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New Central student affirms identity despite social stigmas

November 13, 2017

Minorities are an integral part of what makes Central, Central.

Senior Shannon O’Connor is one of Central’s biracial students. She is mixed with white and black.

But Shannon’s race does not define who she is as a person when it comes to stereotypes.

Shannon was born on Sep. 19, 2000. Her birth mother, Gloria O’Connor was a diagnosed schizophrenic. Gloria had four boys before Shannon.

Once Gloria was pregnant with Shannon, her birth father split from the picture because he did not want a child. Gloria passed away in 2013 from police brutality.

Shannon was just three weeks old when she was put into foster care. She was adopted when she was three years old by her cousin, Jannelle Davey.

Davey has two children of her own, Giovanni and Jean that are also mixed with white and black.

She found out she was adopted when she was seven years old. “Honestly I felt really confused,” Shannon said.

Shannon admitted she felt hurt but Davey made it clear to Shannon that she was still her mother.

When Shannon was 10 years old that is when her family decided to tell Shannon how they are actually related to her, Davey is Shannon’s cousin and Davey’s children, which are Shannon’s brother and sister are actually O’Connor’s second cousins.

Shannon grew up in Millard. She went to Bryan Elementary, for seventh grade she attended Norris middle school and Irving middle school in Lincoln, NE.

Then eighth grade she attended Nathan Hale.

For high school O’Connor went to many different schools. She’s attended Burke, Millard South, Westside and transferred to Central for her senior year.

She went to so many high schools because her mom was always moving.

“It’s hard to be half white and half black,” Shannon said. She feels the benefits of being mixed is her good hair and pretty skin color.

Towards society Shannon will always be seen as a black girl but that does not mean she doesn’t claim her white side. “I am a white person and I am a black person, I’m not just one, I’m both,” Shannon said.

Because Shannon is mixed she deals with people saying how she isn’t black enough or she isn’t white enough. “A lot of black people don’t like me because of how I talk and how my hair is,” she said.

Shannon also admits she deals with identity crisis because she is mixed. “Sometimes I do feel neglected if I should choose one side over the other,” Shannon said. She also deals with feeling not pretty enough because she isn’t one specific race.

Certain credentials Shannon is judged for because she is mixed is her hair, voice and her mom, because Davey is white.

“I do notice when people look at me in stores when I’m with my mom and it’s not just white people its black people too,” Shannon said.

The one thing Shannon feels hardest about being mixed is not ‘loving yourself enough.’ “A lot of mixed people don’t feel good enough because of what people told them growing up,” she said.

Because of Shannon’s skin color and hair she is consistently mistaken for Puerto Rican or Dominican.

How Shannon copes with her struggles of being mixed is working and talking to her friends.

From her childhood till now Shannon finds it harder being mixed now than she ever felt in her childhood. “When I was younger I didn’t think about skin color,” she said.

To remain positive when Shannon encounters stereotypes she tells herself that her skin color is pretty, she is here for a reason and that her hair is beautiful. “Being mixed doesn’t define me,” she said.

In the future Shannon wants to be a lawyer or special needs teacher. She plans to address stereotypes in her career by not being overly confident and getting the job done.

Advice Shannon wants to give to young mix girls is, “you’re beautiful, love your hair don’t ruin it and you will always be good enough.”

Shannon also wants young mixed girls to know ‘being mixed is something to be proud of.’

 

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