Every time the term “mixed race” pops up, there’s bound to be a lot of excitement. It could be in the form of questions, looks or comments. What you really need to understand is that your reaction is making the other person uncomfortable. Whether you realize it or not, you end up giving them the feeling that you are entitled to know personal things about their life, family, and history. As if your need to known about their life is more important than whatever it was that they were trying to do at the moment you decided to bombard them with questions related to their racial ambiguity.
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What’s worse is when you’ve somehow assumed that saying “you’re so exotic!” is a compliment. The comments they want to hear are “hey, nice shoes”, NOT the ones that hinge on their race or racial ambiguity. Most of the remarks people of mixed-race get don’t come from a place of malice or prejudice, but a sheer lack of understanding. And navigating a multi-racial identity alone can be difficult enough without factors like racism and sexism.
The list of things mixed race people are sick of hearing is full of microaggressions. One ignorant comment makes sense but compiled, they’re dangerous. So while you may believe that commenting on a person’s hair or skin is a compliment for them? The truth is that calling out aspects of someone’s racial makeup can be a form of othering. In context to that, here are a few “compliments” that you might be giving which are pretty much insulting and you need to stop right away.
“You’re pretty for a person who’s [insert race here].”
What you’re saying is that people of that race are not pretty. Maybe just say, “you’re pretty!” and you’ll be good to go.