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.

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.

Melungeon

Mom dropped me a note last night. She ran across the word melungeon while doing some genealogy research. It describes someone who is of European, African, and Native American descent. It was popular in the Appalachian Mountains and similar in use to Mulatto in being a negative term.

I haven’t talked about this much on this blog, apparently. Just the one post mentioning I am a product of miscegenation. I was searching for other posts and ran across this draft from 2005 which I did not publish here:

Apparently I make people think of miscegenation. In a way that describes my social status: Other. See, my father is among the darkest African Americans one will see. He works in construction so he has tanned quite a bit. My mother is among the lightest European Americans one will see (former platinum blonde; it changed to brown when my brother was born).I represent what many purists among either White or Black cultures fear the most…. a dilution of the purity of the race. Over the years I have come to realize that as such a tiny (but growing group), mixed race children represent something new and thus are in the spotlight.

I am not a golf fan, but I like that Tiger Woods has excellent personality qualities which made him the top prize in Chapelle’s Racial Draft sketch.
🙂

My looks are different enough people do ask. Usually, its a contrived transition, but I am not offended. My favorite conversation went like this:

Laurie: Ezra, where are you from?
Ezra: Right here, born and raised.
Laurie: Oh… Where are your parents from?
Ezra: Dad is from here. Mom was a military brat, so she’s not really from anywhere.
Laurie (Getting visibly confused… Long pause.): Okay, I’ll just say it. Why do you look like that?
Ezra: Oh, okay! I understand now. My father is black. My mother is white.

Truth is there is also some Native American genetics working in my father’s genes. The story is one of my great-great-grandmothers was full Creek. Its so far back that I have my doubts about its influence.

However, apparently, if the features to identify are known, then it can be seen? For instance, back at Valdosta State, I went over to an office to convince a guy to let my office put together their web site. I had not had any luck over email or phone, so I was going to use the face-to-face time to make it happen. Just as I was about to leave, he asked, “What tribe?” That threw me. He explained he saw the influence of Native Americans in my features and was curious which tribe was involved.

Then there is the Nike Air Native N7. It sounds like the perfect shoe for me.

Years ago, when I was young, my aunt was trying to get me interested African American culture. Years later we finally agreed that I am indeed Multiracial which isn’t necessarily the same as just African American. Instead, its my responsibility to pick and choose what works for me.