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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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  •  he is black. he identifies as such, and is (14+ / 0-)

    perceived as such. if obama were a bus driver or a prison inmate a peep or a fart would not be raised over his "mixed race" identity. what is utter foolishness.

    listen to the npr show and watch the cnn show. they are using that language. i would use mulatto in certain contexts in day to day conversation when appropriate. we have "mixed race" people on npr and cnn fighting over being octoroons or quadroons for goodness sake. i call them as i see them.

    i am not a race warrior. i am a black pragmatist who is a patriot and is deeply concerned about the state of the common good. the definition and label matters.

    •  Trying to follow this- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, smartdemmg

      so if Obama were light skinned enough to pass, and if he were perceived as white and he identified as white- would that mean that he is white?  Is it only about self-identification and perception?

      •  this is speculation (6+ / 0-)

        President Obama self-identifies as being black. He can't pass, and couldn't if he tried. In this society, he might barely pass the paper bag test. That would have been great in 1940s and '50s black society. Doesn't mean squat with white folks in the 1960s from what I can tell.

        •  Of course it's speculation- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, smartdemmg

          it's hypothetical. I'm just trying to figure out the terminology here, so let's not make it about President Obama. Let's say it's any random person who is light skinned enough to pass.
          Not trying to be argumentative, I really don't get it.

          •  some black people (4+ / 0-)

            who were light enough chose to pass because they knew they would be treated better as a white person. It's sad, but a true fact of life in the early to mid 1900s. They got better work and educational opportunities. But they also in many cases had to cut ties with family members who did not pass.

            Some of my father's aunts could easily have passed, but thank God they did not. I doubt I would have gotten to know them, especially growing up in Mississippi.

            Here's a news feature from a Pittsburgh paper about one sister's experience.

            This would have been too complicated for me, even if I had that complexion. Hard to keep up with the lies and appearances. Once upon a time I would have been angry with them. To me, this is an ultimate betrayal of your heritage. But to them, they saw an opportunity and took it. Can't be too angry about that.

            •  Thanks, I know it's complicated. (2+ / 0-)
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              kyril, breakingsong

              I guess what I'm struggling with is the idea of calling anyone a mulatto because they're of mixed race. I've always considered it an offensive term, and I actually thought the question about whether it would apply to the Prez was an interesting way to think about it.  
              And I'm pretty sure no one (except an idiot) would call him a mulatto, so I don't get why it's okay to use the term for anyone else.

              •  Honestly (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gramofsam1, Debby, ogre, kyril

                I don't hear those terms (mulatto, quadroon, octaroon) in this country any more. I think we've moved to slang language that we created: high yellow, red-bone, blue-black, midnight, ink spot. Some of these may be offensive, but I don't think the intent was to insult anyone. At least I don't think so.

                You will hear mulatto used proudly in some Caribbean and South American countries. I'll let others explain why because I really don't understand it. Or maybe I do, but don't want to accept it.

              •  As a white Canadian who will be fifty next year, (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kyril, gramofsam1, breakingsong

                I also understood that mulatto was an offensive term.

                I recc'd the diary because two of the African American Kossack voices that I respect most recommended it.

                                        Reading to learn,
                                               Heather

                Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

                by Chacounne on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:42:32 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I thought so too (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gramofsam1, Chacounne, breakingsong

                  and am certainly not taking this diary as permission to use the term, but I believe that in this diary it's being used to some intentional effect. What, exactly, that effect is supposed to be is going over my head, but I respect the judgment of the author and the other AA voices who've recommended it.

                  "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                  by kyril on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 12:08:23 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I understand (0+ / 0-)

                that terms like mulatto, quadroon, and octaroon are common in Brazil -- and that they find it bizarre how we in the US tend to be so emphatically binary (you're either black or you're white).

                A 47% return on investment--that's pretty doggoned good!

                by deminva on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:33:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That gets even more interesting- (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  deminva, breakingsong

                  my son spends 2 months a year in Brazil, so he's dated Brazilian girls, including some of mixed race. His impression, purely anecdotal from the girls he's known, is that colorism is even worse in Brazil than it is here. These girls were very emphatic that they were NOT black, and they said some things about black people that he found shocking enough to end the relationship.

                  So I guess that what looks more enlightened on the surface might not be so enlightened after all.

        •  What is the paper bag test? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez

          Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

          by Debby on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 09:45:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  the paper bag test (5+ / 0-)

            in some exclusive clubs and organizations, and also in some historically black colleges.....an African American was likely to be accepted, only if they were lighter skinned than a paper bag.  In some historically black colleges you had to send a photograph along with your application, in order for your skin color and hair texture to be assessed.

            Sad, but true.

            "Fear is the Mind Killer"--Frank Herbert

            by vmm918 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:58:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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