Am I “other”?
Its benchmark testing day, we are filling out all our information, it’s going well for me until I get to what ethnicity I am. I raise my hand: Excuse me, teacher, what do I fill in, do I circle black or white? My teacher stands there a while before answering: just circle other. This confused me, I’m not other I’m both.
From that day forward I have been forced to choose a side because most forms, up until recently, have never offered a “biracial” or “multiracial” option. It’s always exciting when I see one of those options instead of other, because like I said, I am not “other,” I am a person, I am biracial.
When those options aren’t given to me, I usually fill in “African American” because in my mind that’s what strangers see me as. I don’t like feeling like I have to choose one or the other because I am both, but I refuse to put myself in the “other” category.
Twinning or nah?
In high-school one of the most common question, my friend and I got from almost every single person in the world was: are you two twins? We would always reply: no, we’re both just mixed and tall with curly hair. It got so bad that we just stopped trying to explain and just started saying yes before people would even ask us.
What’s funny about this problem is that I always get asked if I’m related to so and so if we happen to both be biracial. It’s turned into a joke amongst biracial people because people always try to assume that we’re siblings or twins, not just two individuals.
Another problem that I have to deal with occasionally is actually quite random and confuses me every time. Someone random person will walk up to me and ask: Are you Mexican? I just look at them and reply: No, I’m mixed. So they reply: Oh so you’re white and Mexican. At that point I don’t even bother to answer, I just walk away.
Jasmine, Jaz, Jazzie, Sissy, Jazzy-Joe, Jazmean, I turn my head to all of them. I have many nicknames thanks to my real name. I also have some “mixed” people names as well; for instance, I’ve been called Oreo, Zebra, Penguin, Half-and-Hal, and so on. None of the names really bother me, but some of them do get a little old and overused.
I find my name to be pretty easy. Jasmine Yvonne Conley, nothing special, just Jasmine. For some reason, though, whenever I was at a basketball game in Missouri the announcer decided to mess my name up completely….
“And now your starting lineup for the Fayetteville Lady Bulldogs!” is what he said. He called out everyone else’s name just fine. Then we get to mine. “Starting at post number 45, JAZZZMEEANNN CONNN!” I didn’t even run out. I just stood there confused, my whole team busted out laughing as I went to shake the other coaches hand.
“How could he mess my name up?” I kept thinking and asking people. “It’s not that hard, it’s just Jasmine. Conley. Nothing complicated at all.”
Needless to say, ever since that game, I am no longer Jasmine Conley, I am Jazmean Con, that’s MY name.
I know a lot of these problems sound silly, and that’s the point. Not everything regarding race/ethnicity needs to be so serious all of the time. It’s good to be able to laugh about yourself and the things that make you who you are.