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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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  •  I think the issue is (3+ / 0-)

    that while the term may be entirely valid as an academic description of a literary/cultural archetype, it's being used in this diary to describe real nonfictional people.

    It could be argued that the show was constructed to cast them as representatives of the archetype, and as such the term might be valid for discussing the show itself. Nonetheless, the people interviewed were real people, not fictional characters, and so the considerations are different than they would be in a purely literary academic context.

    I wouldn't presume, as a white person, to tell a respected Black academic of mixed heritage how she should refer to other people of similar heritage. But I would say that it might be worth listening to the people in this diary who feel the word 'mulatto' applies to them or their family members and who find it offensive.

    "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 12:56:17 AM PST

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    •  Agree (5+ / 0-)

      that it can be both personal and academic/political kyril.
      But so much of my academic understanding is rooted in real people - many in my own family whose names I know, others who I will not ever, and those children of friends who are either solidly grounded or caught in confusions this society makes.

      There are now hundreds of websites using mulatto/mixed race/bi-racial as their subject/content.  Just google.

      I have had students refer to themselves as mulatto - and this becomes even more confusing when you also include students from Latin America/Brazil/Caribbean where "mulata" "mulatre" or "mulato" are terms used daily-and are in song and prize-winning literature.

      Further complicated by hypo-descent (the one drop rule)  
      the mess that has been created of "race", cultural identity, phenotype, color hierarchy...will not be sorted out soon.

      Better to have these discussions than not.  

      Does that make me insensitive to how people feel - or the pain. No. It does however mean that these conversations need to be aired somehow, and if we don't - ultimately we will never get past them.  

      I have a friend who is currently angry with her daughter because her daughter refers to herself as black.  

      She feels that her daughter is rejecting her - mom is white.

      Her daughter loves her mom dearly but refuses to be identified as bi-racial, or mulatto or mixed race.  

      I have another friend who has raised her child to think of herself as "white". That daughter is now experiencing trauma because she has been rejected by her white boyfriend's family.

      They don't embrace her "black' half. They reject her whole self.

      This stuff ain't easy.  And I know you never presume.  I still think it needs to be discussed and aired.  

      I've seen too many comments right here on daily kos about Obama's choice in choosing "black".

      A few people here even agreed that he had thrown his grandmother and mom under the bus.

      I guess I've been lucky to have a white grandmother who never felt threatened by her son, and me being black.

      But then she was forced by her time to live in the black community.

      It's harder for a parent or parents raising a child with some African ancestry in a white community or one that may be majority white.

      I've spent much of my life having people ask "what are you" which is pretty funny (and painful)
      since I am obviously to me - black.  

      I've been challenged academically too - had to inform someone in the black studies department a few years ago who objected to a course I was teaching simply because they decided I wasn't black.  My former Panther membership shut that up - but I didn't think I would have to "prove' anything.

      It offended me.  But I didn't let it stop me.  Nor did I avoid the discussion.

      Anyway - I'm up early AM as usual - and glad to see your comment.  Hope you see my long-winded response.

      Dee

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 02:50:53 AM PST

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