Black Vs. Biracial

I must admit, when I was younger, I had a problem when biracial people called themselves “biracial,” because it said to me, why claim a race that isn’t fully accepting of you (white), and in the South, not many whites are accepting of biracial children. It made me feel as though people who called themselves biracial were ashamed to be black. As I got older (and more mature), that way of thinking has ceased. I have no problem with biracial people embracing their heritage; I do have a problem when people get so agitated with blacks (or biracial) who view biracial people as black.

I’m talking about this because so many people have different viewpoints about this issue, and these viewpoint can elicit strong emotions. I have many friends that are biracial, but they call themselves black; even if they are brought up in a two parent home, they still identify as being black. They realize, technically they are biracial, but they identify as being black since that is how society views and treats them. Another friend of mine who was raised by her white mother solely, views herself as biracial around her mother to please her mom, but out in society, she views herself as black because “that’s what is accepting.”

Historically in America (and every other country where people of color were placed in the institution of slavery), biracial children have always been accepted in the black community, for we had no choice. Black women who were the sexual subjects of their slave masters had to cope with the fact that their baby was part white, yet due to the conditions of society in those times (and even now), the whites weren’t accepting of that baby…it was still black. That baby may have received better things than the other “full-blooded” black children, such as being a special playmate for Master’s white children, allowed in the house, some food that wasn’t the scraps, maybe a toy or two from Master, but in the end, that child knew its place as a slave because the whites made sure of that. The black woman wasn’t going to abandon her baby, so she handled the situation the best way she could in an environment that was more accepting…around the other black slaves, for they too probably was going through the same thing as this mother and/or knew another woman who did. Due to this embedded cycle, biracial children were seen as black, and the black community has always been there to accept them.

I have an older cousin who was adopted by my aunt. Her mother was a white woman who got pregnant by a black man. To not be seen as an embarrassment to her family and her social circle, she gave the baby (my cousin) up for adoption, hence my aunt adopting her. It’s very obvious my cousin is biracial…she looks like a much lighter version (much, much lighter) of Vanessa Williams with curly black hair. When her hair is straight, she can easily pass for white. My family and I never let that be an issue, and she has embraced her black half as a whole. When I see her, I see her as a black woman, and if someone was to ask me if she is black or white, I would say black, even though technically she is biracial. She hasn’t tried to contact her birth mother, nor does she have a desire because she feels as though she wasn’t accepted then, so she won’t be accepted now. She also says she doesn’t know any other race but black because that was the only race that embraced her.

Now more than ever, America is seeing an increase in biracial children and the identities for these children are no longer seen as simply “black,” for people are embracing their other sides and cultures. I for one think this is a wonderful and beautiful thing, for we should all embrace our heritage no matter how complex it may seem to society. However, I don’t think it’s fair for people to become angry and filled with much opposition when others refer to biracial children as black…so what?! Yes, it is 2011, and we have come a long way with society, but we haven’t traveled far enough. Society, especially white society, still views biracial children as black. Case in point, Barack Obama (yea, I had to bring it up). He is biracial; we know more about his white mother, grandmother, and grandfather than we know about his Kenyan father…yet, he is still seen as black. The black community, once again, has embraced this man as their own, even though he is biracial. On the other hand, the white community views this man as black. All over various media sources (television, print), the headlines read “First Black President,” not “First Biracial President.” This man has the highest position in America, and is seen as a major, pivotal image in America, yet whites as a whole still aren’t claiming his other side…his white side.

…this is much more than just blood mixing…it’s about a mental perception that will never cease.

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3 thoughts on “Black Vs. Biracial

  1. My son is multiracial, and I’ve always thought of him as black, white, and Chinese. He’s all of those things, so to call him Black doesn’t suffice. In fact, it shocked me when I heard someone refer to him as a black kid. My son is clearly multiracial – darker skin, loose curly “white” hair, Asian eyes. I expect people to see him as a black man when he gets older, but I couldn’t believe someone saw him as just black at the tender age of 5 years old!

    On the other hand, I do see the dilemma. People come in all different colors, whether they are multiracial or not. It’s hard to classify people, so they make their best guess based on the person’s most prominent features. I also think people identify others as one race because it would also be embarrassing and maybe even offensive to call someone multiracial when they are not. The only way to play is safe is to describe people using attributes other than race.

    In my opinion, it’s best for all people to let others know how they want to be identified, whether it’s the different between “biracial” and “black,” “black” and “African American,” “Native American,” or “Crow” (or other specific tribe name, etc. By letting people know how you want to be identified, maybe it will make them think about it for a minute before they guess at another person’s race.

  2. I’m a multiracial (black/white/asian) Hispanic who identifies myself that way and I don’t feel comfortable with the ‘white’ or ‘black’ label because I appear ambiguous and most people guess Hispanic or Filipino and occasionally Mixed….There are rare times when I meet an African American who will sense African ancestry in me and some of them are even so bold as to walk up to my face and ask “What are you? You black? You look black!” …That takes me aback because who does that really?? It’s more offensive when people step to you with such questions like that….That is a matter of rudeness or lacking of manners in my opinion–I mean, even if I knew that someone was mixed, I certainly wouldn’t invade their personal space and be so intrusive!

    …But anyway Thank God that the ideas and views of people, particularly whites especially, are changing. There are more whites who accept mixed race people as being just that and not viewing them as ‘just black,’ despite how many black people say so–as if they know what is in the mind of your average white person! lol :)

    I believe that when I hear such rhetoric, it’s their way of trying to sway your view of whites so that you will side with them in their contempt because they know that you may have loyalty issues being that you are one half of the white race they claim does not accept you, Regardless of whether they actually do or not—it’s not like they know your family, right? It’s all a ploy to brainwash you into thinking a certain way—just as they themselves were brainwashed in their own families/communities…it’s how they pass on the warped mentality in order to keep the racial separations alive and well….I’m sure it’s a tactic that racist whites adhere to as well…blacks are merely doing what was taught to them by racist whites and yet they don’t even realize that they are doing it.

    • I believe that when I hear such rhetoric, it’s their way of trying to sway your view of whites so that you will side with them in their contempt because they know that you may have loyalty issues being that you are one half of the white race they claim does not accept you. <—Hmmm, I never thought about it like that, but I think you're right.

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