race actually

“i am the perfect hue for escaping endemic prejudices while reaping the benefits of good-hearted policies that attempt to suture age-old chasms with the silver thread of nominal acceptance.”

From “half” – a work in progress by M

I am not that perfect hue, but I am also a qualifier for the “half” label.  I don’t generally like saying as much.  There’s this notion that being such is its own thing, which can sometimes, it seems to me, be about distancing one’s self from whichever parent’s ethnicity is least white.  When it comes to being black, perhaps more prevailing now than the old one-drop construct is the idea that you’re only as black as you have to be via appearance.  This is inexorably tied to the very real pains of colorism in addition to racism.

Now and then, I’ll hear the sentiment that being mixed is this unique cultural marker or that being in an interracial relationship is a mark of enlightenment.  The ideas prevail enough that to feel otherwise seems almost jaded.  In that regard, I suppose the mindfulness of M’s post is something I appreciated.  Where blackness has become desirable in the culture at large, it’s often as a technicality, an exception, or in the form of coolness.  Among the demographic that benefit the most from affirmative action are biracial children who have at least one privileged parent.  The idea that this is progress comes from a perspective that likes diversity in theory, but always makes sure to distance itself from where it’s most populous and wounded.

Thing is, most relationships are at least a little shallow — particularly in their conception.  That interracial relationships can exist without some idiot’s sanctioned harassment is progress, certainly, but people generally want some empty but idealized notion of beauty sold to us everyday — along with security.  Why would the ones in interracial relationships be any different?

I don’t entirely agree with everything in this post by Evette Dionne, but it’s certainly interesting and in the following point she expresses a sentiment that I would hope would be obvious (but I know isn’t):

“Your spouse may be black, but that isn’t a ticket to the land of understanding.”

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7 responses to “race actually

  1. “the idea that you’re only as black as you have to be via appearance.”
    i have never thought of it in this way, but that really sums it up. i think that’s what i was trying to get at – i get all the benefits of the theory of diversity…but only because my color isn’t black enough to make me have to associate with “the most populous and the wounded,” and i don’t know how i’m actually supposed to respond to that. thank you for your thoughts.

    -michaela

  2. Reblogged this on The Empty Scribbler and commented:
    Great thoughts by others on the experience of being biracial.

  3. I never thought about any of that when I met my wife who happens to be black, and the issue of my being white was obviously not a
    deal breaker for her either. We get the looks from some people but we have gotten past that long ago. Being married 20 year’s now I have to say it’s a lot better then it used to be in regard to ignorant people and their clanish behavior. Life is what you make it I guess and if you’re going to dwell on the slavery thing then keep inmind that it was other blacks that rounded up their fellow blacks for the slave traders. And all races have been slaves at one time or another. Do we keep playing the woe is me card or do we move on and stop keeping the sins of our ancestors alive and well.

    • I didn’t say anything about slavery, but I suppose what I was intrinsically addressing was that we live on top of history. It, the long and continued history of whiteness being thought of as normal and good over other people, moves on with us everyday in the background (and a lot of people’s foregrounds, if not you’re own.)

      I’ve heard that line about slavery quite often, and it never ceases to surprise me. It’s a little like watching someone being singled out and bullied for looking different, then going up to him or her and saying, “Don’t take it to heart. People have always been bullying each other.” Such statements ignore the reality of the world in favor of equalizing everything to the point where nobody really has any advantages over anyone else. Maybe it’s also like telling someone who is disfigured that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Well, yeah? No duh. But that isn’t going to change that people are often quite vain.

      Nobody generally likes the idea that they have it better than others without having earned that somehow, but I wonder if people who spout the ‘black people helped enslaved other black people’ line *want* that self-awareness. I know that being ‘mixed’ black. occasionally makes it easier for me than other black people in relation to mainstream society.
      .
      But since life is what you make it, I could ignore that and just focus on my own particular challenges.

  4. interesting discussion…. i would add that, the life-is-what-you-make-it discourse all too often reifies inequality in that the folks who have more resources to make something of their lives are better able to “make it” than those who have less resources (or, what david said)… more importantly, the “woe is me” discourse (or, the discourse that calls naming privilege and domination “woe-is-me”) is yet another way for white folks to assert their presumed supremacy (just making it plain here). it is especially the case, all too often, that white folks married to black folks (or who have black/brown kids) feel they have some sort of cover to tell folks to “just get over it” not realizing that in doing so, they have been played by the system of race to invoke their racist privilege (even when they themselves are not “racists”). after all, madonna’s in hot water as we speak because she thought having adopted (saved?) some african kids gave her a green light to use the n-word (publicly, no less). she does not have such a green light. that word no longer belongs to white folks. and if having the use of a word taken from you stings a little bit, that is the beginning of critical consciousness of what it means to be white and privileged (and only an inkling of what it’s like for marginalized people all the time, everyday)…. yes, life is what you make it. but that is only half the story. life is also what’s been made for you. not simply one or the other. understanding what that means requires divergent reasoning. the get-over-slavery thing simply doesn’t cut it, andrew. i’ll get over it when you do.

  5. Reblogged this on The Magic Mulatto and commented:
    some good race talk from the blog Words Away… dig the comments too.

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