Yes, We’re Multiracial, But What are You?

Yes, We're Multiracial,
But What are You?

by Patrice Farmer
June/July 2001

Often there is a need for support as a mixed family, someone who understands your experiences. And for my little family and others like us, the support we seek within the Multiracial community is non-existent and may even be harder to come by. The reason, white skinned multiracials who don’t fit into America’s newly enlightened ideal of Mixedness.

My daughter fits into this category and often is viewed by white, blacks and multiracial families as a monoracial white. She does not fit into the conventional ideal of a mixed person, so she is not usually embraced by many of the Mixed Community. Our presence, even in the midst of multiracial families is a cause of confusion. Both my daughter and I are mixed, but when many view my child they often wonder how she could be. I remember hearing a child ask her mother if I were my daughters’ sister. This child recognized that mixed people existed-(unlike others)- and she understood that we were related, but the ideal that I am her mother escaped this little girl, as well as many, many others. When someone questions me if she is my daughter, they often respond with “How?” or “She’s so light”. Another one is how often someone will turn to me and ask, “Is her father…” they ask, cupping their hands over their mouth and whispering, “White?” It often puzzles me when I am around a mixed family and I mention how cute their child is. They often will say thank you and look at my daughter and stare. Often from mixed families we get stared at just as much as from monoracial families.

Last year at a family funeral/reunion, many family members were indifferent to my daughter, many who are mixed or whose children are mixed. She played unknowingly among her tinted white skinned/brown skinned cousins, obliviously to the way she was ignored. I noticed though, especially in how they, my family I hadn’t seen in years, just stared in utter shock at how obviously white she was. Not a ting of color in her skin, except when tanned. They just said, “Oh, this is your daughter!” I thought it quite ironic! But, this is the story, many white multiracials will tell.

America’s fascination with race has also colored our ideal as the Multiracial Community about what mixed children are supposed to look like. Despite the fact that there are mixed children with very dark skin as well as white. It’s in every situation in which someone ‘tries to figure out your racial identity or try to categorize you into one’, it comes from our society's dictation of race. We have (Mixed People) become prejudiced amongst ourselves and when someone doesn’t fit into that ideal, we respond in the same manner that others respond to us. Mixed children are not just light to light brown skinned versions of the original.

I remember reading recently the book Caucasia by Denzy Senna to my disappointment for her perpetuating of the one-drop rule and ‘passing theory’ and showed my multiracial college classmate her picture, introducing her as a mixed person, he responded, “Mixed? But, she’s white!” For him, her mixed ‘identity’ did not exist since she was visually white. This is the attitude that we have toward white multiracials.

Race is so ingrained in our American psyche that we internalize the ideal that a persons characteristics, ideals, and beliefs are based upon their skin color, their race. Though race is non-existent it is the number one identifier in our society. Everyone that we come in contact with is placed into a mental racial category. We relate to that person based upon the criteria we have reasoned and stored within that category. Skin color is superficial and we as the Multiracial Community are as guilty as all others for passing judgement.

This issue is not just amongst mixed people of black and white heritage, but also for all white Multiracials of various heritages. But, the one society seems to be the most concerned with is the white multiracial child of black and white heritage. The reason goes back to the One Drop rule. Other cultures with white multiracials often assimilate into the dominant monoracial grouping without notice, while the white/black multiracial is often viewed with disdain or even shock. The unenlightened may be in awe of a white multiracial because of their limited ideals of race and the myth that black genes dominate, therefore creating a black child. This is of course a falsity.

So where does white multiracials fit in? I remember an older friend of mine and her mixed family, she and her husband were mixed as well. They had a set of twins, her son who was tall, white skinned, blond haired and hazel eyed and her daughter who was short, long dark hair, and cinnamon colored skin. Her son when visiting his sister in another state would often hang around other white kids, listening to the same music, dressing alike. When he came back home, he was in a mostly black neighborhood and would often get teased for being so white. Later, he moved with his brother to the suburbs and had a white girlfriend. His mixed mother stated that his girlfriend would be in shock if they had a baby and it came out black. I mentioned that maybe he felt more comfortable around whites because he looked monoracially white, but she felt that her children should identify as black only, despite the fact that none of her children looked black. They mostly looked white, Mexican and East Indian. But for her he was ‘passing’. He had chosen his identity, the only one he could with his skin color and hair. But, she could not let that go.

My own father, I’m told refused to ‘pass’. Of course he was born in 1950. His mother, Puerto Rican and married to a black man, whom became pregnant from an affair with a white man, gave up my father for his white skin and appearance. His siblings were of his mother and her black husband. My father never had a true relationship with his siblings. His entire life he tried to fit into black society because in his day, what was worse than having white skin was ‘passing’. I inherited mostly his genes and was also tortured as a very light skinned child from elementary on up until my skin darkened to light brown as an adult.

For my daughter, she will probably be embraced more in the white community than within the Multiracial community because of false ideals we hold of what mixed children are supposed to be. But, my hope is that she will be a strong woman who doesn’t forget her mixed heritages and the genes that flow through her veins, beneath her white skin. I want her to be a positive example to everyone she comes in contact with. Another wish is that the multiracial community wake up to our own prejudices and that we not be as closed-minded as others are to us.

Patrice Farmer is moderator of Mixed Families at Yahoo! Groups

Also by Patrice Farmer

Copyright © 2001 Patrice Farmer and The Multiracial Activist. All rights reserved.

One comment

  1. re: Yes, We’re Multiracial, But…
    Written by sandip74, on 03-06-2001 11:02
    93.2 in reply to 93.1

    So glad to find your site. This site interests me for several reasons. I am of mixed caucasian/native american indian ancestry-taught that I was “white”-never felt at peace with who I was until I acknowledged the fact that i was not “all white” and began to live as who I am-I was married to a man of Africanamerican/nativeamerican ancestry-identified as “black” and raised a daughter-his by birth-mine by love-it was a trip!! She-“looking” black yet with me-the story ciould go on forever!!!!Only those of us that are involved in this struggle can actually identify with each other-I am glad to find a forum-my daughter is grown and her dad and I no longer together but the pain and pride are still very much with me-thank you for this site again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *