Is it yours?

I did have this experience once:

One assumption that always gets me, and I am sure makes most of my African American male friends perhaps slightly uncomfortable when we are in public together, is when someone says to one of them, “Oh, your daughter is beautiful” ― except as Jerry Springer would announce, “He is NOT the baby daddy!”

Just because a white woman is with a man of color and the child is brown does NOT make that man the father. A nervous laugh always ensues when that question is uttered by yet another stranger. Immediately, the look on the face of my friend says, What do I say?

About nineteen years ago, this woman I had met online was taking her about 9 month old son to visit her parents. She planned to stop where I lived, so we hung out for a bit. The place she wanted to eat was a buffet, so she left him with me to fix their plates. That’s what my mother did with my little brother at the same age, so I knew this drill.

A guy at another table leaned over to say my son was well behaved and handsome. I was dumbfounded. But, but, but.

Then I realized that brown guy + brown boy => father-son. It was such an obvious conclusion I had no idea how to refute it. I did tell the mom about the guy’s compliment on her son.

Some friends have very, very blond daughters. At brunch I would occasionally carry them around and talk about things. The looks were priceless. Some found it amusing. Others had confused expressions. I know they wanted to ask whether or not this was my kid. A small part was about making people react just to see what it would be. It was a big, red, shiny button begging to be pushed.

Race Is Immutable?

In the eyes of the law, your race is considered immutable because it cannot be changed from its natural state.

This made me laugh. Being mixed the perception of my race is very mutable. People often have no idea what to make of my skin color, hair, or facial features.The day-to-day decisions I make influence that perception. The day-to-day decisions I make influence what I consider myself.

Some days I consider myself more black than white. Some days I consider myself more white than black. Some days I consider myself more mixed than either. Some days I consider myself neither black nor white.

The article does address this:

Race is an elusive, fluid concept, and the courts have been manifestly reluctant to define it. What, in the end, makes a person black? The 11th Circuit wrestled with the idea in its ruling, dredging up old definitions and emerging with nothing more definitive than that “race” is nature, not nurture.

 

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.

Evoking the Mulatto

Ran across this video series on “Exploring black mixed identity in the 21st Century.” More than just discussing the offensiveness of mulatto, they discuss the doting on whiteness, family, and symbology.

One part I keep coming back to ties to where I’ve seen some stuff online on people who rail against calling yourself mixed. In their minds, if you have any black, then you are black period. In most of those comments, there is no explanation of how that person is coming into the conversation. She says:

I’m not pushing forward: I’m mixed. I’m mixed. I’m mixed.

I’m black.

I find myself tempted at times to rail back against it. I’m mixed. They are black. And that’s OK.

We all have a variety stories that shaped who we are and how we perceive ourselves and the world. Mine are not theirs. Theirs are not mine.

From my own personal experience I cannot really say I am either white or black. Mixed feels more appropriate. So, I guess I will continue to push forward: I’m mixed.

Review: The Red Record Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States

The Red Record Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States
The Red Record Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States by Ida B. Wells-Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The shooter in the recent Charleston massacre reportedly said:

“You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country.”

In the aftermath, the mayor claimed to not know much about the treatment of blacks in South Carolina because it was not taught in schools. That prompted people to create a reading list. This was one of the books I noticed from the list.

It documents lynchings in the early 1890s. Further, it describes in detail the newspaper reporting about some of the events such as the original accusation, actions taken prior to, the killing, and actions taken afterwards. (There were too many to document them all.) The simple plea here is for justice. Not retribution or actions taken against those who unjustifiably lynched. But for this country to stop allowing the murder of people either before they are tried or after a court found them innocent. One of the most powerful was a gentleman who was about to be lynched when a foreman told the mob that the person they were about to hang could not have done it because he was with the foreman, they let him go. The flimsiest of evidence would have seen him hung, but an eyewitness of the right skin color was enough to prove guilt or innocence.

In some respects I could see Ida B. Wells-Barnett might find the current legal climate where our people are arrested and found guilty at exorbitant rates over our peers who commit the crimes at the same rates disconcerting. But compared to her own time, we do have it better.

The first section explains that under slavery, killing one resulted in a many hundred dollar loss. So, one would beat a slave enough to break him, but try to avoid killing him. The first motivation for killing blacks was to prevent race riots, and for some reason the victims of these often surprisingly had no weapons with which to defend themselves. The second motivation was to prevent voting and established control over the Southern states. The third motivation was protecting the virtue of white women. THIS. The Charleston shooter killed three men and six women to protect the virtue of white women. In 120 years we have made little progress.

While a teenager I found a death threat letter signed “KKK” saying they would kill my father for dating mother from about 40 years ago. People stare at me when out in public with a pretty fair skinned girl, especially when she hugs or kisses me. But a hundred years ago, my father or myself would have been hung from a tree, shot, and burned for anything like this. A project noted below has a listing for the reason for lynching as “Writing Letters to White Girl.”

The burning thing was curious to me. So I looked up attitudes on cremation in Christianity. The dot I needed connecting was that when Christ returns, the dead would be re-animated and join him. Burning these people was a deliberate attempt to prevent any possibility of these people joining Christ. So, not only were they killed but they were prevented salvation? So very low.

Was it depressing to read this? Yes.

Was it worth reading? Yes. The Mary Turner Project has a description of a lynching 20 years after the Red Record. Plus it looks like they are building upon the work of Ida and others.

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Review: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself by Harriet Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book accounts for Harriet Jacobs’ life as a slave, hiding for several years in the South, escaping to the North, and finally obtaining her freedom. She presents some letters documenting the tale. Given the current events of recent weeks where a self-taught white supremacist in his manifesto setup before committing terrorism to start a race war that according to the slave narratives he had read people like me were happy under slavery and there was no need to free my ancestors. Other books I have read like Twelve Years A Slave and Up From Slavery seemed not to portray this, but I did read them a while ago.

Harriet really disliked her time as a slave. Her “official” owner was a minor whose father assumed the role. This man who already fathered several children with his slaves seemed to desire the same for this fifteen year old girl. When she had children with another (white) man, he as the owner of them sought to use babies as leverage to compel her to obey his salacious wishes. Oddly enough this guy’s wife forced the sale to distant places the products of her husband’s infidelity. To me, the idea that one’s own children are chattel boggles my mind. But, also Solomon Northrup and Booker T. faced less cruelty under slavery than Harriet as the contempt facing her was that of both an African and a woman. Her master underestimated her intelligence which allowed her to escape.

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Half-Blood

As I have previously written here, I am biracial. One parent is European descent while the other is of African descent. When I was born, I was the first biracial child many had ever seen. Thankfully, it was just the start of a trend, so these days plenty are around for people to notice us.

This morning, I noticed several different book series all with protagonists who are of mixed blood. One even has a character who is half human and half dragon, which ought to be interesting for the parents to explain conception. (For the D&D nerds out there, in AD&D 2nd Edition some dragons could transform into human shape, which is how half-dragons became a thing. I had a few NPCs as a DM who were half-dragons.)

Pretty consistently these half-blood characters found rejection in larger society in not fitting one race or the other. Society wants them to choose. Really, it is a false choice as the characters, like I did, find honoring both is the only real viable path. Rejection of one or the other just leads to painful experiences. The reality is I am neither white nor black and can never be either. So I will always be something in-between. That’s OK.

Well, that’s what I have to explain to some people.

Anyway, fantasy and science fiction novels were a great source of reading about half-anything. Some of my favorites:

  • Spock from Star Trek who was half-human and half-vulcan.
  • Tanis from Dragonlance who was half-human and half-elf.
  • Smash from Xanth who was half-human and half-ogre.

Maybe with these new books I can find a few new favorites.

 

50 Experiences of Racially Mixed people

I found 50 Experiences of Racially Mixed people (PDF) interesting. That Americans consider race to be a singular identity makes sense. Claiming to be biracial or multiracial makes no sense in that paradigm.

The experiences listed were very familiar.

Number 28, “You have been mistaken for another person of mixed heritage who does not resemble you,” brought to mind a road trip to Arkansas. We had stopped in Mississippi at a Wendy’s for lunch. This guy stared at me for a quarter of an hour. Eventually he approached our table and stopped short with a look of shock. He told me, “Sorry. You looked like my friend from New York. I was going to ask why you were here.”

Then there was the coworker who decided I have a baby mama in the nearby large city since she saw someone who looked like me in a car I do not have on a road I had to Google to figure out where it was.

I stopped eating at Blimpie because an employee insisted I was a guy who worked for Saft, a company who manufactures batteries. She disbelieved I was not him.

Then there was a kid a grade ahead of me in elementary school. Teachers who had him would get upset when I did not respond to his name.

Don’t think I can blog about number 42, but holy ****, yes!

Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage

This rings very true.

by Maria P. P. Root, PhD

I HAVE THE RIGHT…

Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the races separate within me.
Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.
Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with my physical or ethnic ambiguity.

I HAVE THE RIGHT…

To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify.
To identify myself differently than how my parents identify me.
To identify myself differently than my brothers and sisters.
To identify myself differently in different situations.

I HAVE THE RIGHT…

To create a vocabulary to communicate about being multiracial or multiethnic.
To change my identity over my lifetime—and more than once.
To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people.
To freely choose whom I befriend and love.