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Drake 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you don’t know anything about sports, Steele is a veteran journalist who came up in the Indianapolis news scene and made it all the way to the hallowed halls of Bristol, Conn., and ESPN.

Last week I happened to come across an article on the Huffington Post detailing her career and the racism and sexism she’s faced. In the article, she offered something that piqued my interest:

And I will say this, though, and I’m pretty specific about it: My mom is white, half-Irish and half-Italian, and my dad is black—so I identify exactly 50 percent with each. Even though, if someone were to see me on TV, they wouldn’t go like, “Oh yeah, you know that white girl with curly hair that does the NBA?” No, they’re going to say the black girl, but it’s really important to me to identify with my mom’s side as well.

If you weren’t aware before, you now know that Sage Steele is biracial.  

It’s 2016 and there’s nothing odd about that. She’s a person. She loves her mom. The sky is blue, trees are green and the Earth is flat.

Does she feel like she’s not reaping the benefits of her whiteness because she didn’t end up a shade of indeterminate beige?

These two examples touch on the gamut of issues that biracial people, especially from black-white couples, face when forming their identities:

1. People (both white and black) say horrible, uncalled-for things to biracial people chiefly out of insecurity and bitterness.

2. Having an absent parent can skew a biracial person’s formation of self-identity.

3. Cultivating exoticism is a large part of racial politics.

With all of these neuroses and social pressures on biracial people, I find myself asking, “How did Drake do it?”

As an observer, I’ve come to recognize that Aubrey “Drake” Graham has apparently solved this puzzle and become a person who appears, at least on the public stage, to love the totality of his racial self without reservation.

This man has the gall to consistently refer to both of his parents in his music and humanize them in an earnest, nonjudgmental way. He regularly discusses his Jewish mother, Sandi Graham, and her worrisome nature. She judges all of the various strippers and “good girls” he brings home and doesn’t want to end up “70 and alone.”

And of course we can’t forget Drake inviting Lil Wayne to his grown-man bar mitzvah.

The first two characteristics of the Drake model that initially made me question Drake’s biracial brilliance are Canada and age. I wondered if growing up in Canada shaped his perception of race differently. Then again, Drake is half-Canadian, half-Memphian. And being half from Memphis is worth two lifetimes of racial baggage. My second thought was that being a millennial, as I am, Drake had the benefit of the Internet to shape his identity. Unlike the 40-plus-year-old women who may have had the scope of their images limited as children, a teen in the aughts could find positive role models who looked like him with a little less effort. However, having access to all of the knowledge that mankind has accrued over the eons hasn’t imparted a nuanced understanding of race onto most millennials. So the Drake model stood until I considered a third characteristic.

Perhaps, because biracial men (generally) feel less pressure to identify as one or the other—or to identify as anything other than “a man”—the journey of racial self-acceptance is an easier one for them. 

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