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Posted under: News Race & Identity

Biracial Singer Halsey Speaks About Passing For White, Says She 'Feels Black'

"I look like a white girl, but I don't feel like one. I'm a black woman," she said.

Race is tied to outward appearance. And both race and outward appearance can affect how you are treated in society.

This is something that Halsey struggles with, according to a new interview with Playboy.

"I look like a white girl, but I don't feel like one. I'm a black woman," the 22-year-old singer said.

"It's been weird navigating that," she admitted. "When I was growing up, I didn't know if I was supposed to love TLC or Britney."

Halsey was born to a white mother and a black father in New Jersey. "I'm proud to be in a biracial family, I'm proud of who I am, and I'm proud of my hair."


Sometimes, in moments of fear I think about my father. I think about him, younger than I am right now, holding a six pound baby in his hands and realizing his entire life was about to change. I think about how relentlessly he worked my entire life to make sure I always had everything I wanted. All of the interests he nurtured by working extra hours to buy art sets and violins and sewing kits. How I never knew we had ever struggled because he protected me from ever feeling afraid. I think about the rented apartments for 20 years. Every move we made and new elementary school I started so he could get a better job. I think about how he never objected to wanting to paint my walls pink or purple or blue even though he knew it meant the landlord would keep the security deposit. I think about all of the things he sacrificed and the opportunities he missed out on. I think about the hell I put him through, trying to figure out who I was. When I am scared, I think about my father. Because he brought me into this world without a single clue and somehow he managed to figure it all out. Happy Father's Day dad, I love you. A post shared by halsey (@iamhalsey) on


Halsey said that she knows her statements might seem radical, and admits that her makes other acceptance of her sense of identity complicated. "I'm white-passing. I've accepted that about myself, and have never tried to control anything about black culture that's not mine."

Photo: Playboy
Photo: Playboy

Halsey touched on the growing conversation of cultural appropriation, frustrated at how she feels the conversation often plays out for people like herself.

"A girl will post a photo of herself with braids and the first response will be 'This is cultural appropriation. What the f*ck is wrong with you?' And the girl will say, 'I'm half black.' Then the person's like, 'Oh, sorry. You look pretty.' We've become traumatized because so many people have actually committed cultural appropriation, but our instinct is too reflexive."

Halsey also spoke about the micro-aggressions she experiences stating, "One of my big jokes a long time ago was 'I look white, but I still have white boys in my life asking why my nipples are brown.'" 

Photo: Playboy
Photo: Playboy

Speaking about navigating many spaces, Halsey also mused on white people with “good intentions,” something that is especially relevant following the Charlottesville.

"White guilt is funny, but this is a really hard time for white allies," she said. "People don't want to do too much, but want to do enough."

And she had some strong words for those that feel outrage, but sit on the sidelines. "That is ultimately my greatest frustration with the public perception of any sort of activism: the mentality of, Well, it's not affecting me. Open your f*cking eyes."

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