Being Mixed Race
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Being Mixed Race

Being Mixed Race

Being Mixed Race

Decorative image collage of Los Angeles and London

BEING MIXED RACE is a poem that I wrote to capture the complexities of being of mixed heritage and the feelings of homelessness and otherness we can experience. For me, this sensation of not belonging reached a peak when I moved to England, a majority white country, from my beloved California. I had never before been to a place where there was such a visible lack of diversity—and where anyone who was different stuck out. 

In England, not only do I not fit, but in some ways, I feel like my tongue has been cut out. The words that had meaning before in my underground society of Xicanx/Latinx folks—our shared jokes, cultural references, and connections that white Anglo people wouldn’t understand—no longer exist. The Latinx community here is so small as to be almost non-existent: we don’t even appear as a category on the census forms. Here, I am always “Mixed—other.”

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This poem could have been 100 times longer, because the anecdotes that fill it accumulate and continue to accumulate daily. For so long, as a mixed-race person, someone who has both white Anglo and Mexican Indigenous blood running through my veins, I have felt like an ugly duckling—not “enough” of any one thing to be of value. The feeling of exclusion and homelessness is real.

Though I wish that we didn’t have to go through this, there is healing in articulating these experiences, sending them out to others who may understand. I hope it resonates with others who are mixed race, of any background, just so you know that you are not alone. You are beautiful, and you are whole.


Being Mixed Race

Being mixed race feels like

being an overly milky coffee 

too tepid

too bland

Bleh take it back I want another one


Being mixed race feels like

having the cops called on you

when you are 11 

for sunbathing outside your house

No Mexicans in the street 

Go inside


Being mixed race feels like

being an extranjera everywhere you go

USA, Mexico, London—what are you?


Being mixed race feels like 

the word foreigner 

spat at you in the street 

and shouted at you in your own head


Being mixed race feels like

not belonging anywhere 

and the ones that welcome you

want to erase your complexities


Being mixed race feels like

guilt at benefitting from white privilege 

and indigestion from the lack of community 

because there isn’t one

for you


Being mixed race feels like

people saying to you

POCHA

You are only half

You are not pure

You are poison, adulterated

The word half feels like a knife


Being mixed race feels like 

a sense of alienation from 

white community

because you are not them 

and they navigate the world in a way

you never will


Being mixed race feels like

rejection from your cultural communities

By one-upmanship

By tests that you never pass


Being mixed race feels like

growing up speaking Spanish

and playing mariachi since you were in pañales

and being told you are not enough

and don’t fit


Being mixed race feels like 

being castigated for speaking Spanish by shop assistants,

by your own white relatives

and “friends”

It feels like your friend’s parents

telling them not to speak Spanish with you

to learn French, because Spanish is for poor people


Being mixed race feels like

deliberately mispronouncing Spanish words

because you are punished for speaking the language

And having your Mexican family

make fun of your pronunciation 

because they don’t see that they are one of the

two rocks you are caught between


Being mixed race feels like 

being on the plane to Hong Kong

and the guy next to you asks you if you’re going home

And then there, in the crowds of Kowloon

Finally feeling both lost and safe


Being mixed race feels

fucking exhausting

And I'm tired of being cut into lines and divisions

I am not a fraction 

I yearn to feel whole

Being Mixed Race, read by DeAnna Avis

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