The group was small, but diverse, fitting for the topic at hand, “It’s Not All Black and White.”
Psychology professor Kelly Madole led the discussion highlighting the views and attitudes of mixing cultures Tuesday night at Downing University Center.
Madole herself is biracial, her grandfather being half black and half white.
“Western counts me as black when it comes to the black faculty,” she said. “But do I add to the diversity of Western just because I can check that box? I don’t know.”
Madole said, regardless of appearance, biracial individuals sometimes have a hard time identifying themselves when it comes to race.
“Race isn’t as clean cut as we thought it was,” said Radcliff freshman Danica Jackson, who is herself biracial.
A conflict occurs when a biracial individual needs to fill out forms that ask for race.
“If I just leave it ‘white,’ then am I rejecting a part of me?” Madole asked.
Jackson said she was never really sure of what box to fill in when she was a child, so she didn’t fill any, unless there was one specifically marked “Other.”
While adults have their own perception on race, children seem to have a different one.
“I never noticed I was a different color than my mom until someone pointed it out,” Jackson said. “She’s just my mom.”
Madole explained that children don’t seem to notice racial differences when they’re younger, but they begin to lose their friends of different races at about the age of 10 or 11 and associate with their own race.
Biracial children may have a hard time deciding which group they supposedly belong to, she said.
Jackson said that while she never really felt that she had to choose sides, she sometimes felt a little torn because it seemed that some people didn’t understand.
“They think I’m everything else but mixed,” she said. “People say you’re white because the way you dress, but I’m not. I’m mixed.”
Even some who aren’t biracial feel that pressure, said Louisville senior Careese Cannon.
“People are like ‘You’re black, so you need to be listening to this kind of music and you have to hang with us,'” she said. “That doesn’t make me some kind of freak just because I don’t watch BET all day.”
Cannon said she sometimes felt like she was biracial, even though she wasn’t.
“It isn’t always about race,” she said. “You have to look at the situation at the time.”
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