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  • Writer's pictureMuhammad Fiaz

Where to Start if You Are Not Black

This blog entry is about racial identity. What is racial identity? If you look up various sources for the definition of race it is generally defined as the way in which people are categorized according to skin color and other physical features such as eye shape, facial features and hair type. This means racial identity is defined as a person’s awareness and experience of being a member of a racial group or groups, for those that are mixed race. So, what is your Racial Identity? Some people can easily answer this question. Others cannot. I racially self-identify as Black or Black Biracial to offer a little more insight into whatever conversation I might be engaged in. I do this because my Black experience has been influenced by my light skin privilege.

So, I ask you again, what is your racial identity? Write it down on a piece of paper or say it aloud now. I want you to name it and claim it. This is an important part of racially self-identifying. In all my years of doing antiracism work, I have observed White people have a lot of difficulty naming and claiming their Whiteness.

Typically, if you are Black or Indigenous or a member of another historically marginalized community of color, such as of Asian or Latinx descent you may have a solid racial identification. Some People of Color of mixed racial ancestry choose to self-identify as biracial, multiracial, or mixed race. If this describes you, that is OK and absolutely your right.

Now select from below; which one are you? Remember, this is an exercise in racial self-identification.

  1. Black

  2. Person of color, not Black

  3. White

  4. Biracial

When you self-identify the next step is to ask yourself what messages you learned about people who share your same racial identification. Think about the positive messages you learned about your racial group from early in life. What did you learn from your family? Neighbors? Teachers? Place of worship? From TV, movies, media, etc.?

Continue to reflect on your early racial socialization. Be open to all those messages that come flooding back into your memory. Know you have just begun a crucial step in your journey to becoming antiracist. Remember to name it and claim it. Congratulations.

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