March 11, 2006
The Multiracial Activist
From the Editor:
Yours truly was on the airwaves Friday night from 10 – 11:15 p.m. ET with Jan Summers, host of It's About Life on XM Radio's The Power – channel 169. The topic of the night was supposed be interracial relationships, but we talked about multiracial self-identity for the full period.
The host is a psychologist who seemed to embrace several stereotypes that were mentioned by her callers.
Tragic Mulattos, Rejected Parents, and Passing. Oh my.
The first caller claimed that every biracial male child she encountered in her life, grew up to pass solely as white and rejected their black fathers. When I challenged her on this, she asserted herself as some kind of expert with children. When she started the call she had been a cashier in a grocery store. Whatever. Her evidence, you ask? She claimed that she frequently saw biracial males as children with their fathers in stores.
When they became teenagers, she never saw them with their fathers again.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for proof nowadays when supporting the one-drop rule. And this went on for 10 minutes.
Incredibly, they all also shave their hair and talk only to white cashiers in stores – with their heads hung down in a shameful manner. See, she wasn't generalizing because she had all this experience with biracial males as a cashier at a grocery store and claimed to have "worked" with all those troubled biracial children for years as some kind of counselor.
She just knew they were avoiding her line in order to pass as white – while hiding out from their black fathers. (sigh)
I called it like I "saw" it – a ridiculous scare tactic and cautionary tale, meant to stereotype and generalize a population that consists of millions of individuals. The host attempted to back her up on this point, but I was insistent that I've heard similar stereotype-laden tales floating around internet forums in the past. I pointed out that the purpose of such tales was to promote the unspoken point being made, and partially backed up by the host, that interracial relationships produce biracial children who will reject their black parents and choose to pass when they become teenagers – because they have no black pride.
After a while, the caller was sent on her merry way and the host backed off that tact when I drove home the point that what they are claiming was a lack of black pride was really an insistence that multiracial individuals should identify more with blackness than any other aspect of their self-identify.
She seemed to agree with me on that point and we moved on from there.
Several times both the host and I made the point that racial classifications are inconsistent, contradictory and generally nonsensical.
Of course, that did not stop the cautionary tales of biracial adults rejecting their blackness and hiding from their black family members from continuously popping up. Constant attempts were made to attach shame, hiding and dishonesty to multiracials. Constantly, the "appeal to authority" approach was used by those presenting such arguments. Everyone seemed to be an expert and to have given so freely of their time to help all the poor confused multiracial kids around them. They lacked the proper amount of black pride – don't you know…
I spent the last 10 or so minutes discussing the favorite of favoritest scare tactics – Whitey Will Never See You As Multiracial. In short, I drove home the point that only biracial and multiracial individuals are expected to surrender their rights to a self-identity on the basis that some individuals with antiquated attitudes will not respect their identities. I asked why they were subjected to special treatment in this regard. The host seemed to believe that only other multiracials would recognize a multiracial person's identity.
Overall I think the majority of the interview went well, compared to the first 10 minutes, with the caller who had all that first-hand knowledge that biracial males will reject their black fathers. And shave their heads like Vin Diesel. But she wasn't generalizing.