June 2, 2011

Black or Biracial?

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I have to say this is an issue that never really crossed my mind. I’m a black male with two kids and both of my kids are of mixed ethnicities. My son is Half Asian and American Black whilst my daughter is Half (white) Dominican and American Black. In America – Racism is still alive and well – maybe not as prevalent as during the years between President Lincoln and President Reagan, but trust me its there. The premise behind the statement is based on the fact that only in America does race matter. If you don’t believe that racism still exists here, apply for a job. The choices have expanded from White, Black, Asian and other to White, Black, Asian, White-Hispanic, Black-Hispanic plus a few others. Whilst I Have traveled to over 80 countries, have lived abroad and worked abroad, I soon discovered that I am considered American First. Only in America am I black first, American second.

When I visit family in the Dominican Republic and drop off the kids to spend time with the extended family, we are considered Dominican. Even though my daughters mother is White Dominican, she has more black features than I do. Try as they might, all Hispanics have that “Black Grandma in the Closet” hidden away in the family tree. Let’s not forget that Spain was ruled by the Moors for over 900 years.

But lets not side-track from the original question in the title. Are my kids Black or Biracial? I believe in the one-drop rule that “Jim Crow” has so deeply engrained in the fiber of American Society and that Mass-Media perpetuates with fervor. This seems to have become a hot-button topic of late because Halle Berry stated that her daughter is Black. Why does it really matter? Why should it matter? The only question that should matter is: Who Cares?

Okay, back to me, let’s focus. The one-drop rule is a historical colloquial term in the United States for the social classification as “Black” of individuals with any African ancestry; literally, it meant that any person with one drop of black blood was considered as black. The principle was an example of hypodescent, the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union between different socioeconomic or ethnic groups to the group with the lower status. The one-drop rule was not adopted as law until the twentieth century: first in Tennessee in 1910 and in Virginia under the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 (following the passage of similar laws in numerous other states).

Despite the strictures of slavery, in the antebellum years, free people of mixed race could have up to one-eighth or one-quarter African ancestry (depending on the state) and be considered legally white. Community acceptance, carrying out community responsibilities, and appearance were often the most important factors if a person’s racial status were questioned, not his or her documented ancestry. Thomas Jefferson’s four surviving “natural” children by his mixed-race slave Sally Heming’s were seven-eighths European in ancestry and thus legally white although they were born into slavery. Three of the four entered white society as adults, two married white persons, and all their descendants identified as white. (See Wikipedia 1 Drop Rule)

America has gone biracial. postrace1

According to an interesting survey by Allure Magazine, 64 percent of people think that mixed race women represent the epitome of beauty. What is most enlightening about this survey is that the overwhelming shift in the perception of beauty in the last 20 years. According to the survey, 70 percent of those who wish to change their skin color wanted it to be darker, and 74 percent believe that a curvier body type is more appealing now than it has been over the past 10 years. Don’t believe the findings, check your major apparel store and see if the manikins are not more “realistic” in detail. The sun tan industry has grown from an obscure industry to a multi-billion dollar empire.

America’s fascination with skin color is nothing new. White people spend countless hours in tanning booths across the U.S., attempting to simulate melanin. Even with plastic surgeries done to mimic the breasts and buttocks of ethnic women, according to the survey, white women are still more likely to want to change their bodies and feel less attractive than their significant others.

As the media onslaught against African-American culture continues, from our median income being zero, to our children being born out of wedlock, to our wombs being labeled dangerous, the central issue being tap danced around is that African-American women have changed the face of beauty in American culture, and while it is obvious that there are women who want to be us, we must again revel in the satisfaction of simply being ourselves.

So when my co-workers ask me what my kids are mixed with or if I consider them Biracial, I shall whole-heartedly reply – MY KIDS ARE BLACK! ‘Nuff Said!

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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. I would have to say neither. We are all brothers and sisters of the HUMAN RACE. While you are correct about racism in America, you are wrong if you think there isn’t racism abroad. Yes, Europeans think of us as Americans but that doesn’t necessarily mean they like Americans. Remember, the US seceded from the UK…they haven’t forgotten. Middle Eastern countries don’t like us that much either because our Nation is too dishing out everyone’s Koolaid over in their backyard.

    Reply
  2. I think the main point here is – it shouldn’t matter. Why should one feel forced to choose one ethnicity over another? Your son should be able to fully, and confidently say “I’m Black and Asian”, instead of resorting to just being Black. Isn’t just claiming to be one thing denying part of who you really are?

    For example, for years when I was younger plenty of people just thought I was 100% Puerto Rican. It was much more convenient than saying that I was PR, Italian, AND Irish. I was generally more accepted by Hispanics by just saying, “I’m Puerto Rican,” but the denial of what I actually was, felt too much like I was denying my White mother and White family who raised me.

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  3. […] Black or Biracial? (mercxue.wordpress.com) […]

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