Tragicmulattoes's Blog

May 21, 2010

Mixed Race Mixed Logic

Filed under: mulatto misconceptions — tragicmulattos @ 1:25 am
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This blog will not be easy for certain types of people to digest. I knew that going in, but I felt like their was a void in the blogosphere-an omission of truth that needed to be addressed. I hope this blog is filling that void.

I am NOT against the mulatto/mixed race/biracial identity.

I am against the anti-black subtext that permeates their rhetoric. I am against the black-blaming that is nearly ALWAYS implied by mulatto activist when trying to explain the sorry state of mulatto identity development. I am against the ideological ambiguity and fence-riding. I am against cowardice.

It is rare that I encounter a blog free of one of my aforementioned gripes. Recently, I came across a post by TheMulatto entitled Mulatto and African American Coexistence. I thought, “this could be good”.

Spoke to soon.

I *think* the point of this post is to opine that African-American is a broad category that includes people of distinct races, therefore mulattos are African Americans but they are not Black. I wish I could summarize why this post is ridiculous, but it’s so purposefully confusing and opaque, I decided to just pull out the parts that I find “innerestin'”

The problem with the African-American label is that it has become synonymous with black and only with black to the degree that the two words are used interchangeably. To be African-American is to be black, but to be African-American is also to be an American of African ancestry; and the two explanations are not the same despite many people assuming it is.

Where do I begin? This blogger clearly has little if any knowledge of the history of the term “African American”. It is inherently meant specifically for Black people. To be even more specific, it is particularly meant for Black people who are indigenous to the American political construct-the BLACK descendants of African Slaves in the United States. Therefore it is true-not all Blacks are African American (by it’s classic definition, though some Black immigrants and their descendants come to identify culturally as African American), but all African Americans are Black. And no matter what Charlize Theron or Teresa Heinz identify as, the term African American will NEVER apply to their children. One must be Black identified to be African American. And like the number of Whites who express disdain for the label by claiming “we’re all African”. I politely remind them, “not my kind of African”.

A self-identified mulatto is, by virtue of the primacy of the mulatto identity, “HALF African American”. Not African American. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. An African American of mixed heritage (Jasmine Guy) is African American/Black, as that is her primary style of identification. The term African American is a DIRECT result of Black political consciousness and Pan Africanism. While some Blacks in America do not identify with the term, those who DO understand that, like the mulattos struggling to name themselves and claim their own identity, Blacks needed to name themselves with the same dignity and consideration that others afforded their history. And the key point is that they needed to finally *name themselves*. African American is a contemporary concept for contemporary Blacks. Black folks would have died of laughter if you mentioned the term 100 years ago.

This is why many people believe that identifying as Mulatto is an attempt to deny one’s blackness and connection to the black community, an attempt to escape racism or discrimination. This belief has been crucial in keeping countless Mulattoes in a state of self-hate and ignorance regarding who they truly are.

So if someone self-identifies with one race, they are automatically ignorant and self hating? The hypocrisy knows no bounds….

The reality of the situation is that Mulattoes and blacks both share the African-American label because, despite a few differences, both have a shared history of slavery and oppression. However, sharing the African-American label is not the same as assuming that Mulattoes and blacks are both part of one race, or that both are one and the same. The African-American label doesn’t erase the existence of Mulattoes, to the dismay of many.

I wonder who these “dismayed many” are…I digress.

Slavery and oppression are only a component of the African American identity. After all, there are those who identity fully and solely as White who have Black ancestry. Ancestry is part of it. Who are you TODAY as a result of that past-is what matters. The “black when I feel like it” rhetoric is present here. Black people know they are Black because of what they experience TODAY. It’s MUCH MORE than a collective memory. If it doesn’t apply to you, that’s okay too.

We must change the word African-American from exclusively meaning black, so that Mulattoes can feel free identifying with who they truly are without threatening and/or denigrating our black brothers and sisters.

At the very least, rest assure that identifying as Mulatto doesn’t mean the end of the African-American identity, doesn’t mean the end of the African-American cohesion, doesn’t mean that it’s an attempt to escape from our shared and sad past.

An American Mulatto is an African-American, but an African-American can be either black or Mulatto. It has always been like this at the biological level, it’s now time that we accept this reality at the social and psychological level as well.

I’ve never gotten the sense that mulattoes were trying to escape their past. Now the present…I’m not so sure. These identities are much more steeped in the world we live in NOW, not a shared ancestry. And let’s not pretend there aren’t perceived (and sometimes real) advantages to a “not-quite-black” identity.

If you are only “half Black” (biologically, socially and psychologically) why do you want to be African American anyway? Why aren’t you Euro-Afro American or something more “accurate”? Why appropriate what Black people have theorized, invented, and claimed for themselves? That appropriation sounds like a “threat” to me.


May 16, 2010

Apparently I’m Not The Only One…

Who can see Biracial Tiffany’s raison d’etre. Like all groups, biracial people are not monolithic. However, the rhetoric that dominates the multiracial movement would have you believe that most are whiny racists. Losangelista blogged about two biracials doing too much-trying too hard-to identify in a way that she found disingenuous. It was refreshing to come across a blogger that seems to have it figured out. Here is an excerpt from her post:

...But unlike Scotty, who felt on his empty gun holster at the mere insinuation that he was anything other than black, Tiffany Jones seems to be bending over backwards in her desire to say “I’m not black.”

This may not have been her intent but while watching Tiffany’s film, underneath her assertions that she’s “not black” or “just black”, I heard someone saying, “I don’t want to be black because blackness is inferior.”

In my own experience as someone with one white parent and one black parent, I’ve met a few other biracial folks who act like they’ve been shortchanged by life because they were given a black mom or dad instead of two white parents. You get the sense that they want to say they’re biracial, not necessarily because they want to acknowledge all aspects of who they are ethnically or racially, but, because they are, deep down, ashamed of their blackness and wish there was some way they could make it go away.

Tiffany’s vibe took me back to the days when I’d hear other biracial girls telling girls with two black parents that they were better than them: better hair, better looking, smarter, less black. It took me back to why folks would meet me and say, “I thought you’d think you’re all that just because you’re mixed.”

Yes, Tiffany can be as proud of her whiteness as she wants to be, but just as Scotty had to say over and over that he was “black”, Tiffany announcing over and over that she’s white lacks authenticity to me. To me, it’s all about intent. Why do you want to be white? And if Tiffany can finally get the world to say, “Yes, honey, you’re white!” will she be happier and more comfortable with herself?

I also think there’s a difference between a healthy pride and an inherent sense of superiority. I am very very proud of being half Irish. If someone asked me to say I’m not part Irish, I’d probably draw a big shamrock on my face right in front of them. However, that pride does not and never will supersede the affection and downright admiration I have for my black ancestry.

I must say, Tiffany gives the impression that her mother wasn’t much of a winner. And if I ever get around to posting about Debra J. Dickerson’s “gift” to her biracial children, you’ll come to find that many Black women in interracial relationships are just as incompetent at dealing with race in their mixed race families as their white counterparts. In fact, this woman might be Tiffany’s mom.

May 14, 2010

AD Powell: Still Begging for a Bone

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is no mulatto more tragic that AD Powell. As more articles flood the internet in response to (or critique of) Obama’s census choice, I knew it was a matter of time before AD got whiff of the debate. And boy did she. She’s also using the name “Pad Powell”. What’s also funny about AD is, she truly believe that no one can challenge her racial logic. She brings forth the case of Anatole Broyard, and I suspect AD and Anatole had a few things in common. Anatole was known to have a subtle but noted dislike for Black literary circles, and AD makes it no secret that she would be a paid Klan member if…well…they actually admitted White mulattos. She has posted this rant on several sites, but I found this in response to a Washington post op-ed piece.

I propose that we contrast Obama with the late New York Times book critic Anatole Broyard. Obama was born into and reared in a Hawaii-based white-identified family and had no ties of blood or culture to the native “African American” community. Broyard was born in New Orleans to a Creole family falsely labeled as “Negro” by the racist government of Louisiana, which was determined to subject its mixed-race Creole population to a documentary genocide of forced assimilation into the “black” Anglo population/caste.

“Documentary genocide” is a pseudo-intellectual way of saying mulattoes were metaphorically “killed” because they were not documented according to AD Powell’s contemporary standards. We also know this to be partially untrue of Louisiana, often known for the odd and sometimes contradictory laws and social practices when it comes to race- especially those who were racially ambiguous. AD wants

Obama left Hawaii with the intention, according to his autobiography, of finding a “racial community” of people who looked like himself. Broyard, whose family moved to New York City when he was a small child, refused to self-police himself and accept a “Negro” or “colored” classification. In the free environment of New York, he chose to be identified as white. Indeed, his parents had themselves moved back and forth across the color line because they also had European phenotypes. Obama married a woman “blacker” than himself and produced two children who look “black” to most Americans. Broyard married a woman “whiter” than himself (Norwegian-American) and produced two children who look totally white to most Americans. Why is Obama praised for moving toward “blackness” while Broyard is demonized by the black and white liberal intellectual elites for moving toward “whiteness”? How about some equal rights here? I would be far more impressed by an open defense of Broyard’s whiteness than I am by Obama’s election. White racism has always rested on the assumption of white racial purity. Obama claims that he is “black” because he “looks black.” Why wasn’t Broyard “white” because he “looked white”?

The fact that Broyard and Obama’s circumstances are interpreted as similar should tell you that AD is not working with a full set of marbles. Although I hate to engage in presentism when analysing the life of Anatole, for the sake of AD’s argument I will mention some glaring facts that AD conveniently overlooked. First, Obama has never denied/degraded/lied about the existence of his White/non Black family. It is common knowledge that his mother his White and his siblings are partially Asian. Anatole cut ties with his first wife and child, his mother and his sister (who ALL lived in the city where he worked). He hid is Black ancestry from his own children until his deathbed. His deathbed. His blackness was such a shameful DISEASE to him, that he could only force himself to speak of it to his own children as he was dying. Anatole was notably MUTE during the civil rights movement, not a word (orally or literary) on the subject matter, despite having a Black child. Even if he felt no connection to Blackness himself, SURELY any sane human would be concerned about achieving a good future for their child. Broyard was more concerned about preserving whiteness for his White wife’s children in Connecticut. He was also known to be much harsher on aspiring Black authors (you know house niggas don’t like competition). Is it safe to submit the possibility that Anatole was not a hero, but a coward? He was not a revolutionary. He was not a positive White mulatto prototype. Not that Obama is perfect, but he certainly wasn’t that either.

Finally, much of the response to Obama’s black identity has been negative, and the responses to those responses have been positive or ambivilent. How AD’s jumbled brain interprets this as praise is beyond me. She continues:

Liberal columnists like Huffman should be defending the Broyards of this country and other victims of “ethnic rape” from a powerful “black elite” who want to force others into their “race” and blame whites for it.

Remember when I said mulattoes have a hard time opposing Whites (and this makes sense because you cannot oppose Whiteness if you want a part of it)? Here we go again. Even when the White author of the op-ed used his own intellectual faculties to come to a conclusion about race in America, the tragedy that is AD Powell found a way to blame the “black elite”-going so far as to call it rape. RAPE. And rather than wondering why in “free New York” Anatole couldn’t just be a White man with obvious Black ancestry and still be White to WHITE New Yorkers, Powell must blame Blacks for the way Anatole is remembered. SMH.

I hope AD finds peace. Or at least, a more lenient Klan chapter.