Senna on the “Multiracial” Movement

The folks over at Mixed Media Watch have a link to an interview with “biracial” author Danzy Senna. An excerpt:

One of the things I’m sort of wary of in the multiracial movement is a denial of the persistence of racism.

No one I’ve ever encountered in my many years in the leadership of the “multiracial” movement has denied the “the persistence of racism”. Those opposed to self-identification have, however, falsely attributed such sentiments to the “multiracial” movement. Ms. Senna would be wise to not fall prey to the propaganda of those opposed to self-identification. The “multiracial” movement persists despite “racism,” not in its absence.

This entry also posted at Taking The Gloves Off.


  1. I think you’re wrong to admonish Ms. Senna. There are definitely those in the multiracial movement who pretend that racism either doesn’t exist or will go away if we didn’t have those pesky labels or categorizations of people. The message board of the old Intervoice site was filled with such rantings.
    As a multiracial person of three “races,” it doesn’t matter what I might call myself when some jerk decides I’m not white and, thus, subhuman, deserving of his disrespect and derision.

    Ms. Senna never said all members of the multiracial movement, only some held those beliefs.

    7/7/2004 12:23:08 PM

  2. jscott said: “Ms. Senna never said all members of the multiracial movement, only some held those beliefs”
    Actually she referred to the “multiracial movement” in the collective and completely failed to attribute this as a belief held by certain individuals.

    jscott said: “it doesn’t matter what I might call myself when some jerk decides I’m not white and, thus, subhuman, deserving of his disrespect and derision”

    And? Does that mean millions of “multiracial” individuals should surrender their right to self-identify to the wills of a disgusting minority of “racists,” “racialists” and one-drop rule apologists? Why allow the lowest common denominator to set the rules? The same argument can be applied to “interracial” marriage, integration and just about any other controversial issue. Those who disagree with another’s free will should not be afforded the opportunity to run roughshod over the rights of others. Too many people have spilled their own blood to further that end.

    jscott said: “who pretend that racism either doesn’t exist”

    Haven’t met that particular brand of person.

    jscott said: “will go away if we didn’t have those pesky labels or categorizations of people”

    Eventually everything changes. The key is how long it will take. Humanity invented “racial” classifications only 350 years ago. They have only been with us for a mere fraction of our existence. What we invent, we can discard – even if it takes another 350 years to do it. In the end, 700 years is a mere drop in the bucket for a species that has been around for millions of years.

    7/7/2004 12:30:29 PM

  3. The following is a letter I wrote to in response to a Danzy Senna article they published. The woman is a liar and she knows it. Notice that she always attributes ridiculous statements and goals to the Multiracial Movement in very general terms. She never mentions the name of a person or organization. Liars do that to avoid being called on the carpet.

    I read Danzy Senna’s original essay in “Half and Half,” and I came away reaffirmed in my belief that a “black” identity in a physically Caucasian or otherwise non-Negroid person can only exist through emotional child abuse and a lack of self-esteem.

    Senna was brought up to believe that her European ancestry is too good for her. If her “white” mother truly loved her children, how could she teach them that? By all standards of affirmative action, Senna has the right to call herself “Hispanic,” yet her father taught her that her Mexican ancestry is also too good for her (perhaps she doesn’t know that Mexicans are also descended from the black slaves the Spaniards brought to colonial Mexico). Senna is a sick woman from a sick family.

    Salon Magazine has published several articles by so-called blacks attacking multiracial and white identities in persons “unfortunate” enough to be “tarbrushed,” as Southerners used to put it. I note that there appears to be an “escape hatch” for Latinos (almost all of whom are at least partly descended from blacks), Arabs and suspiciously mulatto-looking Southern Europeans, not to mention Jews with “Afro” hair. I assume that if one of your “black” writers tried to claim persons from those groups, she would be quickly “put in her place.”

    Salon has never published an article in favor of the multiracial movement or invited one of its leaders (Charles Michael Byrd, Susan Graham, etc.) to write an article explaining the goals of the movement. You have never invited writers such as Maria Root or Naomi Zack to explain the importance of freedom in the choice of “racial” identity. Have you invited N. Brent Kennedy of the Melungeon movement to describe how white Southerners are increasingly embracing “mixed race” roots? Why not?

    Ever since the multiracial movement started challenging the “one drop of black blood makes you black” myth by pointing out that “whites” and “blacks” totally ignore it when it comes to Latinos and other less “American” groups and individuals, the black elites and their “white slaves” such as Danzy Senna have desperately tried to come up with new myths that redefine a stigma into a “choice,” “shared history” and other nonsense. Rest assured, it is the same old “ethnic rape” it always was.

    Finally, note that, in her original essay, Senna describes the following people as “Black Folks Who May Not Know They Are Black”: Johnny Depp, Paula Abdul, Carly Simon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Bacon. The next white person claimed as “black” might be you. Let’s put a stop to this “one drop” myth once and for all!

    7/7/2004 6:37:21 PM

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