Black + White = ?
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
By: Cameron Reddig
Biracial- a term that was coined to me when I was born. I never really immersed myself into thinking about the meaning of it or how much it played a role in my daily living, until now.
Hello, my name is Cameron Reddig and I am the son of a Caucasian dad and African American mom. All my life, I have referred to myself as Black. However, prior to sharing my experiences with you all I would like to make a disclaimer: though “Black” has always been my identity, I understand that my experience while complicated, is very different from that of my fully black brothers and sisters. Being biracial has been a blessing and a curse. I would say that the reason I am so comfortable with all kinds of people and cultures was from the fact that I had to face it everyday within my own family. Both sides of my family are complete opposites from one another. My father's side comes from Northern Ohio with Scottish makeup, whereas my mothers side comes from Charleston, South Carolina with unknown heritage due to slavery. One can assume that get-togethers looked very different than most are used to. However, this played a huge role in making me so open to new experiences, traveling the world and overall getting out of my comfort zone. Although that was great, life wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Being biracial and talking to other biracial people, it’s very common that we all struggled with some sort of identity crisis. For me, I knew I was biracial but identified as black. My parents always involved me in majority African American organizations, a majority African American church, and I lived closer to the black side of the family, but I was never black enough. When visiting Ohio, my mom and I were the only two people who looked different so standing out was obvious there too. I always stood out as the kid who was either too black or not black enough. When I was younger I was very naive to discrimation. Like most kids at the time, we all used to think it was funny.
As I got older I realized that the only kids that used to be picked on were the darker students. My proximity to whiteness wasn’t enough to fit in with the white kids but it was enough to save me from bullying. I was always able to play both roles which is why growing up was complex for me. As I got older, traveling became a big part of my life. I have been to nine countries all over the world, which have different cultures. However, I recently visited South Africa and my experience there was like no other. Besides the United States, I had never looked at other countries in racial terms until now. For example, when I traveled to South Africa, you couldn't escape the discrimination. If you were black you lived fairly poor but if you go around the corner you were now in a white suburban area. We later learned on the tour that the reason that it was so segregated was due to the apartheid. For those of you who are unaware of what that it is, it was a system of institutionalized racism that segregated white South Africans from Black South Africans until the 1990’s. This is still causing a wealth and race gap between South Africans to this day. Learning about this was a bit of a shock to me because in the United States, racism isn’t as overt anymore, however, I can see some similarities between the two as a result of systematic oppression. The biggest similarity is the large number of poor black and brown neighborhoods and a huge racial wealth gap between blacks and whites. Both of these examples prove my belief that racism has been used against minorities for so long that it has become embedded in our culture and it has now become a systematic and power issue. Meaning, the focus isn’t so much on whether individuals are racist or not, but how certain laws and policies disadvantage and harm black and brown people.
While social media has it’s Pros and Cons, I am thankful for the knowledge right at my fingertips, because it has helped me stay more informed with things going on around the world, as well as helped me stay on top of how to do my part as a biracial man. Some of the ways I do this is by talking with my white family members about the struggles of being biracial and showing them the world through my lens. I also recently purchased the book “White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism,” which gives lots of incite on what it means to be white and all the privileges that come with that. Lastly, I encourage everyone to always be able to have open dialogue; conversations free of judgement and full of growth and understanding.
Black Lives Matter Protest, Charlotte, NC
Volunteering in South Africa