I was born and raised in the rural south, where racial difference was like oxygen. You inhaled it, you exhaled it and you learned about the function and composition later. While my family checked the white or caucasian box on forms, my county was predominantly African-American, a term that did not exist yet. I learned to say "colored", which my mother said was polite, and then to say "black", the term preferred by my classmates to whom it referred.
I've been thinking about my parents. Namely, if they ever talked about how big of a deal it would be to have a biracial child. I'm guessing they didn't, that they just wanted to have a child together. But sometimes I try to think about what knowledge, if any, they could have given me to go through life as a mixed-race child.
I'd always get pissed off when, on IRC in a punk chat room, people would just assume I was white. Even when I gave them my pics, they'd think of every ethnicity but black to guess as my race.
When I would tell them, "Well, I'm half black and half white," they'd be shocked.
"You're black???" would invariably be the reply. "Wow, I've never met a black punk."
Soapboxes are for soap. I'm not into preaching, which is why I was never into reading young adult literature because it was so preachy. I wanted to show reality as it is, not as I think it should be, and from there present positive ways that reality can be addressed. Teenagers have sex. And they ain't gonna stop because I say to. I think the scene in the lunchroom where all the girls are talking about condoms and protecting yourself gives a subtle message. And you also have the "virgin girl" Toya, who is yet another kind of project girl. The reality of teenage pregnancy is exactly as I describe it. Raven feels almost disoriented, like "How did this happen? How can I get my life back on course?" Reality is defying the odds, struggling through whatever situation you're in, and keeping your head up if you can. Other authors can preach and scold if they like.
The stigma still exists. The saying remains among black folks that we do not see therapists. "Chile only needs a kick in the ass. That should straighten her up!" "There's nothing wrong with her. Should just quit acting a fool!" There is a saying that black folks do not have nervous breakdowns, that we are not entitled to have them. Our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers did not have them, neither should we. Look at our history. They have been though more than you ever will. Bullshit.