01 June 2000 Letter to the Editor
New York Daily News
by James A. Landrith, Jr.
I would like to compliment Jack Mathews on an excellent piece regarding Thandie Newton and Tom Cruise's on-screen interracial romance in "Mi2." Mathews' piece also did a good job of outlining the inability of many in Hollywood to treat on-screen interracial romances as something other than a vague innuendo.
Films like "Mi2" can go a long way towards breaking down this unnecessary taboo kept alive by producers, directors and writers unable to ignore the irrational fear of an anti-miscegenation backlash.
However, I do take exception to Mathews' description of Thandie Newton as African-American. Newton, a British citizen, is biracial. Her mother is a black woman from Zimbabwe; her father, a white Brit. Unfortunately, Mathews' error is repeated by journalists nationwide. For example, Gloria Reuben, a biracial Canadian, is often referred to as African-American. Both women proudly state their biracial heritage, which takes courage and should be respected. This is no small feat, given the current campaign by the NAACP and others to enforce a black-only identity on biracials. Both actresses can be positive examples of successful mixed-race women to young biracial girls. Girls who may be struggling with the oppressive racial identity politics of "you're not enough THIS" or "you're too much THAT" forced upon them by others. That is, only if these young girls know the truth about the people they see on television.
Interracially married father
of two multiracial children
Editor & Publisher,
The Multiracial Activist
James Landrith is the notorious editor and publisher of The Multiracial Activist and The Abolitionist Examiner, two cyber-rags dedicated to freedom from oppressive racial categorization. Landrith can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at his personal website/blog.
Subject: Interracial Voice –
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000
From: Candi Miller
James Landrith wrote:
However, I do take exception to Mathews’ description of Thandie Newton as African-American. Newton, a British citizen, is biracial. Her mother is a black woman from Zimbabwe; her father, a white Brit. Unfortunately, Mathews’ error is repeated by journalists nationwide.
That’s amazing. As soon as Newton opens her mouth during an interview the game is up. How can anyone *not* notice her British accent? You know, there really isn’t any excuse for this error. Personally, I find this sort of failure to see past someone’s skin color more infuriating than racial slurs. If someone calls me the N-word, I can always flip them the bird or snarl “Go to hell!” But how do you respond when a perfectly civil person fails to see (or hear) the real you because they can’t get past their stereotypes of people who look like you? It’s as if they turn off their active brains and switch on an internal stereotype tape when they first see
you. They’re so busy watching and listening to that blasted tape they can’t see or hear the real person that is right in front of them. Highly arrogant, damned annoying and in some circumstances (remember Amadou Diallo?) downright fatal.