Jacqueline Djanikian

Current Age: 47
Current Residence: Oakland, CA
Current Occupation: Advertising

What strikes you when you reread these passages from 20 years ago?
When I re-read the words I spoke, I feel like I was saying things that may not have actually been what I felt. The words were clinical, and less what I actually felt. Almost like a stranger said them. Although some of what was said still holds true, I think as you mature and understand yourself better and have more life experiences, your ideas change. I think I would say something completely different than what I said 20 years ago. More from the heart.

One thing in particular that just doesn’t ring true is that I don’t believe anyone can tell you who you are. No one can say “if you’re bi-racial but your mother is black, then you are considered black in the eyes of the law.” That’s simply not true. No one can tell you who you are. You decide for yourself. By embracing every aspect of your heritage you can better understand yourself.

What has changed and what hasn’t since that time (either for you personally or for our country or the world)?
I’ve worked in advertising for over 20 years. It’s amazing to see how much advertising, film and TV have acknowledged multiracial families and relationships. It’s a long time coming. I remember 15 years ago, a writer was interested in writing a commercial with a bi-racial couple. At the time, his client wasn’t comfortable moving forward with the idea and it was killed. Needless to say I was disappointed that his client wasn’t able to take that leap and do what most clients back then didn’t have the guts to do. It would have been groundbreaking.

What did it mean for you to be a part of this book?
It’s wonderful to know that there is a community of people that I’m able to read about who have shared the same life journey as I have. It wasn’t until I was approached to talk about my experience living in a bi-racial family that I truly understood how it has affected my life and the way I live my life today. I’m so glad the book was written because I wanted to read about others who’ve had similar experiences and very different ones.