the BLOG of stuart mcdonald


Are Biracial People Black? My Thought on Paula Patton’s Comment
March 5, 2010, 10:14 am
Filed under: race

Paula Patton, during an interview in the March issue of Women’s Health Magazine, said the following

“I find [the term biracial] offensive. It’s a way for people to separate themselves from African Americans… a way of saying ‘I’m better than that.’ I’m black because that’s the way the world sees me. People aren’t calling Barack Obama biracial. Most people think there’s a black president.”

Which terms Patton is offended by and approves of isn’t really important (I’d be more offended by words like mongrel, mutt, or half-breed instead of biracial, but that’s a personal preference). Instead, what is important ins that she points out that the term biracial is a way for people to separate themselves from African Americans. This is true. But people who are biracial are not African American. Nor are they White. Or Asian. Or Latino. Or whatever other race they’re mixed with. They are biracial. Biracial is an identity all it’s own.

Yet it seems that Patton doesn’t want to accept her biracial identity at all. She wants to identify herself solely as Black, and not consider the White side of her family. While biracial children in America often do generally associate with their Black culture and heritage more quickly than they do the White (I mention white because Patton is mixed with Black and White, but there could be any number of other races an individual could be mixed with), it’s important to understand that there is a duality to their culture. They, in part, must identify with both races.

When Patton say that she identifies herself as Black “because that’s the way the world sees me,” we see the idea that race is nothing more than a social construction very clearly. It shows us how we quickly separate and classify people into groups and categories. When we classify and categorize, the job of separating and then reducing or elevating particular groups within a society is made easier, the dominant group can move the pieces around the board, do what they like, and remain in charge.

The problem is this — there’s no definitive way to categorize a white American experience or a black American experience. We can’t say, “You’re black because you do _______.” Nor can we say, “You must be white because you grew up _______.” Whenever we might try to, there will always be an exception — either a person of that race who hasn’t had that experience, or a person of another race who has had that experience — thus nullifying the idea altogether. We can’t define Black as the ghetto and White as the suburbs, as some traditionally would; there are Black people in the suburbs and White people in the ghettos.

We have a skewed way of socially defining “White” and “Black” behaviors that are based off nothing more than outdated, inaccurate stereotypes — many of which are based in the concept of White Supremacy. For example, when we use phrases like, “He or she sounds White (or Black),” what are we really saying? Obviously we’re referring to their dialect, word choice, and sentence structure. But if we say that someone “sounds White” what we mean to say is that they sound articulate and well spoken. We have also unintentionally implied that Black people must never be well spoken and articulate (which obviously is not the case). Again, when we say that someone “sounds Black” we’re referencing that they may be using slang terminology and often times shortened and choppy sentence structure, indicating the idea that Blacks are not well spoken, whereas Whites are.

And all this means what? It means that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot categorize or classify, with an degree of effectiveness, the varying races and cultures in America. And as more and more biracial children are both, and more and more adults have interracial marriages, the lines between Black and White in America gradually become a little less clear. And for the better. We are too different, too diverse, too good, to be relegated into only one category. We must throw away our classification boxes and enjoy life together, as member of the one true race — human beings.

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This video clip also gives some insight into the minds of biracial people and some of the things they deal with. I spent all yesterday processing this and it played a large role in deciding to write this article.

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Have you read Bliss Broyard’s book “One Drop?” It’s the story of her father Anatole Broyard’s “passing” while being a noted New York Times book critic. it deals with these ideas of identity on a number of levels.

http://bit.ly/1o0qZf

Comment by Donovan

I tend to disagree with your statement, “The problem is this — there’s no definitive way to categorize a white American experience or a black American experience.” There are, indeed, some experiences that will be case specific to black Americans, and not white Americans, and I can assume the same could be said about the reverse. The difference, I believe is that, we, as black Americans have been conditioned to experience some of these instances based on history.

It is well known history about the “one drop” rule amongst black Americans. The repeal of this law is somewhat recent (the ’60’s). While unconstitutional, this has been a struggle within the black community, as there are people in my own family who could “pass”, and “passing” has been used in order to advance in life. While I cannot say that I know her meaning of her words, I do feel that her self-identification is based on how society has historically categorized black Americans. It’s a definite reality that she’s identified as Robin Thicke’s black wife, and not Robin Thicke’s biracial wife. I take the second part of her statement to refer to those who choose to “pass” rather then properly identify themselves as black Americans, not ALL biracial people. I don’t see her statement as a denial of her biracial heritage, but more of a statement that she identifies with her black side more, because she looks like a black woman, and has potentially been treated as such.

Last I saw, applications don’t have a biracial box to check, which makes it necessary to pick a side with which a person identifies with more. My cousin/godson is biracial, and while many of his friends are filipino like his mother, he knows the importance of knowing his black side as well. In all, I don’t have a problem with how anyone self-identifies, but I think it naive to not remember that society has and will continue to play a role in this based on what one looks like.

Comment by Shauki

I’m always struck by those two thoughts expressed by black or biracial people when defending why they’re black: “It’s a way for people to separate themselves from African Americans… a way of saying ‘I’m better than that.’ and this: “I’m black because that’s the way the world sees me”.
These comments reek of insecurity and assumption. It would be interesting though to hear the white dad/mom’s thoughts on his/her child/ren identifying with one sole race.

Comment by cccH

More than anything, Paula P’s comment you quoted reeks of being a VICTIM of the circumstances she has exerperienced and/or witnesses. That is another issue and one not to be ignored. At some point, people must outgrow the victim mentality that keeps us in bondage to ideas we’ve bought into. That said, the fact remains, people have bought and are reselling/marketing these ethnic dysfunctions thus they are a huge ugly reality that real life people are being emotionally, psycologically, and sometimes physically hurt by. How dare any self-important person, who knows not “the black experience” which some of us face, make light of what she (we) as women of color go through. Her “insecurity”, if present, is likely based on personal experiences that influenced such a response in her and is by no means insignificant. Her “assumption”, which is an accurate one admitted by many who are “bi-racial,” speaks to a large spectrum of healing and growth that needs to take place WITHIN the Black Community, and also by no means is insignificant. Why? Word on the street: black is whack and everything else negative; especially those black women. Paula being black, and identifying herself as Black aids in proving that word on the street can’t possibly be true.

My “white” husband says he could care less if our children identify themselves as being black….from a “white Dad’s” perspective. I, on the other hand, would feel a little disturbed if they identified as “white” soley.

Comment by neka

I love this Stu! I have been bothered by this my whole life!! I’m not bi-racial although a lot of people think I am. I’m lighter, have lighter eyes, and tend to speak properly so people ASSUME that I’m partially white! But that’s not what I wanted to comment on. I have always wondered why–just as you do–biracial people who are half Black are automatically Black? Someone on Facebook has a young child who’s teacher said, “We have our first brown president,” when Obama was elected. I thought that statement was perfectly fine, but of course everyone was upset and thought the teacher was a racist. Just because someone has color doesn’t mean they’re Black! I have a friend who can’t get over certain Indian people who very dark skinned. She says, “They’re not Black!?” I’m like…uhhh….no! I love to see people who are Korean and Black. I was gonna say Asian, but quite frankly all the people I know how are Asian and Black are Korean and Black. Anyway, I love how the Korean parent teaches them about their culture–at least with the ones I know. True, in everyday life they identify more with the Black side, but still are knowledgeable of the Korean side. That’s what should make being biracial cool! You a different, unique experience that should make you different. I like how you said that biracial is it’s own identity–and it should be! But, here in America it seems like your either Black or white, rich or poor, smart or dumb, cool or lame! Why are we always forced to pick sides of things? I am probably one of the most “non-Black” Black people you’d ever meet, and it has nothing to do with the way I talk! However, why must I choose to be something just so I can fit in a box?? I am Uniquely Awesome dang it!! LOL, I am not made for boxes. Great post again, Stuart!

Comment by uniquelyawesome

love love LOVE this… i am offended when people tell me- ‘you look mixed’ [which i am not. i am 100% ethiopian, born there and all] so i think thats where paula comes from when she says that she is black – like- black is beautiful!!

Comment by elbie

I am curious about this comment because Ethiopia, as with many nations in East Africa, is a country born of different races (arab, nubian, etc.) and religions. While I understand your point, you are not of recent biracial (one parent of one race, like “white” and one parent of another, like “black”) but perhaps your blood line does include a confluence of a racial mix.

Not trying to offend, just curious…

Comment by Laura

I totally get this, Elbie and Paula’s standpoint. At the same time I’m puzzled at Lauren’s comment which illuminates the case of missing the obvious (which is) Most if not ALL so called Blacks/African Americans (there are exceptions) are in fact of mixed heritage descended of people who mix just like Paula and Robin or me and my husband.

In Louisiana its referred to as “Creole”. I am not 100% of African descent; I am mixed of various European blood and NativeA too. Don’t know what part of Africa (could be several places…Arabs ask if I’m Egyptian), but I am strictly classified as Black or African American. If I mention my mixed heritage ppl act like they don’t believe it. Someone once asked if I was my daughter’s nanny because I’m brown and she is as light as my German/Irish husband. Irronically, I too have Irish blood; ppl asume her “white” features are from him when in fact some of them are actually identical to mine. Both our children are a mesh of mixed heritage taken from both of us but the average person only sees the skin color, which is something the article touches on (outward appearence).

There seems to be a double standard here with this whole thing of classifying ppl. I don’t agree with the article that biracials are a completly seperate race…they are of mixed heritage just like the rest of us, the difference being one parent is not classified by the same race as the other…the ONLY difference. I’ve seen “biracial” ppl and “white” who look stereotypically more black than me. This whole classification thing only causes division and strife amoung people of color and also the human race as a whole. I agree with the article that its a supremacy thing (i.e. foolishness).

Comment by neka

“They, in part, must identify with both races.”

This sentence is indicative of the tone this entire post takes, and it is one that points to your own failure to recognize your white male privilege. To say that biracial people “must” idenitfy with both races, to tell others how the “must” identify themselves, particularly coming from someone who identifies as a part of the dominant culture, is patronizing at best. In doing this, you fit neatly into the white supremacist structure that you took care to denounce in this post. You are not faced with the issue of racial identification that biracial people have, so it is not your place to say how they “must” identify. You have the advantage of viewing race and racial identification through the prism of a white male, which means you don’t have to address the the ideas of blackness and navigate those ideas in a society that seeks to define it for you. You are a part of the dominant culture, the one that writes the definitions and sets the standards by which everyone else is expected to abide. What Paula Patton has done is chosen to identify as she sees fit, and now you are telling her she is wrong. Can you see how that is troubling? Your and other white people’s participation in discussions of race are welcome, but a failure to recognize your privilege hinders progress.

Comment by Mychal

I appreciate the comment. Help me understand something: Do you believe that people of mixed heritage should only identify with whichever race they choose instead of both (or all three or four)? If so, how and why would they choose which one to identify with?

Comment by CreativeStu

Mychal makes very valid points worth examining. I’ve been trying to help Caucasians I know to see the reasonable logic behind admitting they are helping to further the cause of “white privilege” which hurts them as a people just as much as it hurts people of color.

Interestingly, I’ve read snippets from older writers who at the time often referred to anyone that was not “white” European/Anglo/etc. as black even if they were not Nubian. They later started making classifications and trying to define certain features, bone structures, hair textures, etc to one type or another type. It was nearly impossible to do back then and is even more so now.

Why do people in general feel the need to classify and be classified? Why is it so important? What logical purpose does it serve the human race to be divided by color, ethnic make up especially here in America where everyone is so mixed? Who, if anyone stsnds to gain from the division if/when it is created?

Is it a sense of entitlement that causes one group to believe they alone have the right to determine what the populous (especially those they have no empathy for) should think, feel, identify with or as? And for those among us that have fallen into this naive mindset as well, how do we fix it?

Comment by neka

White male privilege hell! A myth.

Comment by Ray

In the end, we all get to decide who we are. It’s just that some folks may not agree. As for me, I hope my daughters embrace everything about them.

Comment by Honeysmoke

I actually found Paula’s comments to be quite progressive and honest. Many biracial people do use the label as a way of distancing themselves from the social implications of being labeled black-many of those implications are detremental (just being honest). Her experience is not indicative of every biracial experience, but it is still one of several biracial experiences. We already know that race is not scientific, so no, she does NOT have to identify with her mother’s race or her father’s race. By saying that she identifies with the race she is treated as (black), she is basically confirming that race is a social reality, not a scientific reality. She is black people when people see her and judge her, they do so through a racialized lens. She does not live her mother’s whiteness. So she is not white. If that is troubling to a white or black person, they should not IR mix. Saying that she is not white is not a denial of mother’s heritage (or at least not the GOOD part of her mother’s family and heritage). It’s a denial of a social system. There is no “White country”. No “White language”. No “White culture”. There is a social reality of Whiteness, and she feels it does not a apply to her. I am willing to bet Jennifer Beils (of the L Word) identifies more as White, even though her father is Black. I don’t blame her.

A lot of White people have joined in the “biracial or black” debate, and it’s intriguing because when their ancestors wanted Black to mean “one drop”, that’s what it was. Now that so many white women have “Black-ish” children, but still want to preserve Whiteness (again-not a language, culture, or country) for their mixed children, they have accepted and demanded racial ambiguity-basically saying “I know my kids won’t be white, but don’t treat them like blacks”. Biracial scholars have discussed this movement-it really started in the 1980’s. Most biracial activist groups were started and speared by White women. That tells you a lot about the motive behind the change in racial identification. It is NOT about accuracy, representation, or family respect. It does not make White people seem more progressive to push for “bi-racialness”. It’s actually a part of the same scientific racial paradigm that justified the One Drop Rule. BOTH suggest that you inherit race, when we all know that you LIVE race and experience racism. Some people of interracial parentage look and are socialized as White. Some people as Black. Some in-between. I think Paula did a brave thing and not clumping herself with the new-wave pressure to be ambiguous, as long as she realizes that her biracial experience is not shared by everyone. And it is everyone’s right to choose as she did. My only wish is that they are consistent with whatever they choose, and don’t attempt to manipulate that choice for perceived benefits-though this is unlikely. I’ve heard plenty say-especially those who are Latino or Black mixed, that they are White EXCEPT when they apply for jobs or college. BTW, Latino is not a race. Some of them are completely European and completely white in their country.

Comment by Gloria

another controversial post…lol

“aint white enuff 4 white or black enuff for black/ overcompensate now you dont really know HOW to act/”

Her (Paula Patton) idea is in line with the idea that Americans are systematically, psychologically, economically and perspectively racist. The existance of white privilege, unfortunately, makes biracial (which USUALLY means black and white…at least in America) people black. It is no secret that the American economy leans in favor of white males, so to not be that is a tough road to trod. We live in a society where definition(or individualism) is based on what youre not, THEN who you are…for example: mixed people, first, ARENT white, THEN, ARE black so they are catergorized as black…why? black people accept them because black people come in a multitude of shades due to GENERATIONS of melanin deterioration from race mixing…again an example: there are fair black people who are products of two “black” parents, yet there are VERY FEW cases of DARK white people born of 2 “white” parents…VERRRRRRRRRRRY few…lol

The plight of a mixed person is tough mainly because of the level of displacement one feels due to the MANY forms of racism that exist in both black and white American values and communities. Light skinned people (women especially) are WHOLLY objectified and exoticized in our culture (American culture) BECAUSE of the displacement. Dating a mixed person is seen as cool because theyre lighter than “niggas” and darker than “crackers” so its considered a lesser evil…lol its like having Marinol…its not quite Marijuana but its not quite perscription drugs either.

Claiming to be black when one is biracial isnt the denial of the white heritage but the acceptance of GLOBAL racism. Its the understanding that society judges whether you like it or not. And the hubris to continue holding that truth knowing that you cannot be defined by it’s standards. Barak Obama…he KNOWS he’s not JUST black, BUT he’s the first Black president and DOESNT deny nor correct it…why??? because he’s black…if Barak Hussein Obama, president of the primarily coccasian USA, was Bernard Henry O’Malley president of the primarily coccasian United Tire Sales and Oil Change he wouldnt be a brown president, he’d be a nigga that knew how to fix cars…lol his privileged position makes people want to disidentify him as black because of the harsh tratment of black people in this country…which is why him being president is SO controversial…

so i say to those who turn away from the foul truth of racism and try to be “other” or “mixed” good luck to ya black ass!!! sincerely.

and to the black people mixed with races other than white…good luck to ya black ass!!! sincerely. cuz itd no secret that most other PURE raced people, meaning WHOLLY one race (asian/mexican/indian etc…) LIVING in America would rather their child date a ANYTHING but a nigga…BANG!!!

Comment by michelangelo

ur a dumb shit mexicans are mixed not a pure racial, most of them are triracial, its just mexicans deny there black side oh yeah and white and black ppl don’t have culture in the US. i don’t see any any white or black kids learning about there euro or african cultures so all this culture shit needs to stop

Comment by lol

“While biracial children in America often do generally associate with their Black culture and heritage more quickly than they do the White…” Do you have a reference for this?

Comment by Sarah

I dont think it’s about any reference. Actually us Black people (and I will not say Afro American because I’m not), have different kind of skin tone, you can be 100% Black but be very light skinned or very dark. When someone is mixed Black and White we think she’s more asociated to her black heritage because of her skin…She looks black! You can tell she have some Afro heritage because of her skin tone, because you can never say she’s white.

Comment by Noemie

But it is a mistake that we all do! Mixed ppl are not Black or White or Asians or anything else….They are Mixed ppl!

Comment by Noemie

I have to agree with the comments from Gloria and Mychal. “Biracial” people have the damn right to identify anyway they choose to. And we need to get over it. Only the “biracial” individual can make that decision, and if they have the sense enough to realize their experience with racism will often be because they are deemed “Black”, then what can you do?

Every time I hear a White lady claim they feel rejected because their half Black child decides to identify as Black, I have to bit my tongue so I won’t tell them to Shut The F*%k UP! When I see Black ladies worried their childs wavy hair will make them target of hate from Blacks(Yes a Black broad actually said this to me!) I give them a look equivalent to Shut The F*%k Up. These women can never experience what their child is going through unless they themselves are half Black/White/Asian whatever. What they should concern themselves with is raising children who are strong, caring, and informed to make positive decisions.

And one more thing please. I highly suspect that the big fuss about Paula is because she is beautiful. Many Whites have a hard time believing a “full Black” could be beautiful. If a less attractive biracial woman such as Tomeka”Tiny” Cottle(google her if you don’t know her) or Kimberly Locke (still looking like she did back in the day) were stating the same thing there would not be such an uproar. Btw I’m from Tennesse and back in the day Kimberly Locke was not cute at all.

Comment by Primavera

Loved your blog, it’s honest. I could rattle alot of feathers with (one of the whys ) some biracials want to identify as black only, why leave the throne…if you are treated like royalty because of your light skin and longer, straighter hair and sometimes lighter eyes, why go into a group where you’re just like everyone else, not quite special…its a disadvantage to blacksto identify as black when you are half white. Why are we the face of black America, the standard of beauty for black America, we have a white parent, that makes every little brown girl think that her beautiful brown skin isnt pretty, that her different texture hair needs to be changed to look like ours, its not right, and there is no logic to it, it is actually very self serving.

The trailer you have is my work, so my POV is obvious.

I am currently trying to change perception in the US, just submitted a show idea to Oprahs OWN network, we are reaching out to anyone that feels the message, we need 500,000 votes in four days. I am a die hard optimist, so I will keep voting and believing..

The name of the show is “Inside the Multicultural Community”

Carolyn Battle Cochrane

http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=video_details&response_id=22615&promo_id=1

Comment by Carolyn

Thanks for your comment Carolyn. I was thinking the same thing. Also, I’ve seen your trailer and it’s really interesting.

My view is that when biracial Black/White people only identify as Black, they’re essentially lightening the perception of Black. And because of that, taking away opportunities away from people who are more predominantly sub-Saharan African in their genetic make-up. And Kidada Jones (another biracial child of Quincy Jones) even said that Black boys treated her better, so she gravitated to dating them. Biracial should not be the more accepted standard of Blackness, when it is not even near being 100% Black in the first place.

I understand Paula’s thinking, but it’s giving into a racist America and beyond. If she is biracial, then be biracial. I call it like I see it.

Like Carolyn commented, there are lots of pretty brown girls who may have more textured hair than some biracials. Still, they should be allowed to be beautiful as well and not fall subject to a biracial standard of beauty.

To me, it is usually quite obvious when people are biracial. Obama does not look Black or White to me; he looks biracial. So it seems that as biracial people become the face of Black people, quadroons like Mariah Carey become the face of biracial.

And to add to the confusion, skin color, hair texture, and facial features do not belong 100% to one group of people. Racial classifications are not perfectly designed.

Comment by Loe

in jamaica our motto on the coat of arms is “OUT OF MANY ONE PEOPLE” and we are all mixed with black white chinese and indian so are jamaicans biracial? or jamaicans? yes there are few pure whites, indians and chinese here! in jamaica if it is evident u have black in u by ur skin colour but ur light skinned we call u black or sometimes browning but… See More they are still considered as black! if u are white but it evident that ur not purely white then wiseh shi mixed but we dont dwell on it and stuff…a lot of ppl in ur video look like the kids that spoke in the latter part. if they look indian we say indian if its obvious that they are mixed with chinese especially buy how their eyes look we say ” hey chiney” or just chinese. i am a perfect example of mixed i have indian, chinese, white and I am black! my skin colour is of dark complexion but my hair is obvously indian like and my eyes of chinese!…. i kno ppl who are ‘strictly black but have chinese eyes because of their grand parents and only their eyes say that they are mixed with chinese….which ever tone is dominant or which ever colour stands out more thats wat u are MOSTLY!!! if those ppl are ashamed of being hat they are mostly thats their dyam business! its called genetics…BLAME THAT!!! they need to take a course in genetics and stop making a scene! Paula is right i dont see u guys say “oh, we have a biracial president!” but a DYAM BLACK ONE!! I rest my case! y dont u just be happy that u can enjoy more that one cultures? oh wait, correction…if i’m mixed with $ different races wat am i called?

Comment by Ganecia

Call yourself whatever you like.

Comment by elle

is having a black mom and a biracial dad makes me biracial

Comment by Danielle

is having a black mom and a biracial dad make me biracial or black tell me i don’t know who i am

Comment by Danielle

You’re 3/4 black. If you were born here in America, you are African-American.

Comment by elle

I don’t think biracial people are black, but I do consider them African-American if they were born in America.

Comment by elle

Great article. Waiting for you to continue the topic.

Kate Benedict
polish escort in warsaw

Comment by Kate Benedict

I’m half chinese and half black. I look all black and people think I’m just black. I understand how mixed black people just like to identify with the black side: Because it’s easier. It’s easier to identify with a group when people always think you are part of that group and you look as such. To go agaist the grain in society, and claim you are of a seperate group requires a lot of charcter and strength that most people just don’t have. We all want to belong. In reality, Paula Patton is just as much white as she is black, as I am just as much Chinese as I am black. That is genetics, and that can’t be debated or manipulated by how one “feels” or how “the world” sees you. I know who I am, and just because “the world” sees me as black doesn’t mean I disown my Chinese side. I don’t correct every person in passing that thinks I’m all black, but in a conversation in which race is brought up I mention that I’m Chinese as well. As the U.S. mixes more, identifying as biracial with be more acceptable. I’ve seen it move this way in my short life time(30 years) and have no doubt it will continue. This is a topic that I’m passionate about and will follow this thread to see if it continues.

Comment by CJ

I have several Full-Black and Mixed friends who are passionate about Mixed people identifying a certain way and offended when they don’t. Trouble is, my friends are in opposing camps, and there are Full-Black and Mixed friends in each camp.

*sigh*

I tend to be literal about this and think of mixed parentage people as bi-racial, but I shut up and wait for them to declare.

Comment by Aabaakawad

Blacks have the dominant genes so no matter what you mix a black person with, the child will always look more black than any other race. For example if a black and white person had a child, the child would look more black than white. That is why all biracial black and white people always identify themselves as black because they look more black. Patton is not wrong when she says she’s black in that case, but it’s wrong to pretend like you’re not white either, it’s like you’re favoring one parent over the other, favoring black over white.

Comment by Anonymous

It’s not true. Firstly, taking away facial features and hair, can you prove that darker skin color always dominates? Yes, eye color does, but skin color isn’t so “black and white,” pun intended. Skin color almost always is a mix of what both parents are, with the odd chance of it favoring 1 parent or the other. You have to take your blinders off and view mixture objectively. Seriously, look at Obama’s parents and even grandparents. You can’t say that he looks more Black when he looks like a combination of both. Bi-racial is not this perfect median on the range of race, it’s a spectrum. People don’t always look just Black, just White, or perfectly a confusing mix right in the middle, to where people are stumped about a person’s race. Biracial is a spectrum between both parents. We even had a discussion about skin color in biology class, and my professor said that an offspring’s skin color isn’t about dominant genes; it’s a matter of a blending of genes and which ones get expressed on different chromosomes.

I was just looking at makeup foundation. It comes in lightest, light, medium, and darker. That range of darker is supposed to cover tans to the darkest of browns. So it’s a gyp; neatly trying to package a range of people and genetic backgrounds into just one category of foundation colors. And that is a microcosm of the limited view that Americans have on race and what being Black means genetically and confusing genetics with culture…it’s great too when people say “there’s no such thing as race; all Black people are mixed,” etc., and yet claiming that all these people, even biracial people, are only Black. Which is it? Pick a side and stick with it; is there no race, or are all biracial people just Black?

Aside from skin color, I do not see proof of how a Black person’s facial features dominate, especially when Black Americans have some degree of mixed ancestry (as in comprising of a genetic mixture of peoples who came from other continents than just Africa) on average. Plus, Black people can have all kinds of facial features, as is evident when looking at Africans. E.g., long noses (NE Africans), slanted eyes (Khoisans), triangular jawline (NE Africans).

Regarding hair, there’s no proof that African hair texture dominates. Most sub-Saharan African peoples (where most Black Americans got their African ancestry from) have tight kinky hair. Mixing with other people’s will allow other variations of textures to mix in the gene pool. So there are variations of kinks, curls, and waves that exist among African Americans. Even mixed kids with kinky hair seem to fall into a range of hair textures that is between both of their parents, as there are varying degrees of kinky. (And not every White person starts off with bone straight hair, porcelain skin, or slender long noses. So when such people produce biracial children, of course their kids’ genetic make up will incorporate these characteristics.) When studies have been done examining the structure of hair, Africans tend to have hair more similar to Europeans (and vice versa) than Europeans have to Asians.

I would rather spend my time learning about the people (countries, culture, history) who comprise my genetic make-up vs. clinging to an increasingly ambiguous and ever-changing Black American culture that many people cannot relate to these days. American should be our culture and race should be a discussion of our actual genetics. The 2 things should be exclusive of each other. The color of my skin and texture of my hair should not dictate what music I like, how good I am at sports, my accent, or my religious beliefs.

Comment by Loe

Very good points on both sides. But that’s just it…why have sides (race) at all? And why must one choose between them?
I believe my children pulled the genes my husband and I share in common the most and that it heavily influenced their skin color. My husband (german-irish) has a lot less Melanin than I (lumbe-african-irish-other) and I have a lot less than some of my (assumingly) African ancestors. That genetic situation likely influenced the amount of Melanin our children display. And here’s where skin color and ethnicity are definitely seperate. I see Mexicans, Native Americans, Arabs, Indians (Asian), etc with skin naturally MUCH darker than my ocher brown even after I’ve been sun burned and/or sun tanned.
What is it about the terms black & AfricanAmerican? A “high yellow” to dark skinned sista or brotha is called black and expected to self-indentify as that only despite thier mixed ancestry while a visibly “mixed” child, a chocolate brown Arab or Asian, in America, is not? Confused. Seems to me we’re all just visible variations of the same things.

Comment by Neka

@Anonymous, that’s just not true. My biracial twin nephews look more white than black and their mother (my sister) is dark-skinned. Whenever she is out with them, she gets double takes from both black and white. In either case, I consider my nephews biracial not just black and not just white, but they could pass for just white if they wanted to.

Comment by Shun

Shun, I can totally identify with what you describe because the same happens to me when I go out with my children. They are both very light skinned. However, I don’t teach them they are “biracial”. I refer to them as mixed-afro-american. They don’t need to be classified as some seperate race called, Biracial.
One, I just don’t like the term (it doesn’t fully apply). My husband is of mixed European heritage and I have several “races” running through my veins. That makes me a “multi-racial” black female. To say my children are simply biracial, singles out only one specific genetic trait from me while discarding all the other genetics that helped to make up who I am.
Ppl keep saying “they are equally both and should claim both races”. What about the rest of the genes that made the black parent? If we accept and follow the logic of calling them both (as so many suggest), shouldn’t that rule apply to the average black person as well…most of us are of a multi-ethnic lineage.
In my home, we’re all mixed.

Comment by neka

I am like you uniquely awesome. Im very light skinned. Both my parents are black. Mulattos think they have a problem being identified as black or white well its different for me. I know im black but ppl see me and think im mixed. Im the same color as MC. So i agree when paula says ppl do go by the way you look. Humans judge all the time. If we are all the human race then how come ppl going around assuming im mixed with black and white? Dont be blind to reality. And who cares if she thinks she is black. Some mulattos ID as black this is old news.

Comment by Charm

This has been going on for ages in history. Why is this all of a sudden a hot topic? And ive noticed that most asian and black ppl are dark skinned or have more african features. Like chilli she darker than me but both my parents are black. And kimora lee simmons doesnt have sharp facial features. Her eyes are slanted but my sister got slanted eyes too. So what who cares? I think ppl need to stop stereotyping races.

Comment by Charm

Elle your wrong if danielle mom is black and her dad is half white that would make her 1/4 white. Where did u get 3/4 black from her mom is black

Comment by Charm

3/4 black + 1/4 white = 1 whole person, lol. I think that’s where she got it from.

However, many (I won’t say most, but could possibly be) African Americans are not fully 100% black. And in that case, many “biracial” people (one parent AA) may actually be more white than black.

Not this has anything to do with how a person identifies themselves.

Comment by Sarah

Im biracial white mother and black father..I consider my self as one race and its black thats all I was around coming up..Im only 15 and when I moved to a school with more whites they ask me what race I am or they didn’t know I was half black.and yes my skin is very light and I have curly hair but its like white people hair with a mix of black..I have this friend who’s black at this school I go to she very smart with proper grammer and she has a lot of money and when i say im black she says that im mixed or i look white and it kinda makes me mad cause the white side of my family didn’t like the fact that i was half black so they didn’t talk to my mother when i was younger but now they do and my cousin always complain on the way I talk she says im not a hoodlum..im like whatever what is a hoodlum suppose to be anyways…so she is talkin about the way I speak and my grammer in words i can’t really help i mean that all I grew up around and I only had black or hispanic friends..but now its change becuz the school that i am in.and the black side of my family doesn’t treat me differently because im half white theres actually a bunch of mixed kids in my family.but anyways this is what I really had to say in school now I either say im black or im cuban or some hispanic race and some people will actually believe me so I live it like that sometimes..but i know im biracial but when it come time for me to get a job on my application im gonna check african american because i can…and thats what i am to me.

Comment by Jamaica

and I have indian native american on both side of my family my great grandmother was on my fatherside and on my mother side its on down the line…but my hair is like paula pattons hair..but when i was youngeer like 7 and under it was very straight and as i started cutting it it became curly my cousin who is also mixed like me same way and everything hair is the same way…eccept it was wavy when she was younger..ok im done…..

Comment by Jamaica

im white with biracial daughter who always tells shes biracial when people ask im italian and her father is black

Comment by dana

Paula and Barack are not black…they are biracial..and it is an insult to their white parent to ignore their genes…let’s ask this is reverse…what if you couldn’t tell that Paula Patton was biracial and she looked more white and thus, claimed only white? How many black people would find this offensive and call it “self-hate”. People need to stop with the double standards…it’s not that difficult…simple math to me. She has 1 black parent and one white…therefore, she is biracial…now all of that aside…who cares…we are all humans.

Comment by ShunJack

Although I agree with some of your comments, what you feel to realize is that in all actuality most African-Americans are already mixed and bi-racial. Whether it is told or known is entirely a different story. There is almost ultimately no 1005 of anything anymore unless you live in the bushes and who knows which explorer was there.

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I just doh’t think any white person hast the right to tell me how I should identify myself when they benefit from all of the shit their ancestors (And I say that in a general way) came up with to keep us from claiming the white half of our heritage anyways. Those of us who choose black, choose it not just because of how the world sees us, but because WE WANT and that is HOW WE SEE OURSELVES. And news flash…WE LIKE.

We love our blackness, the glory of our rich heritage that many try to downplay and degrade us with, is something to behold. Why claim the lesser when you can claim the better. You claim that you are a part of a legacy that created humanity and civilization, that you gave the world its culture and still do to this day? We are no longer ashamed or trying to
‘other” ourselves into a racial identity because we’d rather be black and identify that way than be anything else.

All these little biracial girls and boys being raised to think they are something special or other than what their whiter counterparts are gonna label them when they are denied loans, are racially profiled, or used as a way to further drown the brown, are gonna get a rude awakening.

But for those biracials who continue to procreate outside of their blackness instead of recommitting it to the gene pool, can miss me with the bullish. It sound hypocritical to me.

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Paula Patton has never been nor will she ever be a black woman. But she can wish and charade as much as she likes because authentic people let her fake ass do so.

Comment by Dominique

Lol…what in the world is an “authentic people”?
Mostly all people of color here in America are mixed and not 100% anything but 100% mixed up. A lot of us “Blacks” have grandparents and/or great-grands (etc) that are just like her and we wouldn’t dare say they aren’t black because then what does that make us? Not “authentic” either?
Trying to create a seperation among people of color isn’t fair to anyone and doesn’t help our people as a whole.

Comment by neka

I am light skinned Afro American.I call myself that, because to me ,the term Afro instead of African implies what I am,a glorious mix of races including my beautiful African heritage.Both my parents are “Black” ,but many a people from White and Black races have denied that I am just black because of how my genes landed. The reality is, is I’m multiracial. I am proud of the blood of every race that courses through my body because that is what makes me me.My children’s father is white with 1 Indian descendant ,I teach my children to be proud of every race that courses through their bodies,Because diversity is what really makes the human race beautiful.

Comment by Kimberly

you people are dumb she is biracial god i hate her so what is she going call her son black too she reminds me of hallie berry going around calling her child black like some damn fool and her husband the next idiot calling the child white the little girl is tan coloured and doesn’t look either black or white tell you the truth she looks Spanish

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