Sunday, December 03, 2006

Epilogue - Passing

Biracials have been passing as blacks for so long that they themselves don't even know who they are anymore. It took the perennial Vineyard vacationer Skip Gates to make it safe for the rest of us when he coyly admitted after a 50-50 genetic test result that he did, after all, remember something about his family being partly European.

In fact, all of America is confused - black, white or otherwise. And how could we not be with more than a century of biracial faces representing black ones?

Confirmed biracials (50% black/50%white)

Halle (pre-nose job), Barack Obama, Skip Gates

Hmm, if they are...what about?

Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Manning Marable

First "black" to sign with a major Holywood studio? First "black" hopeful for Tennessee Senator since Reconstruction? First "black" nominated for an Oscar?

Lena Horne, Harold Ford Jr., Dorothy Dandridge

Far be it from me to claim some biracial form of "gaydar"; however, the basic principles of heredity, summed up handily here by history and molecular anthropology PhD candidate Frank Sweet, plainly prove that what you see is what you get.
When ideology trumps reality to the point that one cannot admit that there is a difference between and , and how that difference came to be then we’ve all ceased to be rational beings. Can anyone really wonder how such cognitive dissonance as George Bush’s insistence that Saddam = Osama can exist unchecked among the American electorate for damned near 5 years, when something as basic as who we are and where we come from has been denied for the last 100? When effectively 350 years of pre-1900 history has been wiped out of the collective American memory?

Forcing our hand is the wave of mulatto Latin immigrants who have more honest racial identities, as well as the well-educated, middle class African immigrants who give lie to the blackness equals poverty equation we have so ingrained in the American psyche. The jury is still out on whether or not they will fall in line with the prevailing color line myth of the 20th century, or mount a serious challenge to its efficacy. I, for one, am ready to see the bubble burst and the whole damned thing come apart.

I spent the majority of my life being confused, feeling alienated and ashamed for not being able to conform to our American race myths.
Acknowledging obvious physical and cultural markers of European heritage does not negate African heritage; French Creoles prove this and I am so glad to have met some who have provided me with a healthy and positive model to live by. Mixed race people with African heritage should not have to one drop themselves to support any group's agenda - white, black, immigrant or otherwise. I can understand the desire for white Americans and immigrants to employ One Drop Rule, as historically both groups have benefitted handsomely from it. But haven't African Americans figured out already that adopting tactics that their white oppressors have cooked up cannot ultimately be in their own best interests? It's time for African Americans to rethink their political positioning and their group identity. This one is, and she is not looking back.

These series of posts are dedicated to "the finest woman in
East Elmhurst" of her day, my mother Kathlean Elizabeth Barnes. I am bold because she could not be.

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James said...

This is heavy stuff, I was raised to think 1 drop of black blood makes you black. This biracial thing is diluting the power of the black community. I would like to get your thoughts on my post,white women,black men at

Jennifer said...

Is it still helpful for us to think of blackness in the same way? Is the "biracial thing" really diluting the power of the black community? Or have differences always been there, but have only become evident again since the Civil Rights Movement (and similar black liberation movements worldwide of the time)? I would argue that the interests of blacks and biracials may intersect but are not the same.

mixed chicks said...

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