Not Just One

This guest post was written by Randi N. Johnson, who shares why, as a young girl, she conformed to the perception others had of her. And what caused her to break free and reassert her true identity.


I’ve lived my whole life immersed in the cultures of my parents. Through my mother’s heritage, which is deeply rooted in the heart of Mexico (her father traces his lineage back to Spain), to that of my father, a Californian whose great grandmother was a slave in Texas.

When I was young, I spent most of my time with my mother and my Mexican family. I grew up in the Catholic church, had a Quinceañera, listened to Mexican music, and ate and learned how to cook Mexican food. My family always showed me love. They never made me feel different, and I think that kept me from realizing how other Mexicans viewed me.

Photo of Randi and her mother| Two or More by Danielle James

In school, when I showed people pictures of my mother during show and tell, my classmates did a double take. They were in disbelief that a fair skinned woman gave birth to the little brown girl they saw in front of them. When I spoke Spanish with other Mexicans, I did not get any responses, just dirty looks and eye rolling. I wanted to know why I couldn’t be a Black girl and a Mexican girl at the same time. Instead, I felt like I had to just be one. So I spent all of grade school being Black only. Even though it didn’t genuinely feel like me. Being Black was what was comfortable for everyone else.

It didn’t make sense to people that someone with my complexion could be mixed. There was always a rumor about my hair being fake or that I was lying about my who my mother was. Why aren’t you lighter if you’re really mixed? I was asked. It was as if I couldn’t win.

In an effort to stop the questions and scrutiny, and to end my second-guessing of myself, I stopped talking about who I was. I removed my mother’s pictures from my binder, and allowed myself to be the Black girl everyone wanted me to be.

Photo of Randi and her daughters | Two or More by Danielle James

My moment of clarity came about a year ago when my oldest daughter asked me, Mommy what are we?

What do you mean? I responded.

Are we Black like Paw Paw or are we Mexican like Grandma? she said.

Time stood still. I was nervous and didn’t know what to say or do, or even if I had a good enough answer. I knew I had to say something. So I stated the truth, Lizzy, we are both.

It was a simple answer, but it meant so much more. I needed to tell my daughter that she isn’t confined to one side of her roots. She is both, and she’s in a space where she can be both. I needed to tell her that she is a beautiful Black girl, and also a beautiful Latina. She doesn’t have to cancel out one because of what others see in her. I needed to tell her, for her and for myself.

I’m still on my journey to self-discovery but one thing I’m sure of is that I don’t have to just be a Black woman and I don’t have to just be a Latina. I will not confine myself to a box that is created by the perception of others.


About the author: Randi N. Johnson was born in Dallas to a Mexican mother and a Black father. She currently lives in Denver with her two daughters and husband. You can find her on YouTube and on Randi B.O.M.B.

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2 thoughts on “Not Just One

  1. Mia says:

    Hi Randi, after reading your story I felt very sad. Sad that you had to go through what you went, that you couldn’t just “be”. We are in 2017 and unfortunately the world is still full of people who just don’t understand that we are all just one kind : human. Seeing the outcome of the elections in the US has gotten me very worried (I live abroad). But my faith lies in people like you, people of mixed cultural backgrounds who are open to others and who know how to bring people together. I wish you all the best on your journey to self-discovery !

    Liked by 1 person

    • RandiBOMB says:

      Thank you so so much for this comment. I am also feeling fearful. For my Mexican family who is built of
      Immigrants and for the state that this puts the world in. So many unanswered questions. But it’s our beautiful culture and who we are that makes the US great. Not
      The divisiveness. I’m glad I could be a small beacon of hope by sharing my story. Much love and many blessings your way. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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