Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above
That is the title of an article that I ran across this year, but it’s from last year’s New York Times website. After much pondering with our Creative Design team, I felt compelled to design a tee that paid homage to the millions of Americans–like myself–who had been faced with the difficult task of deciding whether or not to check the “Other” box on forms at school and work.
This article was one of the many reasons we decided to design the “OTHER” t-shirt for our collection at SommaBaby Clothing Company. We found it very fitting for our group and felt that it was also a great representation for the world. You see, this t-shirt hits us close to home. On our staff, there is a young lady who grew up in a very small town in the early nineties. She told me that she remembers her teachers pulling her to the side when it was time to fill out her standardized test booklets and ask her, “what is your race?” As she tells it, she recalls telling her teacher, “my mama said I’m black.” So, she checked the “African-American” square for years.
But, she recalls the confusion she felt, b/c she looked NOTHING like her other “Black” peers. Her with her honey tanned complexion, honey-colored eyes, and extremely curly brown hair never understood why so many people in her small town always questioned her race.
It wasn’t until years later, after society questioned her race so regularly, that she did her research and found proof on her father’s birth certificate that her father was very much mixed-race, and her mother was from mixed-race and a multiethnic lineage as well. Years later, she spent time with her paternal side of the family and through old photographs and through the revelation of old, family secrets, she finally understood why her race or ethnicity had been in question by spectators for her entire adult life!
Her mother just thought it would be easier to have her identify as “Black” than have to explain her racial background and ethnicity. Also, family secrets of infidelity and other hurtful encounters had produced these “mixed-race” children and it was better, in her mother’s eyes, to just let the past stay buried.
For years, this young lady had lived every day saying, “I’m Black,” and just dealing with the confused stares and questions to follow her declaration. For years, far and near, people had always categorized her as “mixed-race” and she would correct them and say, “No, I’m Black.” For years, she had perfected the “shrug & smile” technique when meeting new friends who questioned her race and why she “acted so white.” For years, she had tried to understand things about herself that were more common in the “Caucasian” race as she was called “white girl, mixed-breed, high yella, etc.” by her Black friends. All the time, she was battling something in her BLOOD that she could not change, even if she wanted to fit in to the Black surroundings.
Today, she identifies as being a mixed-race person from multi-ethnic ancestry, and she checks the “OTHER” box on government forms. And finally, after years of utter confusion…. her racial identity finally makes sense to her.
After reading this article and speaking to SommaBaby Clothing Company supporters all over the world, I see how special this tee is to people worldwide who have been miscategorized for years. So, to all of you…..THIS TEE IS FOR YOU!!!!
PLEASE TAKE TIME TO READ THROUGH THIS ARTICLE IN THE NYTimes! I think it will help a lot of people! Click on the link below to go directly to the article!