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Your Hair Just Grows Like That!? Okay, But Are You Mixed?”

Avatar • Aug 30, 2015
The author

The author

By Cassidy Blackwell

Here in the States I’ve never once been asked that question. I believe this is because the answer upon taking a casual glance at me is rather, well, black and white.

I’ve got brown skin and natural hair. I mean, hell, even my last name starts with Black. I have never not checked the African American box when filling out demographic data.

However, while visiting Lagos, Nigeria people frequently asked about the coily texture of my hair. When I explained to them that this is simply its natural texture, not a coiling technique or starting of locs their response would be, wide eyed with an air of suspicion:

Your hair just grows like that!!?? Okay, but are you mixed?”

My response was at first always a solid “no.” I mean, I’ve got two black parents, black grandparents, black great-grandparents; I am definitely 100% black. Always have been, no question about it how I’ve identified.

Me and the great-grandparents (top)  and the grandparents on the bottom

Me and the great-grandparents (top) and the grandparents on the bottom

However, after being asked by several people, I started to wonder where this was all coming from, if there was something to that question. This was truly a first for me and I took some time to reflect.

I would never say that I’m mixed, but the truth is that in my family we’re not quite sure where exactly we come from. There’s rumblings of Irish ancestry somewhere back in the day. Rumors of Native American heritage somewhere in there. We see a looser curl pattern here and a touch of light skinnededededness there. But in general, when it comes to skin color, the main link between we the Blackwells is that we loooooooove to be tan. The deeper, the browner the darker the better. With all those winters in Minnesota that suck the color right out of us, once summer hits, we are out there setting our tan lines to show our hard work. My mom calls it “searing” and even my grandfather finishes the summer looking like Golden Teddy Graham. But again, the last name – Blackwell – there has never been any question of who we are and how we identify.

Back to Lagos.

As I continued to be asked the question, I started to attempt to explain that I’m not mixed, however way back when I might have some European or Native American ancestry, but certainly not enough to where I would personally claim being mixed. I don’t really know because I don’t have enough to go on. People seemed to be more satisfied with this response. It seems as though we have this innate need to understand and classify people by where they are from. I’m guilty of it too and am now more motivated than ever to take one of those DNA tests that sheds light on your geographic ancestry. As a black american, I believe there’s a large probability of one having a little bit of a diluted gene pool.

For the record: I’ve got zero, even sub-zero, problem with “mixed”, I’m purely taking this pause because I have made it almost 30 years on this planet without being asked this question until now.

I decided to ask the peeps of the Nomadness Travel Tribe about this “are you mixed” question and learn about their experiences around the world. Was it just me or have other box-checking, black americans had this experience too? Almost 100 people chimed in with their thoughts. A few notable responses I’d like to share:

I was told flat out that I was “mixed” or “coloured” more than once in South Africa and in Morocco (by a woman from Botswana, a South African man and a Moroccan man). Admittedly, I was pissed initially; however, I realized that defining someone as “Black” varies from country to country and that’s what makes being a daughter of the diaspora so beautiful.

 

I’m just Black. Parsing it out seems thirsty to me.

 

I’ve never met a multigenerational black American who wasn’t mixed in some way. It’s not even all as a result of slavery.

 

Sometimes it makes me a little upset that the assumption is that if you have light skin or eyes or hair that you have to have recent mixture. I’m a person with 4 black grandparents, but people still assume a lot of the time that I’m biracial or less black. They don’t even ask me most of the time, just outright telling me.

 

This happened to me ALL THE TIME in Burundi (East Africa)…and at first I was extremely offended…but realized that people just don’t know…b/c most people of even a lighter hue tend to be mixed…so I just explained that no, I’m black…with 2 black parents…they would then say, ‘ahhh…TWO black parents?!” (lol) which my response was yes…I had a digital camera with me, with pics of my family and fiends on it (they always got a kick out of seeing my maternal grandmother and asked if she was Burundian), and just shared that in America, black people come in all shades…it was a good opportunity to enlighten people who just legitimately didn’t know…

 

You have to realize we are all the product of colonization. My views are mine. My grandfather is biracial from Honduras, his mom is Garifuna. He identifies a black. No hispanic. No latino. All these subtypes cause us to lose the REAL importance of it all. The fact that we should celebrate the cultural differences and not the differences in the combination of ethnicities which make you up.

And a personal favorite:

No caption.  Just a mic drop.  Can I get this on a shirt plzzzz?!?!?!?!?!?

No caption. Just a mic drop. Can I get this on a shirt plzzzz?!?!?!?!?!?

I appreciate the good honest conversation as well as the opposing view points. There’s a great opportunity to discuss what it means to be a part of the larger black diaspora and how this movement has created different cultural awareness, identities and sensitivities around the world. Cultural and ethnic identity I find are not one and the same, but these issues are often conflated. The reality is that there it no easy answer here, it’s simply not just black and white—nor should it be.

Cassidy Blackwell heads up editorial at Bevel Code, the editorial site of Bevel, a men’s shaving grooming company owned by Walker & Company Brands. In her spare time she blogs at Natural Selection. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Dominique Jeter
Dominique Jeter
5 years ago

Never been asked this question in regards to my hair, however, I have had assumptions of my ethnicity by my facial features.
http://www.realdominoj.com

blackandproud
blackandproud
5 years ago

The fact that people assume that “lighter skin or looser hair = mixed” suggests that they also think blackness is a monolith. Africa, a continent of 2 billion people, has so much diversity in hair texture and skin color. I have dark skin, but some of my immediate family members are light and mistaken for mixed.….but we are all Nigerian and can trace our family lineage back for many generations…not one white person. So why or why do we have a hard time understanding that blackness (even in Africa) has more than one appearance? Just some thoughts. Anyways, I appreciated… Read more »

AfroCapricornette
AfroCapricornette
5 years ago
Reply to  blackandproud

I think it’s more because she’s Afr/Amer and it is highly probable that AA are mixed with either white or NA for obvious reasons. Nigerians have mostly 4c hair and those that have looser textures are definitely mixed. It’s pretty obvious to me that the writer is mixed and pics of her parents and grandparents show it too even though they identify as Black. I really don’t understand why mixed AA almost always discount their other heritage and solely identify with being Black. Not that it’s a bad thing but it’s tiresome to see/read all the time esp when they… Read more »

q
q
5 years ago
Reply to  blackandproud

Africa has 1 billion people…#justsaying

Nnenna
Nnenna
5 years ago
Reply to  blackandproud

Thank you my sister for being a voice of reason. What is so beautiful about our skin is that we come in different shades and with different hair textures. My family- also Nigerian- runs the gamut in skin tones from very very fair to a beautiful dark cocoa. 100% Nigerian, 100% Igbo with ancestry that we can trace back at least 10 generations- not a single drop of European ancestry in there. My siblings and I- who also range from very fair to darker skin tones took a DNA test just for the heck of it- 100% black.

Rama
Rama
5 years ago

Can y’all chill with the “are you mixed” articles? It’s tired. Of course black people from the new world look different from black people from africa. Of course a lot of black people outside of africa would appear “mixed” or whatever when compared to an african from africa, and hair type would reflect that. This common sense does not warrant an article of several paragraphs. And yes I’m aware that not all africans look alike and that there are native africans with non 4b-4c type hair.

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago
Reply to  Rama

With the 40 something years I’ve been on this planet you would think black people would get it by now. Unfortunately we still remain ignorant and uneducated to our varying features, skin tones and hair textures. I went through all this with my light skin brother when white folks asked me if he had the same father, and some calling him half breed. On a trip to America back in the early 90’s an AA brother was not convinced that both his parents are indeed black, they were expecting him to say he had a white mother or father. Now… Read more »

FreeTea
FreeTea
5 years ago
Reply to  Rama

*applause* ^This.

Although, it is important to note that hair type has nothing to do with any specific genetic backgound. That’s why multiracial girls can have 4C hair, and people over 75% African ancestry can have loosely curled hair. Genetic recombination.

Also the “4C hair is the hair type of real Africans” stereotype is played out and annoying. People from the continent traded and were colonized by various different cultures, thus many Africans and not as pure-blooded as they think.

LondonGirl
LondonGirl
5 years ago
Reply to  Rama

Agree– its silly. The average person who identifies as black in the US is circa 20% non-African. Some much more and some less. Race is a social construct. There is no right or wrong about it and the definitions are fluid.

Elodie Careme
Elodie Careme
5 years ago
Reply to  LondonGirl

I really appreciate this sociological understanding you put to that. “Race is a social construct.” Why do some people keep identifying biracial/mixed-race as “black” and completely denying their other half: white/chinese etc ? And moreover if those biracial feel closer to their other half they are seen as traitors.

Nompumelelo
Nompumelelo
5 years ago
Reply to  Rama

Thank u!

Kyla
Kyla
5 years ago

When I saw the title of this article. I knew you were referring to Nigeria. Happens to me too. On the other side It gets frustrating reading all these articles with talks on ancestry really. Like why is this common to black people from America infact people of America. There’s this Umm.. I’m black with mix of that and my mom is a mix of that too. Some lineage here and there. Please tell me when humans turned into cake. Just a rant though. If they ask you of you’re mixed, laugh it off and move on. You know yourself, why… Read more »

Ang B
5 years ago
Reply to  Kyla

For me? .. I keep my lineage simple for those who I can tell want the simple answer .. for those who can appreciate? .. I tell ore. Im proud of ALL aspects of my lineage & cultures and claim every bit of it. For those who identify as “just black” or dont see the need to tease it all out, that’s perfectly ok … for those of us who know, claim, embrace, & are proud of all our lineage … we shouldn’t have to hide that as not to seem (insert cliché here)… just some follow up thoughts

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago
Reply to  Kyla

This is common to black people of African descent in the diaspora. I’m not from America but I can tell you that as long as you have a looser curly or wavy textured hair and light skin you are going to get asked this question. My brother is light skin and as a child white people were curios of his background not black people because being light skin is common amongst us so at least back then we knew better. I remember a white boy once insulted him and called him a half breed. Then whilst on a trip to… Read more »

Guest
Guest
5 years ago
Reply to  Kyla

Please tell me when humans turned into cake”

LMAO!!

@ilola
@ilola
5 years ago

Nigerians asked you that question because Nigerians generally don’t have curly hair. Almost all Nigerians have Type 4c very kinky hair, and the few ones who have curlier hair are mixed.

Minty67
Minty67
5 years ago
Reply to  @ilola

that is not true , they just dont know enough about natural hair

Guest
Guest
5 years ago
Reply to  @ilola

I disagree. There are Nigerians with 4a and even 3c hair (I had a classmate, Aisha with 3c/4a hair and my very good friend Ijeoma is a type 3b/3c) but we’ve been conditioned to think our natural hair is unkempt and needs a perm/relaxer to be presentable. Most of us do not even know what our natural hair looks like because we’ve been relaxing since childhood. Sad truth.

FHC1990
FHC1990
5 years ago
Reply to  @ilola

Exactly. Most black Africans have 4c hair, and the ones who don’t can normally trace some non-black ancestry. Most black Americans have European genes to an extent

Grace
Grace
5 years ago
Reply to  @ilola

I am Nigerian and I have curly hair. I am not mixed.

Nnenna
Nnenna
5 years ago
Reply to  @ilola

Where are u getting from information from? I’m 100% Nigerian with coily/curly predominantly 4a hair, 3c in the back. I have plenty of 100% Nigerian friends with similar hair texture, not to mention people in my own family with similar hair texture. And Nigeria has over 150 million people. So you’ve seen all of these people to then make an ignorant assumption that people with curly hair are mixed? Please stop spreading ignorance! I’m Igbo, 100% Igbo with the DNA test to prove it just for the heck of it- 100% black with oily/curly hair.

Lita
Lita
5 years ago
Reply to  @ilola

Not true.

- signed, a Nigerian.

Abi
Abi
5 years ago
Reply to  @ilola

Erm, not true re 4c hair. I’m 100% Nigerian, I have wispy 4a hair and I know a few other girls (also Nigerians) who have 4a hair too. Most Nigerians don’t know their curl pattern because majority have relaxed hair. I get asked how I get my hair to look like that too.

kendra
kendra
3 years ago
Reply to  @ilola

Well I am Nigerian , Edo to be precise, I have 2 blackparents and black grandparents but my hair is 4a… People always ask if I am mixed but I am not… It just grows like that…

K_
K_
5 years ago

you should def do a DNA test (just bc i think theyre awesome lol) but it may give you some insight, i have gotten questioned myself and like some of the responses im all nah homie im black lol , then idk 5 years ago i want to say 23 and me was giving away free DNA testing so i took one, mannnnn 41.3% european, i will not lie or deny i was angry, like wtf nope nope nope, thats WAYYYYYY to much for me, but now its whatever im still black and whoever contributed this long ago dna idk… Read more »

Carla Thomas
Carla Thomas
5 years ago

This was a nice article, and we are all entitled to our own opinion. However I’m wondering why there have been several articles written on this topic. I don’t understand this continued fascination with hair texture and mixed heritage. It would be nice to see a little more variety as far as article topics. It seems as if we will never rise above the color and hair texture issue!!!!!

Deedee
Deedee
5 years ago

Oh lord. West African question East African if they are mixed. They seem to think, unless you lookalike them you ain’t true African. Relax girl.

Chloe
Chloe
5 years ago

What you’re referring to is the one drop rule which isn’t a black invention but a concept invented by Thomas Jefferson. Blacks in most slave holding states weren’t allowed to own property so Jefferspn devised this rule to deny the offsping of black women and white men from inheriting the property of their white fathers. The one drop rule was the way of preventing the transfer of wealth from whites to blacks. Anyone with one drop of black blood in them, no matter how distant the black relative, was considered black and could be disenfranchised. That rule stuck and became… Read more »

Anita
Anita
5 years ago

Thank you for your article, it is interesting to me as an older ‘mixed’ Black woman that people’s initial response to being wrongly identified as being from a mixed background were offended in some way. This reaction exposes what many people may subconsciously feel about the idea of coming from a so-called mixed background. Since every human being on the planet is mixed by virtue of having two sets of unique DNA from their parents and generations of ancestors, it often ‘feels’ like a harsh judgement coming from those who claim to be pure, full or 100% Black. In East… Read more »

uche tugga
uche tugga
5 years ago

Hi Temi, I’m Nigerian too. I disagree with you on this one. If the author had a head wrap on, there is nothing about her facial features or skin tone that would suggest that she is anything but black (possibly even a Nigerian). In Nigeria before the natural hair movement, most ladies under the age of 40 relaxed their hair from childhood and never really know what their hair type is. Even those in the rural areas that keep their hair natural do not know about hair care products like leave-in conditioners and hair gels and mostly weave (corn-row) and… Read more »

AfroCapricornette
AfroCapricornette
5 years ago
Reply to  uche tugga

I’m Nigerian as well and you know we can always tell ourselves, most times down to tribe. Even if she had a head-tie on, something in her would’ve hinted as ‘mixed’ way down the line. Most people think my mom is Shua Arab or from Chad cos she’s brown (and not even that much) and has delicate features but she’s from the South from both parents! Lol. So you see how almost homogenous our colouring is that any caramel, loose textured hair type is said to be mixed…and sometimes is.

Eleonora Omoregie
Eleonora Omoregie
5 years ago

ehi http://www.naturalframeofmind.com is hosting a blackcastor oil challenge with prize..would love if you get into it. An Article will be out soon for more info. Preview on Twitter @NatuFrameOfMind IG NaturlFrameOfMind FB Naturalframeofmind

Natural MiMi
Natural MiMi
5 years ago

Since returning natural I get asked that question on a regular. But the difference is I get asked that question in my home town, and when I tell them I’m not mixed and my hair just grows like this, I get the look of I’m lying. Like I can’t have curly hair. That bothers me because why can’t African American’s can’t have curly hair? But I also researched my DNA and despite me being from a tribe in Africa the DNA test could not share if I had any Native American in me despite my mother’s whole side of the family… Read more »

bri
bri
5 years ago
Reply to  Natural MiMi

Most native American tribes have never given their DNA, so the absence of it from your results doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. Genealogy is the best proof. If it’s there it can be traced.

Natural MiMi
Natural MiMi
5 years ago
Reply to  bri

Bri
To be honest I don’t care, not being smart it’s just if I do have Native American in me I’m still African American with curly hair. I’m not mixed my mother is black and so is my father and my hair I get from them

Christina Scott
Christina Scott
5 years ago

Eh, actually, I’ve seen some very light Igbo people who are not mixed.

christina.bo
christina.bo
5 years ago

Thats Not true! The igbo have cooperated With the english During colonial Times and at Times even procreated with The english. Therefore there still are mixed people with European blood.

Temi
Temi
5 years ago

So have I, but I know that they’re igbo. Never said light skinned Nigerians didn’t exist.

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago

You do realise that some of the first people in India were of African descent and that ended up a Mixed race population. In Europe even before slavery there was a well known African presence. Many if not all integrated with the white population. So in truth there are Europeans and Indians with African lineage.

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago

The term half caste is actually disrespectful. The slave masters called off spring ‘caste’ who were the product of their encounters with the African females. They literally meant that one side of them was a caste off.

Happy
Happy
5 years ago
Reply to  maralondon

You’re right. However in Nigeria the general term for mixed is “half-caste” and it has no negative connotation there, that’s why the commenter used that term

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago
Reply to  Happy

It may not have any negative connotations to Nigerians in general neither to the average Caribbean, as a child I didn’t know any different until I educated myself but historically it comes from the colonisers and wasn’t meant as a compliment. We need stop using this and every other negative term that we have so happily adopted from those that despised us.

Temi
Temi
5 years ago
Reply to  maralondon

I’m sorry but I wasn’t brought up being told that was negative. Even my mixed race friends refer to themselves as half-caste. Good luck trying to get an entire population to change their vocabulary though…

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago
Reply to  Temi

Of course you weren’t . People in the Caribbean think it’s ok to use this term too. Thank you for your encouragement.

CC
CC
5 years ago

I am not light in complexion at all nor do I have a dark complexion. I actually don’t know what you would call my skin color other than brown. I get asked this by White and Hispanic people quite a bit. It usually goes like this ” You don’t have black features” um then I usually say “What are black features?”. By then most get the hint and stop. But I have had a few argue with me when I say I am full black. Really? It doesn’t help that my name is actually Spanish, so I am must be… Read more »

O
O
5 years ago

Cultural and ethnic identity have been used against the black people to the point where even black people aren’t even sure if they are “black”, and some white people claim to be “black”. People judge with their eyes first regardless, whether consciously or unconsciously. Seeing as the black diaspora in America is a product of colonialization, it would probably be impossible to get a proper DNA test that goes back to where it needs to. There is an answer here. In order to find out where we come from, or at least a semblance of it, we must look into Africa before colonialization. Black people must… Read more »

O
O
5 years ago

And not only that, black women specifically must re-realize their superiority, both historically and currently.
— O. Wright

OJ
OJ
5 years ago

Cultural and ethnic identity have been used against the black people to the point where even black people aren’t even sure if they are “black”, and some white people claim to be “black”. People judge with their eyes first regardless, whether consciously or unconsciously. Seeing as the black diaspora in America is a product of colonialization, it would probably be impossible to get a proper DNA test that goes back to where it needs to. There is an answer here. In order to find out where we come from, or at least a semblance of it, we must look into Africa before colonialization. Black people must… Read more »

OJ
OJ
5 years ago

And not only that, black women must re-realize their importance and superiority, both historically and currently.
— O. Wright

Cosita
Cosita
5 years ago

I liked the article because it can get us thinking about and learning to respect our cultural differences instead of the big arguments we’ve had on this site about “who is allowed to call themselves black.” I look similar to Cassie. I have not had a person without black ancestry in my ancestry for four generations. I know who the non black people were but never met them. I do get asked if I am part native american which I am yet consider myself black, not mixed. My mom looks like the people in the other article who are light… Read more »

OJ
OJ
5 years ago

For example, did you know that the Virgin Mary was actually black?
http://mamiwata.com/hittie/hittie.html
— O. Wright

christina.bo
christina.bo
5 years ago

Im really tired of african American People claiming to be fully “black”…?
people who are 100 % black of the negroid race have 4c hair, dark brown skin, full lips and broad noses. If you dont believe me, travel to sub-saharan africa and Check for your self (Even though some african peoples are mixed with arab etc).
Features that differ from the aforementioned (such as brown skin, a looser hair Texture etc) clearly Point at admixture with other races, as Distant in the past as it may be.
Period.

Guest
Guest
5 years ago
Reply to  christina.bo

I’m really tired of people who keep thinking along your lines. You need to visit places like Nigeria so you can see that many of us 100% blacks do not look sub-saharan with broad noses, etc. When will people like you realize that the continent of Africa was already ripe with DIVERSITY before humans spread out to other parts of the world? You need to stop getting all your information from your biased media outlets.

christina.bo
christina.bo
5 years ago
Reply to  Guest

Im african/ghanaian so i know what im Talking about. Where did you get your Information from that africa was diverse before colonization and Migration?
Race is a biological category. Period. As hard as it is to accept for you mixed african americans.

Mackenzie Irick Milks
Mackenzie Irick Milks
5 years ago
Reply to  christina.bo

The differences in our shades, hair textures, and facial features has as much to do with the diasporal region that your ancestors settled in as your actual geneology. The fact is, the initial changes in our skin tones, once migration from the Mother Land began was 100 percent due to climate, weather, resources, etc. and how our bodies needed to adapt in order to continue to thrive. There were no mixing of races. There was just the human race. So…you can be 100% of the black negroid race as far back as Eve, and still be lighter skinned if your… Read more »

FreeTea
FreeTea
5 years ago

.…Adaptation doesn’t happen that quickly for humans. Plants, fungi, domesticated animals and microbes, sure. But it takes us literally thousands of years to make the changes you’re talking about.

And before the “change in height across centuries” defense is used, let’s keep in mind that the differences in nutrition between 1400 and 2015 are significant.

The bottom line is that all of the children of the diaspora (and colonization) are admixed. Yes, you too, Africans. There are people who are 100% African, but there are more 70–80% Africans than you think there are.

Mackenzie Irick Milks
Mackenzie Irick Milks
5 years ago
Reply to  FreeTea

I’m not questioning that point. My point was in reference to the original poster using features as a determinant of genetic origin alone. And, I am aware of the timeline for these changes and mutations. Nevertheless, these groups were distinctly African, all from the same pangea, and their features changed based on biological necessity. Their “purity” did not change. We are all still African, since everyone can trace their ancestry back to Africa, there are not percentages. There are variations in appearance that have been reinforced by physical proximity and mating habits. But, we’re all still African.

christina.bo
christina.bo
5 years ago

What you are describing is how the different races developed in the course of time…

Mackenzie Irick Milks
Mackenzie Irick Milks
5 years ago
Reply to  christina.bo

Yes, but we did not mutate into different beings. We remained distinctly human, and our features modified for the sake of protection and survival, then were strengthened over time as these distinct groups continued to reproduce only with each other. My point is, features cannot be the scientific determination of genetic origin or “purity” if that’s what is implied. We are all human, 100% purely so.

TT
TT
5 years ago
Reply to  christina.bo

You had a bit of a point except when you generalised and assumed all 100% “black” people have those features and skin tones. Like the person above said…“black” is just a social category and these categories are just another way to divide people up…be proud of course and celebrate differences but by no means separate…

lis
lis
5 years ago
Reply to  christina.bo

So?

The Darling Kinkshamer
The Darling Kinkshamer
5 years ago
Reply to  christina.bo

False, there are people in my family tree who have the features you describe as “sub-saharan african) and they are…mixed, not 100% black. We also have all kinds of noses and most black people have full lips.

Jessica
Jessica
5 years ago
Reply to  christina.bo

Just out of curiosity, what would you consider Somalians and Ethiopians to be? I assume they’re “100%” black. Are they not? They don’t have the “black” features and hair you speak of. Serious question. I don’t know the history. I read they may be partially Middle Eastern? IDK. I’m curious because I’m an African American and have 3b/3c hair. I’m actually doing a DNA test to see where I’m from since so many people think I’m Ethiopian or Native because my features aren’t as you describe. I’m already certain I’m partially European. Most African Americans are.

roo08
roo08
5 years ago

I have to disagree. I have 4a/4b hair, my SIL has 4a hair and we have little to no non-black, non-african ancestry. Someone also made a good point that so many nigerian women relax their hair or keep it stretched or in protective styles and do not know what their natural curl pattern looks like. Not that it matters though.

FHC1990
FHC1990
5 years ago
Reply to  roo08

Hence why I wrote ‘most.’ There are exceptions, but the norm for black Africans is to have 4c hair. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, 4c hair is gorgeous

Tshego
Tshego
5 years ago

I am from Botswana and even with my 4c hair, people look at my facial features and call me out for being mixed. Sometimes they address me in English because they think I don’t speak Setswana. The reality is I had a white grand father and on my mom’s side and a coloured(mixed) grandmother on my father’s side. Both my parents though were raised by their black parents in black communities. In our family we consider ourselves black and not colored because being coloured is also a cultural experience we have never identified with. In Southern Africa, especially South Africa,… Read more »

bri
bri
5 years ago

“100% Black”…what exactly is that when so many different races have been classified as black in the U.S? Africans, Native Americans, some white people (Irish ppl come to mind immediately), Chinese, Pacific Islanders,East Asians (aka Indians from India), etc have been classified as black or colored at some point in U.S. history. Black is not a race it’s a social constructed category that people call a “race” now…So, being “100% black” could mean your ancestors could’ve included ancestry from any or all of those different ethnic groups of people. Y’all seriously need to drop this argument until you know for… Read more »

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago
Reply to  bri

I don’t need to be a 100% anything to know that I’m of African descent and that is what I’m comfortable with. Maybe this is what people mean when they say ‘100% black’.Yes I cannot pin point where all my African Ancestors were from, I do know that some were from the Yoruba people and a great grand father was Scottish. That’s as much as I know so far. What matters is how you see yourself. I have realised growing up that a lot of cultural traits and traditions our people have in the African diaspora(you can be in North… Read more »

AfroCapricornette
AfroCapricornette
5 years ago

She said “generally”, not all. Let’s be honest, we generally have 4c type and a small percentage have 4a/4b. Anyone with 3a/b is most definitely mixed down the line. Admit it. Not that it’s a bad thing, but hey, it’s your heritage too. I have Hausa/Fulani friends with 3b/3c/4a hair type and they’re mixed with either Arab down the line or Lebanese in recent decades and they’re jet black.

Lita
Lita
5 years ago

nope. not true. Have a look at the natural Nigerian icons on this page for further proof. There’d be nothing wrong with everyone having *mostly* one type of hair, but it’s just not true (anywhere on this planet).

AfroCapricornette
AfroCapricornette
5 years ago
Reply to  Lita

I’ve seen the Nigerian natural icons and yes, we have the same texture. In fact, I read them more than the others because we’ve got very similar hair type. Yes, there are Nigerian people with 3a/3b hair but we both know that they have non-African relatives in the tree. I’ve got mixed Lebanese distant cousins born and raised in the south-south and you can always tell by their hair and sometimes features that they are. Even I as a Nigerian, am never believed when I say that I am because even though I’m dark, I’m told my features are ‘delicate’… Read more »

Cosita
Cosita
5 years ago

Well your impression is not true for everyone. The writer said she was offended and I personally know people including my own mother who get offended by the question. She doesn’t go into an explanation. She just says no.

Leesha
Leesha
5 years ago

Lol I think that too

bri
bri
5 years ago

“I don’t see you as being any different to myself and others” Thats a mistake, because dark skin does not equal African descent. Just because someone looks like you doesn’t mean their family history is the same either. Plenty of people walking around with African ancestors that were never slaves or did a Brief indentured servitude, then went on to own Land and slaves themselves. We are not all the same, and identity is formed from many different things. As I learn more about my ancestry, my identity evolves with it. I can guarantee you now that our ancestry and… Read more »

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago
Reply to  bri

Of course there are going to be cultural differences among us depending on our experiences and those who came before us. Of course there are plenty of people walking around with African Ancestors who were not enslaved, start with Africa and those who left the continent making there presence in every corner of the earth many hundreds of years before the Arabs and Europeans forcibly stripped many of us of our identity. The Moors for example could be found in the Southern parts of Europe, the Americas too. How would you know if my upbringing is very different to yours… Read more »

bri
bri
5 years ago
Reply to  maralondon

It’s not divisive to admit that people are different. The differences are more than cultural, but whatever you want to believe is fine. Based on your ideas on identity, it’s pretty clear the differences in upbringing. I was not raised to think in such a way, but it’s much more than mindset. There’s entirely too much generalizing with identity in this community. See, right there with the “stripped of their identity”, that is a generalization. Many people are walking around who know exactly who they are, tribe and all because it was passed down from generation to generation. Not everyone… Read more »

CocoaGoddess
CocoaGoddess
4 years ago

This guy once called me “Chinese” because of my so called “asian” eyes. I was highly offended, and made sure he knew that I was mostly Nigerian. I say mostly because I know that we are not fully anything. Just because you have curly hair does not mean you’re half white. Just because you have a small nose does not mean you’re white. Just because you have squinty eyes does not mean you’re half white. That’s all I gotta say

BrownEyes
BrownEyes
4 years ago

It’s not an insult, people are taught to ask instead of assuming so they don’t offend anyone. A good example is me and my sister. We’re both brown and have the same parents. I’m lighter than she is, my hair is about 3c while hers is 4c, and my eyes are a lighter brown. I KNOW we’re mixed with 2 different tribes of Native Americans and French but for the most part our family members are nearly pitch black. Only 6 of us including me have multiracial traits. People ask my sister is she mixed and she says yes. They… Read more »

Patrice
Patrice
3 years ago

Ive been asked this question many times myself…and I don’t see anything that makes me stand out as mixed. Im brown skinned with dark brown eyes,kinky hair, and I think I look pretty black. However like most African-Americans I have some mixtures down the line( as a result of slavery). I also have some Native American ancestry. Im not bothered when people ask this because truthfully no one is 100% anything. People ask out of curiosity and ignorance.…and its ok. I simply just give them a little history to enlighten them…and thats that. If you look a little different, or… Read more »

FHC1990
FHC1990
5 years ago

Interesting. You said it yourself though — most multigenerational Black Americans are ‘mixed’ with other races, due to slavery and other reasons. That being the case, try to understand where the rest of the world is coming from. The vast majority of Black Africans (I’m from South Africa) have the ‘4c’ hair type, and in cases where they don’t, one can almost always trace a non-Black member in their ancestry. I can see how historically Black Americans have all defined themselves as Black (one drop rule etc), but there’s nothing wrong with admitting that a Black American is normally, to… Read more »

Elodie Careme
Elodie Careme
5 years ago

This article sets an interesting discussion. What is to be black ? ‑Biology says skin color, body shapes, hair texture, nose shape, skills and disease mainly found in African/ African descendants. Not so simple as in India you will find very dark-skin people who are not Africans. You’ll also find Middle East or European women with some 3A, 3B even 3C texture with no african background whatsoever. — Culture says black is (cliché but many black culture share these features): spicy food, sophisticated and rythmic music (afrobeat, reggae, bossa nova, soul), tough women etc…still not that simple as you’ll find black people… Read more »

thedelray
thedelray
5 years ago

I find it absolutely ignorant when people think that if you have something physically not “stereotypically” black and it is beautiful or different is the cause of white genes. Black is beautiful.

Cassa Blanca
Cassa Blanca
5 years ago

Remixed “are you mixed” rhetoric. Yawn

Frugivore Clarissa
Frugivore Clarissa
5 years ago

I hate to break it to this woman but “100% Black” doesn’t exist in America thanks to slavery. Honestly, where does she think her family’s lighter skin tones come from? Moonlight? I have jet black family members who were curious to know what was in their DNA so they did an ancestry DNA test only to find that they are 20% European and only 2% Native American. I’m much darker than this woman and I’m only 81% African, I’m guessing that these 4 grandparents she keeps referencing have at least 40% european DNA also. She needs to realize that compared… Read more »

AfroCapricornette
AfroCapricornette
5 years ago

That is exactly what I wrote and thought too! It’s not an insult and most AA are mixed. Heck, Chris Rock as dark as he is is apparently 20% European!

Nompumelelo
Nompumelelo
5 years ago

My hair looks like yours and my ancestors black af
I just get asked if I twist my individual strands :/

I’m South African 🙂

Temi
Temi
5 years ago

So to defend my country, the reason why people ask or are curious is because the colour palette in Nigeria is pretty standard. There are some differences across tribes, but you can always tell by looking at someone if they are mixed because, compared to America, they are quite rare. We don’t have other ethnicities in Nigeria so we all look the same. Every once in a while you’ll get a mixed race individual who is half white, or half indian, but you can tell just by looking at them. Those people are half caste. Then theres quarter caste when… Read more »

OXxo
OXxo
5 years ago
Reply to  Temi

That’s just nonsense.

There are plenty of 3b/3c/4a haired people in Nigeria.

In fact a lot of guys with Nigerian parents walk around with their coils and curls. However as using chemicals is popular even for guys people don’t realise it’s their natural hair. Plus people are too stupid to realise if guys have hair like that women do as well.

Guest
Guest
5 years ago

That’s funny. One of my friends, a fellow Nigerian who is now living in America, frequently has a lot of black americans (who have never stepped foot in Nigeria) insisting that she is mixed simply because she is light skinned. Apparently, some of you guys think all Africans look like those kids that are shown in your ‘save the children’ informercials. As for the hair issue, many Nigerians since childhood have chemically altered their hair and do not even know what their natural hair looks like. If more Nigerians went natural, they would see that your hair type is not… Read more »

Q
Q
5 years ago

It just depends really. Your facial features and hair texture will play a roll in people questioning wether you are mixed or not. I’ve seen plenty o black americans that if I ever saw them walking down the street I would assume their a fellow african and other where I’d assume their coloured because some of ya’ll look like that. When it comes to skin tone, I disagree because I have light skin and no one has ever called me mixed because of my facial features and hair. And race is a social construct therefore it would mean different things… Read more »

clever_moniker
5 years ago

Don’t believe the BS. The question is specifically meant to justify the perceived acceptability of natural hair and black features. It’s a result of internalized racism and colorism where people don’t believe the spectrum onto which the African diaspora lies. They cannot believe our genetic makeup is the most diverse in the world and that black people or those identifying as such can range from blonde hair and green-eyed to black hair and blue black skin. We lie everywhere in between. And despite what people may think about the African CONTINENT, the genetic makeup of the population can vary with… Read more »

christina.bo
christina.bo
5 years ago

I get the Impression that african americans who get asked when being abroad whether they are mixed, get positively exited about it because in the us they are just “another black Person” (as light as they may be) and walk around, telling the incident to everybody with a played outrage, elaborately describing how “all of their ancestors are black” in order to seek attention or admiration…

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