As we end our three-part series, we are going to take an inside look at the life of growing up as a mixed-race child. Julie Sanchez’s daughter went through a rough patch during her adolescent years, and she shares with us how she overcame it all.
Growing up in a mixed-race household can be both rewarding and challenging. You get to experience multiple cultures but it can cause confusion when crossing the threshold from your home to the outside world.
Julie Sanchez was born to a Hispanic/Latino family and now has two amazing daughters (16 and 18) of mixed race — half Latino and half black. Her family had not been as successful in life as she has, and she did not want her children to have similar struggles. She is now a single parent and extremely involved in her children’s lives. Her eldest daughter, Marina (18), has a lot to say about her adolescent life.
Marina started off in an all-white school and stuck out like a sore thumb. Her skin was darker and her hair was curlier. Her peers refused to accept her because she was black. She described her young love experience as a person of color as destroying.
“It was back middle school or elementary school, but I had a crush in this boy and he looked at me and said, “I like you but I don’t like black people,” she said.
That’s crushing for someone at any age to hear.
After running home in tears and asking her mom why she had to marry a black man and not a white man, she began to hate her image and all that came with her culture. To start changing what she looked like, she got a relaxer to straighten out her curls. This was the one part of her physical appearance of which she was the most ashamed.
The constant bullying and teasing about her tight curls only made her want to shave them off. She became extremely depressed and nearly suicidal due to the extensive bullying. She had asked her mom a few times to make a change and try out a different school, but she never agreed to it. By the eighth grade, she finally hit a breaking point and cracked.
She went home and told her mom that she would take her own life if she couldn’t switch schools to avoid the bullying. Her mom immediately made the change, and Marina slowly began to heal. She learned a lot about herself during her high school years and realized it’s OK to be different — it’s more interesting that way.
Since then, she joined a successful cheer team, interned at a hospital and became bilingual in English and Spanish. She decided to become a pediatric doctor or NICU doctor. For someone who is just starting adulthood, Marina has overcome so much. She is no longer afraid to embrace who she is or where she comes from.
She misses the long curls that used to flow all down her backside. However, but due to the chemical damage, her hair may take a while to regain health. Sanchez did well in raising her children to be respectful and proud of their roots, just as she is. There is nothing she wouldn’t do for them.
After all the discussions we have had throughout our three-part series, we have learned that being a TCK gives you a different outlook on the world and the people you’re surrounded by. The experiences you’ve had growing up can really hold you back on finding who you are but don’t let it stop you. Even though you pass through some dark times on your journey to self-discovery, you can overcome anything and make your way to the top.