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Vol. 10, No. 3, 2011
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Robert J. Lewis
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why i don't want



For more of Jujube, visit her BLOG.

Whenever people protest that a child is ‘biracial,’ not black, not only are they denying the impact that being classified as ‘non-white’ has on the life of a child, but they are also teaching that child to embrace ‘whiteness’ as an ideal.

As a woman who is classified as ‘white’ I have been told time and time again that it is "not my place" to define the racial identity of a non-white person. So, I am going to be stepping on a few toes with this article, but I am not going to apologize. I am simply going to state my case as to why I believe that the ‘biracial’ or ‘mixed’ label is detrimental.

A while back, I was made aware of a video entitled Biracial, not Black, Damn It. I could not even bring myself to watch the documentary, because I assumed it was a blatant rejection of the black collective, and was, in fact, a tool of white supremacy. The more white supremacists can convince non-white people to remain divided the stronger the racists become.

The one-drop rule was used as a method to keep people who had black heritage down. Once an individual was identified as having black heritage, it was easy for white people to dismiss and subjugate them. But, today, in many cases, the one-drop rule is used instead to convince black people who have a white parent that they, in fact, are closer to ‘whiteness’ and should therefore reject the notion of struggling to dismantle white supremacy.

This is a dangerous situation. While some people claim that the term biracial allows them to embrace the fullness of their heritage, I think, unfortunately, that white people often use it to keep black people, who could otherwise be working to end racism, stratified. It creates a sort of ‘buffer’ zone between white and black, which is used to convince people that racism/white supremacy is no longer an issue.

I find it extremely disconcerting when I hear white people who have children with a black partner insist that their child is not black, but is, in fact biracial. Their insistence upon the use of the term biracial indicates to me that they are not at all allied with blacks in the struggle to replace white supremacy with justice for all. The offhanded dismissal of the blackness of their child leads their child to subconsciously identify more strongly with whiteness, which, in a racist environment, predicts an easier existence.

The more white people can convince so called biracial people that they have a vested interest in being part white the more they can convince them to reject the cause of racial justice. It teaches so called biracial children that it is in their interest to elevate and embrace whiteness.
By doing so, it manufactures an existential crisis in that child that prevents him/her from taking up the cause of justice. White people do this in order to convince individuals who classify themselves as biracial or mixed to reject the notion that whiteness is a condition that must be annihilated in order for there to be a more just world.

If the white supremacists can convince a person that he is biracial then it is only a short journey to the defense of whiteness. After all, if you are half white, then you should be invested in preserving the white race, right?

I cringe whenever I hear people protest that a child is biracial, not black. Not only are they denying the impact that being classified as nonwhite has on the life of a child, but they are also teaching that child to embrace whiteness as an ideal. That is not what I want for my children.

When I have children, it is extremely likely that they will be black. And yes, I said black, not biracial. Biracial is just an artificial category devised by white supremacists to boost the number of people who are white identified.

When I hear "embracing both sides of your heritage" pushed as the ultimate goal of using the biracial label, I immediately recognize it for what it is -- an attempt to negate the evils perpetrated by the white race over so many centuries.

I have seen many individuals who have a white parent fight for the cause of justice and for the elevation of the black collective. But I have never once heard any of them refer to themselves as biracial. That term seems to be reserved for the confused, for those longing to be white.

Related articles:
Against Interracial Marriage

Misconceptions of Black Masculinity
Self-Hatred and Visible Minorities

Gypsy Cool
Is Hip-Hop Sexist?


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I disagree entirely with the premise of this article, which seems to push for the outdated notion that 'if you're not white, you're black.' If a child has one Greek parent and one Irish, nobody is going to say, you're Greek or you're Irish. So why should it be so easy to categorize somebody with one white parent and one black?
When I refer to myself, or others refer to me as mixed race, I'm not offend and I certainly don't think that means that I'm aiming for 'whiteness,'-- just that the fact is, I'm not black. It's not an issue, I'm not trying to be white, just like I'm not trying to be black. And I think that one day, if you do have black, biracial (or any other term you wish to apply) children, you may realise that it's not so clear cut. Forcing someone into a category he/she doesn't belong in only leads to an identity crisis.
It is, of course, 'not' white supremacy for a white person to tell non-white people how to define themselves. No, not in the least.
As a biracial person, who proudly claims that label, I will say (1) I don't long to be white (2) I do embrace all sides of my heritage (3) I work at a historically black institution and I spend my time emphasising non-white and non-western history as the sources of identity. I'd say the author was full of it.
To conclude that you know the content of a documentary and the message without seeing it is a form of ignorance. Just like thinking that you have the right to tell anyone else how to identify. As a biracial woman I think that we are real clear that we are people of color and yes, the only thing you got right is we are proud of both of our parents.
As someone who is biracial and someone who is studying race, I can respect the sentiment the author has, but cannot agree.

It is entirely harmful to any individual to deny any race or ethnicity they have, including being white. In the struggle for real equality, white has no less meaning than black. I think it's only fair to teach your child that they are of both backgrounds - and what it means, not only to them, but to other people within those groups, for good and bad. THAT is the most important conversation that can be had, in my opinion.

Honestly you're going to teach that child to hate their whiteness. This just adds to the internal conflict that they'll feel. And mind you this is -their- existence you're talking about, not your own. By teaching them to reject their white identity you're not giving them a full life, pure and simple. I implore you to reconsider.




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