Sometimes conversations are awkward because we make them awkward. If we just focus on our similarities instead of our differences, we won’t get so hung up on saying the wrong thing and offending people.
Growing up on an Air Force Base, interactions with mixed race families was the norm. My first experience with a biracial individual was in 5th grade. Our teacher was doing a race count for FTE funding (schools get more money based on the number of minority students they have). Our teacher called out all the different races, then got mad when she counted and realized someone didn’t raise their hand. She said very loudly, “Who didn’t raise their hand?” (We’ll call his name Jason) Jason said, “I didn’t.” She then screamed at him, “Why not?” To which he replied, I’m not sure which one to pick (black or white). She screamed back, “just pick one!”
At the time, I didn’t realize how damaging this conversation was. It was insensitive of the teacher to demand him to pick one race when he was clearly more than one. How mortifying it must have been for him to have this identity crisis in front of all of his peers and teachers. This anecdote is an extreme example, but some people just don’t know what to say without being offensive.