I pulled this excerpt (edited and all) from Kristie’s podcast interview. We’ve known each other for years, since our days at Temple University. But we weren’t always close. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Kristie, and really understand her background growing up in Maryland as a bi-racial young woman. I really wanted to share her perspective because she’s very to the point and always says how she feels. Check out her podcast episode, and also her beauty story below.
My name is Kristie Williams, and I’m ageless. I’ll be 17 at heart forever. [Laughs] I’m originally from Silver Spring, Maryland and I’m half-black and half-white. My mom’s white and my dad’s black. I’m currently a contributor to Milk Studios and I write for their online magazine, Milk XYZ.
So you know my first question was going to be about your ethnic background. I don’t know what the diversity was like growing up in Silver Spring, even though I’m from Maryland. In Largo, it was just Black people! What was it like growing up bi-racial in Silver Spring?
Silver Spring was pretty mixed and it had a lot of different cultures. There was a large Hispanic community and African community at the high school I went to, which was Wheaton High. But I got made fun of a lot for being half-white, growing up in a school where there weren’t a lot of white kids.
Black people made fun of you? What would they say?
They’d be like “oh, you’re not really black”, things like that. I was also really thin in middle and high school. I would get called anorexic. Or, they’d make fun of my hair because it was bushy as shit.
But you know, it wasn’t just me. I mean everyone got made fun of in middle school.
Yeah, so middle school was the worst time of my life. If I have kids, I want them to skip middle school completely.
LOL! They’re so mean! Everyone is just so mean at that age. I think you just have no filter and you just don’t care about what anyone else could be going through. I think my parents tried their hardest to make us feel like there was nothing wrong with [my sister and I]. They really tried to make us feel like love is love and that there was nothing wrong with being bi-racial. But, I got made fun of a lot.
I will say that as I’ve gotten older and I’ve taken African American history classes, I’ve learned it’s just something that’s been embedded in our society. The whole light skin/dark skin thing, too. I feel like when you get older, you realize that some things were coming from a place of hurt [when kids tease or bully each other].
Did you get teased more by dark skin girls?
Actually, it was mostly the boys. The girls would make fun of me, but it was mostly like little boys. But then in high school, they wanted to date me, LOL! But I don’t think it was anything anyone wouldn’t have been able to deal with.
I wanted to ask you about the privilege you may have experienced growing up bi-racial. I don’t think we like to talk about that in the black community. Especially the clear fetishization of mixed race women and men. Have you acknowledged that privilege?
Yeah, I think so. But, I saw a stat online about how the least desirable woman [on online dating sites] is a black woman. But the inverse happens with black men. They’re usually the most desirable. But then Asian women are the most desirable women, and then Asian men are the least desirable men. It was crazy.
The fact that black women are not considered beautiful, but then you look at Instagram and celebrities and see that they take pieces of the black woman’s appearance and style, is crazy. Like our lips or hair or even our style. Or they’ll mock us on how we “talk” or “snap our fingers” or “roll our necks”. Or even mocking the [supposed] black female body type. These people take the most that they can from black women. Even with tanning and things like that.
I see your point. They take pieces from us to “enhance” themselves, but then we’re still considered the “least desirable”. It doesn’t make sense.
But, I feel like it’s mostly from…black men. You know, that thought that a bi-racial woman is something different, or “exotic”.
Honestly, though, I think rap culture has for sure pushed this whole “exotic” woman obsession thing on us.
Even media in general. Media has been doing that for some time now.
And like the fashion world and whatnot, pushing the whole idea of being closer to white makes you better. I don’t agree because I’ve always [felt] I had to be [stereotypically] “blacker” than what I may have been. Like, prove to my black friends I’m black.
I don’t see that in you now though.
I got kicked out of a restaurant because I heard some people who weren’t black using the n-word. And I said something to them about how I felt uncomfortable with them saying that. And I got thrown out the restaurant. But before I did, one of the people in the group asked me, “well what are you?”
I’m thinking, for one it shouldn’t matter what I am. It doesn’t matter. But two, I was just like, “I’m black.” But people look at me and don’t see that. I don’t fit into their idea of what being black looks like and it can be frustrating.
Sometimes I just wish people knew what I was so it wasn’t a thing or a conversation. Because it can be annoying. And I think they think asking me gets me excited. But I’m not. And sometimes people look at me disappointed when I say I’m black and white. They’ll be like “oh, that’s it? I thought you were ‘xyz’.”