Portia Cole Natural Hair Twist Out.PNG

by Por­tia of huneybflyy.com (pic­tured above)

One of the things I love about my nat­u­ral hair is its ver­sa­til­i­ty. I can wear a kinky twist out one day and the next day I can be seen wear­ing shiny, smooth curls. Manip­u­lat­ing my hair has always been fun for me. On the rare occa­sion that I do wear a wash n’ go and peo­ple ask “Did you cut your hair?,” I just gig­gle silent­ly at their lack of knowl­edge about shrink­age. Some­times peo­ple just can’t wrap their brain around the fact that hair can be gigan­tic one day and short the next.

How­ev­er, there is still one ques­tion that always seems to rub me the wrong way. “Are you mixed?” Before I say any­thing else, I’d like to make it crys­tal clear that I have noth­ing again­st my bi-racial nat­u­ral haired sis­tas. They are very much a part of the nat­u­ral hair move­ment and that makes me proud. I enjoy see­ing wom­en who are bi-racial and tri-racial embrac­ing their nat­u­ral curls and kinks. They have had to learn to love their unique hair, just as I have had to learn to love my own.  I have love for every­one and I don’t dis­crim­i­nate. With that said, allow me to explain why I’m not exact­ly thrilled when some­one com­pli­ments my hair and then asks “Are you mixed?”

The beau­ty of black hair is that there are so many amaz­ing dif­fer­ent tex­tures. No two nat­u­ral ladies will ever have the same head of hair. Over the course of my nat­u­ral hair jour­ney, I’ve seen black wom­en who have nat­u­ral waves, tight coils, kinks, kinky coils, springy ringlets and every­thing in between. They’ve blown it out, worn it straight, curled it, crimped it and set it. They’ve done it all and worn it all. It’s beau­ti­ful see­ing that there is such a vari­ety of hair with­in my own race.

I am an African Amer­i­can wom­an. Of course I’m not sure if I am 100% African, but I know I’m not bi-racial as my par­ents are both African Amer­i­can and so are their fam­i­lies. I don’t look exotic and my fea­tures are not unique. Nat­u­ral­ly, I have kinky curls that go every which way. Typ­i­cal­ly, I wear twist outs and it’s sort of become my sig­na­ture look. I also wear roller sets and some­times, I will let my hair kink up with­out a curl in sight. I con­sid­er my hair to be beau­ti­ful no mat­ter what kind of curl or kink I may be sport­ing. I take pride in know­ing that I am a black wom­an and my hair is beau­ti­ful in its own way.

So, when some­one asks if I’m mixed, it doesn’t sit well with me. It’s almost as if they are ask­ing me because they can’t believe that some­one, who is black could have a beau­ti­ful head of hair. Sure­ly, I must be mixed with some­thing. A few months ago I was in the hall­way at work speak­ing to a co-work­er. Anoth­er fair­ly new co-work­er walked by and said hel­lo. We’ll just call her Jane. Lat­er that day, the co-work­er I had been speak­ing to told me that Jane asked her if I was mixed. When my co-work­er told her I wasn’t, Jane was shocked. Mean­while, I’ve seen and said hel­lo to Jane sev­er­al times before, but that day was her first time see­ing my nat­u­ral hair free. When I met her, I was wear­ing braids as a pro­tec­tive style and she nev­er asked that ques­tion.

Some­one once told me that I should take it as a com­pli­ment that I even get asked that ques­tion. I looked at them as if they had ten heads. Why should I accept it as a com­pli­ment? Why should I be proud that some­one thinks I’m some­thing oth­er than what I am? I don’t feel proud, but rather annoyed. Black wom­en can have beau­ti­ful heads of hair. Hair that bounces and moves. Hair that is shiny, thick and soft. Con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, our hair does not resem­ble a uni­ver­sal tex­ture of “bril­lo” and I’ve nev­er seen any­one with such a tex­ture despite the naysay­ers. We have hair and it’s more than pos­si­ble for it to be fab­u­lous no mat­ter the tex­ture. The next time some­one asks if I’m mixed, I’ll sim­ply tell them no. I’m just a plain ole black wom­an who has lus­cious hair and there are mil­lions of black wom­en like me.

How do you feel when asked if you’re mixed?

 

Por­tia is a wife and moth­er who enjoys mak­ing things and peo­ple look pret­ty! As a grad­u­ate of Rowan Uni­ver­si­ty, Por­tia has an insa­tiable crav­ing for nat­u­ral hair, beau­ty, and fash­ion, but she also enjoys trav­el­ing and home decor. If you’d like to know more about her, vis­it her blog at huneybflyy.com

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182 Comments on "Why It Bothers Me That People Assume I’m Mixed Because of My Hair"

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oldfaker

My broth­er just told me that a female friend asked if I was Indi­an and anoth­er if I was his sis­ter LOL. I been asked if get my hair from my par­ents. My reply was I’m a com­bi­na­tion of both and my hair comes from the Moth­er­land Africa. I don’t get the mixed ques­tion more than like­ly because I’m dark skin. I think you have take it in stride (keep on walk­ing)

Stace
Well I am dark skinned and I get the mixed ques­tion all the time. One being the length of my hair pre chop and now because of hair tex­ture and thick­ness. Also,apparently some­thing about my fea­tures I’m told looks mixed (what that could be I have no idea because no one ever says what). Oh and then there is the too pret­ty to be just black non­sense. I have no idea what is wrong with peo­ple. Peo­ple seem to think I’m mixed with east indi­an. I’ve got­ten this respon­se from arabs and east indi­ans as well as black and white… Read more »
O

If you are Amer­i­can you should tell them all Amer­i­cans whether they are Black or White whose fam­i­lies have been here for cen­turies have mixed her­itage due to the slave trade. 

You may as well give igno­rant peo­ple a lesson in Amer­i­can his­to­ry.

Tina
I have been asked this ques­tion by my doc­tor who is from Africa. I wore a wash and go to an appoint­ment. My hair is pri­mar­i­ly coils and ringlets. She asked me how did I get my hair to do that. I told her that it grows like this from my scalp. She then pro­ceed­ed to tell me that I must be mixed with some­thing because her hair doesn’t do that. My respon­se was “No, both my par­ents are black, and their par­ents were black”. I was amazed that some­one in the field of med­ical sci­ence would ask such a… Read more »
O

Doc­tors gen­er­al­ly aren’t also genet­ic research sci­en­tists in the tra­di­tion­al sense, so they are just as igno­rant as the per­son walk­ing down the street on racial mat­ters.

Karen J

I always get “you must have Indi­an or some­thing in your fam­i­ly”. I say we shouldn’t let it get under our skin. We need to just keep edu­cat­ing folks about prop­er hair care, and thanks to forums and blogs like the­se the mes­sage is get­ting out slow­ly but sure­ly.

Dananana
Speak­ing as an Amer­i­can, I’m espe­cial­ly annoyed when this ques­tion is asked because slav­ery left an indeli­ble mark on the her­itage of every­one with­in the Dias­po­ra. Unless your par­ents or grand­par­ents immi­grat­ed with­in the last cen­tu­ry, fel­low Black Amer­i­cans, expect to learn that you’re at least 10% Euro­pean should you get a genet­ic analy­sis done. Both of my par­ents are very obvi­ous­ly Black, and I’m bare­ly 70% African :\ The crux of the issue is that you can’t deter­mine someone’s genet­ic make­up just by look­ing at them. You can only tell what their most obvi­ous her­itages are, and even then, you… Read more »
iamnotasian

@Dananana with all the nation­al­i­ties in your blood…? Do you con­sid­er your­self BLACK?

Dananana

Umm. I said that I did in my com­ment. I self-iden­ti­fy as Black. I always have. Both of my par­ents are Black. My grand­par­ents are Black. The thing is, just because you appear Black, and social­ly iden­ti­fy as Black, doesn’t mean that’s all you are. Genet­ics are fun­ny like that.

BayouPrincess

I used Ances­tryD­NA and I was sur­prised also to be 25% Euro­pean with Black peo­ple on both sides for gen­er­a­tions. Peo­ple used to ask me the same ques­tion and I would also say no when indeed I am mixed and just didn’t know it. Por­tia, I hate to say it but you prob­a­bly are mixed too.

mlank64

My DNA showed 86% African…particularly Ivory Coast/Ghana, spread out throug Ben­in, Togo, Nige­ria, and Sene­gal.

5% per­cent Native American…which btw is very high for African Amer­i­cans as most do not have Native American…some that do have may­be 2% or 3%.

8% per­cent divid­ed among Great Britain, Ire­lan and the Iberi­an Penisu­la… (sur­prised as well)…most of been those Porguege­se slave traders dur­ing the mid­dle passage..who knows but its there in my dna mark­er.

Redseouls

“In my hum­ble opin­ion: the only peo­ple who ask this ques­tion are folks try­ing to fit you with­in their own inse­cure inter­nal hier­ar­chies. It doesn’t serve any oth­er pur­pose.”

PREACH!!!

silkynaps

The ques­tion, “Are you mixed?” is just a glar­ing exam­ple of igno­rance. If some­one asks the ques­tion, it’s obvi­ous that they do not under­stand how genet­ics work and should have paid more atten­tion in biol­o­gy class dur­ing dis­cus­sions of Pun­net squares.

If some­one doesn’t know the answer, it’s a reminder that so many peo­ple of African descent have lost their family’s his­to­ry due to trag­ic effects of slav­ery, war, and/or col­o­niza­tion.

Gloria

I don’t get asked if I’m mixed, peo­ple just don’t believe me when I say I’m 100% african (from Con­go to be exact) or I don’t “look” african …I usu­al­ly get car­ribean or just black amer­i­can lol & my hair 3c 4a shoul­der length
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shameia

Why did this get thumbed down?lol

Dananana

I’m not try­ing to throw shade or shat­ter your world girl, but…even if you are 100% Con­gole­se, you prob­a­bly aren’t exact­ly 100% African. African coun­tries expe­ri­enced trade routes and col­o­niza­tion like most of the world, so admix­tures hap­pen on the moth­er con­ti­nent just as they do every­where else.

If you don’t believe me, you should get a genet­ic analy­sis done. They’re kind of pricey, but they raise and answer inter­est­ing ques­tions.

Nappy 4C Rocks

LMAO! now that was shade, haha­ha

Dae
Why does any of this mat­ter any­way? Who gives a flip about whether you are mixed, black, white, or an alien. Every­body comes here to learn about tak­ing care of their hair in an effort to have long, thick hair. Which, by the way, is what a major­i­ty of wom­en want. Not just African Amer­i­cans. Going back and forth with every­one about who is mixed and who is not is irrel­e­vant. Mixed or not, everyone’s hair is beau­ti­ful. Your hair is not more beau­ti­ful because it is a looser tex­ture. Just like a lady with a tighter curls hair is… Read more »
Afro queen
Um You can be 100% African and still be light skin. You don’t know as much as you think you do. It has already been proven that Africans have the most genet­ic diver­si­ty, it is not the result of mixing.Remember its where mod­ern humans orig­i­nat­ed. We don’t look alike and our phys­i­cal diver­si­ty is seen even in our ancient art. Just because there was col­o­niza­tion does not mean that every light skin African is mixed, most aren’t. It is igno­rant and insult­ing to say some­one doesn’t look African all because their looks don’t con­form to the west­ern sam­boo stereotype.The rea­son… Read more »
Dananana

Where did I men­tion skin col­or? That’s right, I didn’t. If you read my lat­er com­ment, you’ll see that I under­stand that phe­no­type doesn’t indi­cate geno­type. My com­ment had noth­ing to do with her phys­i­cal aspect in any way. She’s prob­a­bly not 100% African because bare­ly any­one is in this era due to gene flow.

Dananana

Afro queen, I think you may think that I’m say­ing most Africans have a large per­cent­age of Euro­pean DNA. I’m not. You’re right, admix­tures are large­ly depen­dent on where you are in the con­ti­nent, but a lot of peo­ple are going to have at the very least 0.5%. It’s not a huge amount of DNA…but it’s still there, and it still makes the oth­er 99.5% less than 100%.

Afro queen
No one is tak­ing it to heart, but your asser­tions of black peo­ple being mix is just wrong. Most black peo­ple do not live in amer­i­ca and most aren’t mixed. Only some Afro-Lati­nos and Black Amer­i­cans have been proven to have recent ances­try from oth­er groups. Col­o­niza­tion didn’t not pro­duce a large mix pop­u­la­tion in Africa as Amer­i­ca, with the excep­tion of South Africa, Namib­ia and Zim­bab­we. There mix pop­u­la­tion are a small minor­i­ty. And most of those mix peo­ple do not inter-mar­ry with black people(another sto­ry for anoth­er day). So most black Africans regard­less of col­o­niza­tion or how they… Read more »
mlank64

I stat­ed such.…“The fact is that African hair is as diverse as any oth­er eth­nic­i­ty. There is no such thing as “typ­i­cal” African hair. We are too diverse to be put in a box. Our diverse beau­ty should not be val­i­dat­ed only if it is paired with non black ethinic­i­ty. I’ll call out any­one if I get approached again with that igno­rant ques­tion.

Dananana

Down me all you want, it won’t change the fact that most Africans of all nation­al­i­ties will find that they have a genet­ic admix­ture of some sort if they get their genome sequenced. Euro­pean-African trade pre­dates the 1500s, and genome sequenc­ing gives you infor­ma­tion about your her­itage from cen­turies ago.

mlank64
Dananana, you are right!!!!!  I did a DNA test­ing just recent­ly. My ances­try showed I’m 86% African. The rest was Euro­pean and Native Amer­i­can. Yet, I very recent­ly was told by my cous­in that some­one inquired if I was mixed because of my curls. I’m a dark skinned AA.…funny when I was relaxed, no one ever would ques­tion if I was “mixed”. I agree with the author…it’s rather annoy­ing and I have to real­ly bite my tongue when I answer the ques­tion. Since I’ve had my DNA test­ing I can dri­ve the point much fur­ther. Most AA have any­where from 8–20%… Read more »
cassandra

Actu­al­ly there is such a thing as typ­i­cal black hair. I’m a hair­styl­ist and i find african amer­i­cans tend to have a loser pat­tern than africans. Typ­i­cal african hair is 4a/b/c etc.ethiopians and soma­lians are mixed with arab and euro­pean. per­son­al­ly, i believe all hair types are beau­ti­ful

Nic
When I first big chopped I was asked if I had a jheri curl, I was asked if my hair is not a jheri curl well then “are you half and half?”. I was also asked “why did you cut off your long hair to do THAT?”, and when I said my hair was nat­u­ral now, I got “YOUR HAIR SO CURLY!? o_O”. Since then I am con­stant­ly hit with the joke, “you sure (insert my dad’s name) is your father?” fol­lowed by an lol if we’re online or a haha if we’re in per­son at least once per mon­th… Read more »
April

You’re not a plain black wom­an, black cant be plain! That whole you should take it as a com­pli­ment thing is dis­gust­ing. Noth­ing wrong with bira­cial wom­en or men at all. Still peo­ple like to cham­pi­on their diverse beau­ty and not ours. It’s dis­gust­ing to sug­gest a per­son who is pri­mar­i­ly black shouldn’t take pride in that, or that he or she can’t be beau­ti­ful.

Tee

I hear the same thing. I don’t like it either. I am a brown as brown comes so some­one stat­ing that I am mixed because I have long hair is just strange. Since when did my hear deter­mine my cul­ture. Yes, I am Caribbean but that should make dif­fer­ence. I usu­al­ly wear my hair in a bun. But when I wear it out, Lord Jesus, the com­ments are always. “so, you just black, are you sure?” “Do you have indi­an in you?” “I nev­er met a black per­son with long hair.” I hear this from black and white peo­ple. smh

coffeeandfingernails

I get this ques­tion once in a blue moon and my respon­se is always, “No more so than we all are.”

Caty

I find it sur­pris­ing peo­ple would ask if you’re mixed since you look african amer­i­can and you hair doesn’t look typ­i­cal­ly mixed to me

naturally Tee

Ok your state­ment is igno­rant just like her cowork­ers her hair doesn’t look par­tic­u­lar­ly mixed what does that mean? what is mixed hair? Their are mixed peo­ple men and wom­en with 2a-4c hair there is no cat­e­go­ry called mixed hair.

Caty

oh behave. Yeah… I know peo­ple have dif­fer­ent hair tex­tures, since I’m mul­tira­cial lol. If I saw this wom­an I would know straight away she isn’t direct­ly mixed, since she does­nt look it. her fea­tures look afro-amer­i­can or caribbean. I think secret­ly you amer­i­cans take it as a com­pli­ment to be told you have mixed fea­tures, it’s very sad and I feel sor­ry for you

Rachael

Well put!

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