German | Senegalese/Moroccan
I identify as a straight mixed African/European. Religion I would say Jedi. My mum is German, her parents are from pre-war German territory. It is now Polish & Russian territory. My dad was born in Mali but grew up in Senegal (his parents from Mali and Morocco respectively). They met in the Soviet Union studying. I grew up in Berlin, Germany.
I’ve always known I was mixed-race, when I was like 4 or so and I would hear people who I would call ‘positive racists’, who would compliment my parents on my looks. ‘Your boy is especially pretty’, they probably wanted to say exotic.
I grew up with my mum, my parents didn’t combine cultures in my upbringing.
Depending on how you see it, you could say I am at home nowhere, or everywhere. I could be North African, Middle-Eastern, French or from North or South America – people don’t know which I like. So, challenge is obviously to really feel at home somewhere. But for me home is, where my suitcase is.
I don’t have many mixed friends and if I do, it’s not because they are mixed but because they are great people. I often have the feeling that some people stick together because of their race – that’s racism as well. And that’s not for me. Obviously you like hanging out with people close to your values / culture.
I grew up in Germany, worked worldwide but with 99% of people being White in my work environment it has a very positive effect. Together with my name, people always remember me which makes it easier to get introductions or leave a positive impression in the work environment. And also makes you work hard because you know the spotlight is on. Which is positive.
People are sometimes a little hesitant but open up quickly once they feel they can trust you which can be achieved by e.g. a simple joke. So, in the end, no bias that has a significant impact I would say.
German is my native language as I grew up in Germany. For me it’s not choosing a culture I connect with the most, I focus on family. I think it is a wonderful value if you only take the good parts (and don’t wire transfer any money).
When asked the question ‘where are you from?’, I always answer half German, half Senegalese.
A positive of being mixed-race is being the ‘center of attention’. People are very curious about me and it is easy to become the center of attention and the person people talk about.
A negative of being mixed-race is again being the ‘center of attention’, when you just want to relax. No matter where you go, when you are the only Black/mixed person, it is difficult to hide amongst other people and not ‘perform’ in any way. I guess it’s the same for very beautiful women, famous people or politicians. In addition, you always feel that you represent all mixed people and hence think twice about your behaviour. And it is not just a feeling – people have confirmed that by seeing an extremely positive or negative example of a minority group, it changes their perception of that group.
Being mixed-race in today’s society is very positive I would say. And in areas of society where it is not considered positive, it gives you an upward pressure to move into a more open area of society, which is usually also more educated and/or affluent.
If I was to be born again, I would want to return as me. Exactly the same, only in a world without borders. Or a bird, because it can fly.