Biracial and (not) proud

When your skinfolk don’t want to be claimed

Shamontiel Vaughn
Jul 1 · 7 min read
Photo: “Artists of the Wall” painting at Loyola Park (Photo [of painting] credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)
Photo credit: Pixabay
Photo credit: Thisabled/Pixabay

Biracial skinfolk who may as well be my kinfolk

When I was a kid, I had two biracial friends. The first one was an adorable little girl who was (if I recall correctly) Italian and black. She always smelled like strawberries and cigarettes, for some reason. She was proudly the teacher’s pet and got along with everybody. I don’t recall ever bringing up race with her one time. But it was pretty obvious that she was biracial from her reddish hair, cheeks filled with freckles and very light skin. Then there were the occasional relatives who stopped in on Report Card Day, who clearly looked nothing like the parents from my predominantly black elementary school.

Photo credit: Alex Nemo Hanse/Unsplash
Photo credit: Pixabay

Where I went wrong: “Black Hair or History” fact?

Everyday for at least a month, I would text him or stop him in person to ask, “Black hair or history?” This idea came from him doing what all black men know is a violation: touching a black woman’s hair without her permission. And he didn’t just touch my hair. He snatched the hat off of my head, exposing a head wrap underneath. I hadn’t even had a chance to use my feather comb to let my long, thick mane fall into place. After I told him never ever to do that again, he was perplexed by why my hair looked straighter than days prior.

Photo credit: Create Her Stock
I salute HBCU colleges all day everyday, and you can see who I preferred on Mount Rushmore. (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

Shamontiel Vaughn

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14-year journalist (Tribune/Defender/CBS Chicago); Wag! dog walker; Toastmasters member/3x officer; co-host of Do Not Submit storytelling. Visit