My Multiracial Identity Isn’t A Party Trick

My Multiracial Identity Isn’t A Party Trick

The Establishment

Natasha Diaz

We sat in a diner at 4 a.m. with a stack of chocolate chip pancakes and chicken fingers between us, the only meal that made sense at that time of night. After a while, the food soaked up enough of the alcohol that we could converse somewhat effectively. He looked up at me and smiled, pancakes drooping from his fork. “Babe,” he said, “the guys and I were talking last night, trying to figure out who had hooked up with the most girls of different races. And I won!”

I sat stiffly as he listed off different ethnicities, not attaching a name or even an anecdote to any of these women, as if he was running through ROYGBIV for some elementary school test. When he finished, he took another bite of pancakes and added triumphantly, “We thought no one had hooked up with a mixed girl, but then we realized: Natasha! She’s ­… what was that word for you? Mulatto?”

I took a sip of water, stalling for time to gather my thoughts. I ran through the timeline of our three-week relationship. I was a freshman, newly free from my childhood; he was a senior, well­-liked on campus. Over warm keg beers, he had vowed that he would watch over me. But this wasn’t the first time I had told myself, “He’s just drunk. He means it as a compliment.”

I had found myself making a lot of mental excuses during my first month of college. I’d been justifying the continual inappropriate jokes, invasive questions, and strange obsession with my lack of melanin: How can you be Black when you’re so… white?…

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