Caleb Norris

African American

Caleb: I am biracial, half White and half Black. My family, on both sides, has been in America for hundreds of years. I personally identify as Black. I've always gravitated more towards that culturally. 

It wasn't until I was probably 7 or 8 that I realized I was different from other kids. I remember people asking if I was adopted because my dad was White or thinking he was my step-dad. I remember playing with kids in the neighborhood who were Black and who made a point to let me and my siblings know that we weren't like them. I was never Black enough for Black friends or White enough for White friends. 

Being biracial to me means having a beautiful privilege of hopping the cultural fence daily. You have a visa in both the Black camp and the White camp, but you're a citizen to neither. It has its advantages and disadvantages. The older I got, the more I identified with being Black. But, in the same hand, I think to myself, could I just be gravitating towards this because I have White guilt? I try not to overthink it, though.

I probably feel disconnected most from my culture when someone points out that I'm not all Black or that I'm not Black enough to participate in a conversation.

I don't know if I've ever been discriminated against. I'm fairly light and racially ambiguous. Because the majority of racism is tied with colorism, I would say that people have made racist jokes in front of me, not thinking it would bother me. But it does. People have assumed that I am Puerto Rican and have said that they don't like Black people to my face. 

A lot of people consider Black churches to be sensationalist or emotionally driven. I definitely feel nervous to share my culture in a spiritual setting at Asbury. I do think some people discredit my voice or my anger when injustice happens because I'm just "another angry Black person." In our society, we look for every possible way to discredit the voices of Black people.

 

My grandmother always told me, as most Black parents tell their children, "You're going to have to be twice as good as a White student or job applicant." That might sound wrong, but given statistics about job placement, college acceptance, earnings, etc. it's really not far-fetched at all. It makes me rather hard on myself at times. 

© 2020 by Eliza Tan