The life of a mixed race child
Tanya opens up about what it was like growing up as a mixed race child.
We live in a society that is conscious of race. In South Africa we have a fairly new democracy and we often describe people according to race. Is it a black or a white person? We also see many mixed raced couples and some people still stare at them. I decided to speak to a mixed race child to see how her life is and what her challenges are if any about being a mixed race child. Tanya tells her story.

What has your experience been, being a mixed race child?

Well there are two sides to this, the side that feels good, because to the more informed crowd (the educated and exposed) you are exotic, beautiful and out of this world. However then there are unexposed people who keep asking you why you speak isiXhosa & Zulu instead of Afrikaans. Now to be honest with you that irks me. Why can I not speak my language freely without someone asking me why I look coloured but speak a native language?

How are you balancing the two worlds you are exposed to?

I am balancing the two worlds as I go along; I haven't mastered either of them. It's tough because you don't live in this world alone, people will always expect you to explain yourself and your roots. My mother is Russian and my father is Zulu/Ndebele. I was raised by my father and my Zulu Family- but grew up with the Xhosa in Alice in the Eastern Cape but I can speak Zulu, Ndebele and Xhosa fluently.

Do you have self- identity challenges?

I never really had self-identity problems, but I felt it wasn't easy for other children to accept my difference. As a result they would bully/mock me about my hair, tell me I wasn't pretty. It still feels strange today when people say I am pretty.

Has there be any thoughtless comments that have upset you?

Yes, I have dealt with thoughtless comments about whether it’s my real mom or dad, but I think people don't find it easy to ask directly.

What is the one thing that people are missing about mixed race children?

One thing people are missing is that we are normal like everybody else; we just need to be embraced. Our outside appearance shouldn't affect people accepting the fact that we can also clean the house and make coffee. We are perfectly normal.

Do you sometimes worry about how your children would fit in this race conscious society?

I always worry about my children one day. Will they be able to tolerate being interrogated for speaking a native language? My husband is as fair in complexion, so it will really be tough for them. But all I can do for them is make sure their beauty is embraced at home, in order to create a self-confidence no one can crush.
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