Full disclosure: I love Sage Steele. (I know she’s not Drake, but stay with me.)
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.
Even though I have long since stopped watching ESPN—partly because there are a plethora of options on the Internet and partly because seeing Stephen A. Smith’s atrocious choppa suits is like a handful of salt in the eyes—Steele was and is always a welcome sight during NBA broadcasts.
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.
Then, as I recollected seeing a giant billboard of Steele for Mixed Chicks hair products, my peace was mildly shaken. My brow furrowed because I found myself contemplating a question that I hoped would prove to be false: Does Sage Steele feel pressure to let people know she’s half-white because she’s not ambiguous-looking?
Does she feel like she’s not reaping the benefits of her whiteness because she didn’t end up a shade of indeterminate beige?
Elsewhere, Saturday Night Live alumna and verified indeterminate-beige person Maya Rudolph was coming to terms with her blackness. Her episode of Finding Your Roots aired recently, and Rudolph—whose mother, soul legend Minnie Riperton, died in 1979—openly admitted to “feeling orphaned by her heritage.”