On Being Racially Ambiguous & Dating As Nobody’s Type

by Jozen Cummings

This is not the 2013 version of the Tragic Mulatto.

I am not the archetype for such a story. I have experienced devastating loss and heartbreak, but tragic wouldn’t be an accurate word to describe even the most difficult times in my life. Furthermore, I wish my story was as easy as being black and white, but it isn’t. It never has been and never will be. I’m mixed, and I’ve been mixed for 32 years, but I’ve only gotten used to how that sounds for like the last three or so years.

jozenc-clutchbiopic

But let’s not start there. I want to go further back and discuss what it means to be a mixed race boy who liked girls and wanted girls to like him.

The very first time I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw. It was my mother’s mirror — a full length standard piece of glass that stood next to her dresser in her bedroom. I looked at it and smiled and was, in a word, disappointed. But it wasn’t based on what I saw. It was what I didn’t see, which was a resemblance to anyone I knew. I didn’t have the hair, I didn’t have the eyes, and I damn sure didn’t have the teeth of anyone I saw on “Saved By The Bell.” Nor did I look like any of the boys who all the girls gushed about in school. I looked different, and in elementary school, that’s just a euphemism for ugly.

In my 7th grade Earth science class at Martin Luther King Jr. middle school, we were told to sit in groups of four for a project we had to complete by the end of the period. I don’t remember two of my group members, but I remember Latoya Brown. She was as popular as a middle school student could be. Even at 12 going on 13, she seemed like the type who just wasn’t into guys her age. She was pretty enough to warrant it too. This was when Salt-N-Pepa were all over the radio, their song “Whatta Man” with En Vogue was big and the video was changing every young man’s life.

Latoya came to King everyday looking like she could be in that video.

Anyway, the reason I remember Latoya is because she was the first girl who I vividly remember saying I wasn’t ugly. You should have heard her say it. It wasn’t said in a sweet, affectionate or even flirtatious way. We were talking about other people, like 7th graders are supposed to do, and there was this other kid at our school who was at least as ugly as me, and I said that. Latoya said, “Who’s ugly?”

“I am,” I said.

Exasperated, flummoxed, Latoya said, “Oh, Jozen, you’re not ugly.”

After that, my self-esteem issues didn’t magically disappear, and no, nothing ever transpired between Latoya and I, but I remember that exchange so vividly because it was the first time I realized most of what I think of myself is in my own head.

Our heads can be messy places, and mine is no different. I don’t know what kind of place my head was in when I chose to go to a historically black college like Howard University. I knew from the minute I started applying people would ask me questions, but the crazy part was, I had no idea how I was going to answer them. That was until my mother told me my biological father Harry graduated from the same school. She sprung this on me while I was filling out the application.

Prior to that, I hadn’t spoken to Harry in a year, and prior to that time I hadn’t seen him since I was six. But I had to talk to him, because I knew Howard felt right to me, and Harry, well I did sort of look like him, so I just knew he could help me at least come up with a good answer to my question. After all, he went there during the 1960′s. Things had changed but not that much.

Getting a hold of Harry remains one of the difficult things I’ve had to do in my life. We had to call all sorts of distant family just to realize he was only available via pay phone at specific times during the week. When I finally talked to him, I kept my focus, careful not to talk about us. I even called him Harry to let him know I really wasn’t in the mood to discuss abandoned-father stuff.

“How did you handle all the questions when you were at Howard?”

He said, “Well, the short answer is I told them my mom was black and my dick is black. So if you want tell them your father’s black and your…”

(I kid you not this is what he said.)

“Harry, come on,” I said.

“But honestly,” he continued. “I was so cool, not many people asked me that. I was just myself and you have to be yourself. Yeah people are going to ask you but who cares? I got the women. I used to sit in the lobby of the girl dorms and some sister would come up to me and say, ‘What kind of nigga are you?’ and I’d tell them to take me upstairs so I can show them.”

It was clear Harry did not want to give me the fatherly advice I sought from him. I just wanted a simple answer to those people who saw something different when I stepped foot on that campus and Harry couldn’t give me a stock line to use.

In the end, I used him anyway. When I picked up my transcripts from my high school counselor at Monterey High, she said, “Jozen, I have to ask you, why Howard?”

“Oh, my biological father went there,” I said.

I had to figure out how to be mixed on my own, which is not as easy as it sounds. Not only did I have to find a way to embrace all that I was, I also had to be okay with not being what I thought I was to others, especially to girls.

I joked with a girl I was really digging my freshman year at Howard that we could never work. How crazy would she look going to Howard and coming home with a guy who looked like me? It was a joke. I swear. We both laughed, but it turned serious when she said it was funny because it was true. She said she liked me, but her dad would definitely think something was wrong with her if I was introduced as her boyfriend.

I never became her boyfriend.

One girl didn’t believe my father went to Howard because my mother wasn’t black. If Howard had a special ed program I didn’t know about, she was in it.

And everyone from New York at Howard said I was one of the first Puerto Ricans they ever met who couldn’t speak Spanish.

Oh, I had one woman who was worried about sleeping with me after I said I was Japanese. Another tell me, “You’re cool, my ex was half Black and half Filipino too.”

I’m one of those people who had to grow into my looks. I don’t know if the confidence I had in my senior year of high school and throughout college was ever authentic. I always felt like it was something I had to reinforce in my head. It didn’t matter how pretty the girl was on my arm.

But at some point, definitely after college, I stopped needing to tell myself that I looked good. For one, my personality became better-honed, and I got to rely on my charm and wit to get a girl’s attention. The other thing was, I just know I’m not ugly. I have my days where yes, I look like crap, and there is no denying I always look my best two days after a haircut, and my worst after two weeks, but all in all, I’m okay with what I see and have been for some time.

I just still couldn’t figure it out what I saw and I admittedly obsess over it. I still don’t feel like I’m anybody’s type in a cosmetic sense, which means, no girl is picturing me in her head before she sees me. I get snap judgements, right there, live. It’s like a human Tinder app, in which I make eye contact with a girl and I can literally tell if she likes what she sees if she turns her eyes one way or another.

Some nights I go out and I feel like every girl is swiping right.

Other nights I go out and I feel like every girl is swiping left.

That’s not the same as feeling like you’re on or not. The way this weighs on me is different than the way a bad hair day weighs on the next man.

For years, I would never order a drink on the first date and if I went out to drink with my friends, I always wore a hat. I get what they call the Asian glow, an allergic reaction to alcohol that turns my face beet red and my eyes bloodshot. It’s genetic, I will never not turn red, the result of missing a particular enzyme that allows most of us to break down alcohol quickly. After one drink, I always look like I have had three. And it was something I was so self conscious about, I would avoid drinking in front of a woman at all cost, even if that meant she would be drinking by herself. That also didn’t make me look good, but I’d rather look rude than red. The only reason I have somewhat loosened up is because an Asian friend of mine told me how Pepcid AC can reduce the redness, so now I pop one right alongside a breath mint about an hour before every new date.

Then there are the girls who won’t date me because I’m light skinned. That’s perfectly fine, I completely get it, but I have been left to wonder if they mean light skinned or not black enough. I wonder if Michelle ever had the same feelings about Barack.

Whenever I have conversations about these things with friends of mine, some have asked, “Don’t you ever get tired of caring about what people think?”

I do, it’s absolutely exhausting, but it’s never not fascinating. To wit, two quick anecdotes on dating as a mixed race man in 2013.

I had a girl look me dead in my face and tell me, she doesn’t find Hispanic men attractive. Then we had sex.

I’m not sure what she meant by either of those things.

Then there was another girl who spent the night and I walked to the subway station the next morning. As we crossed the street, I walked several steps ahead of her. She followed, as I expected her to, but then she said, “You said your Mom is Puerto Rican right?”

“Yeah,” I said, because even though I barely knew this girl, one of the first things she asked me, like most people do, is what my background is.

“I could tell she didn’t raise you Puerto Rican,” she said.

I stopped walking. “What’s that mean?”

“Oh, it’s just the Puerto Ricans I’ve dated wouldn’t have walked ahead of me the way you just did.”

This was not a woman who could say such a thing because she herself was Puerto Rican. She was a white woman who just happened to date a lot of Puerto Ricans. But not ones like me.

These days, I am very proud to say I’m mixed. It’s not a cop out. It’s a fact. I don’t really get offended when people ask me what I am. I’ve come to think of it as a necessary evil. They want to put me in a box, but I’d rather them verify what box to put me in than make their own assumptions. What gets me more upset than being asked what I am is being spoken to in Spanish, like I know that language. And the absolute worst is when someone asks me if I work anywhere, which happens to me every other week I go to a grocery store.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still getting used to being me, I don’t think that ever goes away no matter who or what we are. But when a girl likes me, I’m still naturally inclined to believe I’m not her type, even if I am in ways that have nothing to do with race or looks, and even if it’s true that I’m like no one she’s ever dated, I’ve learned to be okay with that. I wanted girls who liked black guys to like me. I’ve wanted girls who liked Asian guys to like me. I’ve wanted girls who like Latino guys to like me. But what is this? Seventh grade? Not all girls are going to feel like Latoya Brown felt about me, and even the girls who think I’m hot, does it matter how or why?

I’ve come along way on this whole mixed race thing. Who I am or how I look now sits well with me. The same kid who thought he was ugly when he looked in the mirror, grew up to realize he wasn’t ugly at all. I’m just different.

 This post originally appeared on UntilIGetMarried.com. Republished with permission.

Jozen Cummings is the founder of UntilIGetMarried.com and is currently a Features Reporter at the New York Post in charge of the blind date column Meet Market. You can follow him on Twitter @jozenc

  • http://twitter.com/Kenesha_W K.Nicole Williams (@Kenesha_W)

    I’m sorry, but he’s only a year younger than me so he went to Howard when a lot of my friends went to Howard and I know he wasn’t the only light or mixed guy there. A lot of this seems to be in his head and be about his own view of himself. As for what some stupid women said, they are just stupid women period. Maybe the bigger problem was him being biracial and not having a black (mixed) father around and that influenced his views on himself. But in the late 90s I really don’t see why his racial background would have been a big deal at an HBCU. I, too went to an HBCU an we had black folks in an array of shades and racial mixtures, along with other races at our school, and I don’t think any of them were shunned because of it.

  • http://gravatar.com/yesimthatleah Yes, I’m That Leah

    I’m glad he found peace with himself. I’m surprised he had such a hard time anyway. He’s really is kinda cute! His skin is tan, he was around blacks….. and liked black girls and all….. ? Hummm.

    Two of my cousins decided to pass for white in the 80′s. I never saw them again. My aunt, their mom, never saw them again either. They just sent her pictures of her white grandchildren. It hurt me so bad. Nobody gave my cousins a hard time….they were very light skinned blacks, with two very light ( white skinned and beige) black parents. Similar situation though. I wish my cousins would have gotten some confidence and quit their mess. Most of this stuff really does stem from low self concept because of looks, which have nothing to do with race. The race issue is an easy cop out, to run, instead of getting a handle on problems. Nobody likes what they see everyday, but THEY think they are “special” ” nobody understands me” B*, and all. By the way. My cousins were gorgeous, but they always picked their looks apart.

    It’s was JUST CRAZY seeing my cousin go to a white beauty parlor.

    No offense, but I don’t understand why so many (not all) so called mixed people bring up race so much! They bring it up from the jump most of the time!! I’m “different” oh whoa as me…. Dark skin is dark skin! If a self identified black person sees a so called mixed BROWN skinned person, it’s no big deal like that. They don’t stand out! It’s usually THEM making it more…..and some of them don’t know when to quit, like my relatives. It’s sad and can have an affect on the whole family.

  • naan

    You must have not read the article correctly because he admits that a lot of his insecurities come from his own head… starting with the story of how Latoya told him he wasn’t ugly in the most platonic way.

    His story isn’t about women not finding him attractive. His story is about how women find him attractive but yet remind him “really, you’re not my type though.”

    It’s like he is already dating with a strike against him because of the way people value “physical types,” and on the first date he knows that he’s already making some women go out of their comfort zone because he isn’t “tall, dark and handsome” NEITHER is he “that stereotypical looking mixed black/white guy.”

    He’s racially ambigious which is different from being light skin and also that “stereotypical of black/white”.

    As he already said, which you missed, this isn’t a tragic mulatto story.

  • omfg

    too long and pointless.

    one day, i’d like mixed race people to get real about who they are. stop talking about racial platitudes, blah blah blah. imo, they rarely bring any real depth to the conversation.

  • andie

    This was really interesting to hear. Being a dark-skinned black woman I suffer from the same in my head issue as he does. I really do identify with his struggle in a very similar way. And it is very exhausting.
    I find it perplexing that a mixed raced/light skinned person would have this problem though. I guess cause light/mixed has been deemed better in my generation. Anyway, I really can appreciate this piece.

  • Lily

    Jozen is definitely someone’s type…mine, in fact. The first time I sent an UntilIGetMarried.com link to my best friend she took one look at his face, called me and said, “Gosh, he’s your type.” Then she read his blog and thought I should date him. IJS.

  • http://gravatar.com/yesimthatleah Yes, I’m That Leah

    Understood!

  • Kristi

    This was interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this perspective come from a biracial, light-skinned man before. I definitely can relate to not feeling like I was anyone “type”. A little because of my skin color, but mostly because of my personality. I can relate to wanting to be liked, and feeling ugly at times because of how most men like women to look/act. You know, some variant of Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and any girl in a rap video. It’s actually kind of refreshing to hear a man share on what that feels like. Men (in my experience) don’t tend to share about feeling self-conscious or unattractive to women. To me, this article makes him all the more attractive. Had to be honest.

  • http://DeAngelisFielder.wordpress.com Prettypoodle3

    Thanks for sharing. It was really interesting to see a racially ambiguous person’s point of view on dating and self-image.

  • vintage3000

    Way to totally dismiss someone else’s perspective. Remember that next time you read another article from dark skinned Black women who have experienced intra-racial bias.

  • Kostas

    Off Topic: I stumbled on UntilIGetMarried a couple of years ago (I believe it was through NWSO).

    I bookmarked the blog, went back a couple of times and long story short, gave up on it.

    I remember thinking these thoughts (in no particular order);

    - For a guy the same age as me, his viewpoint is kind of young
    - There’s a tinge of something *off* on his attitude to women
    - He’ll look back on this blog in 10yrs and I bet you a dollar he cringes

    I just clicked on to look at his site again, and 3/4yrs onwards I feel the exact same way. Totally my personal opinion, but I can most definitely pass on Mr. Cummings writing. Not just for me – including this piece here.

  • Deb

    OMG this must happen!

  • http://gravatar.com/rastaman1967 rastaman

    Yeah, men are human too we are plagued by the same insecurities as women we just hide it better. Plus we are socialized to not voice these things primariy because in our peer groups you are more likley to be clowned than find empathy. A lot of that male bravado constantly on display is an attempt by men to paper over our insecurities. It does not work too well but its often more acceptable to the larger society than actual talking it through.
    Men are for the most part isolated individuals if not for the women in our lives there are many of us who would not have an outlet to deal with what ails us. We are locked in by a society that tells us that whatever the problem, deal with it and man up. It is interesting that Jozen never mentions verbalizing any of those feeling to his boys.

  • Cocochanel31

    Dag thisman has issues..I get it and definetly can relate on some level..but I wonder if he has a girlfriend now? Low self esteem is one of the worst thing a grown man can have.

    OffTopic – Is he half Asian or Puerto Rican?

  • ruggie

    I appreciate the author’s frankness and honesty. In addition to his identity struggles, having a father who was absentee/mediocre and being forced to navigate his way through manhood and women entirely on his own (regardless of race), had to be brutal.

  • Cocochanel31

    I find it interesting too that he was not found attractive in school..usually the mixed or exotic person is found to be most attractive or coveted just from their “mixed ” race alone alot of times in our community, even if they don’t have European “features” . I totally see young ladies going for him off his supposed “good hair ” alone.

    Coming from DC – Howard has such a plethora of shades of students I really don’t see him as standing out or being that different on campus, but maybe thatis just me having been raised in Montgomery County MD , seeing a light skinned black person or mixed black person is nothing new..however, i do realize in other parts of the country perhaps this is not common?

  • WaterLove

    I found his blog the same way you did, through NWSO. The main post I remember reading on his site was him asking “why it is hard for women to match their bra and panties”. I never went back to his site again. As for this specific piece, I actually enjoyed reading his perspective.

  • apple

    he’s my type, physically.. but i understand feeling ugly, i’m 25 and i still feel as ugly as i did when i was 12

  • AnnT

    I never hear it explicitly like this, but every time I hear a light-skinned man say ‘Light skin brothas are coming back in style!” they’re experiencing the same thing.

  • Zombie Killer

    How is that interesting? If that is him in the picture above, then it appears he is a rather average looking man. Nothing about him stands out.

  • http://twitter.com/Kenesha_W K.Nicole Williams (@Kenesha_W)

    I actually did read the article and where he stated a lot of it was in his own head. I was agreeing with him about it being a manifestation of his own insecurities. I also didn’t miss it not being a “tragic mulatto” story and never mentioned or insinuated that this was one. I was stating that most of the black women that I know that went to HBCUs wouldn’t have placed a strike against him because he’s racially ambiguous. If his story was just about women stating “really, you’re not my type though” then this story is universal for all “different” types of men, women say that when they date thin guys, fat guys, short guys, non-athletic guys, etc. anytime they date “against type”.

  • Cocochanel31

    You’d be surprised how pressed some black people are over mixed folks..whether or not they are exotically beautiful or not…sad but true…

    The dude is no more unattractive than the average joe blow on the street. Seemslik most of his issues stem from lack of confidece over everything else

  • naan

    @K. Nicole,

    As the other commentor said, just make sure you dismiss all of the experiences that dark skin women write when it comes to finding love and “not being someone’s type”. Compare that to being as simple as “fat” “short” “tall” and “thin”. I’m sure there are dark skin Black women at HBCUs who can actually recall such personal stories in fact WHILE being at HBCUs.

    Though I think in the African-American community there is a real colorism issue where light skin girls are thought of as prettier, I don’t think that it is the same for men.

    Hence this is why his mixed father felt the need to tell Black women he could lay it down, when all they were asking for was his ethnic identity.

    Now his even more mixed son was going to an HBCU and he tried putting that same insecurity on his son.

    Also the most we know about the author is he is at least 25% Black. His Puerto Rican mother may not be Black. So I would say he isn’t coming off as just a “light skin black”, but instead as “Are you even Black?”.

    But okay. You have your opinion. And I have mine.

  • http://gravatar.com/ebony82 ebony82

    Judging by your picture, there is nothing ugly about you (you are very attractive, if that it you in the picture above). We all have good days and bad days. As long as you accept yourself, you will exude confidence. A beautiful woman who doesn’t hold your ethnicity against you will come along. Unfortunately in life, we all at one time or another have to get pricked by thorns before we get to the rose.

  • Soulfulindustry

    @ omfg

    That is really cruel.. Everyone’s story has value and worth—even if we perceive that value or not.

    It’s not easy being mixed race. Just like it’s not easy being black. Just because we can’t identify with the hardship does not mean it does not exist.

  • sixfoota

    It’s interesting how the same author who wrote a piece about being horrified that all women do not wear matching bras & panties (petty, much?) is now writing a piece about his low-self esteem/self-image. Seems like some deflection, if ya ask me. Makes sense now.

  • RJ

    I find it interesting that this man is completely a man of color. He has a Puerto Rican mother who was lightskinned and a black father who was light skinned. I can understand cultural difference but he is not any lighter than say Vanessa Williams.

    Until people of color stop viewing themselves from the standpoint of white supremacy we will continue to have problems.

    Also, the white girl he slept is beyond annoying by making assumptions about Puerto Rican men. I really do not understand why so many men of color chase after these white women who constantly exhibit racial arrogance.

    On another note I have read a lot of his work on the Root and he is a talented writer.

  • Crema

    What is ambiguous about him? Sinbad is lighter. Boy, please.

  • omfg

    @soulfulindustry

    i am not saying mixed people’s stories have no value. on the contrary, i’m saying i’d like them to bring more depth to the conversation about race.

    i am saying that when they do speak about race, it is usually incredibly banal and hardly ever insightful. the idea of being a very light “black” person is old in this country.

    although racial ambiguity is nothing new in this country, 21st century biracials and mixed people like to act brand new about it. people wrote books about this stuff 100 years ago. they seem to forget that their history is tucked away in the black community, and lost when they choose to pass as white.

    during barack’s initial run for president, he gave a speech about race. honestly, i didn’t hear all of it. but i appreciated the real talk about his white grandmother loving him but being fearful of random black men. that is real talk about being mixed.

    so, i’m not trying to be cruel. i just don’t think what he’s saying adds to a conversation that has been going on for years.

    and his article was long and rambling, just like this reply. but he’s cute. so…..

  • LN

    Wow. I can’t claim to understand what this guy went/is going through. When I look at him I just see a good looking guy. Period. I’m married to a black man now, but I “dated the rainbow” in college and my first few years of post-grad. I never used ethnicity as a standard or marker of who to date or have a crush on. I did look to see if the guy had some kind of knowledge of/interest in black culture because I felt it might make the transition easier. But otherwise, I was wide open. I guess I just can’t relate to someone needing to culturally “figure out” a man they’re dating/sleeping with. You liked him enough to sleep with him. Why does the rest matter?

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I don’t think the author is ugly but then again he isn’t particularly attractive to me in a romantic aspiration kind of way regardless of his heritage or racial makeup and regardless if he is light skin or dark skin. He just wouldn’t do it for me sort to speak but he shouldn’t use that as a slight that people are saying that because he doesn’t fit in a particular “box” or they can’t figure out what his makeup exactly is to judge his level of attraction to them. Yet, I think his story is interesting because often time racial ambiguity is used as a plus in dating situations so it is interesting to hear the other side of it especially coupled with self-esteem issues that are rarely talked about among men. Personally, I never understod these personal hoops people make themselves jump through when it comes to and being attractive to them when it should be really simple either liking someone or not plain and simple.

  • Joyous

    I notice that a lot of biracial, mixed raced people in the U.S. have profound idenity issues. Men and women. Many are just so conflicted about who they are.

  • ms. information

    Yawwnnnnnn

  • Megan

    Agreed– typically being mixed alone would give him a significant leg up in the black dating pool. Unless his frustrations come from pursuing women who have lots of dating options and may be out of his league (e.g. Latoya). Perhaps then he’s facing more competition and the black, latino, and asian guys who have more conventional appeal are getting the girls he wants. Sorry, but all of the references to casual sex with women make it hard for me to believe that he’s pursuing “fours” and “fives”. Not to sound harsh, but I think sometimes people decide that they’re undateable, because there’s a disconnect between who they think they should have and who they can actually attract. It might be worthwhile for him to re-examine his preferences and maybe be less superficial himself. I too had to take this journey… just a thought.

  • Nic

    So, he likes to date racist white women while passing…ok.

  • Nic

    Yeah, I noticed that too…for some reason, nothing that comes out of a white woman’s mouth is too bad for a non-white man to not take his chance to sleep with her. Kind of sad…

  • LN

    I agree… and it kind of baffles me because I feel like I hear a lot of ‘mixed people are so beautiful’ and ‘mixed people are superior’ rhetoric, especially in the black community.

  • justanotheropinion

    My take away from this may be different than others because I’m mixed (Black & White), but after I got past all his ramblings, I tried to look at the message he tried to convey.

    Being mixed/light skinned in his writing is not meant to show he is better or has a worse struggle. He wasn’t complaining – only stating his viewpoint. Being mixed myself, it’s just a ‘different’ struggle/issue. We are seen as too white for black folks and too dark for whites..so where exactly do we fit in? When you are mixed, at a certain point in your life, you are REQUIRED (though unwritten) to choose sides. But when both sides have expressed issues and reservations about accepting you, where do you go? Which path do you choose? As Joyous stated: ‘mixed raced people in the U.S. have profound idenity issues.’ Yeah we do…that’s cuz no one wants us! When you are mixed, it’s similar to having blue black skin – NO ONE wants you. To a young child, that’s all that matters…you aren’t wanted. In the humane condition, there is NO greater need than wanting to be wanted.

    To some, being mixed negates any struggle in this world that is far from color blind. I get it – Mixed ppl get a pass, they get the job interview, they get the guy/girl. Maybe and sometimes. I won’t lie. I know the color of my skin got me a pass for a job interview which meant a darker sister was ignored. I may have gotten the job, but trust me, once on the job, I was automatically seen as black. No if, ands, or buts about it. It was no longer about being passable or acceptable. It is what it is, you deal with it. I embraced it.

    Understand that there are some mixed folks that cry woe is me and want to pontificate about how hard life is. That ain’t me or many other mixed folks. Some dark skinned folks do the same. They EACH have their own struggle. But know that there are some mixed folks that aren’t crying foul, not saying they are worse off than dark skinned people or that their life has been one big injustice since they have lighter skin. Some dark skin folks have the same attitude. Just as dark skin folks want the color of their skin to be validated, some light skin folks want the same thing. Having been around a few years, I can take being thought less of on the job – it comes with the territory. That is a given and is the status quo. What cuts to the core is when what I identify with (being Black), I am dismissed as not worthy of belonging.

    When young, you seem to get a head trip if you are too dark, too tall, too light, too fat, too short, too smart, stupid, dress funny, too ethnic etc….basically outside the norm (based on whatever norm is judging you). We want white folk to NOT judge us based on the color of our skin – I agree. But I have never been more outright harshly judged by my looks than by black folks. I’m old enough & smart enough to realize that being judged by some does not mean all. But that’s now —- 20+ yrs. ago, I wasn’t that enlightened. It hurt. And 20+ yrs later, I remember it. Just as I’m sure this author will remember. Just as dark skin folks will remember being cast aside. At the end of the day – folks are still being judged by their skin color – when will it end – by BOTH parties?

    Thank you for indulging me. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t “pro black” – ESPECIALLY pro black female. However, seeing some of the negative comments to this article as well as other articles written about the plight of light skinned blacks vs dark skinned blacks, I can’t help but cringe that nothing has changed. Whether it was 1980, 84, 1990 or 2013, we are still as dismissive of the light skinned black as we are of the dark skinned one. At the end of the day – we’re both black. Shouldn’t it matter more what the individual brings to the table?

    Again, I thank you.

  • Rachmo

    My boyfriend is racially ambiguous and has had some of the same experiences. This article did provide a better roadmap for me to get into his head.

  • Sunny

    I thought he was Japanese and black.

  • Nic

    Yeah, but that’s usually reserved for women. An average looking light-skinned guy isn’t going to get chased unless he actually is a pretty boy or very good looking.
    Light and white skin usually only grants beauty privilege to women.
    I have always seen black men chase after light -skinned women, whether they were pretty, average, or ugly, and whether they were fat, curvy, or skinny body types. It can trump a lot of men’s normaly “requirements”.
    But I have yet to see any average looking light-skinned guy get treated like the bees knees at any age (not as a child, not in high school, not in college, and not in grad school).
    I think there is a LOT to the statement that light-skinned guys have fallen out of fashion. I feel as though that has been the case since the 90′s.

  • Nic

    But does that apply to men? I can’t say I have many friends who go ga-ga over light-skinned men. If they are that into lightness it is usually a girl who prefers white guys, and being biracial or a light-skinned black men doesn’t impress them at all.
    When does an average looking light-skinned black man get a lot of attention? He has to be super fine otherwise no dice.
    It’s like darkness is cherished and put on a pedestal for men. And men who aren’t really handsome will get called sexy if they have a nice body and nice dark skin. That doesn’t happen for women.
    Same is true in reverse for women. Decent body, average face, add some curly or wavy hair or a weave, and a light-skinned girl will get every guy in the room.

  • Nic

    I totally agree that the light vs. dark dichotomy is totally different for men and women.
    Just as black men are hypersexualized and seen as being REALLY masculine in mainstream society, dark skinned black men do get a lot of privilege today in terms of being the manliest of men.

    And we elevate light-skinned women as being the prettiest.
    But I think his issues were more around being a person of African descent who is conflicted about his identity b/c when I see guys who look like him, I normally do think they have African ancestry, but in my experience, too many of them don’t want to really be part of the community and won’t speak to you. I was raised to acknowledge my people. But too many people like him don’t want to be recognized by us. And after a certain number of times, you stop trying.

    So I feel as if I recognize people whose only conflict is that they really don’t want to be black, don’t want to date black women, and would rather pass.

    I’m struck by the fact that he will date white women who are racists. That shouldn’t be overlooked. It didn’t take much, (at least I’m inferring that from his artcle) for him to not try to date black women. But white women making racist comments is okay.

    It has to be rough though if you are partially black, get raised by a parent who isn’t black and hates your black dad, and if you aren’t exposed to your black relatives. B/c black families vary enough that I don’t think his black relatives would have cared if he was the lightest one at the dinner table, but you know that in a non-black family, that isn’t the case.

    I’m sure some kids like him grow up hearing racist statements about black people. Too many racists have kids with black people and then don’t want to acknowledge the kid’s ancenstry, and that is enough to mess up anyone’s head.

  • simplyme

    Thanks for sharing. I will never pretend to know what its like to grow up mixed race or trivialize that experience, but I also think a lot of these issues are things many minorities go through as a teenagers especially after growing up surrounded by people who don’t look like them. The wondering where exactly you fit in… the desire to be validated by someone… etc. Even after college trying to find your niche as an adult theres that awkward navigation of being too “Black” for some and too “White” for others (as ignorant as that sounds) when it comes to not just dating but interactions with people in general. Wanting to be liked by that group.. and wanting to be liked by this group… and then finally realizing that you can’t be anything other than yourself.

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    Usually it’s insecure people who are surface-obsessed to the point of needing to see matching undie sets – it totally fits

  • Nic

    I think it’s b/c a lot of folks have kids with people of another race and then want to act like those kids are white. And most of them don’t look white. Add in divorce or separation from the minority part of the family and you are bound to have issues.
    One of my friends who has a white mom said her mom (parents divorced really early and her parents hate each other) REALLY pushed the idea to her growing up that she wasn’t black. So she said for a long time she believed it. As an adult, she says it is ridiculous b/c she has brown skin(darker than what a lot of people with two black parents have), curly hair, and is always going to be treated like a black person. And that was her choice, and something she decided made sense for her . But she said she disliked the fact that her mom really didn’t want her to identify as a black person, b/c you can be a black person with a non-black parent, since none of us are “pure blooded” anyway.
    Another one said she felt that her mom wasn’t able to accept her hair…so her mom was okay calling them black but never learned to do her hair, and she felt rejected by that.
    So it’s like, people need to realize that if you have sex with a black person, you are going to have a kid who likely will NOT have white privilege, and you need to teach them that and not pretend that their color doesn’t matter.
    I don’t see this guy getting mistaken for white but it’s not like he had anyone teach him to be proud of having black ancestry either…certainly not enough pride to call out racists who make rude comments about his ethnic or racial heritage.
    Sorry, but as a black person, I’m not going to take it as a compliment if a white (or other non-black person) tells me I don’t act black, wasn’t raised to act like a black person, don’t sound black, etc. It’s an insult to us all. And I will call them out on it.

  • Tish

    I’ve had SEVERAL friends over the years, most of whom are darker skinned like myself, who have an obvious (and sometimes explicit) preference for light skinned black men. I think often this stems from the same insecurities that plague darker skinned black men who will only date light skinned black women. I can say that I received the message at home that I should end up with a light skinned man and I think many dark skinned people male or female think they are marrying up by being with someone lighter. It’s unfortunate, but in this country being fair skinned means having a coveted status within the black american community and being more able to assimilate more easily into the economic and social fabric of white society.

  • Joyous

    This story is EXACTLY a version of the 2013 Tragic Mulatto. This guy wrote a novel of confusion, and wants readers to make sense of it. He wants women who are not attracted to him. Point blank. The women he’s attracted are generally attracted to Black men who look like Black men. Instead of him going for women who are attracted to ambiguous looking men, he keeps going for women he knows are going to reject him. Most guys figure out which women are into them and which ones are not, and keep it moving in the direction of success. He either doesn’t know who is into him, or he is using his ‘rejection experiences’ as a way to blame women for his failures. Not cool.

  • Kay05

    I’m just sick of mixed race folks troubles being placed on the black community. Lets see what their other half say/does. I know plenty of other races that don’t accept mixed folk.

  • the alchemist

    @Perspective

    This is the first time I think I’ve agreed with you. Dark skin “codes” as masculine and light skin “codes” as feminine. This doesn’t do light skin men nor dark skin women an favors.

  • Nic

    I don’t know why that is getting a thumbs down. My sister’s husband is white and her daughter is NOT the lightest person in our family nor the only one with straight hair by a long shot. She’s the same color as many, and darker than others.

  • Wha….?

    Who said his, or any mixed person’s, troubles were being “placed” on the Black community?? That doesn’t make sense given the content of the article. He’s talking about his experience and how uneasy he feels dating any women (regardless of race). This is an article on a Black women’s website about issues that MAY be of Black women’s interest. If you’re not interested, don’t comment. This article isn’t even about how Black people don’t accept him. Its about his own insecurities.

  • Justus

    What are we living in School Daze? Jozen my light skinned brother u are not alone. Just imagine if u had two brown skinned parents and came out lighter than u. My best friend in the world is very fairskinned with two parents and siblings that are significantly darker than him. He also struggled with his identity for awhile. His looks was always an issue for him. As he got older and grew into his looks. He realized that there were a significantly amount of sistas that loved light skinned brothers. Women like who they like. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason. U on the right track. Stay true to yourself and the rest will take care of itself.

  • RealRachel

    Jozen’s issue isn’t about racial identity.His issue is about him not believing he is an attractive person and the self-consciousness he has about it. I think he used the topic of racial ambiguity to mask the his real question: Is he attractive. In all honesty? No, Jozen Cummings is not attractive. Whether he was light-skinned, dark or caramel; all black, all asian, all puerto rican or all mixed together, he would still be a below average looking guy. He’s not ugly, but his looks aren’t going to have women knocking each other to get to him either.

  • mia

    interesting perspective. i like jozen’s writing. i use to follow him on twitter, but he doesn’t really engage people. because i followed him, i had some inkling of what he may have dealt with. he tends to have witty and sometimes snarky tweets about race, his encounters, etc. i am a little saddened by the myriad of emotions that he went through in his early years. but those experiences and reflections have grounded him into the person that he is today. i appreciate him being transparent and open enough to share this.

  • Singles Warehouse

    An interesting point of view. Good on you for voicing your opinion.

  • Jasmine

    My experience is somewhat similar, only I look white as all. Only my features are strange for a white lady. Some days I hate it. I often hate looking at myself. The men who are attracted to me from my community tell me they like me because it’s like having a white lady without the complications.

  • http://gravatar.com/ebony82 ebony82

    Wow at your last sentence! You dodged the bullet of low-life/no-life men only liking you for your appearance and not for who you are as a person.

  • https://www.facebook.com/leondra.james Leondra James

    I think it goes without saying that people who identify with (or have a stronger presence with) one race experience some of these same issues. It’s nothing special, especially today, considering everyone is mixed to some extent.

  • Stephanie

    I clicked and read because I saw a cute dude…Women who worry about your ethnicity first have issues that are better left for the next man… Getting to know yourself as you mentioned is so much more useful than worrying about what others think. And it totally takes time to learn that. Kudos…now go out there and shut it down… with those bedroom eyes… ( yeah i said it, lol ~_~ )

  • http://miss-zorro.tumblr.com Miss-Zorro

    One of the reasons I clicked on this article is cause one, I saw a cute guy and two, he kinda looks like someone I once knew…or should I say had a HUGE crush on. And after reading this article, I was a little surprised to see some of the similarities. Me personally, I don’t think Jozen is ugly…that may be due to the fact he kinda looks like someone I know but I digress. I can’t really say on weather or not I have a specific preference when it comes to men, but in a dating situation I wouldn’t find his skin tone nor his racial make-up a problem. Jozen pretty much is stating something that almost everyone experiences in their life. Who hasn’t gone through a period in their life where you felt like no one would ever notice you? Or come across people who instantly made assumptions about you simply for the way you looked? Glad to see by the end of the article he states that he pretty much grew into who he is and is making peace with it.

  • M Carr

    This is very surprising to me. Most of the people I know think mixed people in general are beautiful, and many actually prefer mixed or light skinned people. Maybe its just because of where I live. (Georgia)

  • Dee

    This was the funniest article I’ve ever read in my life. Okay, well, its the funniest one that I can recall while I’m in a fit of giggles right now! I’m a new fan. :-)

  • Patricia

    I think it’s so sad that you have spent your whole life with this “struggle” with your identity. I am not American I live in Canada and it’s very sad that in 2013 racial issues are alive and well and thriving in the Great US of A. Racism exists everywhere but I am willing to bet that if you were to do an article on a Canadian of mixed race that is under the age of 40 this would not be their story. There are so many “mixed” races here that nobody even bats an eye. To be honest right now it’s more unusual to see families that are all white or all black. I have nieces and nephews that are half white, half Asian, mixed with South Asian etc…I am a black woman. To be honest it hasn’t been an issue. My niece is half white and people from different races other than black and white usually mix up her race as they aren’t familiar with “mixes” in the countries they come from but it’s never offensive nor does it bother her. Most everyone I know of mixed race celebrates both sides and embraces it. I really hope that one day America can finally exercise the demons of the past. It’s very mindblowing to watch the news and see so many stories that centre on race issues. God bless.

  • Joyous

    Canada never had slavery. Canada never had Jim Crow. Canada never had the one-drop rule. The Black population in the entire Country is not as large as the U.S. Most of the Black people in Canada are of recent African and West Indian immigration.The Black descendents of slaves who escaped to Canada for freedom are not as large a group. The Black experience in Canada is so profoundly different than the Black experience in the U.S., that I don’t even know why you would compare the two countries in this regard.

  • https://www.facebook.com/lady.johnson.71 Lady Johnson

    All this colorism, brown paper bag testing, field or house type, you aren’t enough black or too much black, you only know your back because your skinny with a flat butt (SERIOUS side eye to Miley Cyrus) weave, perm or natural hatteration. IS there anything else out there we can use to divide us???!!!!! I swear, we just all need to be blind! If we as people could invest as much energy in liking and accepting someone as we do in rejecting someone we might actually all be, as my friend would put it, peace.

  • http://gravatar.com/mindofmalaka Malaka

    I’ve always wanted a child that looked just like Jozen. Seriously. I wanted 3 half-Japanese babies. However since Japanese men are rarely in the market for your run of the mill Ghanaian/African woman, I ended up with 4 regular ol’ brown babies instead. Quelle heurrer, I know.

    Jozens post really made me wonder what kind of life my possible offspring might have had, what struggles with identity they may have faced. As far as I’m concerned Jozen, you’re hot and cosmetically you were the man of my dreams…. circa 2001, anyway. The man of my dreams is next to me now :)

    Here’s to hope and love!

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