My name is Nicole Leopardo and I am African American, Swedish, Italian, French, Native American and Chinese. I identify as multiracial.On April 18, I picked up the Daily Nexus endorsement issue. You can imagine my surprise when I picked up the Nexus and saw the [left] image that was intended to depict me. The skin tone of the image is much darker than my own, and there is absolutely no resemblance to my own facial features. I felt very offended by this image.
But as a multiracial person, these thoughts are silenced by various critics. Some will say that I do not want to identify as black at all or that I have a problem with being depicted darker because I do not like dark skin. Some will suggest that I should just take the endorsement and shut up.
But what exactly is the problem with darkening the skin substantially on my endorsement image? First, the image did not look like me. Second, this image is not representative of my multiracial identity, and actually distorts my image in such a way that delegitimizes it. By depicting me as this darker image, it denies my multiraciality, and instead, emphasizes a monoracial identity that simply seeks to construct me as black. These notions reflect racist notions, such as the “one-drop rule,” in which a person is designated as black if they have any amount of African ancestry. Third, this image shows complete disrespect for how I identify as an individual.
I am tired of society at large telling me and other multiracial individuals how to identify. Thus, I feel it is imperative that I be able to declare my multiracial identity as it is, and have this identity respected. If you are mixed, or an ally of our community, join us in the struggle to claim our own identity in any way we please. Join Mixed Student Union at UCSB.
Nicole Leopardo is a third-year political science and black studies major.