My Ghost’s Midnight Manifesto:
My “white” essence speaks, my “black” body listens
by Valerie A. Wilkins-Godbee
January 2002 Excerpts
Excerpts Originally published in
Harmony People Sentential, ISSN: 1068-8226
On my ethnicity: : “Who of you can touch my ethnicity?” I was born a child of “mixed” blended heritage. Ameurofian is what I’ve called myself. But, am an American first. I created this name after musings about a visceral incident I faced while filing out an application for a part time job in 1989. Out of sheer frustration I decided to check off all three (3) boxes that applied to my racial background. I did not know then what I later learned that the person receiving the application would need to go to my hypodescent of “black”, this was because the government had a “One Check Mandate” in progress as law. A visual inspection, we in the interracial community call the “eyeball test”, was administered to figure out what racial box to pigeon-hole me, the applicant. The name was created in 1989, but it was not until much later that I actually brought it to the public. And, in 1994 the Ameurofian Heritage Group was formed. Finally, we changed the groups’ name to the Ameurofian Heritage Foundation. Addressing the needs of North American’s with Native/European/W. African heritages.
Yes, intrinsically, no one can tear away my (a persons’) persona and spiritual connection with the traditional “racial” type segments of our diverse community, i.e., “black” or “white” simply because I (they) look like the opposite of what we have been taught, or what it means traditionally-speaking, without destroying my (that persons’) sense of well being, and community….
I’d like to turn back to me, for a moment, as this is my ultimate challenge, I think, and my manifesto. As a “white” woman born with a “black” body. The above may not be scientific. Although, this “outing” is a remedy/cure that will likely not be embraced by social scientists. But, so far, what the proverbial physician has prescribed to date, in the 21st Century, going back at least 200 plus years, in American history, has not publicly cured our ills on the race question. They have made some peripheral attempts at examining race, and its “isms”. And, that race is not biological. But, the debate seems to get cold. And, the Census forms stayed the same for decades.… So, I will be called many things, and adjectives I won’t mention, and raked over with a fine-tooth-comb. But, that will be “good news”, for I will have once again opened up another proverbial Pandora’s ‘Race’ Box. Not since the phraseology Ameurofian-American. And, it will not alter one iota my being a “colored” “Negro” “black” African-American, “black” American woman and my inherently “white” outing.
Could I be predisposed to the “black” American cultural experience? And, is it possible to reshape a person’s identity?
Transracial Adoption: i.e. Transracial Adoption? The argument by some groups in the 1990’s was that if an African American child was placed for adoption into a “white” family’s home, even after they have taken the child(ren) in as foster child(ren), this would be, according to the National Association of Black Social Workers, (NABSW), tantamount to African American cultural genocide. Perhaps their argument is possible? That we are not predisposed racially or otherwise based solely on physical attributes, and could be re-formed? Re-shaped, re-conditioned culturally-speaking, thus effecting the child’s “natural” inclinations or “natural” ethos-connectedness, or allegiance for that matter to that child/persons assumed, at-home, culture, “race” or ethnic group, perhaps for some children. However, not for those that are strong willed psychologically-speaking, (I am not a psychologist/physician/social scientist). But, I think this might apply for a brief period, if you please. Temporarily, this may be the case. Nonetheless, it is my belief, my “outing” theory, with a small “t”, that this claim by the group that cultural genocide could actually happen, in a country where most are interconnected, is not possible, on an alarming scale… Not when you have conditions that allow for millions of us to live freely together…
So, no, I suppose there is no concrete sweeping evidence of cultural genocide of African-Americans in the foster care system, today. This doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen; that a child could be “brainwashed”. If the conditions are conducive, I suppose it could happen to some. But, their true ethos would remain albeit a tiny flicker of flame. Waiting to touchdown. Like my own. With both parents (born in the northeastern states), who considered themselves, in the 1960’s, as Negroes. And, also my complexion being likened to café au lait; I suppose it is very difficult for anyone to believe I seriously considered “outing” myself as “white”. Probably thinking that I am a lunatic. Nevertheless, both my grandmother’s were “white”, my maternal one was of Pennsylvania Dutch and her father was a “white” Native American from a mountain tribe; my paternal one’s father was American Irish and a “mixed” mother. Both of my grandfathers where a blend of “black”, Native American and “white”.
More later, on my heritage…
Succinctly put, by a lady whom I’ve never met but have spoken with many times, (both of us interracial leaders, she with an adoption mediation center), “…I can understand why biracial people side with the “black” family, it is because the “white” family hasn’t been exactly inviting to them, allowing them to be a significant part of their family.” Easier said than done, I gathered from her musings, when a biracial child truly wishes to acknowledge their dual heritage.
This embarrassment isn’t true or speaks to all biracial “b&w” children, and their “white” kin. That not having embraced these children of blended heritage, as one of their own. Hence, it may be easier for that biracial child, to live comfortably among the traditionally-speaking “black” side of the family verses the “white” side, in some households. This is true still today. I couldn’t disagree completely. Nor argue the point. More to the point, though, we have come a very long distance in bettering the plight and recognition of biracial children, in the Interracial Movement. However, if you’ve been told for generations that part of your blended heritage gets cancelled out because of a ‘slave masters’ definition the dichotomised ‘One Drop Rule’ and you are inundated with the baseless fact…
The completed manifesto will be published on TAE in mid-February 2002
Copyright © Valerie A. Wilkins-Godbee, My Ghosts’ Midnight Manifesto
– copyrighted/all rights reserved HPS – ISSN: 1068-8226.
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 16:37:42 EST
From: Karen Hunter
To: Valerie Wilkins-Godbee
Subject: Re: writings on TAE
I read your piece…very, very interesting. You raise some points that I have a hard time coming to grips with because I live in a world that is primarily black and white (in my mind)…and that’s how I’m comfortable classifying folks. I understand the need to create your own identity and define yourself for yourself. And perhaps if more people did that we would not have racism.
Keep exploring these issues and helping folks come to a better understanding of themselves.
Thank you for sharing.