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I Grew Up Thinking I Was Indian Until Society Told Me Otherwise

I Grew Up Thinking I Was Indian Until Society Told Me Otherwise


Rahul Yates is a 17-year-old from Los Angeles, California. His mom is Indian and from the Punjab region of India, and his dad is White American.

When Did Rahul Realize That He Is Biracial

There is no specific time when Rahul realized he was biracial. Instead, it was more of a gradual discovery. He always knew that his parents looked ethnically different from each other, but he never really thought about that as a kid. When Rahul was a youngster, he would almost always identify as just Indian, likely because he felt a greater connection to his Indian family and culture. However, as he grew up, around the transition from middle to high school, he became more aware of himself and society and how he presented to others and how others perceived him. From then on, Rahul has identified as mixed-race.

Does Rahul Identify More Closely To Being White Or Indian

Rahul identifies more closely with his Indian identity because he feels much more culturally connected to that side. At six years old, he started taking Bharata Natyam (classical Indian dance form) classes, which gave him direct and frequent access to a vast Indian community and more knowledge of Indian culture and Hinduism. Thus, during most of his formative years, Rahul identified as Indian, with his white identity always being an afterthought. The tangibility of his Indian ethnicity caused him to feel much closer to it.

On the contrary, Rahul’s dad is a white American whose family has been in the USA for a very long time. Their traditions are typical American traditions.  To Rahul, they offer less of a unique tangibility to them because society generally follows these holidays anyways.

What Hurdles Has Rahul Faced As A Result Of Being Biracial

As a racially ambiguous person, Rahul never fit in with any other kids, and there were not many other multiracial kids either. He always felt like an outsider, and in some ways, that forced him only to identify as Indian as he thought that would help him feel like he belonged to just one group like everyone else. People often did not know how to perceive him (and to this day, they still don’t). Whenever Rahul would introduce himself to someone, he dreaded saying his ethnic first name that did not fit his appearance. There would always be confusion in interactions like these, which led to him wanting to suppress being biracial.

What Has Rahul’s Experience Been With Discrimination

Rahul thinks being mixed has contributed to him experiencing less prejudice and discrimination. While it is clear that he is not entirely white, he has relatively light/tan skin that has not brought much discrimination against him. In fact, on his Indian side, due to South Asia’s attention on colorism and obsessing over light skin, Rahul has found that many South Asians make comments about his skin color and how light it is.


How Does Rahul Celebrate Being Biracial Today

First and foremost, Rahul has learned to be proud of being mixed. If someone asks him what his race/ethnicity is, he will proudly say that he is Indian and White. Rahul has been fortunate to grow immersed in Indian and American culture. At home, his parents cook Indian and American food, and they follow traditions from both cultures. He also celebrates different holidays with the different sides of his family.  Rahul appreciates that his parents did not make him choose one ethnicity over the other but incorporated customs from both in their lives.

What Advice Would Rahul Give Other Biracial/Multiracial Kids

Rahul would advise other multiracial children like him to embrace being mixed because it makes them unique. They mustn’t let others define or perceive them because then they have their identity dictated to them.  Rahul has met so many multiracial individuals who feel they cannot identify as multiracial because of how they look or due to not being connected to one side of their family. Yet multiracial people do not need any justification to identify with all of their races/ethnicities, and once they move past this idea, they will feel much more grounded in who they are.

What Advice Would Rahul Give To Parents Raising Biracial/Multiracial Kids

Rahul would advise parents of multiracial children to teach their kids to accept being mixed and help them find ways to connect to all their heritages. Sharing rituals and traditions from their backgrounds give their children connections to their cultures. By doing this, they can help shape their children’s identity to live their lives fully as the multiracial people they are, no matter how they may look or who they turn out to be.

What Does Rahul Wish Others Knew About The Struggles Of Biracial/Multiracial People

Rahul wishes that others knew that multiracial people are not foreign creatures and that asking “what are you” can be harmful. Sorely society has developed a poor habit of treating multiracial people as commodities rather than people because of their unique features, which ultimately is detrimental to the self-worth of all multiracial individuals as they feel like they are appreciated only for their looks and not who they indeed are. It is also important to note that multiracial people are not the key to ending racism, as multiracial people can still be targets of discrimination from within their own families and society.

What did you think about Rahul’s intriguing story and actionable advice for others? Find him on Instagram @rahul.yates, @humsubglobalteen. For more multiracial and multicultural teens resources, check out and @humsubglobalteen on Instagram! HumSub GlobalTEEN is an online platform dedicated to raising awareness and building a community for multiracial and multicultural teens and young adults and providing a voice to this group.

Have a question for us or want to share your story? Please write to us at [email protected].

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