What being mixed race has taught me

It’s a shame that we black people are the ones that analyse and debate race and racism the most. If society was as post-racial as some try to claim, then I believe that it is white people that should be analysing and debating the effects racism has had on the world, whilst black people should be discussing how to heal from the effects racism has had on us.

Anyway, here goes – another discussion about race from this side of the coin.

First of all let me say, in the simplest of summaries, that I think that race is a fallacy, a social and scientific construct, developed by mid-century europeans to justify a financial venture.

Nevertheless, racial profiling is now part of our culture so there’s no use denying it. Although I would argue that mixed race people who want to constitute another race are adding another layer to the madness. After all we may accept that racial divides exist, but we can’t build new truths from something that was untrue to start with. But as I’ve said before, mixed race folks have issues. Either way, racial constructions may now appear to be fact, but that’s because people of similar melanin count share similar social experiences.

And it is in this light, not in the ‘one-drop-rule’ light, that I am black. That is to say, people with my particular skin tone and genetic make up share the same ancestral history with those with two African or diaspora parents. We share the history of slavery, oppression and colonization. This history is a shared legacy of the black experience.

The difference is that by having one white one black parent, I have a visceral understanding of both the white and black experience. And that’s also where things get messy.

That’s where those (ignorant) people who warned my parents against reproducing, have a point. I hint at their ignorance because having a point does not mean that something is undesirable. People can go through difficulties and develop into stable individuals, shoot, we all go through trials and tribulations. But okay for the sake of argument, a mixed race person might suffer an identity crisis at some point in their lives. Maybe more so than others, although I’m not entirely convinced about that. Then again, perhaps I’m partial as one of the ‘lucky’ ones, in the sense that my parents raised me colour- but not culture blind. But I’m not so convinced about that either. I think somehow life in general is an identity crisis for everyone, we all in our own ways are always searching for that true essence.

This ‘crisis’ has however taught me something very important, namely that black and white aren’t opposed to each other but immersed in each other. The same way we all have some masculine and feminine in us, or a sense of right or wrong, or any other pairs of opposites that can make us a walking battleground if we let them. On that primordial level, we all have black or white in us whether we are black or white.


Creative Commons License photo credit: chrisdevaraj

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  • http://www.inconsequentiallogic.com Roschelle

    wow so many things i want to say but nothing seems to sound right. i’m being bombarded with all sorts of thoughts, points of view, questions, theories, prejudices. it’s weird… geesh!

    i must say that i’ve often wondered what a mixed race person (especially the offspring of one white one black parent) feels when the world only sees them as black. so many biracial people claim “black” as who they are. how does that make the other side of the family feel. are the constructs of society and it’s perception so warped til biracial people feel this is their only option. like saying since the world views me in this way… then this is what i must accept.

    critical example – our president is just as much white as he is black. yet, he and the world view him as a black man. WTF!

    • Dzian Kadja

      On the subject of mixed race
      I have always found
      that the mixed ones
      where the ones looking at me
      because the white ones
      have to often sent me to wash and to go back to Africa
      while the african ones
      reminded me that my white self
      should be back in America
      The ones I had no problems with
      where the blind crew
      which made me aware
      that if the sun would go out some day
      a lot of people would be lost
      in their expectations
      to segregate according to the colors
      they have created themselves in their mind
      out of pure dislike
      of their own being
      and of their incapacity
      to be happy
      with what life gave them

      • MsAfropolitan

        thank you so much for the poem! love it :)

    • geesh


      The world views our President as a black man because he IS a black man—there is no “WTF” about it—because THAT’S exactly what he is! So what if his mother was white—he still looks NOTHING like a white person, and would NEVER be mistaken for one. Like someone said online somewhere, if he wasn’t the President,just a regular brother, and the police stop him one night,they aren’t going to ask him whether his mother was white—they’re going to see a BLACK man whom they’re liable to arrest for ANY little thing,or be almost trigger-happy with.

      Even in his first bio DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, Obama said he decided to stop telling people his mama was white,when he was a young dude, because he said he got tired of feeling like white folks were using that fact as some kind of litmus test to decide whether or not he was acceptable enough to them as a “good” black person. His mother being white didn’t protect him from the sting of racial prejudice as a teen in Hawaii, either. With any biracial family, it dosen’t matter what the white half feels–if society sees you as black, to them you’re BLACK, period—they could care less whatever else you are–to them, you are whatever you look like.

      I grew with a biracial sister who says that depending on where she is, people assume she’s this or that. When she goes to the Detroit area, she said black folks can usually tell she’s black, but outside of it, she’s been mistaken for either Mexican or Indian. Also got a couple of mixed nieces and nephews, all of whom look black (with their cute selves–hey,I’m the aunt–I can get away with say that!)

      But, anyway, it was white people who started this whole stratification by skin color thing for THEIR own benefit during slavery—none of them ever gave a damn whether we cared for it or not,because it was just another tool to divide black people against each other in the first place. You’re think this being the 21st centruy we would have learned to get past all that **** by now, but we won’t as long as we as a society keep perpetuating this racial BS.

    • Brown Melanic

      I 100% disagree with you!! You are not being fair (because you may not know better) but you are NOT giving credit to where credit due and that s MELANIN. Being Melanic is a gene domination, I didnt say that SCIENCE did!

  • Gifty

    I like some of the points that you have raised in the article and I totally respect your honesty.

    Sadly, I think its a shame when I hear white people and even black people, refer to mixed race people as ‘black’. I have nephews and neices that are of mixed backgrounds and I think they should not have to deny their non-black heritage or identity, to fit into a man made box.

    Yes, their beautiful brown skin is so many shades darker than their white counterparts, they have a slight curl/wave to their hair texture but they still share in the same ancestral history as other white people.

    I hope that the younger generation (which I believe are far more colour blind than the older generation–yes I’m generalising) will rise up and celebrate their unique and diverse backgrounds.

    One thing that unites us regardless of our genetic makeup is that we are human and we all share in the daily struggles that afflict us as human beings, we all know what it feels like to experience joy, sorrow and pain and that is what makes us beautifully human.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks for the comment.

      I think us calling ourselves black more often than white reveals that race has more to do with culture and history than aesthetics.
      Mixed race brown people have historically been enslaved, abused, basically been victims of the same racism as black people. So even ‘despite’ having a white parent, the history of being brown is the same as the history of being black. It should never ever be about denying one side of you which I feel the one drop rule implies, and I’m opposed to that even though I understand why african americans came to see it as a necessity.

      Again, many things come to mind. TBC no doubt.

      • Sockpuppet

        Whites created the one-drop rule to preserve their racial “purity” blacks had little to do with the institution of that. They continue to perpetuate a one drop rule, typically as it conveniences themselves. If the biracial individual is seen as exceptional or noteworthy, for example.

    • http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com martina

      I love your comment! I have also battled (as a white mother of two mixed raced girls) to come to terms with my girls being labelled black, not because I think it is bad to be black, but because it is a label that generalises and uses a stereotype where so much more can be said about them. I now like the term women of color – but am also very critical of the fact, that wherever a shade other than white comes into the mix, people are referred to as “black” rather than “white” even though their “white” heritage might be just as strong as the “black” one…. I hope – like you and many people I know – that we will still see a future, where race is not used to define and marginalise people. I ‘ve been blogging on this and other issues as I was never (before I had my children) so conscious of color, race and the ensuing issues as I am now. Please if you have time, visit my blog and share your thoughts with me. http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com I am determined as a so called white person to go as deep as I have to in order to understand what my children will be facing as they are growing up. But I know that I need help. Lots of it.

      • Rebekah

        Great blog post. Few talk about mixed race identity in Britain today. I am 22 and currently studying at SOAS for my undergraduate degree. My mother is White British and my father is Black Jamaican. When I was younger, I didn’t even realise the importance society gives to skin colour until I started secondary school. It was here were I received more racism from Black girls and boys than my white colleagues. I was bullied for having long hair, ‘light-skinned’, and therefore being ‘white’. At one point even teachers were complicit in not allowing me to play a strong role in Black History month because I wasn’t ‘Black enough’ despite the fact that I took great pride in my fathers heritage history. It was so heart breaking that people simply label your whole identity based on your skin colour.

        My mother also faced criticism and was accused of ‘stealing’ my father away from Black women or being a ‘nigga lover’ by some backward White neighbours. I always call myself ‘mixed-race’ in relation to the fact that my parents have different heritages/nationality/culture (I know ‘race’ is a myth). I am a whole person, not simply half my father and half my mother. Although my skin is brown, I do not simply write off my mothers family history because I don’t look like her? I find people take this the wrong way and assume that I am ‘denying’ my father’s heritage by not calling myself ‘Black’, but many fail to see that I’m not treated by the Black community as ‘Black’ as I experienced during my secondary school/college years. I also think that it is wrong to try to judge someones identity based on their parents heritage.

        The other day I had a deep heated discussion with my boyfriend and his dad. His dad found it hard to accept that I don’t consider myself Jamaican just because my father is Jamaican. I was born in London and have visited Jamaica once as a child. I love Jamaican culture and food but I don’t consider that to be defining characteristic of being Jamaican. According to him, because I ‘look’ more Black than White (skin, my hair, facial features) I therefore must associate myself more with my father than mother. I really do think that a lot of mixed race people call themselves ‘Black’ because they get criticised as being dis-loyal to their Black parent/heritage if they call themselves otherwise. As there are more children born to mixed ethnicity parents, we will find that in the next 10 years or so more people will be calling themselves mixed race rather than Black as it is becoming more of a recognised identity and larger group to notice in the mainstream. As for mixed race people having an identity crisis, I really do think that it is society that has a bigger problem with accepting people of mixed heritage than the individual themselves. A lot of people find it easier to understand you as Black or White rather than ‘Grey’ in literal terms.

        My mother did find it hard sometimes to understand how I felt when it came to racism from both White and Black people, especially in the work place. My father often would get upset at the narrow mindedness of peoples obsession with ‘colour’ and not the person. But parenthood is difficult no matter what ‘ethnicity’ your child is. You can’t ‘teach’ or ‘educate’ your child to be ‘Black’ or ‘White’ or ‘Mixed’ but you can show them through example how to love everyone around you regardless of what they look like or what country they were born in/come from.

        As I started university two years ago I found there are still attitudes towards people of mixed heritage akin to those I experienced as a teenager, which to be honest makes me laugh. I feel so comfortable with who I am and what I represent and what I can give to the world as a person. I welcome peoples criticism with an understanding that they are probably going through identity ‘issues’ of their own. When one questions someone else’s identity, they are doing so in comparison to their own identity. I still consider myself to be ‘colour’ blind but not ‘culture’ blind. I like to see people as a whole and not take one feature/characteristic to whitewash their whole identity. Me and my partner of five years were discussing what our children would describe themselves as since we are both mixed? My partners parents are mixed heritage too! Third generation ‘mixed’?. Interesting. Maybe ‘global’ would be apt? :)

        • Sockpuppet

          Race is determined by how you look, that’s how we identify it. To the extent that your phenotype associates you with a certain culture or ethnicity you are seen as crazy for claiming to be anything else. Ironically with mono-racial individuals who identify on some level with their own mixed heritage, in my case I have strong native American and Scotch Irish lineage, you will get criticized and face a lot of derision for calling out any other part of who you are.

          I am pretty chocolate, but it does not change the fact that my great, great grandfather was half Scotch-Irish or that my great grandmother was a full-blooded Native American woman. But because my phenotype does not correspond to that of a bi- or multi-racial individual I am not allowed to claim my full heritage. I’m not trying to argue that you should not be able to claim who you are, just the opposite. I strongly feel biracial /multiracial individuals should self-identify in any way they choose. Just don’t get mad at the consequences.

          Now from your father’s point of view, obviously this is sheer conjecture on my part as we are not acquainted, but many blacks are wary of biracial people they perceive as trying to divest their selves from blackness because of the stigma attached to being a black person.

          Here in the states the is a history of biracial individuals exploiting the privilege that comes with having light skin at the expense of blacks even though in many ways we were treated in the same way. It’s a sort of, how dare you think you’re better than I am, sort of mentality.

          Blacks have been so mistreated that it stings to feel that your own – even if you can only claim half – would also stoop to treat you the same way. At the same time, I feel some blacks look upon biracial people with mistrust as if they are not interested in their struggles, only in getting in good with whites.

  • http://teachermrw.com teachermrw

    I read your three-part series as I read your current post. Thank you for sharing your challenges, struggles and optimism with the rest of us. There’s so much I want to say, but don’t quite know where to begin. That said, I will say this: Many people of mixed-raced feel such a struggle to achieve an identity with which they themselves can live. I feel similarly about students who are of color, and who have been adopted by White families. But, I know that the issues you present and those of transracial adoptees are very different, but, the identity piece is all too pervasive and consuming for many.

    • http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com martina

      interesting that you bring up transracial adoptees. I have adopted two southafrican mixed raced girls and am starting to learn about the challenges they already are and will be facing in the future. on my blog I am trying to share these experiences and hope to learn lots more from people like you and the fabulous women who present themselves here. I am feeling the challenge of being a white woman without a clue, what it feels like to be born of color. But I am determined to learn and listen and do my part in changing the world just a little. If you have time, please visit my blog and share your views http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com

  • http://www.mwanabaafrika.blogspot.com/ MBA

    American race and ethnicity issues are special. It is a unique reflection of their history that Jennifer Lee touches on. I think as Africans ethnicity plays a much huger part in definition than race itself. Which is why you can be black or mixed race or white but still feel a kinship to people of other races due to ethnicity. Or share and celebrate differences and still feel the same.

    Even though I consider myself black coz I mean what else could I be it is not a salient signifier. When I leave home I don’t gravitate to black people in Europe or America, I gravitate to people I believe have the same ideas about kinship. It’s cultural, which means my friends all over the world regardless of their racial make up have some what of a hybrid ethnicity like mine. They have been influenced by where they have lived and the friends they have had and the make-up of their family.

    In the end I think ethnicity is becoming more and more important in the world than race because that no longer has the meaning it had when our borders were less fluid both geographically and informationally. With the proliferation of media and particularly the internet and the ability to fly, its more about exposure than about genetic make-up, especially for younger generations. And ethnic and racial boundaries are not as hard to overcome as people will make them seems once you realise that they are what makes life colourful. People like things to be black and white because they are afraid of what they get when they mix them as they fear they will not be able to understand it. You get grey people, another colour that’s all, just like why you mix blue and yellow to get green 😉

    • MsAfropolitan

      This has me thinking about how much more logically and naturally we group ourselves by kinship. And we are moving towards that, that shift is noticeable even if only slightly. Race is becoming outdated because it never made sense to start with, and I’m glad that in a way many Africans haven’t internalised the ‘race’ concept, but is that because our countries are racially quite homogenous? Anyway, so many things come to mind reading your comment and all the others too! tbc..

    • http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com martina

      I am truly touched and amazed by your comment. As a white mother of two mixed race girls I am often regarded as naive and “blue eyed” when voicing opinions about color and the importance or unimportance of it. Becaue, hey, as a white person, what do I know. And I agree, I don’t have a clue what growing up any color other than white really feels like. But I am determined to go deep into the issue for my beautiful girls and because I really believe that we should start to look towards a world where boundaries will be fluid and race not important – simply because through the wild and wonderful mix of nations and cultures it won’t be possible to make assumptions by just looking at people. Culture, values and kinship – as you say – will become the defining factor when it comes to categorizing people :-)
      Please visit my blog and share your thoughts! http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com

  • POTO

    Howdy! I was fascinated by the debate regarding black and white and just wonder if that is really all there is to most of us culturally? I mean, if we go back a tiny bit further we see really that we share much/more in common with the Asian population. It’s clear in my mind that we all have some white genetics, as the European population went thru great lengths to integrate with us culturally. I mean, I read somewhere that blond hair color, and even blue eyes are a product of melanin inclusion. Before then, the eye color was absent and also hair color. I guess the real issue is why we cannot know about our other more ancient counterparts.

    Seems like folks like Alexander the Great? Went thru great lengths to erase all other historical information to know who we are and we think we are just white and black and so that’s how we trade our goods and services. I actually found that in my private family records that are maintained thru distant relatives that my family extends to South East Asia, by way of Yemen along time ago. I went a visit SEA and the vibe was amazing!

    I guess my point is we are all mix race when we think about it but why are we only allowed to think we mixed only with Europeans. But if there is any contention between white and black is we seem to lose a lot of or assets according to what our ancestors try to explain here. This guy Ashwa Kwesi breaks it down some, about the recent Europe/Africa alliance kemetnu.com. But I think it’s time to start examining other relatives too. Although it might be a bit more challenging I think they have more experience in bookkeeping/recordkeeping experience. Me sending you smiles of luv and light!

    Peace out Sis :)

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks! I must watch that clip, seems interesting. *Smiles*

  • Maria


    I recently stumbled across your blog and have read a few (a lot) of your articles and I think you’re an incredible writer! :)

    I am mixed race but constantly insist on being referred to as black (other than on those annoying forms that Vickii referred to). I know that this is not totally correct but I grew up with a single parent- a black father and I have had little contact with my white family. I think a lot of mixed race people will probably grow up more black or white. I expect a lot of disagreement from readers but hear me out…

    If, like me, you grew up in Africa (or wherever else with a predominantly black population) and spent your formative years surrounded by black people, you will make more black friends, think like them, talk like them etc. The same goes if you grew up surrounded by white people.

    Although I have since moved out of Africa and spend most of my time with white people, I still see myself as black. They see me as black.

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this anymore (:-/)but I think the point I’m trying to make (whether relevant to this article or not), is that often mixed race people will lean more towards one of them- black or white but to the rest of the world, we will probably always be viewed as black. Fact is, most mixed race people look more black than white.


    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks for sharing with me, and thanks for the compliment!

      I know what you mean, I think it’s hard to live your life differently than what the world sees you…
      I’m getting to the point where I don’t care so much in terms of myself, i’m black when people want, mixed race when others want. White also. Whatever. as long as I know who I am then the world can refer to me however. You know?

      But I’m interested in the topic in the sense of how it confronts and unites race issues that people otherwise like to ignore. The mixed race topic makes some people careful about what they say, like in the case of Obama, which implies there is something interesting there and I want to dig it out 😀

  • Amaka

    Hey girl!

    Nice to see MsAfropolitan striving and growing. I agree with you on the shift from racial definitions to an ethnic and cultural defining of people. The rules were set a long time ago by white conquerors. They determine who is socially accepted as beautiful or powerful. However, rules were made to be broken. There is no harm in generalising when you define yourself. This serves to locate the cultural sphere you emerged from. You can then move on to be more specific and include your genetic make-up if you must.

    If people = their genetic make-up, then tell me this: should a black girl, born and raised in Europe with more white friends than black, be content with her dark skin as a definition of herself? Is her struggle for identity less difficult or important? Obviously, she will have as much of a “mixed culture” as a mixed race girl, albeit the experience will not be identical. I believe that genetic definitions were made to divide and they still do the job very well.


    • MsAfropolitan

      Hey missy

      Thank yoU!

      I absolutely think that a woman as in your description faces challenges that are equally difficult and important.
      That said, I think the experiences can’t all be lumped together. We need to talk about these things openly.
      As I said in the post, where things get ‘messy’ for people like me is having a visceral understanding of being black and being white through ethnicity and not only culture. I am Finnish, even though I’ve never lived in Finland. Whereas there are Africans who might only have lived in Finland but not have a finnish parent and that’s a different kind of ‘messy’ too. Yes! and *sigh* there are very many angles to racial issues and I think each is important to reveal.

  • lartiste

    why can’t you just be black and white? forget what everyone says you are two races or three races or whatever mix you are. YOU CAN NOT EXIST with out both your parents putting in dna to make you … so you are half and have because genetically thats what you are… so if you want to be the race that you are whether its biracial,mulatto, multiracial or whatever it is…THEN BE THAT because its a fact …not an opinion

    but i feel everyone who isn’t completely white has race identity issues… with so much discrimination against minorities how can we not..?

    • MsAfropolitan

      No-one can or should dictate what a multiracial person calls themselves. As I see the whole race concept as something farcical I have an outside-in approach to my racial background. I can relate to being black or to being mixed race but none define me per se.

      You know what I mean?

  • saida

    This is a topic and debate I find myself in quite often too. For me it has always been hard to categorize myself as black or white…being mixed and being raised by parents who taught me about both cultures and having the opportunity to live in different countries and interact with different races.

    I often find myself defending being mixed. When people ask me where I am from, I always reply Finland and Comoros Islands – and it annoys me so much when people follow up with a question like: where where you born? what is your passport? what do you mean both pick one…
    But like you ponder..I think a lot comes from whom you grow up with and what experiences you share and relate later in life. My empiric experiences have led me to believe that the one drop rule thought is much more dominant in the US than UK for example..let alone Finland..where a lot of mixed people consider themselves more white. Plus I definately can relate to being African more than being Black.
    And yeah here comes the messiness you talk about!

    I have no points to add as such …but just felt this urge to respond to your blog topic as it is one dear to me too.

    P.S interesting that you use the term ruskea in Finnish, I say sekoitus (which I always found wierd). And a friend recently asked me what is the proper term for mixed race in Finnish???

  • http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com martina

    I had goosebumps reading your blog about mixed-race girls. Your perspective is so wise and heartfelt and empowering. I am a white mother of two mixed race girls (instead of labelling them “black” I prefer now to call them “women of color”)I fully agree with you where you say that white people should be taking up the race issue…people of color should be doing the healing. I’ve been trying to tackle the issues in my racist South African reality on and off on my blog and will try to add your post – if my technical ability is sufficient for this :-) so looking forward to reading more from you and about you!

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks for the kind words and comments. It must be difficult, but also positive, to have adopted two black/multiracial/children of colour (label is unimportant shw) in a country with as complex a history as SA. My advice would be to let them define themselves with time and not focus too much on the racial challenges that may lie ahead or whether they choose to call themselves black or women of colour. I didn’t think of myself as anything but human until other people made me aware of potntial differences, but by then my family had already guided me towards a ‘colour-blind’ way so i was able to deal with it better.

  • http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com martina

    oh and please, if you have time, visit my blog http://gunnagirls.blogspot.com and share your thoughts.
    big smile

  • Ginika

    Hi there, been reading all about this stuff on Mixed race, Anglo Saxon and Ibo Nigerian, that’s my stuff and its good to be able to talk about it sometimes, the good and the bad cos its still an issue sometimes, mainly in one’s head I must admit. The world is still polarised between continents and there is still incredible wealth and control inequalities between (Africa and Europe). Still it is up to all of us to transcend our genetics I believe and strive as I am trying to find love, peace. I want to find a way of being myself i.e.a good person. I am part of a Nigerian Women’s Group we have a lot of laughs. I was transracially fostered with others of differing mixed identities, had to deal with lots of stuff, but I’m big now (50’s).A lot of the stuff in the series we did in London the discussions rows about miscegination,whose black whose not.People have to let it out.I like the term Womanist from Alice Walker which infers a black feminist woman and she likens the different shades to colours in her mothers garden. I have a song I wrote about being ‘Half Caste’, way back. I’ll post it another time, meanwhile check out John Agard for a political slant. One line in my poem said, ‘there’s no way God would ever make something that was only, half cast, I’m a whole person etc…… Stay positive x

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  • CJ

    Hi, There i love to read these sites to get an insight on fellow mixed peoples opinions, im 19 years old my mothers of guyanese east indian background and my father of jamaican . I continually find myself feeling as if noone really knows my struggles with identity, i love my mother soo much but when i look in the mirror for some reason i wish my features were ‘more black’ as sad as it sounds, i was just interested if others have a similar problem. i usually get asked if i am jamaican or black and portuguese or other similar mixes, the feature most black people comment on is my nose which is not typically black its fairly straight and relatively slim compared to the usual idea of an african nose. i know we as a human race are one and these issues are trivial in the eyes of god i just wanted to voicemy feelings and jst see if anyone else has a similar issue, thank you ( i dont hate my heritage by the way i love it i just find issue identifying myself as a ‘black’ man which is what were labled as wheather or not full)

  • J..W

    I have been thinking for years wheather or not its immoral for me to have a nose job. I dont know wheather doing so would be betraying my non black family by doing so,my siblings have more what can be dscrbed as black features and cant help to desire the same. i want my nose to appear more afrcan but doing so through plastic surgery makes me feel like a fake and a sellout even though i am equally black as i am not black, any opinions welcome thanks.

  • CJ

    I have been thinking for years wheather or not its immoral for me to have a nose job. I dont know wheather doing so would be betraying my non black family by doing so,my siblings have more what can be dscrbed as black features and cant help to desire the same. i want my nose to appear more afrcan but doing so through plastic surgery makes me feel like a fake and a sellout even though i am equally black as i am not black, any opinions welcome thanks.

    • ann

      I honestly do not believe there is anything as a non African nose, just because your kind of nose is not dominant in your black family does not make it non African. I think you would be betraying your black family, if you really are doing it because of a stereotype.

  • CJ

    Thanks ann i appreciate your perspective.

  • CLJ

    I am mixed raced. My mother is 3/4 white (british) 1/4 trinidadian my father is 1/2 Jamaican 1/4 scottish and 1/4 indian. I have lived in London for majority of my life and was raised middle class in the suburbs of london going to a small private school meaning there was only one other person of colour in my class, she was also mixed race but sje was only raised by her mum of whom is fully Jamaican so she acted more ‘black’.. Whereas I had both my parents which at home would act rather black and when we stepped outside of the house we were more white. If I were to say what race I mostly feel like it is white, but to the world I look black (although I look like any ordinary mixed race person with halle barry skin tone with longish straight/wavy hair), My sister on the other hand looks like a white person with black hair (but she straightens it and puts extensions in) people ask her where she’s from and many assume portugal or half chinese and half white. She probably feels more out of place then I do as I look like any other mixed black and white person but people always query her on whether she is actually black.

  • Jennifer

    I’m not mixed with African American descent but I’m mixed woman and I have never been able to identify myself as anything except mixed because I look mixed. I’m White, Asian (Thai) & Native American Indian. I also felt like Mixed Black women are lucky & The same with mixed Latina women because they are usually accepted by the non-white side despite being mixed. I have never been accepted by the white side & with the Asian side it would depend.. But usually not that much either because I don’t look like a Thai or Asian woman. But other cultures embrace me & acknowledge I’m mixed but it doesn’t really seem to matter which have been African-American & Hispanic community & a lot of Native Americans & Polynesians. I just would like that with my two dominant cultures but In the 24 years I have been alive.. I have come to accept that it probably won’t happen & Its fine. I’m proud to be mixed, I just wish that there could be more acceptance within the own cultures that your mixed with for certain ethnic groups.

    • Benjamin

      I had similar experiences with the two major groups I descend from, the Anglo-Saxons and the Latinos. The “Whites” thought I was Hispanic, the Latinos thought I was White, both treated me with equal amounts of distance and contempt. I think it has to do with what members of said groups are “supposed to be like”, so the fact I couldn’t speak Castillian, or Spanish as it’s known here in the US, I wasn’t Latino enough.

      As long as you have your family and know who you are, it helps to negate the words of the critics. You know yourself better than some stranger.

  • http://igboamaka amaka adih

    People who constitute the mixed race got to be referred to as black over time, because in the days of slavery and colonialism people on this side of the Atlantic would not accept a mixed race person as part of their own.

    It is imteresting that these days the same people frown at the fact that some mixed race people are still classified as purely black.

    You see, when a trend is created for whatever reason, it is difficult to erase it.

    Too bad.

  • Emily Ocean

    Thank you for your feelings. I have two sons, mixed race and live inner city Melbourne, Australia. I have to disagree with a statement you made about white countries not discussing racism. A lot of money goes into grass root projects and academics are listened to in regard to what media should and should not encourage in regards to multi-cultural cohesion.

    You said white feminists don’t understand the sexist-racist subjection black women deal with. I agree that this was once true but in undergraduate studies, this very subject was focussed upon, especially in regards to Indigenous Australian women. But your writing certainly does help others, like myself to more understanding of life in your shoes.

    I am personally very sorry, and ashamed of my white ancestral history, I am also a feminist, anti-elitist, animal activitist. My Nigerian ex-husband was violent, humiliating and abusive which is why I divorced him but we are now living together again. I say this because I somewhat understand Nigerian male expectations of women and feel that Nigerian men need to be helped into seeing women as their equals.

  • OneReader

    Interesting how your article really didn’t say anything definitely. I think people judge by looks alot. And not just looks, last names, if you went to college, the way you talk (not what is being said), etc. Once you can come to grips with that fact, then you can understand how something like skin color can get lumped into all of that. In the process of stereotyping others for the sake of finding your niche, and your enemies, you are often forced to judge quickly by the most shallowest of terms. I think this increases the more you are out of your element and have more to lose among other people you have not grown up with. Hopefully I am not getting too out there. Basically, after the many hours I have spent listening to black lectures (for the first time on youtube compared to my college life where the only black professor I had was for african american studies and an art class) I am at the point where there is sooooo much that needs to be discussed and recovered. Blogs like your are a good start! Let’s hope though that people remember to talk to each other and not just each one do their own thing. I think that is a big problem with the black community. Too much talking and not enough listening and collaborating. So if that’s the case, what culture is there to speak of? I think it is easier to fracture someone who is out there by themselves. Wishing you well and keep up the good work.

  • http://tigertales-msxpat.blogspot.co.uk/ MsXpat

    This is a good debate and thanks for sharing the link as well. I totally agree with you. I think due to world history and migration, I reckon most of us have a bit of this and a bit of that in us. Certainly peoples who come from a country with slavery as part of its history will most certainly have some white in them, regardless of how they look. I’m from the Trinidad West Indies, and I’ve always classed myself as black rather then get into my mixed heritage but now that I’m married to a bi-racial man and how children have definite mixed heritage I’m now having to revisit my heritage and consider how i want to raise my kids in a country that is not my country of birth.

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  • Junysia Jones

    I am seventeen years old, and I suppose you could say that I am experiencing said ‘identity crisis’. I was recently challenged about my mixed ethnicity, and was labeled as black, which bothered me. Not about being black – my mother is black, and beautiful, and I have no shame in my black heritage. What bothered me is that, in being only black, I’d be leaving out half of who I am. I’ll admit that it would be easier to just say that I’m black, especially with never having actually met my real father or any of his family, but regardless I know who I am, and in that respect I don’t feel right claiming to be half of who I am. It’s sad that I have found people to be willing to be more accepting if I were to state that I am just black rather than hearing me continue to say that I am both black and white. And God forbid I say I’m just white – that’s not even reasonable, apparently, though to me, it’d be just as ‘reasonable’ as saying I’m black. Regardless, I am who I am, whether ‘they’ want to accept it or not. If anyone asks, I am black and white, not one or the other. And I love both of my heritages the same.

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  • JP

    Race mixing is madness.

    Take the Dominican Republic where they hate their African ancestors.

    • http://www.msafropolitan.com/ MsAfropolitan

      You mean people like Junot Diaz and Zoe Saldana? You have a right to your views, however narrow they might be, but please restrain yourself from making general, uninformed statements.

  • Tormented

    I am mixed. Hispanic heritage, mother of mainland Spanish ancestry, and mulatto father (mostly black, some Indian & little white). He was poor, she was rich. He had a chip on his shoulder, and wanted to be assimilated into the highest circles of society in this latin american country. My parents still today shun me when race is brought up. I have attempted suicide 3 times, suffered from depression,a failed marriage, etc…. Society, everywhere I go (I studied abroad, traveled extensively) treat me with contempt. Even my friends. Whats your background? Is your hair straight? are you white? are you black?….the same questions mixed race ppl get. I have had many facial surgeries to get rid of my blackness, to no avail. Even though I sometimes pass for white, ppl see that there is something not quite right with me. I am middle aged, and I have never felt like I belong anywhere. This is really a difficult life. I’m a victim of sexual abuse as well, but that is for another forum….funny, one has to deal with things that are in place before we are born and can never really get rid of, b/c no matter how I see myself, I still get the same distance and contempt by most people.

  • TransientDude

    We all belong to three separate blood lines: Ham, Shem, Japheth. The Old Testament or
    literally the Age of the Old Order was the reign of the Hamitic blood lines, which the bible states started with Nimrod and ended with the fall of Babylon. The New Testament or the Age of the
    New Order is the reign of the united alliance between the blood lines of Shem and Japheth.
    This Age officially began with the Roman Empire which was signified through the birth of Jesus and the start of the New Testament. This war between blood lines is why it’s impossible for
    us mixed individuals to find a place to fit in. The identity based upon the relationship
    between blood line and nation has been totally erased and replaced by the relative identity upon color and appearance.

  • Tre

    I’m not bi racial. My mom is but people still consider me mixed I guess white or black. I typically side with blacks more when it comes to social issues. I feel more accepted by “minorities” than by whites even though I grew up and went to school with basically only white people. Sometimes I feel the vibe that white people think they are better than everyone. And a lot of times it appears that they don’t have to go through the same day to day struggle as black people do racially or economically. Not that they are to blame necessarily. I love all people but some white people can be hella racist. sometimes it’s blatant sometimes it’s subtle. Black peoples racism towards whites isn’t malicious typically. Most of it is just poking fun of how dorky white people might appear or cultural differences lol. I guess being “mixed” allows you a window to see both but I will always be a black man.

  • KKK

    mxed people are like mutts with no pedigree

  • Vida

    There is no bigger sin that racial mixing ! Race is no social construct. Races are real.
    Do not mix with other races ! it is a biggest sin there is. Human DNA is recessive, therefore kids from interracial marriages literally fade away with time. They do not posses white nor black characteristics.
    Race is not social construct ! If the race is social construct, then how came no White died from ebola ???
    Load of nonsenses.
    People, embrace your race and do not mix with other races !!!

  • anon

    Thanks for the post.

    What interests me about this discussion is the general feeling of needing “to belong” to a racial group in the first place. As a mixed person, I am constantly bombarded by arguments which focus on an implicit “tribal” (loyalty based) language of “belonging”. The classic argument I hear over and over again against identifying as “mixed” is: “they won’t accept you”. I have always been confused by this statement. My typical response is, “Who said I wanted to be “accepted” by anyone at all in the first place? I have been doing just fine on my own for 30 odd years”. This is usually met by confused looks and sympathetic statements like, “well aren’t you lonely?” or “isn’t that such a difficult life” or “well then how do you have an identity?” or “you’ll regret saying that when you experience racism and you need support”.

    I think it is a part of human nature to be a “social animal”, but I completely disagree with the premiss that people can only “belong” or find a true identity, or support, by affiliating with a single racial group. This notion of race-based loyalty is based on the additional premiss that one should always identify with one’s parental heritage – which again is a “tribal” or loyalty-based understanding of identity. This doesn’t stop with race, or ethnicity either – this is also
    obviously the case with political and religious affiliations. It is
    assumed that you should choose these categories according to how you’re
    parents identify and what they stood for. It is a sign of respect to
    carry on their legacy. It is something you are born into, and to deny
    this is a form of betrayal and disloyalty. This situation is such a death trap for mixed children who are told to choose between tribes. My question is why choose at all? Fear, anxiety, loneliness. It was difficult to stand up for myself, and it hasn’t been easy, but I didn’t “choose” and I don’t regret it one bit, especially now that more mixed people are beginning to identify as neutral in the race war.

    There is an underlying assumption in both the white and black (even mixed) American communities that people of mixed heritage will always be alone, or self-hating, or confused or lost if they don’t choose between the two dominant binary, racial classifications. That is utter nonsense. Mixed people remain neutral all the time without suffering this elusive “tragic mulatto identity crisis” everyone seems to be so sold on. One’s identity, and subsequent pride in this identity, is not solely determined on the basis of one’s skin tone. Mixed people who choose to identify exactly as mixed (i.e. in a neutral zone with no strong loyalties in either directions) should not be vilified or hated or mocked for doing so. It is not a sign of disloyalty to anyone. Instead it is an act of one’s freedom to choose one’s own path in life despite contingent circumstances. It is a sign of strength to be able to carve out one’s own path based on love, interest and all the experiences that life brings. No one should ever tell you who you ought to be. That is blantant violence.

    When people ask me, “What are you?”, I tend to say – “American”. If pushed to clarify any more than this I then ask them in return, “How can I tell you “what I am” in a few words? Wouldn’t you like to know my name first?”. It’s all fast-food identity politics. People are always more complicated than others think.

    Just some food for thought. If anything above offended anyone, my apologies – it was not my intention to do so at all.

    • JALI

      I’m of African American and Louisiana Creole heritage. I’ve have been involved in ethnic studies for over 30 years. I came across this website while researching. I notice how many varied attitudes have remained the same and some others have been reborn. I have three children, and my oldest child was from an interracial marriage, German,Irish, English ancestry from the United States. I can remember when a caucasian woman at a party that was engaged an African American man that I knew since childhood. She stated that we shouldn’t of had a mixed child and she would marry interracially but not have mixed race children. I explained to her then which was almost 30 years ago, that while I’m proud of being African American, that African Americans have been mixed for centuries. My family has many colors and hair texture and are African American and was the same for those I grew up with. Some with white skin gray eyes and African features, carmel brown skin with red hair and freckles, some with kinky blond hair and blue eyes, and all having two African American parents. If you look at President Obama he is black and African American to many of us because he looks like those that are in some of our families. those that were mixed race stop drawing the line and mixed with the so called pure blacks, that by the 1930s we had became more brown in complexion was the preferred color among African Americans. That’s why we have boxer Joe Lewis as the Brown Bomber for instance. By the 1960s we created Blackness not as a literal color but and political and social identity and culture. Centuries before we we African and named our institutions and churches African also.It didn’t matter if you were mixed or not with that identity though colonialism.

      I had my DNA done and genetically i’m African-European in rounded up numbers by maybe 2.5%, I’m 60% African and 40% European on every test I have taken. that’s with a long history of being African American in this country. We are NOT another species, to say mix racing is wrong when it’s a known FACT we all originate from the same source. We ALL came from ONE Blood. We aren’t trying say this that are mixed don’t have a white side, we are saying they will have a different experience than their white side that many don’t understand. They are us, and don’t actually descend from a mono-racial group, but a mono -ethnic identity, which is different. We were rejected in many cases not all by our white ancestors which is partly how we came to be African American. I appreciate the discussion.

      • anon

        Here are a few more arguments against identifying as “mixed” which you touched upon in your response, and are arguments I can never quite fully understand.

        Argument 1: “Everyone is mixed. What are you really?”

        – First – yes, we are all mixed. But people tend to conflate appearance with experience – and use this to deny any actual “mixed experience” as a real thing. Just because a mixed person
        may bear a striking resemblance to a “light skinned AA” does not mean his/her experiences
        are similar in any way. Having “light skin” because of an unfortunate and bitter history of forced slavery
        and rape is very different from having “light skin” because of a
        consensual, loving interracial marriage. I do not understand why people cannot see this enormous difference in experience – and continue to equate “light skinned AA’s” with people of mixed heritage who actually have a white parent. In one situation, your light skin is linked to something shameful (rape and slavery) and with privilege (a higher historical status in the black community). In the other situation your light skin and a lot of your inherited features may actually positively remind you of a parent you intimately know, who loves you, cares for you, raised you and who you can immediately identify physically with every time you look in the mirror. You are literally half of this person – they are not an abstraction – and most likely you have inherited their culture, values and other characteristics as well.

        -Second, if people conflate appearance with experience, and “experience” refers to racial discrimination – then we must make clear that all “people of color” are discriminated against and in different ways. This means that mixed people might also have similar experiences of discrimination with other ethnic groups – and not solely the black experience. Many mixed people are mistaken for being middle eastern, hispanic or even asian. My brother had the cops called on him at least three different times following the 9/11 attack because people mistook him as middle-eastern and thought he was a possible terrorist. So, does that make him middle eastern just because he had such an experience? Of course not. But it did open a window into the lives of so many people who are discriminated against when they come from that part of the world. It made him realize that all people of color are exposed to racial discrimination in uniquely varied ways – and sometimes for mixed people we receive discrimination of more than one type.

        – Third, I would say the most genuine racial discrimination mixed people experience is from being mixed. Usually, it is easy to brush off discrimination against a single race or ethnic group because it only offends half or a quarter of us – but if someone directly attacks us for being “mixed” this really hurts. Calling us offensive names like “mixed breed” or “half and half” or “mutt” attacks a deeper identity in a negative way. In fact, this more direct form of discrimination is what motivates so many mixed people to try and “pass” as anything but mixed. Being mixed has never been cool – it has always been strange, or weird.

        Argument 2: “We call mixed people “black” because they look like us (African Americans), and so we assume they have similar experiences.”

        – First, sadly – people tend to believe their assumptions are true. The “mixed experience” cannot be subsumed under any single racial identity because the racial experience is not directly linked to any specific racial identity. This means that a mixed person might have a Thai parent and a German/White parent. They are mixed just as someone who is half White and half Black. That is to say that mixed people do not “just” look like AA’s. They tend to look like everyone, actually. This is because the term “mixed” is not only reserved for people who are mixed with black. As a mixed person, I can more easily identify with another half-Indian, half-Filipina woman (for example) because we both share similar good and bad experiences of being mixed. As an international traveler, I have found the mixed experience to be similar all over the world. Feeling “rootless”, the “in-between”, the reject or the one who is always out of place. Or rejoicing in our fluid identities, laughing at people who try to put us in a box, and confusing their boundaries. “Mixed” is not limited to the “black” experience. It is what it is – mixed – irreducible to a single pre-established mono-racial or ethnic identity.

        – Second, it is important to emphasize that people of mixed heritage may be “black” or “brown” by skin color but not necessarily by culture. This is why you hear stories of Latino families moving to the U.S. and being labeled as “black” in both race and culture due to appearance. This causes huge clashes because AA’s tend to think Latinos are trying to “pass” as something else in society, but Latinos actually have their own rich history, language, culture and heritage which unites them and which many refuse to subsume into another larger “black” culture. I think Zoe Saldana offers an interesting analysis of this point. She is Latina by culture (openly so on her instagram), but she also understood that as a famous actress she had dark skin and would be labeled as “black”. So, you get this strange situation where people call her an African American actress, but then get incredibly angry when she is signed up to play Nina Simone and suddenly she is called Latina or not black enough. She ends up in a very unenviable situation where people are both angry with her for not fully identifying as black (still claiming her Latina heritage), while also being angry with her for taking an important black role and not being black enough. Brown skin equates with being a “person of color” who yes, experiences racism – but does not necessarily experience it in the exact same ways as AA’s.

        – Third, not all people of mixed heritage come from only “white and black” relationships. This immediately changes the game when you have half of your family members telling you you’re Indian (or Laos, or Samoan, etc.) and the other half telling you that you should identify as Black because the other half won’t accept you (which is almost always said out of ignorance and fear).

        – Fourth, the mixed experience in America still carries an obvious, incredibly racially charged stigma in both white and black communities. So, it is more acceptable in both communities to have non-intentional mixing, than obvious intentional mixing. Intentional mixing makes everyone uncomfortable – like it is still considered to be so brazenly offensive. I had a convo with an AA friend who actually said, “Why does obama have to publicly take photos with his white mother? It’s not something to actually be proud of anyway…black is black and he shouldn’t try to hide it.” – which was a comment that absolutely baffled my mind. Obama takes photos with his white mother because she is his mother – not because he is trying to show the black community that he could pass as white if he wanted to or some other racially twisted motivation. She is his mother, why should he be ashamed of that?

        – Fifth, (and carrying on from the fourth) the mixed experience is still so obviously taboo and because of this is simultaneously both widely misunderstood and ignored as its own legitimate, unique experience. When you and your mixed family go out in public, do people mistake either both or one parent(s) as a babysitter, or a possible kidnapper, or as a “family friend”? Do people ever say your parent’s marriage was a “sin” or that you are a “freak of nature” or a “mistake” and that you are “not normal”? Do people ask to see your “spots” or “zebra stripes” or if you are sterile? Do your siblings try to hide one parent, so that they can “pass” as a single race and openly curse a parent for “outing” them in public? Do you openly celebrate Loving Day and fight anyone who tries to force you to “choose” between two completely different parents you love equally and identify with equally? Are you openly rejected by both sides of your family because both sides are racist and you will always represent half of the “hated group”? And as a result of this familial exile, does your family live like nomads living from place to place finding community in churches, or hobby groups? I could go on and on. This is not the “African American” or “black” experience, and neither is it Asian, White, Latino or any other already established experience. This is irreducibly a “mixed” or “multiracial” experience. It actually shares more similarities with the “transracial” experience than any other racial experience I’ve come across. And yet, despite telling people these experiences, they still have the audacity to try and tell us what our experience is or should be subsumed under.

        Argument 3: “Black is not a race or a color, it is a culture – so mixed people can still be black without having really dark skin or actually appearing black”.

        First, I would have to at least partially disagree. If “black” does not refer to race or skin color – then why would you call a culture “black” in the first place? I personally think it is obvious that black culture is inseparable from the idea of black race – because unfortunately race and racial stereotyping was what directly contributed to slavery, segregation and racism in this country – which is a huge part of the “black” experience in America. I think Rachel Dolezal highlighted this exact issue (i.e. confusion over what “blackness” actually means in America – race/culture) – when part of the black community refused to claim her based on the fact that she had no “blood” ties to being black (not even “one drop), while another part of the community championed the “black as culture” idea, saying that Dolezal should be welcomed into the fold because she strongly identified with/supported the culture and that’s all that matters.

        Second, if I was to compare black culture with another culture, I run into an immediate problem. For example, when I think of the term “latino” I truly do not think of a dominant race. I think of a truly racially mixed, rainbow culture that also has elements of African culture among many others. Stereotypically, what immediately comes to mind when I think of latino is the spanish language. On the other hand, when I think of “black” culture, dark skin or specific physical features is a must. Honestly, I would be incredibly skeptical if a blonde-haired, blue-eyed man told me he was “black”, but would have absolutely no problems believing him if he said he was latino. Latino is purely an ethnicity/culture – but black is not purely a culture – it is heavily associated with certain racial characteristics. I do not think AA’s can claim that “black” is ONLY a culture and not also a skin color/race. It is both.

        Third, many in the AA community have issues with saying “black” is only a culture because this would allow for easy cultural appropriation to take place (e.g. Miley Cyrus, Eminem, Iggy Azalea, etc.), it would allow for mass deception in racially-based equality initiatives (e.g. affirmative action) to take place, resulting in “black” becoming too broad of a term to mean anything concrete. If race, and experiences based on race, doesn’t unite the black community – what exactly does? Is it just an intense appreciation for black culture, and growing up as a member of a black community? Or should it actually at least partially refer to experiences based on and associated a certain kind of physical appearance – where there is no question you are “black” because it is so obvious?

        In short, I am confused as to why AA’s have issues with mixed people wanting to “draw the line” as you put it when it comes to their experience. Why not have it validated by claiming it as our actual experience? Especially with the gender binary beginning to break down by the extraordinary efforts of the LGBT community – and rightly so – why can’t we also begin to think more fluidly about racial identity? Why do the “black” and “white” binaries still remain as two polar opposite magnets which pull everyone in the middle to these extremes – even after so many years of mixed people openly identifying as “other” “multiracial” or “mixed” as its own unique culture? Mixed people are born with concrete, complex issues to face and this fact directly plays out in their every day experience – as opposed to having “racial mixture” as some abstract concept which doesn’t really apply. So why not allow mixed people to aline their identity with their actual experience instead of shaming them into fully identifying with a dominant, binary group they don’t fully identify with?

        • anon

          And just to be clear – I am not saying that I agree with the movement that “mixed/multiracial” should be its own, new racial category. I don’t believe in race to begin with. What I am saying is that if mixed people refuse to identify as a single race – then all the power to them.

  • Helga

    It’s so funny, because a few weeks ago I had this discussion with my boyfriend about it, and I was telling him that we, mixed race (in this case me) are some kind of ”best of both worlds”, we are black and white, just like everybody else, because at the end of the day we are all equal regardless of our skin tone. I believe that with ”mixture” respect comes along, we see things from different perspectives and therefore we avoid senseless wars. :)