16 July 2013

Passing for White-- Growing Up Mixed

The Beautiful Mixed--Tiffany Tilmon
It’s the question so many “mixed” people are asked-- “What are you?” Growing up in a military community-- I was always in a melting pot of ethnicities. Most of my schoolmates were "mixed."  A dear friend of mine -- Tiffany Tilmon--agreed to share her story about growing up as a mixed woman- who could pass for white.

1)What is your ethnicity? I am black and white

2) When asked "Hey, what are you?" It is usually because someone already has a "feeling" I am mixed. I usually tell them half black and half white. It is what I consider myself when it comes to race. 

3) Being that I am so pale when considering biracial people, I do feel like at times my skin color can make it difficult to fit in. Particularly when I was growing up. It was well known that I was mixed. Many of the black kids wouldn't hang out with me because I wasn't black enough. The white kids knew I was black, and therefore wouldn't hang with me. Hispanics weren't a group I hung with or tried to, so I have no reference there. I found myself hanging with the half Asian/half white kids. I was comfortable there. As an adult, I find most often it isn't my skin color that depicts whether I fit in or not, it really falls down on my own personality.

Tiffany's Parents
4)Do you feel racism still exists?? As a teacher, I am exposed to learned behaviors in children, that comes from their parents. I believe racism is one of those behaviors. Do I feel like it is as big a problem as it has been, no. Do I feel I could move to Jasper, Texas (where the black boy was drug behind a truck) with my children...no, for fear of what they would do to my kids if they found out they are multiracial, their mother is biracial, or that my father is black. As a white looking woman, people tend to say things that they wouldn't normally if they knew I was black. It is very obvious that racism exists. Many people just try to hide it.
Tiffany & Her Dad
  5)Do you ever "pass" as white?  I pass for white 90% of the time. It is usually someone who is biracial or has a family member with biracial children who recognizes that I am mixed.

When I was younger, I had a need to prove who I was. I would carry a picture of my father around with me in my wallet. I felt that telling people I was black should have gotten me some sort of prize. I was so proud of my family and I wanted everyone to know it. My hair not looking mixed, my skin only looking slightly darker in the summer, my freckles, and not "acting" black made it hard for people to believe me. I remember arguing with kids about being black. It took a long time for me to realize that whether I was believed or not, I was a Tilmon, not a color. Although my color was a part of me, is a part of me, it does not define me.


  1. Love it! Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Is your hairy naturally curly or do you straighten it? I know this woman who is whiter than me, but is black on both sides. But she does have really frizzy hair; but many people would think she was a lightskin mixed woman.