Through the Eyes of a "Mulatto"
Racism is a funny thing in America.
In the 20th century, there was a law emerging in America known as the one drop law. It stated that if you had even one drop of Negro inherited blood in you, that meant you were ALL Negro. This law continued to be perpetuated until somewhere around 2000, which was when the U.S. Census finally officially recognized mixed race people by allowing them to select more than one race. Despite that change, the Census continues to count any mixed race people as the most major minority in their heritage once the polls are in. They argue this is for the sake of making counting easier… but they have been looking at changing this in recent years since this allowed them to be completely unaware of the explosion of mixed race people in America that has been happening (which are now the fastest growing minority).
This was only a small part of the psychological warfare that was waged on African Americans through out the following years, and in many ways continues to be waged. They’re not the only victims either… Caucasians are similarly brainwashed to fear the same things African Americans are taught to embrace now days as part of their “culture”.
Caught in the middle of all of this are the products of interracial marriages.
The one drop rule rages on in the form of “black culture”, in which many believe if you’re even part black, that makes you all black. Compounded by this is the paper bag test agenda (a counter attack to the one drop rule), which also rages on in this culture, where if you’re lighter than a paper bag you’re NOT considered to be black at all. It’s resulted in a lot of mixed race people having to “prove” their loyalty through “acting black”… if they don’t pass the test, they’re rejected… but if they DO even pass the test, and they’re lighter than a paper bag, they’re often rejected anyways just on the basis of their skin color by African Americans that don’t know them.
For mixed race people it means it being close to impossible for them to embrace ALL of their heritage and still be accepted by the black community. For mixed race people like me that don’t pass the paper bag test, it means being rejected completely as “white”.
I didn’t grow up knowing all of this. In fact, I was pretty sheltered for the first 12 years of my life or so thanks to a strict religion that didn’t give race any more consideration than eye or hair color. My congregation was all black… our family friends were primarily black… most of my best friends were black. Everyone knew I was mixed, and if anything at all was ever said about it (most of the time nothing was… I was simply embraced as part of the “family” our congregation had going), it was always positive. Interracial marriages were quite common in our religion, and the products of those marriages were adored as reflections of the ideals of that religion (that race didn’t matter; people were people).
While I appreciate this experience because it allowed me to spend at least part of my younger years completely oblivious to the silent race war going on in the rest of the world, in many ways it was a curse, as well. When I finally started getting hit with racism in school, I had no idea how to handle it or why it was happening. Unfortunately thanks to the area I lived in, my first experiences with it came from African Americans, not only due to skin color, but the fact I didn’t “act black”… which seemed to be taken as an indicator I’d never been around black people, when the exact opposite was true… but the black people I grew up with didn’t “act black” by societal standards, either, which I now realize honestly would have led them to a quick death in their professional lives. You can’t be middle class and still have your head stuck in the “ghetto”.
This is one thing that confounds me about “black culture”. Many seem to get this confused with the culture of the ghetto, and this is pretty self defeating. I don’t know when this trend started, but the stories my mom tells of segregation days paints a very different picture. My mom hung out with AAs so much because she found them to be articulate and well educated, a lot of times more so than Caucasians. In these days, it seems most AAs had the right idea on how to advance from minority status in America. But somewhere between then and now, many started to believe that they had to embrace ignorance and poverty as part of their culture. Thus, an example of the self defeating attitude I wrote about previously. You don’t see other minorities in America doing this. Asians, for example, are one minority that has a very high incidence of upper middle class families in America, thanks to their dedication to learning how to advance in American culture and adapting to it. The only reason you don’t see more of them in higher positions (which would remove the minority label) is because they truly DO experience a glass ceiling in their advancement. And despite this, many Asian American families continue to dream big for their kids and encourage excellence in their education and culture, believing that the sky is the limit and trusting that one day there will be a break through. Instead of attempting to adapt, though, it seems there are many AAs today that simply expect the country to adapt to them instead. And unfortunately… this is a pipe dream.
My experiences with racism became deepened when I moved to another state (remaining unnamed here), which happened to be considered part of the Old South. Here, many of the AAs recognized me as being one of them, and I was shocked to find a role reversal take place for me. Instead of being an outsider, I found many AAs treated me as one of their own, perhaps appreciative that despite my light color I still treated them with respect. Caucasians however were a different story. Many of them did not even have the slightest inclination that I was of mixed race, and would speak openly of their racism towards AAs. I felt like a spy of some sort, and started to loathe my “incognito” appearance because I knew that had I been on a darker side of the spectrum, I would have not encountered this kind of talk. One vivid memory I have is of going clubbing and having guys approach me asking me to dance with them to the next “nigger song”. I almost smacked them for their ignorance.
It was around this time that I became part of what was then a small Yahoo mailing list called The Topaz Club that was started by a mixed race school teacher as a way for women of mixed AA heritages to connect and discuss topics central to the mixed AA heritage experience. It was through this mailing list that my eyes became opened to the reasons behind many of my past experiences. There were other benefits as well – for the first time in my life, I developed a sense of “belonging” to an ethnic group and I became empowered to embrace an ethnic identity that recognized ALL of my heritage and not just parts. I also learned from this group how to deal with certain physical issues central to the mixed race experience, such as properly grooming and styling my hair using a combination of products available on the market that tended to cater to “either or” instead of the mixed hair types many mixed AA women experience from their combination of varied heritages. Most importantly though, I found a group of like minded women that just like me wanted to see an end to race being such an important issue in America, and that did not carry any hatred or racism in their hearts, who could sympathize with each other when the effects of racist attitudes and norms hit home without developing hatred for the people that perpetuated those attitudes. A sense of sympathy developed thanks to this group… I’m afraid that had I not found them, I may have been well on my way to personally becoming racist towards anyone that wasn’t mixed race.
And yes, there are militant racist mixed race groups out there as well… people don’t tend to recognize this, thinking that we have to ch
oose between our heritages, but there is a third choice emerging which is just as scary as other extremes such as the KKK and Black Panthers. It illustrates why it is so vital that America learn how to embrace those of mixed race for all that they are, and stop playing this stupid tug-o-war… it will get even more complicated if these groups gain enough momentum to start making a push for a new, separated racial and cultural identification.
And now days… I have to admit, I spend most of my time with Caucasian people. This is by statistic though and not necessarily by choice. And some family may judge me for it, assuming it’s because I was raised by the other half of my family, assuming I myself am racist, but they have no idea… none at all… that it’s because of the very attitude reflected in them when they meet my “white” boyfriend that I don’t have very many AA friends down here. The other side of my family meanwhile doesn’t even flinch if an AA enters their home, and welcomes them the same as any other guest… as do many Caucasians in this area. While it may be a different story in other parts of the U.S., it is what it is here… and I personally am appreciative whenever I find either side accepts me for who I am as a person rather than judging me based on my skin color or ethnic identification or behavior. It just so happens to be mostly Caucasians here that are capable of doing that. It’s probably partially due to my skin tone in some cases, but the interesting thing is they are willing to learn through me that AAs aren’t the stereotypes they’re portrayed as in this country, and that if anything they’re victims of it… and that Caucasians as well have been duped by it.
And this I think is the major thing that AA mixed race people have to contribute to our society. A break down of the stereotypes that have kept different races in America so suspicious of each other for so long… a physical, living testimony to the massive mind control tactics that are really nothing more than hot air… manipulation. If various people want to hate on me because I am not exclusive to their particular culture… let them. I know what I’m about… and I know from a truly objective perspective what all this hatred is about as well. I’m proud to be a non-participant, an “outsider”. And no one is going to take that grounding away from me… I’ve worked too hard to find it to let them.