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,… 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… 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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