For The Uninspired Woman: Throughout history Black women have gone through and are still going through trails and tribulations just to be seen, heard and respected in today’s society. We have broken many barriers and are still on verge of breaking more. There’s no doubt in my mind and history proves that Mixed race women have also played a huge role in Black women’s history. Black and mixed raced women have stood alongside each other, marched together and have died together in historical moments. Whether they identify as Black or mixed we are yet to really hear about their struggles.
Meet friend to the website Shakayra, the creator of The Mixed Girl Meet Up.
“The purpose of creating the meet up is to create an on-and offline community which feels like a circle of sisterhood. It is about ‘finding our tribe’ – Being unapologetic and embracing our ‘in-betweenship’ in a supportive group of sisters who can relate because they have been through similar experiences.”
Some people may agree with the statement that mixed race women are already empowered in our society and deemed the desirable race. How would you respond to that ?
This actually came up in last night’s Mixed Girl Meetup. I will have to correct the word ’empowered’ to ‘fetishized’ – Mixed women are often seen as the more palatable black woman and unfortunately used by a lot of large ad agencies to show inclusion to prove that there is diversity but as soon as you actually research this dynamic in society, mixed women are not actually accepted as ‘mixed race’ – Often it is a ‘pick and choose’ situation’ where people imply you ought to choose one side or even choose for you without you having an input as to what you define yourself as. Being mixed means often is paired with having to continuously having to explain your heritage and that is definitely not being reflected in society. A curly mixed girl smiling in a sports ad does not signal empowered to me. Once media and society actually claim and accept the mixed experience that is when we can start talking about empowerment.
Is this exclusively for those women who have White & Black parents ?
No not at all. The Mixed Girl Meetup is for any female with two or more ethnicities/nationalities. The mixed experience is not just black and white. There are a lot of parallels in the mixed experience no matter what the mix is. It is important we include all of them.
What is the biggest misconception that mixed race girls face ?
That we have it ‘easy’ and because we have fairer skin and curly hair we must have doors being opened for us, when it reality we face our own struggles on a daily basis. At my Meetup last night addressing the corporate world and how we navigate it as a multiracial person, it was clear that in an often white male dominated corporate world, us mixed girls still are just ‘the black girl’ and deal with the exact stereotypes and preconceptions a black girl may do. May it be assumptions over our mannerisms or the way we wear our hair.
The Meet UP
Your first meet up was in New York, Please tell us your thought process leading up to the first event ? (Were you nervous)
I was simply frustrated that there were no events or meetups that catered to my background. In NYC I am immediately just Dominican and although the Latino community has been extremely welcoming I was feeling a big void of having to always adjust the way I speak about my experiences. The same goes for black women events, although many of us mixed girls are half black, our need to voice our own struggle and experiences are often frowned upon as mentioned above, some people in the black community think we have it easier when it is the absolute contrary for most of us. I was super nervous and it took me five attempts to actually post and start promoting the event. Then I just thought, whatever let me just go for it and was super chuffed at the amazing turnout, I literally pulled it off in 5 days, I couldn’t believe it!
What have you learnt about the people who have attended your events ?
That all of us mixed girls have a collective experience, no matter what our genetic make up may be. The struggle we faced to find our identity whilst constantly having to fit in simply because very few accepted that there are two or more ethnicities that make all of us. All attendees dealt with prejudices in one way or the other, being mixed did not exempt them from racism or stereotypical boxes. A lot of attendees have dealt with struggling to accept their features one way or the other, as it is often thought that the mixed race female has a unison way of looking when none of us actually looks the same nor has the same hair structure, eye colour etc. All my attendees celebrated the fact that they finally can just embrace that GREY area. We mixed females move in and that is so special to me, because that is something myself and so many females who attended have been searching for. A feeling of ‘home’.
I also noticed that I have filled a real gap in the market as all women who have attended have been longing for a group of women that felt like a group of sisters and that were just like them. Being able to relate to someone is incredibly powerful, pair that with a calm and non-judgemental space where you can talk about anything you have been through in your childhood or daily life as a mixed person is priceless. Every single attendee has thanked me individually for creating a platform that finally does not require us to water down our mixed experience, representation is imperative and it fills my heart with absolute joy that I can provide females with that platform and connect everyone with each other. All of my attendees have become friends with each other and have always returned as regulars to the meetups.
What are the typical discussions at your meet up ?
We discuss dating and assumptions of guys have mixed girls, how we are sometimes just fetishized, everything hair related, the corporate world and prejudices we dealt with, phrases that get thrown at us which are in essence racist but thought to be acceptable because they’re labelled as ‘curiosity’, people who patronize our experience and how we can address and tackle this – Every topic we address always presents a problem and we discuss a solution together – I want everyone who attends to always go away feeling empowered and positive, so every negative always need to be met with a positive to change our mindsets that these problems cannot be solved because they absolutely can.
Where do you see the mixed girl meet up in a years time ?
I will have more meetups worldwide. At the moment I am only in London and NYC but I have had enquiries from all over the world, literally from Dubai to Los Angeles.
I want to create this support network worldwide and I will not stop until every mixed girl feels included and feels she can share her stories and concerns with girls who just ‘get her’.
What woman has inspired you and why ?
My biggest inspiration is my mother! She is an amazing black queen!!! Without her I would still have no confidence whatsoever. She stood by me when I used to come home crying because I was bullied due to my black features. She taught me positive affirmations and the importance of embracing your uniqueness. She never gave up on me and her strength and perseverance to turn me into a strong, confident and independent woman was everything I needed and more.
What do you want to be remembered for ?
Being the global ambassador for mixed females and someone who turned all their negatives into positives. I want to be known as someone who created a platform that inspires and also encourages mixed females to love every single ounce of their incredible uniqueness and give them a space to connect.
Whats you’re favourite quote ?
‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’ – Nelson Mandela