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View Diary: Why? CNN and NPR Present a Potpourri of Tragic Mulattoes Before a National Audience (285 comments)

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  •  as the classic question goes (12+ / 0-)

    what does it mean to be "black?"

    i did shake my head several times and have an epic face palm moment--especially the young black teen who kept mentioning "white" culture. someone should have asked her to define that. i worry that so many of these young people who are struggling with identity issues because of parental failure, yes i will call it what it is, have made blackness synonymous withe "ghetto" and "poverty" and "low achievement." they have internalized so much racism and cannot get past it.

    very sad.  not one of those young people could "pass." yet, they are desperate for it. that was damn funny in a sad way.

    •  You seem to be mad at them for finding their way (5+ / 0-)

      Not everyone you would consider unpassable grows up the same way.

      You also seem to be upset at these kids for acknowledging a truth: there are those in every community of color that see things as "white", or not. These kids didn't invent that type of racist thinking but they are grappling with it.

      Defining someone by the 1-Drop Rule is racist and also maybe inaccurate. If you have ever watched one of Dr. Gates' PBS programs about genetics and race, you cannot help but understand that science is a challenge to the notion of the 1-Drop Rule.

      For example, President Obama has been described by some as, "mixed", "half-n-half", or even had his "blackness" challenged. If we look at Dr. Condoleezza Rice, we see her darkness and question not her "blackness". Yet Dr. Gates' research revealed that she can be said to be of "only 50% African ancestry"?

      If someone with blonde hair and blue eyes turned out to have (sub Saharan)African ancestry, is she/he "black" too?

      Also, the following is inaccurate:

      very sad.  not one of those young people could "pass." yet, they are desperate for it. that was damn funny in a sad way
      That simply is not true. There was one young lady who seemed to really be troubled but at the end, she broke the way you wanted her to break. On the other hand, her friend, the Egyptian-American, identifies as "African-American", yet the darker tone kids seem to have issues with the identification. Also, the young Ghanian-American of dark complexion told a similar story of considering himself "African-American", but not being fully accepted by his surround black community.

      I have learned there is a certain tension between "black people" born outside of Africa and those born on the continent. Any discussion about this topic must acknowledge this tension and admit this is an intramural phenomenon that is quite ugly and challenges further the notion of a simple formula for "blackness".

      Lastly, I can tell you that kids of all backgrounds have identity issues of one kind or another and should not be looked down upon. Look at the teen suicide rate before you lash out at these kids. I don't mean to be a dick, but I have worked in this area and the vibe you are giving off tends to exacerbate their issues, especially those also struggling with LGBTQ issues.

      "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

      by sebastianguy99 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:46:21 PM PST

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      •  huh? (3+ / 0-)
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        tjcj, rikyrah, Dave the Rave

        who is upset at anyone. those kids in that documentary, most of them, have not found their way. they are very lost and are going to have some real harsh lessons taught to them in life. as i said above, mixed race confused biracial types are not an abstraction to me. i see them all the time. and many eventually come to be all upset when they realize that they are "black." their parents have not equipped them with the armor necessary to be successful on these matters so others have to step in.

        re: the one drop rule. you cannot impose a standard on a people based on white supremacy and then turn around and deny how said standard has become a source of strength and community. there is nothing at all "racist" in how black people as a subaltern community repurposed the "master's tools" for our own ends.

        race is a social construction. i understand the intersection of race and science. it is of no comfort the millions of blacks--most of us already mixed race--that science says that there is more genetic difference within racial groups than between races. day-to-day racism and structural racism is not paused by such inconveniences.

        i am trying to give those confused kids the strength of community to find some grounding in a society which despises people of color. these kids want to be "special" because one of their parents is not "black." they have likely absorbed that poison from their homes and society and schools. once they realize they are black, and loved by black people, and part of a history and lineage that is not prefaced on the fiction of "pure races" they will have strength. once they learn of mulatto and lighter skinned blacks who could have passed but chose to fight in the Black Freedom Struggle maybe they will have a sense of race pride.

        most are broken. many have not even realized that they are tragic mulattoes who want to belong to something-Whiteness-that has little use for them.

        •  My impression from your descriptions of them (4+ / 0-)

          ...gave that impression. They are young people, they are supposed to be confused and rebellious.

          I saw articulate young people questioning the world around them. I saw nothing that I would describe as "broken", or "tragic mulattoes". Look to the jails and prisons and on the streets if you want to see real tragedy. Running out of food today at the Food Bank and having to turn people away is tragic.

          Those kids questioning identity is not tragic. Only if we allow them to become self-destructive does it turn to tragedy.

          Now if you want to talk about the Clarence Thomas' of the world as tragedy, then I think there is a history to make a strong argument. There is no such history with the kids featured in that program.

          I want to see every person stake their own path. I am always suspicious of those who demand conformity and deem those that don't automatically conform as in need of help. Judging most people as they are/were in their late teens and early twenties as if they were older and more experienced just seems unfair and too easy.

          "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

          by sebastianguy99 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:18:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i have to agree with clarence. he is a bundle of (1+ / 0-)
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            sebastianguy99

            sickness. we can agree to disagree, but that young girl, much darker than a brown paper bag talking about how she knows nothing of "black culture" and doesn't consider herself "black" was a hot mess. get her help now.

            •  We only disagree that these kids make the case... (4+ / 0-)
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              malharden, smartdemmg, gramofsam1, tikkun

              ...that I believe you are making.For example, the young lady you keep referring to comes to identify as "black" at the end of the program. So why harp on her journey rather than applaud where destination?

              Anyway, it would be very interesting to broaden this conversation to all communities of color. African-Americans are not the only community that has to deal with colorism and issues of "pasiibilty".

              "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

              by sebastianguy99 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:47:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Your description of the young people confused and (3+ / 0-)
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            ladybug53, tikkun, mim5677

            honestly upsets me. I'm in a biracial family, although mine is Chinese and white (Ashkenazi) rather than black and white. My daughter looks fairly Chinese. If I'm understanding you, you're saying that there's something lost or confused about her if she identifies as biracial or closer to white culture than to Chinese American culture simply on the basis that she'll never be confused for white... and that I'll be doing a poor job of raising her if I don't raise her to think of herself as primarily Chinese.

            I don't expect her to identify as white, and my husband and I hope and expect her to feel an understanding of herself as a product of two peoples and two cultures. But I have no intention of either erasing myself or my extended family from her conception of self or her awareness of genetic heritage. She's not primarily Chinese, whatever she looks like. She's happa. I'm real. My relationship to her is real.

            I didn't see the special, but it sounds to me like you're upset that these biracial children--some of whom apparently were raised primarily by their white parent--want to be able to acknowledge their white parent and ties to white culture. That's not lost or confused. That's just wanting a space for to acknowledge the fullness of their identity.

        •  you overlook a lot of stuff ... (0+ / 0-)
          ...their parents have not equipped them with the armor necessary to be successful on these matters so others have to step in.
          You only can equip your kid with that said armor, if the parents can live it as an example. You can talk all day long and "theoretically" equip your child, but you can't live that experience of being black, if you are a white parent. So, it's simply in earnest not possible.

          Having a black mother as a light-skinned "mixed-raced" kid, the kid can get this armor from his black mother, but a white mother can not do the same, because she happened to be born white and didn't live a black experience. Whatever she does, she is still a product of white privilege and inheritance, if she wants it or not. How are you so sure that "stepping in" doesn't cause more conflicts than it resolves?

          ...these kids want to be "special" because one of their parents is not "black."
          That's one-sided. My experience is that "mixed-raced" kids would love to be not "special" but are seen that way, because one of their parents is "black" or "white", dependent in which environment they grow up in.

          Do you consider the environment in which those kids grow up in? Is it a white school in the US, or a white school in Europe, is it an African school in Nigeria or a multi-race school of various asian, native indigineous and white people or is it an afro-american mainly black school in the US? For all these situations, these kids (dependent which parent is the white one and which parent is the black one, in addition you have to distinguish if you have a girl or a boy mixed-raced child) have very different experiences and to say that their parents are the ones, who are at fault and have not equipped them with the armor necessary to be successful on these matters is "a bit too big and easy an answer". Your simplification of a very complex and painful issue for many of these kids and parents is a bit baffling.

          The whole issue of asking someone to identify himself on the basis of race is bullshit. I think it's offensive and one thing I have always refused to do is making a cross at these racial categories the US is asking for. It's racist. Hitler did it, South Africa did it and the US is doing it.

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