Why Saying I Look “Mixed” Isn’t A Compliment

by Shayla Pierce

not MixedI was a bartender for six years. This basically means I spent over half a decade blocking corny pick up lines one double shot of Hennessy at a time. And then there’s the fact that I’ve had breasts since I was 11. So I say all this to say, like most women, I’ve been hit on a lot.

And I’m quite confident that from the mundane, to the crude, to the flat-out weird, I’ve heard it all. But there’s one line that I’ve always found particularly interesting: You’re so pretty. You look mixed.

But that’s just generally speaking . Usually “mixed” is specified by a race, ethnicity, or geographic location: “You look part Indian (Or Puerto Rican. Or Brazilian. Or Polynesian if the suitor is especially creative).”

Now, if I wasn’t so cynical, I might actually believe that these “observations” are a testament to my racial ambiguity; a characteristic of my face I have failed to observe despite possessing it for nearly thirty years.

But they’re not because there is nothing “mixed” about me. My mother is from Boston, and my daddy is from Jersey and they’re both as black as asphalt. (Well, not literally, but I you know what I’m saying). And me? I’m from West Philly which is about as exotic as a six-pack of Old English.

So if I’m not mixed and I don’t look mixed, what would be a man’s motivation for telling me so? Well, I have my suspicions. Personally, I think they think they’re giving me a compliment.

I can tell by the way they say it. “You look mixed.” It’s the same smarmy inflection with which they deliver such classics like, “Let me take you shopping”; as if they’ve successfully implemented the line that will render you completely unable to resist them and couldn’t be more impressed with themselves. Then they smirk, bask in victory, and wait patiently for the panties to melt right off your body.

But this assumption is not with bias. I’ve asked other Black women, of all shades, shapes, and sizes, if they’ve heard this line a time or two. This “you look exotic” phenomenon isn’t just a cluster of isolated incidents reserved only for yours truly. Apparently, this a thing now.

But what’s the big deal right? Why would I interpret being called exotic looking to be a bad thing? Multiracial women are stunning. Shouldn’t I be flattered?

In a word? No.

Because, yes, multiracial, biracial, Hispanic, and Asian women are in arguably gorgeous. But so are Black women. Regular old Black women just like Beyoncé, and Janet, and Tyra and innumerable other African-American women who, for generations, have been revered as the most beautiful in the world.

So do we really have to be “mixed” to be beautiful? Should another race, ethnicity, or nationality be a requirement for attractiveness?

I don’t think so. That’s why I don’t blush or give a coy giggle when I man tries to tell me I look something that I’m not.

Because when a man tells a Black woman that she looks mixed as a form of endearment, he’s insinuating that her beauty comes from the (allegedly) non Black part of her. All they’re effectively saying is: You’re too beautiful to just be Black.

Oh, but I am. I’m beautiful just like my beautiful Black mother, just like her mother and her mother’s mother. We’re generations of women born right here in the US of A, from North Carolina to Massachusetts by way of the motherland. Brown skin, nappy hair, cornbread and gravy gorgeous.

We aren’t beautiful in spite of our Blackness, we are beautiful because of it. So don’t dare try to give the credit to anything else.

  • Margaret

    I coulnd’t agree more. I always felt that people want to say or be “mixed” because they’d rather be anything but Black. They find shame in it. Don’t call me “mixed” like it’s a compliment. My hue, if anything, is a result of 400 years of buying and selling of flesh. So don’t call me mixed. I am a Black woman. Period.

  • http://lookwerelearning.com Selena

    Some of this is related to the way that some of those same “regular old Black women” you mention are presenting themselves. In her Loreal commercial, Beyonce makes it a point to state that she’s “mixed”, describing her race as African American, Native American, and French. One of the reasons that Tyra has been described as beautiful is her green eyes, which many people attribute to racial ambiguity. Janet has had facial work done that has removed most of the African features of her face.

    The mixed thing has been around for years, but if we stop acting like it’s more beautiful than anything else, the power of it will go away.

  • Fantastico


  • The Moon in the Sky

    I grew up with other Black children telling/asking me, “Ain’t you mixed!”, “Which one of your parents are White?”, “I know you are ‘mixed’, so what are you?” Even as an adult I have had strangers (at two different jobs) ask me where I am from, as if I look so unlike a Black woman. I don’t know what to say about it really.

  • Guest1234

    Boy, oh boy that Loreal ad really gets under my skin. I couldn’t help but wonder if Jennifer Lopez was throwing a bit of shade at Beyonce, because her ad says: “100% Puerto Rican.” Ain’t it a shame that the black woman was mining every drop of her blood looking for anything that mitigates that pesky blackness? I mean, French? Really? I loved that J Lo (who I don’t have a lot of use for, either), who, I’m sure could trace her heritage back to Spain or whatever, was, like, uhhh uhhhh, I’m 100% Puerto Rican – and don’t try to take that away from me.

    Beyonce, on the other hand……

    Le sigh! Black people….

  • Keshia

    Yessssss!!! I love this! I always say yep with black and blacker! It’s so annoying basically saying being just black is not good enough, but being anything other is better..please. This whole “exotic” obsession is weird, and all guys of all races practice it. Of course depending on what race they guy is will determine what he sees as “exotic” but yet let a black girl say she wants an “exotic” (whatever the hell that is lol) all hell would break loose. Black people come in a variety of shades, body types, and hair textures.

  • Keshia

    Yeah her commercial was a fail lol. And Jennifer Lopez could have listed African, Indian, and Spanish. Just goes to show who is more comfortable with themself.

  • Lou

    I live in NYC and that comment “mixed” is very common from black men especially in Harlem.

  • OF

    Its bad all around. I’m, male, light skinned with green eyes and people assume I’m mixed all the time.

    I get negativity from both sides. Darker skinned black people often have an attitude and general dislike for light skinned people (especially black women since the 90s when the Wesley Snipes/Tyson/Tyrese/Elba movement made light skinned guys ‘passe), and white people generally assume you are biracial so dont really know how to act around you either. So its often used as a not so great compliment towards women, but its almost always used as an insult towards men since a lot of black women stereotype and consider you ‘weak’ if you are mixed.

    The best part of all of it is I’m NOT mixed, my father is dark-skinned and my mother is just very light skinned (like Vanessa Williams) and light eyes run in my mother’s side of the family. I dont have any white people in my family before my great great grand parents. I grew up in the inner city of Detroit, where it was possible to go entire days without seeing a white person. I graduated from an HBCU.

    Unfortunately, it is my experience that black people are more color struck than whites nowadays.

  • Writerdiva

    This may sound like a shameless plug but it fits this conversation perfectly. I have a series of Novellas out and released the second part of the three part series in Jan. This snippet from Thirst II fits. In this exchange, Vince leaves his classroom to barge in Lisa’s in the middle of her lecture, trying to holla. In this part of the scene, Vince says:

    “Ms. McNeil. One of my favorite features about you is your hair and nothing will thrill me more than to give it a yank. What are you mixed with if you don’t mind me asking.”

    And Lisa replies with this

    ““ Vince, I am mixed with black, african-american, and n___, okay! Why do you find that hard to believe? Should I be mixed with something? ”

    I put that in the story because that is the mentality of so many men and sadly, so many women right now. You can be beautiful w/o being mixed if you take care of yourself and care about your appearance which isn’t that hard!

  • omfg

    it’s unfortunate that a black man requires the seed of another man to think black women are attractive. his just isn’t good enough. tsk tsk.

  • Anon

    But black doesn’t necessarily mean of 100% sub-Saharan African descent. Black implies mixed as it aligns with the One Drop Rule – multi-racial ancestry without the privileged of having multi-racial social heritage.

    All Black means is that you’re of mixed descent from generations relegated to the oppressed social class, relegated to descendants of sub-Saharan Africans, and other similar aboriginal peoples worldwide.

    IMO, while being seen as mixed should be a compliment over being seen as black, IMO, it shouldn’t be an insult either. It’s a reality.

  • Keshia

    You are correct a lot of black people are color struck, white people don’t care usually. Lightest light to darkest brown..you are still a n**** to them.

  • Cia Bia

    Every time i see that L’Oreal ad I feel torn. According to Beyonce her family is multiracial. Although they have the the various mixtures, as do many black Americans (descendants of slaves of the south) they seem to have a close connection with their other racial/ethnic branches. My family for instance you will never hear us saying we are multiracial because we didn’t know/have a positive interaction with the Irish and other European “family.” No family dinners, reunions, or birthday celebrations. No cross cultural interaction. But if your family speaks the language (French) and has close ties then it makes sense to embrace the otherness in your family.

  • dreamnwideawake

    I had to post this article on my facebook page!

    My best friend is Black, of mixed races (black & white), and my children are African American but “look” ethnic. I have looked at this from all sides of the fence and I couldn’t agree more that our look is unique and should be celebrated not negated. In one family we have various hues, hair textures and distinctively different facial attributes (my sister and daughter have eyes that lend to an Asian heritage, mother- European nose, etc.) but we are 100% black gold baby! As another person posted, this IS what being African American IS, a blend of races mixed with our African roots. We are not African but African American. It’s too bad that some people do not understand this.

    I am a fan of Beyonce’s but I too saw that ad and immediately felt dissed as her sistah- again 100% African American is what she is and to represent that in any other way on the sly is erasing a huge part of who she is as well as the fan base that loved her when she was new to the game. Tyra’s eyes are captivating but she makes no bones about who she is and has even said that the girls from the ‘hood are the most beautiful women – besides this is who and what Hollywood and mainstream society emulates (with their own twist). Janet and family all have beautiful African American features – they were a gorgeous family until they all had to go under the knife- low self-esteem will do that. Now they all look like caricatures of their formal selves.

    I love, love, love this beautiful black I wear and my sistahs everywhere. Have a good day Clutchettes!

  • Anon

    Your sub-Saharan African slave descendants did not get off those boats with light skin and light eyes.

    Those traits in black people are a result of suppressed acknowledgement of mixed ancestry, and the social incentive, encouragement, to procreate with those within the same social disposition, social race identity, and/or within a specific aesthetic range.

  • Anon

    It would been better applied if the colonial slave system defined descendants of slave rape as mixed race, no matter their features or skin hue. But that’s not the case, and that’s how inaccurate the system of race accounting is.

    The system labeled and had people identifying based on whether or not white people would included them in their group based on features.

    Therefore, the concept of race, black race, white race, etc… is a facade

    It’s kind of a fool’s game.

  • Anon

    correction: Your sub-Saharan African slave ancestors, not descendants.

  • apple

    jlo was the only one who put 100% puerto rican as her ethnicity, the other models in the ad (some white girl i don’t know) listed all her heritage too.. maybe jlo didn’t want to mention the black (and european) blood in her

    but i don’t see the problem with listing what you actually are? its not like she’s lying.

  • The Other Jess

    I agree. Not only is it not a compliment, but it’s an absolute insult – insult to Black people and insult on having African-descent in your blood, and of Black beauty standards. A lot of jerks think they are giving you a compliment by saying “oh you look mixed with…. (choose the race/ethnicity/nationality” as if it somehow upgrades your looks to be mixed. Being Black (of all shades) is beautiful. Yes, Black Americans are generally mixed, but the non-African admxture has NOTHING to do with our beauty or worth. In fact, since the majority of our admixture is African, our beauty and worth comes from Africa.

    I hate it and almost punched somebody once when they told me they were “complimenting” me by saying that crap. We should never deny our heritage – Black people had close relations with Native Americans , and our negative (but sometimes positive) history in North America made most of us mixed with white too – but too often people are intentionally trying to deny the most obvious and important admixture, the African. And even when the African isn’t obvious, the insult is stil too the African in us.

    Plus, most darker Black males are generally colorstruck and self-hating so the best they can give you as a compliment is “you looked mixed”. smh.

  • MommieDearest

    YES, and 2 thumbs up for this article!

  • Anon

    As far as what looking mixed is perceived as, I find that people have an ignorant perception of what a person of mixed ancestry can look like, especially if you consider MOST of the miscegenation beyond the confounds of interracial relationships of consent.

    In essence the possible physical traits of a person of mixed ancestry is just as infinite as a person who identifies as black.

  • eve-audrey

    there are people with light skin and light eyes in africa. i’m tired of this mistake. while is true that most african americans have some mixture due to their history, it is a mistake to be constently denying the diversity that exists in africa. i’m originally from cameroon and in my family we have both light and dark skin and there was that girl with bright blue eyes.i have seen black people of african descent with very light eyes. well it certainly is not common but it’s not NON-EXISTENT. how do you know NO african got off the boat had light skin or light eyes? were you there? however i do agree that people need to stop being color struck

  • OF


    What does that have to do with what I said? I wasnt denying that I have white people in my family, I even said I dont have any before my great great grand parents. I understand where my genetics come from I’ve traced my lineage all the way back to the 1700s. It has nothing to do with denial of mixed ancestry, Almost ALL black people in America have mixed ancestry, which was kind of my point.

    My point was that colorism is a negative trait practiced more by black people (not only black men like the author was speaking on, but especially by black women) than whites.

    Like another person said, white people dont care if you are mixed we are all black to them. (See Obama) Its the black people that are hung up on shade, hair texture etc. Before 1965 my mom sat in the back of the bus like everyone else.

  • Nicoline

    Yup! I know the feeling. People actually get disappointed when they find out Im not mixed and that Im just black.

    My skin color isnt even that light (Im a carmel color) but between my hair and my features people always assume Im mixed with Arabic, Asian, Native American, or Hispanic. Or that I have one mixed parent and a black parent. Whatever…

  • Pseudonym

    “Those traits in black people are a result of suppressed acknowledgement of mixed ancestry, and the social incentive, encouragement, to procreate with those within the same social disposition, social race identity, and/or within a specific aesthetic range.”

    If you don’t have any white relatives that you know of, those features are more commonly the result of rape.

    “Now, I apologize for bottlin’ up
    All the little things you said that warped my head and my gut
    Even though I always told you not to
    Brag about the fact that your great grand
    Mother was raped by her slave master.”
    -Saul Williams “Black Stacy”

  • Anon

    THere are people with light skin and light eyes in Africa due to 1) Arab imposition 2) European imposition – some of this history is denied/rejected as it is in the U.S.

    3) There is also albinisim

    4) There are also amalgamated peoples stemming from pre-colonial migrations of peoples from the Iberian and Mediterranean regions

    5) There is are also amalgamated people that descend from Jews who had already mixed with other peoples

    6) And, yes, you have some attributed to genetic mutation, but the indigenous phenotypes of the peoples from where the majority of colonial African slaves were extracted (West Central Africa) had a set of specific physical traits. Where, in the history of Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade has it been recorded that fair skinned, blue/green/light eyed slaves were extracted or bought in Africa for transport to the Americas.

    Ofcourse, TODAY, you will find light skinned, light eyed, people all over Africa, all over West-Central Africa, mainly due to the cultural/genetic impact of Europeans.

  • Anon

    @OF, you stated – The best part of all of it is I’m NOT mixed.

    You acknowledged your white ancestors, then said you’re not mixed.

    Like I’ve stated before, race is a fool’s game.LOL!

    You may not be mixed race in identity, but you have mixed race ancestry which makes you regardless of how you identity.

    By the way, non-blacks, people of all races, also graduate from HBCU’s. :o)

  • Pseudonym

    Also, Europeans ran through Africa (remember the massive colonization), so it’s more likely those features came from white colonists raping and impregnating an African woman without those features (or in the rarer case, falling in love and making love to) and them being passed on that way than black Africans having blue eyes from a random mutation.

  • au napptural

    Being dark, I don’t get this. I get the variation “you must be from South Africa…” or Jamaica or the West Indies or Haiti or any other place but America, b/c I’m educated and speak proper English. Uh, no. I’m black American and proud. Stop buying into stereotypes. Just b/c someone doesn’t fit a certain image doesn’t mean they are the exception. It could just mean your image is wrong.

  • Anon

    @OF said: “Like another person said, white people dont care if you are mixed we are all black to them. (See Obama) Its the black people that are hung up on shade, hair texture etc. Before 1965 my mom sat in the back of the bus like everyone else.”

    So, you assume that all white people are the same, the way that all black people are supposed to be the same?

    Both races encompass extremely fragmented peoples, in social heritage, ideals, perspective and genetic linage.

  • OF

    @Anon: My reply is in the context of ‘mixed’ meaning one black parent and one white parent, which I do not have.

    Like I said almost all black people in America are mixed, but in the context of this article I assume the author was referring to mixed meaning first or second generation, which I am not.

    I know exactly where the most recent white person was in my family tree, my great great grandmother was married to a white man in Virginia, he actually built two houses next to each other because it was illegal for interracial couples to live together at the time.

  • Anon

    @Pseudonym -

    Exactly. For example, the entire ethnic Swazi royal family descend from colonial rape. The colonist got a hold of the royal women, but they continued their tribal identity and customes post-colonialism.

  • Anon

    @OF: My reply is in the context of ‘mixed’ meaning one black parent and one white parent, which I do not have.

    But, don’t you see how much of a fool’s game race classification is? You’re still mixed per genetics.

    You’re still mixed whether you identify as such or not.

    And if you procreated with a black identifying person of 100% or prominent sub-Saharan African lineage, the Caucasian ancestry still get’s passed along – which still lends to the dilution of our peoples.

    Identifying as black does not stop white hegemony. Hiding mixed ancestry with a designated label/class of low social status facilitates white hegemony. It fuels.

    That’s white the colonial white supremacists created the system of racial classification. And that fact the people continue this legacy in how they identify adds more fuel to that train.

  • OF

    Also your pseudo science is flawed. Light colored eyes are a genetic trait and anyone can have them. It is a gene just like red hair, there are blue-black people in Africa with blue eyes. Its rare but it happens.


  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    I have been mistook for everything from Cambodian, to Dominican but not just by black folks. It is disappointing when black men assume I am “mixed” and speak as if it were a compliment of some kind but then are deflated almost when I tell them I am just black as in not directly mixed. I am a proud black woman though and our beauty is infinite.

  • LMO85

    I share your experience and I appreciate this article because it articulates what bothers me most about it…particularly when it comes from American Black folks. It is frustrating because I feel like they should know better. AND DO BETTER.

  • Ooh La La

    As a light-skinned woman, this ‘color compliment’ thing used to really grate my nerves. Now, I appreciate it because it shows me how ignorant you are before I invest any real time into a person dumb enough to think I would be flattered my that. Trust that I will shut it down. My best friend, sister, and mom are all darker and I find it insulting.

    I’ve experienced those comments from all races, but black men are by far the worst. Self-hate is real. The thing that really gets me though are the guys who will walk right pass several absolutely stunning dark-skinned women to work their way to a unfortunate-faced, stank attitude having ‘red-bone’ (hate that term too).

    Beauty comes in all shades. When I look at women like Naomi Campbell, Yaya DeCosta, Kerry Washington, Kelly Rowland, and Tika Sumpter, they are so stunning, and I just love how confident they are despite the stupid comments I’m sure they’ve heard throughout their lives. You any tell them nothing!

  • Mercedes

    I LOVE your last two sentences.

  • omfg

    i get the island and africa thing too.

    i’ve also concluded that it’s because of my manner. it’s gotten to the point where people believe that if you’re well-mannered, educated and don’t seem “ghetto” you’re not black american.

    another version of it is when people think i’m not from l.a. blacks from l.a. are thought to be shallow, vapid, classless, and lacking in self-awareness. other blacks assume i’m from the east coast or the south.

    but, i also get it because of the way i look. i’ve had africans approach me speaking in their language. i remember this senegalese couple thought i was senegalese because of the way i looked. i took that as a compliment because i think senegalese women are so pretty. if i did my dna, i’d hope i was from mali/senegal. but that’s another story.

  • Cocochanel31

    Amen!! Tell em! Sick of black men and their cultural conditioning when it comes to beauty!

  • Pseudonym

    This totally showed up under the wrong thread, but was in response to the “there was this one Cameroonian with blue eyes” argument.

  • OF

    its not just the men though. Look at how black female entertainers and celebrities wear long weaves and dye their hair blonde.

    Theres enough self hate from both sexes. :(

    My personal observation is that this is a social trait engrained in a lot of blacks in America because during the height of segregation, being dark-skinned was seen as a liability to assimilating so lots of black people tried to ‘lighten’ their complexion thru marriage.

    I know a lot of older light-skinned people are this way (like from my grandparents generation) they dont want you to date darker skinned people. Which in turn caused dark skinned people to not like light skinned people.

    FYI this is a global phenomenon too. I’ve had this discussion with co-workers of other ethnicities. I have a female Cambodian friend who’s father gave her all kinds of grief growing up because she is brown skinned (and a female), In their culture being dark is associated with being a descendant of a field worker, and they have a preference for sons over daughters. I also have an east Indian friend that is very dark and had the same type of experience, ramifications of the caste system in India.

  • c0c0puffz

    I get mistaken for African often.

  • Pseudonym

    Eye color is actually determined by a VARIETY of different genes, so it’s not just one mutation that will cause a different eye color. The likelihood of one embryo having the necessary number of mutations in all the right spots on all the right chromosomes to change one’s eye color is very very very very very low (if it weren’t low, we’d have a lot more people with eye colors that are different from that of their parents).

    There are also DNA repair mechanisms up the wazoo plus many non-coding regions in DNA where the mutations don’t produce any result. Also, the genetic code is degenerate which means there are codons of 3 nucleotide bases and the first two are fixed and the third is variable (called a “wiggle”) so that even if you were to have a mutation in that third nucleotide, you’ll still end up with the correct amino acid (eg. no change in gene product). The body is an amazingly designed machine.

    So, basically, if you want to bring science into it (and I’m talking REAL science, not pseudo-what-I-can-barely-remember-from-high-school-science), science supports that the chance of developing an in-utero set of genetic mutations that will result in a change in eye color is HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY unlikely and eye color is most likely a result of the combination of genes passed down from one’s parents.

  • The Artist

    Yess! I hate that! I was talking about this just the other day. People rattle it off it as if it’s suppose to be a compliment, or prestige to have these features. Slavery is still doing a number on us….

  • Writerdiva

    ^^^This! Beauty comes in all shades and as black people, we have at least 20 some odd different shades in the race. I have a cousin who’s dark and she is fabulous. When I was growing up, she kept her a boyfriend. She made attracting guys and having style so easy. I have never talked to her about how guys react to her (ie cute for a dark skinned girl, etc) I bet that happened to her though.

  • OF

    Facade or not, the social constructs of race and colorism are still real none the less, which is what this article is talking about.

    Not the history of white supremacy or colonialism in Africa which are tangents to the topic.

  • RObleu

    I wholeheartedly agree with this author and many of the responses that commentators have left, however, I wince at the fact that what is considered as “African” features is constantly reduced to kinky, koily hair, broad nose and dark brown skin. While this phenotype is found in abundance in Africa, there are other phenotypes that are native to the continent as well. It is important to remember that the trans-Atlantic slave trade also greatly influenced the perception of what and who black Africans look like. The hair texture, facial features and skin tones of Africans vary depending upon the part of the continent one visits.

  • eve-audrey

    @anon what does albinism have to do with europeans or any other non-black ethnic group? an albino person is a black person born without melanin and when they marry another black person guess what? the baby is black just like would be a baby of two “regular” black people. anyway i’ll say you’re right it can be really tiring to discuss race with someone who has ready-made answers to all. according to you an african person who does not have what you consider to be “traditionnal traits” (big lips, broad nose, big butt, kinky hair that can break combs) has to have at least one european ancestor? i am dark skinned i have full lips but not really a big mouth and fine features and i don’t have a big butt. do you think the fact that i don’t fit the picture of the “traditionnal” african girl is due to the fact that i might have a white ancestor? anyway please consider that you’re right.

  • eve-audrey

    it’s true it’s not just black people. a former indian corridor mate told me her dad’s family was horrified when she was born because she was the second daughter of her parents (they prefer boys) and her grand mother treated her like shit growing up because she has brown skin and not fair skin. it’s really sad.

  • Gell0h0h

    *Dead* at “They patiently wait for the panties to melt off your body.” Necessary laughter for this dreary Monday. Continue.

  • Anthony

    The “you must be mixed” bit is dumb because who can honestly say that she or he is pure? In late 2011, I took a genetic test just out of curiosity, and I found that 15% of my ancestry is white and Native American. That said, I am quite dark skinned and nappy headed. I remember working in an African country that does not see many African Americans, and people guessed I was everybody from a Nigerian to a Kenyam to an Ethiopian.

  • black_feminist

    Growing up in Southeast Louisiana, it has always been apparent to me that black people come in different shades and have various hair textures and types, and that many “regular” black folks happen to have lighter skin tones. For the most part (there are some exceptions) black folks of Creole descent there identify primarily as black. Where I am from, the norm is that even black people who are very, very light skin and may have looser curls or straight hair and facial features that are considered to be “less African-looking”, are people with two black parents. It’s still weird to me when people are described as “looking mixed”. I rarely think that way. I just see a black person who happens to be of a lighter shade. I don’t speculate or assume whether they are mixed or not. I don’t care unless they identify themselves as such… I agree that this has to do with elevating any racial/ethnic makeup, above being “just plain old” black.

  • http://changeistheconstant.com Marie

    “Because when a man tells a Black woman that she looks mixed as a form of endearment, he’s insinuating that her beauty comes from the (allegedly) non Black part of her. All they’re effectively saying is: You’re too beautiful to just be Black.” Just drop the mic and walk off after that!

  • Blue

    “Because when a man tells a Black woman that she looks mixed as a form of endearment, he’s insinuating that her beauty comes from the (allegedly) non Black part of her. All they’re effectively saying is: You’re too beautiful to just be Black”

    That line gets a standing o from me.That’s a major turn off when a guy tells me that…especially if he’s black himself.

  • Trisha

    Kudos to this topic!

    It is something that has clearly shifted within the black community as it relates to beautiful “black” women. As more exposure is embrace to what is “deemed” as the exotic looking woman in media, it mistakenly represents what beauty is. It is beauty, but it is not the only beauty. It hasn’t always been this way. I remember how Pam Grier, Cleopatra Jones, and Bernadette Stanis (Thelma from Good times)—just to name a few were consider as some bad sistas. No one EVER said they had to be mixed. It was just that they were beautiful.

    Even within my journey, I remember growing up, I constantly heard from white people (men) – you are so pretty to be brown skinned. White women –I love your skin tone. Then they will name famous people in who they though I resembled. I guess you couldn’t just be a plain pretty brown-skinned black girl. I guess in their minds, a lighter complexion lady was pretty b/c she had a lighter complexion (the same as some black people). It’s an automatic. I’ve became accustomed to how some people are color struck. I think for me this piece doesn’t bother me b/c of being told I’m beautiful. I do dislike the battle of colorism. As far as this recent shift, I must admit it is more bothersome rather than a compliment.

    To me, I think a beautiful woman is a beautiful woman regardless of complexion or ethnicity. What society is saying you cannot be as beautiful b/c of who you are is my problem. But ONLY black woman is given this fate which in essence is throwing the black woman under the bus yet again. As I am complimented with the “you [must] have Native Americans as your ancestors”, for the past five or six years from men, I don’t take it as a compliment b/c I am a black woman. Compliment the black woman you see. While it is true.. it says to me that a black woman just can’t be beautiful and it is becoming more common as the years passes by. The younger generation of black dark-skinned AA women especially with African-American features isn’t accepted b/c of their complexion (the features aren’t the problem). Take those same features of the AA woman and place ‘em on a white, mixed, or foreign woman – She is now beautiful or exotic. Now, what is a dark-skinned woman or a brown skinned woman with European features? Beautiful of course! For both types of women, there is a European connection. It corresponds with the white models in black faces. Anybody is chosen except a black or a certain type of “black woman” model. Again, the beautiful “black” woman is shunned. More and more problems are arising. This is why I think this article is right on point. It is calling out more areas in which we have to inspire self-esteem in our young ladies. Society is constantly embracing other ways to push the beauty of a “black “women further back. We have to know we are beautiful and let nobody (especially a man) having you think otherwise.

  • Treece

    Aaahhhhhh! This is also such a pet-peeve of mine. I have heard this one many times and I am also Black (just Black). “You are so pretty. Aren’t you mixed with something?” What thee f**k??! What makes me even angrier is when people say this about children. Yes, I have heard ignorant ass adults make these “compliments” to babies and kids. “Oh, she’s so cute… Is she mixed?” I actually heard an acquaintance ask a parent “She is so beautiful….What is she mixed with?” I was kinda hoping the parent would cuss her out for asking.

    It is sad that in 2013 Black people still have such deep seated colorism issues. To some foolish souls out there, the only possible way you could be attractive is if you are something other than Black and only Black. Some of us need therapy. Seriously.

  • Ange B

    Glad this article was written. I feel what the author described in her experiences. I have gotten people talking at me in various languages before English thinking I am whatever they think before just asking me in either English or French (official languages in Canada). I would never think to tell someone they look mixed or to start talking at them in a language other than the national language in whatever country I happen to be in. I just don’t understand the use of it as a pick up line? Seems strange to me.

  • Anon

    They real only because people give them value. That doesn’t make them accurate or true.

    In this day in age, a lot of value is invested in falsities and lies. Entities have built entire empires off of lies. Does that mean that we shouldn’t wake up from being duped? Continuing acknowledging race as the lie it was established as – that doesn’t really help the masses, IMO.

  • beanbean

    I saw that commercial too! I’m glad that JLO has enough pride in her heritage to say that she’s 100% Puerto Rican, in reality she’s probably over 75% European.

  • kissofdanger

    Please STOP IT! Beyonce does have mixed heritage and I could care less if she talked about it or not. We need to stop shaming people with mixed heritage from telling the truth. My feelings were not hurt, but do I blame L’Oreal becuase none of the black women they have right now look anything close to what we look like. They had Kerry Washington but they threw her in the back once they got tired of her. She’s no longer with them. CoverGirl has Queen Latifah and Janelle Monae among many other black women who are waay more relate-able. Not to mention they have their own line for black women, and actually give damn about our opinions!

    I’m sick of black people putting extra onus on mixed/light skinned women to say they are black. It’s two sides of the same coin. We have over a billion people in Africa alone, plus the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. We are found in every region of the world. We just had a black Miss Universe (Leila Lopes) Blackness will be FINE! Instead we need to be encouraging makeup companies to pick up the Kelly Rowlands of the world. We need have black women in major media outlets who look and are unmistakably black. If we did L’Oreal’s eff-up wouldn’t even matter.

    I found this quote to be disturbing.

    “Because, yes, multiracial, biracial, Hispanic, and Asian women are in arguably gorgeous. But so are Black women. Regular old Black women just like Beyoncé, and Janet, and Tyra and innumerable other African-American women who, for generations, have been revered as the most beautiful in the world.”

    These so called regular old black women are light-skinned or mixed! They’re not just black. I agree that you don’t have to be mixed to be beautiful, but naming those women totally beat the purpose of this article.

    In my opinion black features, dark skin, and nappy hair is good enough. I don’t need some light skinned woman to parade black features around to make it beautiful, but alas that is the world we live in.

  • beanbean

    I’ve never gotten the “are you mixed” comment, but I have gotten the “where are you from” comment. I never understood this. Some people act like they’ve never seen a black person before. I believe that a lot of people, unfortunately a lot of black men, have this terrible stereotypical image of what a black woman is supposed to look like. A lot of ignorant people think that if a black woman is something other than loud, big, wearing a bad weave, she must be mixed. Black women are beautiful, we come in all different shapes and sizes, be need to learn and accept that.

  • Trisha

    YES! You hit that dead on..

  • kissofdanger

    We do know better. Alot of blacks have Euro heritage. We did not come off the slave ships looking like Beyonce. That is the truth. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Fabulous

    Well written and insightful article. I can definitely relate to being very offended of the all-too-common insinuation that good looks are in spite of blackness.
    Though I would question the author’s definition of “mixed.”
    Yes, Beyonce and Tyra are beautiful black women, but just because both of their parents are black doesn’t mean they aren’t just as mixed as Halle.
    It just means that the source their racial mixture goes back a generation or so. Beyonce’s mother is obviously part French.
    I come from two “black” parents as well, yet one of the most common lines I hear from women at the bar is “What are you mixed with?”
    Without taking anything away from the good points she makes in this article, I think Ms. Pierce has a rather unsophisticated view of race, and would be well served by tracing her roots.

  • Kay

    There is beauty in all people, if there wasn’t, the human race probably would have died out miserably eons ago. And we are all “mixed,” to some degree, even our earliest ancestors were not pure, as genetic drift is a reality. But what bothers me, is that some people try to use this like it’s a compliment. When my little one was born some ignorant folks would come over to me and say, “Oh girl, she’s so pretty! Look at her hair, she looks mixed!” And they’d give me a look as if I’d done something awesome besides just doing what every other human has dawn since the dawn of time. I would usually give people like that serious side eye and walk away. I have seen all kinds of people in my time, and “mixed” doesn’t necessarily equal “beautiful.” Not to say that mixed people can’t be beautiful, but that beauty is a lot of things, and mixed doesn’t completely encompass that. That said, it’s only an ignoramus who would take arbitrary things like color, or features and group them under some heading like “mixed,” and define that as beautiful.

    To be honest, I’ve met some women who don’t look stereotypically “mixed,” who would give most women on even a bad day a run for their money. I knew one such girl who was GORGEOUS. She was kind and smart too, so I couldn’t even hate on her even if I wanted to. LOL. When I was younger, I remember my friends and I being jealous that guys would stop, look at her, be like “DAYUM!!” But I remember her heart was absolutely broken because she liked a guy we knew and he only dated, “mixed,” girls. *rolls eyes* If a man is thinking of mixed as a compliment or as a criteria, then he would only be a monumental waste of time. I think the author in this article probably dodged more than one bullet. At least these guys let her know off the bat how ignorant and stupid they were, rather than to find out later on.

  • Kay

    *sigh* I honestly can see where you’re going with this. Yes, we are all mixed. ALL of us. Even the White people who scream and shout about purity. They are too. And I understand racial categorization to be an illusion, albeit a social illusion, but one that has been made real. Because of that, our experiences are defined by those categorizations though. Will we ever move away from this? Probably. In some distant future, our descendants may look at history books and think our definitions of “race,” are quaint, stupid and backwards. But right now, in 2013, in the U.S. (and in a way, all over the world) people have been defined by various grades of Blackness.

    Should people be proud of being mixed? Sure. Even though I know I probably have both White AND Native American slave masters in my blood (yep, look up the Freed Men of Oklahoma), I am proud because I am here, I am breathing and am healthy. In the genetic lottery, I’ve done good. So I’m not mad. That doesn’t mean I get to pick and choose what’s good about myself over others. It means I have to be proud of the sum of all my parts, without giving undue leverage to one or others. That said, I still have to go out and face a racist world that will define me by my Blackness and as such, I refuse to be ashamed of what has helped to bring me into existence. Therefore, I am a Black woman.

  • Moe

    I have a friend who is a lesbian, she has brown skin and kinky natural hair just like me and she only likes “exotic” girls with light skin and eyes and hair with a loose curl pattern. My point is this syndrome doesn’t jus t effect men, but people in general.

  • http://www.notacookie.com laneé

    I love this post because I get this all the time “You’re so pretty, what are you mixed with?” or “Your skin tone is so nice and your hair is too fine you must be Indian”. When I was younger and ignorant and had a lot of self hate in me, I saw it as a compliment. But the older I get I learn to love myself and my blackness more and more and I think it’s far from a compliment. I’ve fought with people who try to TELL me what race I am, I always respond “don’t take me out of my blackness, I dont have to be mixed to be attractive”.

    And I love this line “We aren’t beautiful in spite of our Blackness, we are beautiful because of it. So don’t dare try to give the credit to anything else.”

  • jaded

    Recently someone told me “You don’t look like regular black people. Your nose is different and your lips are different.” This was a little surprising, since generally speaking I get tagged as an “Alek Wek” type. I am not sure what about me was so puzzling to this person. It was odd to say the least.

    This comment [you looked mixed] to me is the counterpoint to “You are pretty for a dark skinned woman.”

  • Youwishyoucouldbeme

    Great article. It’s so sad that people don’t recognize Black beauty, whether multiracial or not.

  • Kevin

    How grateful you must be to be hit on, even if in awkward ways. I’m pushing forty and have only been hit on a handful of times in my life (and I’ve been single for practically all of it.)

  • Ms. Vee

    Love the article. However lets keep in mind that being told you look mixed is not necessarily a compliment or an insult. It depends on how its being said and for the most part by whom. If someone was to just say in an objective manner “you look mixed” then you just might be that black anomaly that came out with light skin, hair and/or eyes (that’s the joy of genetics). Example:


    If that little girl’s complexion stays as is then she will most likely be told she looks mixed especially when being in the presence of one of her parents. It does not necessarily mean that people are telling her that her beauty surpasses that of her sister’s.

    Now if someone was to say to a black person ” You are so beautiful, you must be mixed (with something)” then yes feel free to cut them down with a sharp look of disdain or simply laugh at their ignorance.

    Nonetheless its up to us. Black beauty will never be valued if we continue to consider being dark skinned with nappy hair a negative trait and/or if we keep calling biracial people black, when they’re not. If someone that’s half black can be considered black why get upset when someone that’s actually black is told he/she looks mixed. Just my thoughts.

  • Digg82

    I have always hated this. I was in line the other day and two people were discussing me…trying to figure out what I was mixed with. A third guy came over and after listening for a moment said. “She just look bright to me….she’s black ya’ll.” I almost hugged him.
    I am recently married and my husband had to field a lot of these questions from family members to the doctor’s at his hospital who came to our wedding. His response to people who ask if I’m mixed, “Nope, she’s just plain old pretty black girl.” Damn right!
    there is no “pretty pass” for being mixed, just like all tall lanky men aren’t NBA bound…I want the ignorance to stop…

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Boom on this article! I hate the “you look mixed” “what are you?” thing as a line/compliment especially when people assume that I must have Hispanic heritage and speak Spanish to me right of the bat. I crack up inside when I see the shocked faced when I say “nope, African American” and keep it moving even when they want to press the issue and want to break down your blackness (i.e. which they do with a lot of black women celebs). When did it start that you can’t be beautiful and “erotic” (another word I hate because it is a loaded) because you are black and patricianly African American? Are certain features aren’t reserved for us? I swear people’s ignorance kills me. Furthermore, there is no “mixed” look I know plenty of people who are biracial/multiracial who shows no signs of their other heritage(s) but are very much so directly “mixed” but people exclude them because they don’t have the “mixed” look…i.e. light/golden skin, light eyes, certain hair type, certain features, etc. A beautiful person is a beautiful person regardless of their race/heritage/nationalities, etc.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    i’ve had a guy in high school tell me this before. i was so shocked!! he said ” you have to be mixed with something! there is no way that you’re fully black and look that attractive.” smh

  • SayWhat

    ok, it’s official, there is no need for anyone else to comment, because THIS right here….well played madame, well played

  • LMO85

    @kissofdanger–In actuality, you don’t know what our slave ancestors looked like coming off the ship. I come from two parents who identify as good old plain American Black. My maternal side came from freed people. In my case, I had two DNA tests done (only because of my ties to a company that created the test). My maternal side traces directly back to the motherland even though they come from a long line of Lighter skinned folks on that side. Biologically speaking–Phenotype (how you look) and genotype (what you are made of) are two different things–which is why the idea of race is really an illusion. HOWEVER being that we live in the US of A, illusion as perception becomes reality. My lighter skin has not protected me from being called a N**a growing up. It is true that we need to see more representation of darker black skinned women -in particular- being celebrated but that does not negate the fact that in this land, Black is Black and that is what needs to come across with these so-called “compliments.”

  • TheOne

    You need to spend more time in the strip club, my friend.

  • aaliyah10

    This is so funny. I have gotten the ”are you mixed” card so many times. I just recently had a black male friend from Haiti ask me and I said ”Hell No, why do you ask?” And he said cause of my features. It sounds so stupid and people only ask black women this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on different black actresses websites and have seen thread after thread of ”What is she mixed with?” Hell, even in porn (don’t judge me) when I go on those sites people write dumb things like ”she must be mixed, the average black girl doesn’t look like that”. It’s disgusting.

    No offense but every mixed girl is not pretty. For every Halle and Mariah there’s a Tiny and Tracey Ells Ross running around. Knock it off

  • Anon

    Well, I do have to say, at least this time you dropped the icon while taking on my handle. It shouldn’t really surprise me, but it does, that you’re third(?) fourth(?) person that has pretended to be me.

  • Anon

    I still don’t get why that commercial has folks so heated. Nothing she said was a lie. That IS her family background. I’m really starting to believe that a lot of black women just project all of their insecurities on Beyonce because it is convenient.

  • Stephanie

    I believe racial empowerment lies in giving individuals the freedom to make decisions that only affect him/her.
    If the author wants to be identified as a Black woman, that’s wonderful. If, for example, Beyonce only wanted to identify herself as mixed, that’s also wonderful; we acknowledge their decisions and move on with our lives.
    Why should women of mixed races, regardless of the amount or how up/down the line the mixture took place, regardless of her physical attributes that are identified as ‘African’, be cowed into identifying themselves as Black? Who cares?

    Self-identity belongs to the person, not to the opinions of society or others.

  • Anon

    It would be a man who was capping my handle (yes, I can tell by the way that you write that you are a man). I guess I was a bit too much like right in other posts for you to pretend to be me.

  • Keshia

    I think you missed the point of the article.

  • Anon

    @Fabulous, I agree. Beyonce and her mother look like a LOT of black women in the South, heck Houston is filled with “Beyonces”, but for some reason, a number of black women across America want to pretend that it is not blatantly obvious that her family (esp. her mother’s side IS mixed race). She’s not putting out anything that isn’t the truth. A lot (the majority) of AA’s are of mixed heritage, most just don’t know the familial history past a few generations. Why do you think Roots was so big?

  • JRJ20716

    YES Kay!!! Nail on the head

  • kelly

    you missed the point entirely sweetie.

  • apple

    oh girl you know you can’t have no opinion here! you have to think like the group or get a thumbs down.

  • Gina Wild

    @Fabulous. I’m not sure why your comment is thumbed down but I agree with your definition of the term mixed.

    Many Black people are actually mixed, especially in the Americas. Most of it is due to the White Europeans raping African women. Some of the mixing was with Native Americans. I personally know some dark-skinned Continental Africans even in my immediate circle of friends whose grandparents were/are Whites. I used to think Mariah Carey, Kris Humpries (Kim Kardashian ex husband) were Whites until I read about them and found out about the Black ancestry in them. I even know a girl from work whose dad is Indian from India and the mother Black. I know some German White people whose one parent is White and the other parent is half-Black and half-White, and they look more White than they do Black. Back in the one drop-rule day in the USA they’d simply be considered Black.

    Heck even Whites and other races are also mixed. Some of the White people you meet have Black/African in them, a lot Arabs have Black ancestry. You wouldn’t necessarily know if they don’t tell you.

    It only takes 3 generations in a family tree to go from Black/African to White/European or to another race and vice versa.

    So if someone mistakes for “mixed” it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t think Black isn’t beautiful, it is sometimes because you do have some “mixed” features in you.

  • kelly

    I am in the presence of greatness.

  • Gina Wild

    Here’s a song (Dark-Skinned White Girl) by rapper Murs that kind of speaks about this topic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ8bYfbm45A.

    A lot of us are somehow racially mixed, we either don’t know it or choose to ignore it especially if it stemms from the slavery/colonialism/rape.

  • Nic

    I’d actually put Mariah in the 2nd group. She has always looked like Tiny’s big sister to me. It is uncanny.

  • Keshia

    That is not true what she posted has absolutely nothing to do with what the article is speaking about. The poster is taking about a multicultural woman being able to claim her multiple cultures instead of saying just black which is fine. The article is talking about a black woman being called mixed or assuming she is mixed because she is a pretty black woman. The two are not the same.

  • Nic

    I guess the next time a black man says that to a lady, she should say, “well, if you think that it requires the white man’s seed to make a pretty baby, I guess we have no future together, since I’m black…” and then ask him if he has any cute white friends.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    Why is it that every time this conversation comes up, there are a few people who make statements such as, “White people don’t care…” How do you, as a Black person know what White people do and do not care about?

  • Nic

    Yeah, pretty much…I know two people who have white grandparents who more or less look like they could be siblings with Wesley Snipes (different families) and I know people who haven’t had white people in their family in generations but are very fair with light eyes and wavy hair.
    People assume the spectrum of skin color and hair type mix like paint, and that you can ascertain the degree of someone’s racial “mixing” based on physical traits.
    Each of my parents have at least one set of white grandparents and one is medium (some would say light) and one is dark skinned. But guess which one gets stupid questions?
    It’s really annoying. And it’s pretty obvious that people who are “mixed” fairly recently who are not light or who people don’t find attractive are never asked this question.

  • http://gravatar.com/khrish67 khrish67

    Now I think Tracy is really cute but it has nothing to do with looking mixed, I just think she’s cute. and Mariah was so hooked up on being Black until all the other girls who said that they were started to become famous. lololol I used to get sick of people asking her about it.

  • Kay

    I think the general point in the article was not that people should not embrace their mixed heritage, but that many people in the world genuinely believe that Africans are incapable of being beautiful, therefore, if you are of African descent and are beautiful it is not due to some genetic anomaly given to you by those ancestors, it is because you have ancestors that are NOT African. In a way, it’s an insult because I’ve never heard of a beautiful White woman being told, “You’re so beautiful. You must have be mixed. Are you part African/Aborigine?” Nope, you won’t hear that, because it is assumed that beauty is inherent in who we decide is “White.” If anything you would risk offending the woman who would probably be angry that anyone would dare say she’s anything but White. THAT’S the point here.

    We’ve grown accustomed to stereotyping African features as ugly, as subpar and if you are “mixed,” you have been saved from the insult of bearing such a huge blight on your family tree. That’s what people are really saying. I’m not even sure if it’s about beauty when you think about it, as you could look at many of these African models and say they are gorgeous. It’s about subjugating one group of people by raising up another. It’s innocuous, but it’s a virulent kind of thing that will keep prejudicial thinking alive and well.

  • The Other Jess

    Beyonce identifies herself as a Black woman, which she is. ??? Where are you coming from?

  • The Other Jess

    Nobody said anything about cowing mixed women into claiming their Black side. The article pointed out how ridiculous it is that people always want Black women, especially pretty ones, to identify with some kind of admixture instead of just being Black, beautiful and proud. Duh.

  • The Other Jess

    chanela, you should’ve punched his ass!

  • The Other Jess

    black women should turn that sh*t around on the men that say that to them. Half the time, the men that say that are extra, deep dark skinned saying this stuff, and think they’re god’s gift to earth. bUt don’t want to afford a deep, dark skinned woman the same compliment. So next time somebody says “you’re so pretty, you must be mixed with something” turn it back on them and say “and obviously you’re not , because you’re ugly as h*ll! (even if they’re not).”

    This way, they’ll need to address their self-hate because if he’s not mixed, and you call him ugly, he’ll understand how it feels to be degraded and called ugly simply for being who you are.

  • The Other Jess

    well, i don’t know why Black men would have this terrible stereotypical image of what a black woman is supposed to look like, since their family, genetic line, and daily interaction is filled with black women, and since, as black men, they are part of the black race and look like black people.

    See, it’s not that black men have a stereotypical image of how black women should look, it’s that black men have a PREFERENTIAL image of how black women should look based on their own internal colorism, racism, and hatred of women who look like they come from the same group as them.

  • The Other Jess

    Here’s one for you…I had a British Nigerian dude (Nigerian parents, born in London, moved to the U.S.) tell me that he thought Black American women were just oh so beautiful and stunning and proceeded to compliment me on my straight hair, saying how Black Ams had the best hair.

    When I just looked at him with a blank look and told him “Duh, I have a relaxer” (at the time, I did), you could see him instantly deflate and he gave a disappointed “Oh.” “i thought it was natural”, and stopped talking to me, looking all deflated. ** face palm ** what an idiot!

  • The Other Jess

    naw, white people care THE MOST. They just put on a good act to make themselves seem to be less ignorant than us. Where do you think we got this colorism from originally? WHITE PEOPLE and American WHITE SUPREMACY.

  • The Other Jess

    LOL..love it! Just make sure to add that about white women too!

  • The Other Jess

    no, no no, you all have got it all wrong. Beyonce and J-Lo did not know the editors at l’Oreal were going to add that text about their race. They signed up to do the commercial, and signed over their rights that L’Oreal had full editing control over how the end product came out. As is common for many TV ads. Thus L’Oreal added the racialized text later without the knowledge or consent of either J-Lo or Beyonce. Happens alot with TV ads actually, where the talent/subject of the ad cannot determine how they will be marketed later. Beyonce’s was, of course, the more offensive because I believe media is made to specifically offend Blacks, especially Black women.

    I read about it somewhere, but can’t remember where i saw it.

    Beyonce as no qualms about being a Black woman and gave a shout out to other Black women after the SuperBowl, as well as to Michelle Obama plenty of times.

  • Lita

    If that is you in that picture on your profile, someone either lied to you or you are making stuff up because you look like a regular dark-skinned black girl far from mixed.

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  • channelinggemima

    So none of us is black white or other, because according to the human genetics and biology scholars in this discussion there is no such thing as race.

    But in the next breadth they’re pretending to be offended when people tell them what they want to hear and comment on their non-raceness. (read: lack of blackness)

    No, those who can pass for not-black are not the ones moaning. The only ones moaning are the darker ones because no one ever comments on their “racial ambiguity” or non-raceness. For them race is very much a black experience.

    Tut! so sad. I really feel sorry for them. It must hurt so bad when everyone else is getting racially ambiguitized out of the black race and you get left behind.

  • shoSTOPPER

    i have never been told i looked mixed.. i have been told i’m cute, pretty and well put together– from ** gasp** black men- i have been told that plainly with any additions like u must be mixed, ect..

  • eve-audrey

    well you just missed the entire point of the topic just to display a highly stupid statement i feel sorry for you. i hope you worry as much about actually doing something out of your life as you worry about “getting racially ambiguitized out the black race”.

    i for one am dark skinned and what pisses me off the most is when someone as stupid as you will try to attribute everything good in me including my success to anything but black. i’m tired of including idiots in my community and everytime i see a worthless person that can get “racially ambigous” i am glad because that’s at least one person i won’t have to worry about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jewellthief Farringtonsmyname Jewellthief

    great read….as a light skinneded (spelled incorrectly on purpose) black woman that is the product of two african american parents, I thank you…

    its not a compliment to me….

  • http://parentingbytheseatofmypants.wordpress.com greendoondoon

    I have mixed raced children–2 boys and a girl. My eldest son looks like me- only a bit lighter. He has kinky hair and deep brown eyes. His features are certainly black and his nod to his father’s Scottishness is that my son has a ruddy hue to his cheeks. If you put him with a room full of black kids, you wouldn’t pick him as the mixed one.

    My middle son looks more of what you’d expect a mixed-race child to look like. He has loose curled, brownish-blonde hair, fair skin and light brown eyes. That being said, I’ve known full black people such as my cousins who look like him or are lighter with green/grey/blue eyes.

    My daughter is almost white. You would not think she had a drop of black blood in her. She looks as if she could be Southern European, Middle Eastern, one of the non-black South Americans or Native American. She has straight hair with blondish highlights. People have actually asked me if she is mine. (Yes, I ALWAYS breastfeed kids I don’t know.)
    I can’t for the life of me understand why my daughter’s looks are so commented upon as if it’s impossible for a child to resemble their white parent more than their non-white parent. No one says that about my sons.

    There is a flipside to this– I don’t want my daughter exocticised by anyone. She’s beautiful because she is my daughter and it wouldn’t matter if she had hair like lamb’s wool and was as black as 10 feet below the ground. But I find it hard to think about telling her this because of how how lighter-skinned mixed race women especially have been prized by both black and white people. My little girl is a toddler, but I’ve called her my “tiny black woman” since birth. I don’t care if she looks like her dad, her mama is black and I’m the one that has to guide her through womanhood.

  • Town

    Beyonce’s running around saying she’s Creole, Native American and African American so Beyonce’s not portraying herself as “just regular black.”

  • Mokuh

    I find your comment HILARIOUS. How do you propose to know what anyone wants to hear? Further why are you trying to place your shame on other people? To insinuate that ALL brown or dark skinned women covet being called anything but black is not only ridiculous but facetious. Whatever your hang ups are they are yours! I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for a person who assumes they know the sorrows of people…when it’s ignorance like yours that is the true sorrow. I am
    As brown as chocolate and my hair is fluffy as cotton. Full lips and wide hips and I am still told I can’t be all black. So my dear us deeper skinned sisters don’t lament being left out of the ambiguity we lament indeed because people like you REFUSE to acknowledge that we make the room stare, we stop traffic and turn heads. We conquer, we win. We make fabric cling like stubborn children. We dance like the earths rotation is our axis. We raise winners and nurture dreamers and WE do all this while being REGULAR OLD BLACK. We are not all the stereotypes you wish we were. So don’t feel sorry for us….we don’t need it.

  • AM

    Sometimes I think people make these statements b/c the really do think you look like some other ethnic group. I’ve had Dominicans ask me if I was Dominican, Brazilians ask me if I was Brazilians, and Jamaicans ask me if I was Jamaican. Now why and African-American wouldn’t think you were African-American, I don’t know, but I’ve had plenty of African-Americans ask “where my people were from.” I have roots here and in the Caribbean and my husband swears there is an “island look”. Who knows? When my hair was relaxed, I would wear it as a curly wash and go sometimes and everyone was confused. Now that it’s natural, and I still get questions. It just gos to show how vast the African diaspora is. I try to take it as a compliment that people want to claim me! (Though I would never walk up to a perfect stranger and ask some form of the question: “What are you?” That’s really the strangest part of this whole thing.

  • http://defendingmoney.wordpress.com Marketing Gimmicks

    Just want to say that not all black men are color struck and ignorant as the day is long. Yes. These men exists but usually they come with an entire baggage claim of issues. Brothers who prefer light are usually bone deep insecure so we must learn to not make their issues about “us.”

    My hubby and his best friends all love black women, prefer black women, and are married to beautiful black (not mixed looking) sisters. They are ATTRACTED to black woman and they all love their moms. I refuse to use a broad paint brush on black men when many of them have been brainwashed and mind conditioned just as sisters have…

    Yes. Divide and conquer has killed our community with low self-worth and low esteem but we must be away of the power of our FOCUS and our GAZE. We don’t realize it but the more we focus on what’s negative about us the less we focus on what’s amazing about us.

    It’s not my intention to invalidate the pain that comes with this complex topic but if we really want to be happy we have no choice than to accept the skin that we’re in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaime.pretell Jaime Andres Pretell

    You look mixed. And you are beautiful. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that. Just like there are women who have no known admixture and are beautiful as well. Still part of the beauty of the Black community. As the Black community is also mixed. Some with less and some with more. Hell, in my group, afrodescendientes we have people of all shades. still part of the same family. Some have a larger variety of cousins, that is all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaime.pretell Jaime Andres Pretell

    Most African Americans ARE mixed.

  • Anon

    Exactly, Blacks are mixed.

    African-Americans, shouldn’t treat the phrase “You look mixed” with such repulse. You can repulse the idea all you want, but it doesn’t change history or the fact that your genetic make-up isn’t like that of your distant Africa slave ancestors that got off those boats.

    I don’t get why you readily embrace your former colonizers’ surnames, ideals, religion, systems, even the idea of calling yourself black, but you reject embracing their bloodlines.

    You’ll readily embrace blacks with a white phenotype, or a wide range of phenotypes that your first generation African slave ancestors did not have, but you won’t embrace the truth of how that phenotype came to exist within your race – via mixed ancestry.

    You refuse to acknowledge that you’re mixed.

    It’s pretty backwards.

  • Anon

    You try to suppress and hide that fact, pull wool over your own eyes and ears, by calling yourselves black which serves to coddle and mislead people into thinking that being 100% black mean’s you have no mixed ancestry. Being 100% black = being 100% mixed, ‘amalgamated’ in every sense of the word.

  • The Other Jess

    That’s because there are lots of Black/African-descended people in Brazil and the Dominican Republic, and in Latin America in general (many more thanin the U.S., actually). So makes sense.

  • The Other Jess

    But we’re still Black,with the majority admixture being of some type of African and a lot of Native American.

    Get over it dude, we’re Black and proud of it. Being reminded of our mixed status doesn’t make us any better than our African-ness.

    White people are mixed too, but never admit to it, and always hold down Europe. So we’ll just keep holding down Africa, and you’ll just have to get over it.

  • Nic

    As was already pointed out, a lot of people who are just as black as me (and probably you) live in Latin America.
    I’ve gotten silly questions about being Dominican and I know it’s just b/c I have long hair.
    People have lots of weird stereotypes about what it means to be Black Latino vs. Black American vs. Black Caribbean vs. African.
    We are a very genotypically and phenotypically diverse lot, and efforts to try to put people in boxes pretty much fail.
    It is supposed to be a compliment b/c in that hierarchy, plain old black american or african are stereotypes as being the ugly stepsisters of that group.
    even in this thread, you see loads of people insisting that the examples listed in the article are only pretty b/c they are less black looking than the rest of us.
    I would love it if we got to a point where “pretty” wasn’t seen as synonymous for less black (and also if “light” wasn’t seen as synonymous for “pretty” and by default “less black”.)

  • The Other Jess

    There are light skinned, unmixed Blacks in Africa – check Morocco, Libya, Tunisia. Dude what’s your problem? You obviously want us all to be white and proud – just say it.

    But most of us still love being Black and acknowledge Africa, so stop trying to make us into “better Blacks” because we’re mixed.

  • Nic

    Yeah, aside from the fact that her hair is real, Tracee Ellis Ross looks like Diana’s clone to me. They are about the same color, and clearly that is where she got those gigantic eyes…

  • The Other Jess

    Sorry that you feel it is a pride point to be “racially ambiguitized out of the black race”, as if that is a good thing. Your ugliness is showing – and you’re a troll.

    **WARNING: Don’t feed the trolls **

  • Nic

    Um, there was a version of that commercial with Gabrielle Union. Gabrielle Union is Black American. They could have put the same label on her as they did on Beyonce if we want to be all historically and genetically accurate.
    So let’s not pretend that both L’Oreal and Mrs. Carter aren’t playing into the incorrect assumption that lighter means less black.
    The label for Gabrielle’s version of the commercial said 100% African American. To anyone with even an elementary school education, that tells you all you need to know about her ancestry (so if they were being consistent, it should have said white, black, etc.). I’m 100% Black American, and like pretty much all American descendents of slaves, my genetic background is the product of generations of my people being bougth, sold, and raped by white people. I certainly wouldn’t be claiming it in a commercial and since I’m dark-skinned, no one would be questioning my background, but yeah, the whole point is that Beyonce is not any less black than most of us. That’s just a myth that she and her people like to promote.
    But I’m pretty sure we all have relatives with straight hair, blond hair, green eyes, gray eyes, etc. even though none of us are getting invited to any white family reunions.
    My family looks like a rainbow. And I think that is pretty normal for a Black American family.

  • Black (…Beige) & Beautiful

    Been There. Living that.

  • Nic

    Yes, she does, but so does Gabrielle Union but since Gabby isn’t light skinned and doesn’t wear big blond weaves, no one acknowledges it.
    If they wanted to be consistent, the labels for all of the women should have listed their racial admixtures. J. Lo’s was the most accurate b/c yeah, claiming your ethnicity or culture is accurate. We can look at J.Lo’s butt, color, and original nose and hair and know that African is in there. But Puerto Ricans range from dark-skinned black to milky white white so it’s more accurate to just claim the culture instead of parsing out the race. It’s very telling that they only do it for the light skinned black girl and not the dark-skinned black girl.
    Do you not realize that their nonsense is totally just based on incorrect assumptions about how skin color is determined by your genes?
    And that if you are light skinned, people automatically assume things that aren’t necessarily true?

  • Ms. Vee

    Most white Americans are mixed. Why is that never factored in?

  • Cee Cee

    @Nic I Also think that Beyonce has actual ties to her other ethnicity/race and Gabby might not. That really matters. My grandfather is 1/2 white and would NEVER EVER claim being multiracial or include Italian (his father) because his father’s family totally rejected him, he had no interaction with them, etc. so to him it was pointless to say 1/2 black & 1/2 Italian. It would have been another story had his white family embraced, raised him.

  • Ms. Vee

    @Anon Again i ask, if black Americans are mixed, then wouldn’t that be the same for white Americans? Why aren’t white people considered backwards for not wanting to claim the possible 15% African and/or Native American in their blood. No one says to the American white woman “you look mixed no wonder you’re beautiful”. But yet a black woman is to be told and accept that her appeal is attributed to another race? That is a flat out insult and a definition of BS. Yes black Americans carry some non -black in their lineage but 85% black = black.

  • eve-audrey

    i don’t understand your point anon what exactly do you want? black americans are black and i’m sure you see it. when i look at michelle obama i don’t think she’s white even if she has some white ancestors what do you want her to call herself? as someone stated white americans are mixed too but no one harasses them to make them recognize it. so again what’s your point?

  • beanbean

    True True. But I’ve heard a lot of black men say they don’t want a black woman because we’re (insert stereotype). The colorism thing is prevalent. I’ve always thought it was interesting that a white man can marry an African woman, but some black men won’t look at a woman darker than tan.

  • noname

    really sick of this convo, no being mixed isnt better at times it can be worse, via rape slavery but even if you got here in a bad way you are not a bad person. So what?

    we are ONLY having this convo because WHITE people had a problem NOT us.

    so why keep continuing the convo, maybe they will go away.

    but in west Africa where most blk american people are from, there are like um ZERO lightskinned folk, Period.

    i saw a girl who was indian in Ghana other then that if living here you light’ YOU WHITE (or asian)Get OVER it.Yes even Kerry Washington, or Michelle, im am not spliting percentages etc etc. So just because you got LESS white then some body else dont mean nothing =See SAME BOAT

    so im sorry unless you look like wesley snipes or are a fulani you are mixed. get over and get on with it. And every if you do look like wesley snipes you could STILL be mixed. Like i said moving..on.

  • Chrissy

    I agree eve-audrey

    For every black person with a white ancestor, there is a white person with a black ancestor. But, that is not going to mean some white people will call themselves “mixed.” Plus, being “mixed” will get black people nowhere anyway.


  • Jan

    The most exotic is a black woman. It dosen’t get more exotic than that. There are various shades of blackness in my family from pale skin to dark brown with kinky, curly and straight hair. We consider ourselves black of African descent and is proud of it. I embrace my African heritage it sets me apart from europeans and euro wannabes. I love the fact that I have brown skin, course hair and full lips etc… In all honesty, I wish my skin was darker. I have never thought that the white race was more attractive in any shape or form. I have always thought that my people were the most beautiful and I thank my family for that self pride. Sure we do have european blood but it is not something that I embrace or is proud of. Dark skinned women and dark skinned men are absolutely stunning. Whites have always been envious of our strength and our beauty and it is really sad when people of color buy into white standards of beauty. My people are beautiful because of their blackness and nothing else.

  • aaliyah10

    Yeah Mariah is a little overrated in the looks department. I just think she has a nice smile

  • http://www.dawnthescreenwriter.com ScriptTease

    I agree with the author, and IMO, this falls in the line of “you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl”. The ignorance among the black race is powerful, and it don’t seem to be going no where, no time soon. I just don’t understand what the fascination of skin tone is with black folks.

  • Stephanie

    -20. Ouch. But I did read the article.

    Again, the author wants to (and deserves) to be identified as a beautiful Black woman and rightly so because that is part of her self-identity. If some Black women want to be identified as mixed (and for the record, I said ‘for example if’ Beyonce–not that Beyonce does/did), or if some Multi-racial women want to be identified as Black they are also right to do that because it is part of their self identity.

    And as autonomous human beings, we can decide what part of ourselves to embrace that make the ‘whole’ person.

    How we see ourselves, especially when it comes to matters of beauty, trumps any compliment some guy gives at the bar because that’s all it is- a tired compliment from some guy at a bar.

  • Stephanie

    Ah, but I disagree.

    In college I had a classmate who insisted on listing the various mixtures that came with her Jamaican ‘roots’ (she was born in North America), yet both her parents are Black. It used to drive me insane.

    As I complained to my mother about this girl, and how she insists on calling herself all these mixtures but never identifying herself as Black, never acknowledging the Black that makes her beautiful, my mother had a theory:

    During slavery when White men slept with Black slave women, if the Black slave woman became pregnant and had a ‘mixed’ child that child was called Black because it absolved the White man of any paternal responsibilities to that child. So when we insist on calling a woman with a mixture of African descent in her ‘Black’, or get offended when a Black woman wants to identify herself as mixed, we cater to that absolution and the mentality that screams ‘her ass is Black just like the rest of us!’

    I’ve found that since living in North America we either loudly and proudly claim ‘She’s Black!’ when biologically she is mixed with another race (for example, Alicia Keys), or we take take it upon ourselves to remind/shame that Black woman who proudly claims other races that help make her beautiful, that no matter how she sees herself SHE’S STILL BLACK.

    Well, neither woman asked (nor care) for our opinion. My classmate did neither for mine; and I’ve never cared how a woman has wanted to see herself and her beauty since.

    If a woman chooses to use one or many parts of race to identify herself and beauty that’s her choice; because racial
    empowerment lies in giving individuals the freedom to make decisions that only affect him/her.

  • Anon

    And you managed to name countries genetically impacted by Arabs – another type of Caucasian.

    Check your history, boo!

  • Anon

    I agree with you Stephanie. Great point!

  • Bren

    Total turnoff! Makes it seem like they are only concerned about the superficial.

  • http://gravatar.com/momof3dews momof3dews


  • http://gravatar.com/gerigtg gerigtg

    Same here. I’m surprised there aren’t more thumbs ups on her insightful commentary.

  • marion

    It sounds like you have a lovely family.
    I’m a mixed woman like your daughter, my mother is black and my father is white. I feel like I resemble both of them… super kinky brown hair and brown eyes from my Mom and freckles from my Dad. The reason I’m replying to you is only to say that I’m glad my mother didn’t force a racial title on me as a child… she talked continuously about our pride and beauty as black folks, but also about the hard work and wonderful qualities from my fathers side of the family. She never said “you’re black because I’m black” she always said “you’re you” unique. And she recognized that while I would face many of the same issues that she did, that I would have my own set of issues as a mixed race person. We talked about valuing lighter skin as a product of misguided thinking and racism, but she never hesitated to tell me I was beautiful for who I was.
    All that to say that your daughter will have to decide for herself how she self identifies when it comes to race. As mixed people we have that burden and privilege.

  • marion

    Very much agree. Thank you for taking the time to reply in such a thoughtful way.

  • Anon

    Your ancestry is amalgamated = you’re mixed.

    There is no way around it.

  • eve-audrey

    you still did not answer the question. what do you want?

  • Tara

    So true. The black race gets worse and worse.

  • jj

    whats annoying about this convo is MOST black people are mixed.
    PERIOD. If you ask Ghanaians they are Ghanaians if you ask Nigerians they are NIGERIANS.
    We are all from African or have some african ancestry but

    no it isnt automatically BETTEr to be mixed or necessarily a compliment, MAYBE you just LOOK mixed, bc you probably Are! I know its tough.

    but dont KNOCK people who are more WHITE or other than you because you are still setting a CASTE system in the US, which is EXACTLY what white people did.

    when if you go to Africa they would call you WHITE(Abruni) no matter how black you think you are.( some people are all african tho) but ALL lightskinned people in America or caramel are mixed (unless you are a fulani which is rare) G.E.T. O.V.E.R.IT.

  • jj

    i mean if men are saying this just cuz they think mixed is somehow prettier yeah thats annoying cuz its not tru everyone has their own beauty. but dont knock somebody else i mean. thats the mans issue

  • ArabellaMichaela

    What’s problematic about the “mixed” concept, is that many people use it to remove themselves from being “just black.” Yet, these very same people have no hesitation to avail themselves of the civil rights/affirmative action benefits that BLACK people fought for. For example, it is my observation that these people have no problem labeling themselves “diversity candidates” on job or school applications. (By the way, this goes for Asians, white Hispanics and and other ethnic groups as well. They all want to benefit from affirmative action, that Blacks fought for.)

  • Bianca

    Asking if a person is mixed generally is intended as a compliment because on average, most people consider biracial to be more attractive than those who are primarily of a single race.

  • Bianca

    Civil Rights are for everyone, not just blacks. Furthermore, even if they don’t define themselves as black, they are still minorities and thus they are just as much diversity candidates as the blacks. The Civil Rights bill covers all Americans , regardless of color.

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