Close-up of smiling young black woman, wearing athletic top that reads Oakland, with athletic field visible behind her

Defining Multiracial Identity

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By Angel Brandon

Maria Horn is a sophomore and Psychology major at Oakland University. The Ohio native has a unique story that has shaped her into the woman she is today. Having to navigate through identity, societal acceptance, and place in society, Horn shares some of her experiences as a multiracial woman in the 21st century. 

AB: How would you describe your racial identity?

Horn: I am considered multiracial. I am mixed with African American, Native American, and White.

AB: What are the experiences that have most influenced you and why?

Horn: I was adopted by two white parents, so as a kid it was up to me to discover my identity. I was always confident in who I was as a person of color, even when people questioned me. People will see me and ask “What are you mixed with?” because I do not “obviously” look like the “typical” Black person, or Native American person. It is one of the first things people ask me when first meeting me, and I used to mind when I was a kid, but I have grown to understand why. An influential experience that I can recall is me receiving my 23&Me results. It solidified me as a person of color and it was just so nice to see where I came from and all of my mixed ethnicities that make me, me. 

AB: What do you want others to understand about your identity?

Horn: I want people to understand that, just because I am multiracial, [it] does not mean I am any less of any of the races I am mixed with. For some reason there has been a negative connotation associated with being biracial and multiracial. It has been a controversial issue within the black community. Some people believe that being mixed makes me less Black, the same goes for being less Native American, and less White. I still strongly identify with each and every one of them.  I am multifaceted in many ways, and my race is one of them. 

AB: Who are the people who have most influenced your life and how have they affected you?

Horn: My mother has been such a huge impact in my life and journey at identifying myself. Despite her being White with a daughter who is of color, she never once denied my identity. I was always surrounded with people who looked like me, and I truly believe she did her best to expose me to positive examples of people I can identify with. My mom has always encouraged me to explore my identity as a person of color and really influenced me to be proud of who I am. I am thankful for that type of positive influence in my life.

Polaroid photo of young, light-skinned black woman touching heads with white woman with glasses.
Maria Horn poses with her mother, Nancy Horn, an elementary teacher in Bowling Green, Ohio. Photo credit: Nancy Horn’s personal archive.

AB: What are your overall thoughts on your identity?

Horn: I believe that me finding my identity has been such a growing experience that I do not think is over. I am ever-evolving and learning more and more about myself and where I come from. I am intrigued to continue this journey in finding myself and where I belong in society. And “belonging in society” is such a weird term, because I am unique and I do not technically belong in one specific category, and I do not mind.

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