by Patrice Farmer
South Africa, Brazil, Cuba-All are nations that recognize multiracial people as a separate category. In these nations, mixed race people are considered 'Colored.' While the term colored is very offensive to mixed race people in the United States, the classification as a separate race is not. The fight in the U. S. for a multiracial category would distinguish bi/multiracial people as a unique grouping, ethnically and biologically.
Other countries which have endure the establishment of apartheid/slavery, have recognized that multiracial people are neither all black nor all white. The 'colored' category is usually applied in nations with three main racial groups, compared to the enormity of races in the United States. But, in America, there would be a category for the various mixed race people whose numbers continue to grow. Multi/bi-racial people, especially in California and New York are becoming the largest grouping of toddlers and preschool and kindergarten children.
A child born of an Eastern European parent and an African American parent are likely to inherit any disorders associated with these groups, compared to a child who is monoracially Eastern European or African American. A monoracial white child cannot genetically inherit Sickle Cell Anemia unless there was an introduction of a black or middle eastern ancestor. This proves that bi-racial children are genetically distinct from monoracial children and should be grouped into their own unique category.
The anger or forbidding of the multiracial category comes from the history in other nations. The colored category has often been considered an elevated status in S. Africa, Cuba and Brazil, in other words, to be better than black. Colored peoples received far better treatment than their black counterparts, but yet not the status of whites. In the U.S. though, multiracial peoples are from every racial group and skin tone imaginable from the ranges of white to black, compromising every ethnic heritage also. A colored from Brazil might be grouped with African Americans in U.S., but the African American could not be grouped with colored in Brazil due to the unique mixture of heritage a 'colored' has. This shows that the one-drop rule (theory that one-drop of black blood classifies you as black), in the United States has refused to recognize the uniqueness of mixed people. These nations also show less oppression among mixed race peoples, compared to the United States in which there is no understanding of the struggle of mixed race individuals, only the constant reminder that they are different.
Mixed people can be bi-racial (two parents of different races or ethnicities), tri-racial (one parent of mixed heritage and one monoracial parent), or multi-racial (both parents are from mixed heritage). This ordering of three varying multiracials distinguishes them from monoracials. Introducing a multiracial category would formally end the long followed 'one drop rule' that is so damaging to our society. There would be six categories of races defined: Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and Multiracial.
Loss of government funding for minority programs and scholarships due to the 'switch to multiracial' is the fear that members of the NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, many Latino and Native American groups have against supporting the multiracial category. There are very few individuals who identify themselves as multiracial and would not affect the numbers that monoracials have. Even if it did, it would fairly show their numbers because the African American racial group holds the largest number of mixed individuals than any other group.
Fairness is the drive of the multiracial movement, and it is in fact a movement. Why should a person choose one race or the other? Why can they not choose the grouping in which they belong such as Multiracial. America being 'colored-less' has created many problems in our society. There is an attack on the mixed individual for acknowledging their mixtures. This is seen in the attitudes toward mixed race people and the black community. Also, through our pop cultural symbols such as multiracial Mariah Carey (who is often despised by the black community for claiming her Irish and Venezuelan heritage), and multiracial Tiger Woods (who was criticized by the black community for stating his other ancestries). If Mariah Carey and Tiger Woods were identified as Multiracials where would the animosity from the black community be? There would be none, except if the black community began to have hatred toward the multiracial community. That's happening now without the category.
Multiracial people have similar struggles and issues that are particular to their race. Genetically, an Irishman is different than German, but in the U.S., they are both considered Caucasian; therefore they share similar struggles instead of homogeny. Caucasians in America are from various national and cultural heritages, including black and more recently Asian ancestry, which comes from intermixing and assimiliation into 'white' culture. What classifies them as white is their skin color, hair and eyes, not ancestry, which can be debated. The struggle of a 'white' person in America is unlike any other group including in Europe. The issues for whites in America may be completely different from their counterparts across the ocean. Just as blacks in America are genetically made up of various races from numerous nations in Africa, ethnic whites, Native American, and Asian. Their genetic traits are 'altered' compared to Africans whose ancestry consists of nothing but of their nation or surrounding disapora. The struggle African Americans have in the U.S. is completely different from blacks in other nations, including Africa. this is what makes each struggle in this nation particular, especially due to the history of so-called,whites and blacks, in this nation. Each group has a history, a struggle, a common understanding in their present form. The multiracial 'race' is no different.
Multiracials also come from various races and ethnicities but form a common bond. The multiracial struggle is unique, with a history and a common grouping. Multiracials have existed in this country before the time of the Spanish to American shores; migration of both Nordic and African peoples across the waterways created a history of mixed peoples in America. the struggle for mixed people to be recognized for each of their ancestries, and discrimination that mixed people experience from racist individuals, laws and society, has helped create a need for multiracial organizations, websites and programs.
Multiracial people come in every color of skin and represent the melting pot that America boasts of but refuses to allow. That should be the basis for creating a category for Multiracial people, not based upon the amount of dollars (minority government funding) one group receives over another; it should not prevent multiracial people from receiving their own category, which means receiving the same rights that monoracial people have.
Patrice Farmer is moderator of Mixed Families at Onelist.com
Also by Patrice Farmer
Copyright © 1999 Patrice Farmer and The Multiracial Activist. All rights reserved.