulted because you are mixed anyway and it must be your thing, because your kind is supposed to be genetically loose. I do not know where they get this, if it is from some book but the ideology is pervasive. Maybe people are watching the wrong porn…I do not know.

A recurring scenario: You apply for a job and you get called for an interview after receiving communication expressing how you are extremely qualified for the job, etc. You get to the interview and the manager sees you’re a mixed-race woman. Suddenly, there is that familiar disgusting, prurient look that fills his eyes and he now completely changes the tone of the interview; it becomes a sexual thing—statements pop up like, “I can give you this job on the spot, increase your pay and add other incentives but you know what you have to give me…” But again, how dare you feel insulted, since you are mixed, and this is normal for your “kind.” I’ve had these words spoken to me verbatim.

My poor sister has lost many jobs and still can’t get a decent paying one because once she starts and the boss happens to lay his eyes on her, the terms and conditions change. One managing director fired her a few hours after he propositioned her and threatened to fire her if she refused to have sex with him, despite her being one of the best employees the company ever had. After she politely declined his request to go to a hotel with him, she got her termination via email before she could make it to the driveway of her home! Followed by a text saying he would listen and reconsider if she begs him! The audacity!

I can’t say it enough, mixed-race women are fetishized.

I have no doubt this is true, taking into view the last two issues above. There appears to be a belief that the experience with mixed-race women feels different in bed and you get to have two women in one at the same time, perhaps—black and white—clearly a thrill that appears to trip many men!

I have had guys brag to me about this. There was one guy who claimed to have slept with almost every mixed-race girl in the area and now was on a mission to expand his service area! He had the nerve to feel insulted and hurt, when I told him I was disgusted and felt objectified.

But he continued and explained the difference between how light skinned mixed-race girls felt in bed, compared to the dark skinned ones. Disgusting, but unfortunately true.

And to debunk the final myth that mixed-race people do not experience racism. Hmm, just consider one mixed-race person called Barack Obama and his mistreatment as President of the United States. The racism against him as a mixed-race person instigated the “birtherism” movement predicated on the false belief that President Obama could not have been born in America.

Dr. Chinny Maia, her younger sisters, and their mother

Mixed-race people do not only experience racism, but also experience colorism, too.

This may come as a surprise to many, but it’s a sad and very true fact.

The saddest thing about this is that for many mixed people this kind of discrimination doesn’t come from outsiders or strangers, but rather from family and even from your nuclear family at times. In some cases, this occurs inadvertently and with no racist or discriminatory intent to cause harm, but many times sadly it’s not the case. You are literally the “BLACK” sheep in your family in every sense of the word, if your skin turns out too dark for a mixed-race person.

Invariably, in many mixed-race households there is usually one member that appears a little or a lot darker than the other siblings and sadly this poor child is often subjected to many hurtful statements and actions, such as:

Being called blackie…

Being told they are the ugly one or odd one…

Being the last one to be introduced to friends and shown in public…

Being the target of hurtful statements like “the recessive gene was strong in this one…”

Watching how your aunties or parents’ friends seem to favor your fairer siblings, and love taking them out and taking pictures, get more presents, etc…

How you are the one always punished or punished more or harsher than your siblings for the same offense or even if you are innocent just because you have “that kind of darkly naughty face” because it’s dark…

Being told you are jealous of your siblings because they are better looking when you complain about the favoritism…

Having your fair/fairer siblings get you into trouble and lie on you to get you punished, because you unfortunately can’t get blue or red in the face and bruises don’t show readily on you, while your sibling throws a fake tantrum or a dramatic scene that your parents believe…

Everyone asking you why you came out like that and making you feel like it’s your fault…

Now imagine growing up with these experiences at home and then having to step into a world that misrepresents you and is imbued with so many false notions about you because of your mixed heritage.

Is it easier to see that society is permeated with so many stereotypes and wrong notions about us—people of mixed race? Indeed, some things may be true about people of mixed race. However,…

We are different…

We are unique…

No two mixed persons are the same…

We can’t all fit into a convenient box…

Each mixed-race individual is a whole person of her own and in her own right…

We have brains and we work just as hard, if not harder than the average person and we deserve the breaks we may get in life…

We are not snobs, but we are mainly misunderstood and are usually hiding a lot of pain from a sense of alienation…

But most importantly we are PEOPLE, A PERSON and not some tag or BREED…we are who we are—HUMAN—and we all bleed RED!

The author, Dr. Chinny and her sister, Pooja.

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