Years ago, I wrote about half-blood characters being role models. I missed one. B-Elanna Torres was half Klingon and half human. I was reminded about the omission by watching Voyager again. In the episode, an alien divided her into two individuals. As stereotypes of her races, she epitomized the war I sometimes feel about myself being pulled in different directions.

I used to think it was from being biracial. I now think everyone has this war.

Mixed Antigens

Reading The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, it made me happier that I am probably more disease resistant than my peers due to having very different antigens due to my mixed heritage. One of my hopes was that more mixed kids would be born making society healthier.

This helped me realize though that benefit comes with a dark side. Very different antigen combinations make it more difficult to match bone marrow. From the Mixed Marrow mission,

Race holds a critical role in finding a marrow match. Genetic makeup must be similar between the donor and the recipient in order for a match to occur. For mixed patients, their monoracial parents and relatives will not likely match them and siblings only hold about a 1 in 4 chance. Not only is ethnicity a factor, but the probability of which antigens are passed down from each parent makes finding a match that much harder. Finding a marrow match has been compared at times as having the odds of “finding a needle in a haystack” or “winning the lottery.”

Guess I was lucky never to need a transplant.

Reverse Passing

Passing is a term for a person with both black and white ancestors who encourages others to think he or she is white. I recall a blonde woman talking about her father having told people he was Greek in order to pass.

Has anyone really seen members of the black community excluding people who admit a white parent or call themselves biracial?
Reverse Passing? Kidding… Right?

Reverse passing is a term for a person with both black and white ancestors who encourages others to think he or she is black. The assumption people make is the “one drop rule” means a biracial persons’ people are blacks. Therefore the person is automatically accepted as a member of the community. Not so. Having a white parent is a major strike against someone. So much so to be considered black by those who are, one has to work hard to earn being called black.

I learned this lesson from my peers when I started middle school. I was not white enough to be friends with most of the white kids. I was not black enough to be friends with most of the black kids. Prior to attending this school, the other kids might see my parents waiting in the car or at open house. They saw an adult. At this school, my mother, a very pale skinned blonde teacher, was very well known as a harsh disciplinarian. They knew her and were greatly upset by me somehow disturbing the universe’s rules. My first week I was confronted by a group of black boys who wanted to know if I was adopted. “No,” was apparently the wrong answer. I got into a lot of fights over having a white mother. I became really good at volleyball and dodgeball because the game was almost every black kid desired to hit me in the face with the ball. The next year I gave up trying to be either. It just was not worth the effort.

Had my father been the teacher, I suspect no one would have cared. Growing up, no one stared at me with Dad. People never questioned him whether we could possibly be related. The differences between my skin color and his, I think, is greater than that with my mother’s. Yet our relatedness goes unquestioned.

Yeah, I need to carry a picture of Dad and I together around in my wallet. I thought the middle school kids were confused by Mom. Airport security overseas gets way more confused with the consequences of me (not her) getting pat downs and detained. Maybe I can use my picture with dad as my second identification card so I can reverse pass?

How Do I Get to Be Black Like Obama?

Barack Obama is called a lot of things. Being a candidate for President of the United States means a lot of people apply a lot of different labels, good or bad or indifferent, to categorize you and anticipate your every move.

I find it interesting people use the labels “African American” or “Black” to describe him instead of “Biracial”, “Multiracial”, or “Interracial”. The frustration I dealt with for most of my life was neither being Black or White enough to be accepted as belonging. Is it a case of, “If you have even a drop of a Black blood-line, then you are Black not White?” These musing about Obama did start after a Black homeless guy downtown looked at me and stated that I didn’t understand his point because I am not Black. See, I wasn’t kidding in that not Black enough post. By the two generation ratio of blood-lines, I am just as Black as Obama.

What makes Barack African American and me not African American?

  1. We both have fathers of African descent.
  2. We both have mothers of European descent.
  3. I at least had the influence of my father and his aunts and his cousins and my cousins to show me African culture. Barack had two White grandparents.
  4. Barack’s close friends in high school and college were of African descent. My close friends during those periods were all of European descent.
  5. Barack worked with and for people of African descent at the community level. I’m ecstatic just to have > 10% people of African descent in the cube area. It is new for me. I like it.

This is more important to me than the politics.