Tag Archives: mixed race

Mixed Messages: On Bi-Racial Siblings

by Special Correspondent Fatemah Fakhraie

My brother likes to push my buttons. When I bring up women’s issues, he tells me to get back to the kitchen. When I bring up Iranian culture, he cracks jokes in a fakey Middle Eastern accent.

I love him anyway.

We’re pretty close. We look alike, family members often confuse our voices on the phone, and we crack jokes to keep each other entertained when things get tense or boring. I feel very blessed to have him, and to have the relationship that we do.

Since high school, I have been striving to reconnect with my Iranian and Muslim identities; he hasn’t shown the same inclination. This isn’t to say that he’s remained the same person since high school: he and his interests have developed and evolved, but they have not done so in a direction that seeks to connect with this half of his ethnic identity. He is just as Iranian as I am in his biological makeup, but his identification doesn’t mirror mine.

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On Tyra: Biracial Women Who Hate Their Other Side

by Latoya Peterson

Checking my Clutch feeds, I stumbled across this video from the Tyra show*. Literally, the title of the post sums it up. It’s about biracial folks who hate one side or the other.

The video is 32 minutes long.

The video features Jenna, who is half black and half white, who denies her blackness; Tabitha, who is half latina and half white, who denies her whiteness; Jaselle, who is black and Puerto Rican, who denies her PR heritage; and Sohn (her segment was not included in the video I watched.)

While Tyra focused more on Jenna for the majority of the segments, but the other guests actually brought up some really good points about race and identity.

Jenna appears to have been a ratings ploy – she espouses extreme hatred of other blacks, denies of all positive aspects of her non-white heritage, reaffirms stereotypes as truth, explains a preference for a “white” way of living, proudly displays three rebel flags (using the customary “get over it, it’s heritage not hate, it’s in the past” defenses without any acknowledgment of her own contradiction) and even has a photo of her in makeshift Klan gear.

[One of the Clutch commenters called her a sighted Clayton Bigsby. Was Chapelle’s art imitating life? Or was that skit based on a true story?]

Yeah…moving on. Continue reading

New study: biracial asian-americans are more likely to be sad

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

biracial star trek 1

Do you remember last last week’s Freakonomics study that claimed biracial black/white kids were liable to be twice as messed up as kids who were monoracially black or white?Apart from the racist generalisations of that study, some of our readers (including myself) were peeved at the insinuation that the only kind of biraciality that exists is the black/white kind. But good news everybody: there’s now a study for Asian/white biracials too!

Biracial Asian-Americans are twice as likely as monoracial Asian-Americans to be diagnosed with a psychological disorder, U.S. researchers said.

At first glance, this study seems to be treading the same problematic lines as the Freakonomics study. Like, call us crazy (haha!), but us biracial Asian Americans don’t like being told by a researchers that we’re twice as likely to be bananas as our monoracial Asian friends and relatives.

But take a closer look:

Among the biracial individuals in their national survey the researchers found 34 percent had been diagnosed with a psychological disorder — such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse — compared to 17 percent of monoracial individuals.

Considering that many biracial folk from a wee age have to put up with a lot of nonsense from families, both communities of colour AND white folk, and just society in general, it doesn’t surprise me if researchers find we experience higher levels of unhappiness.

If you ask me, there are two problems with the way this study has been described. One has to do with the way we talk about mental health, and the other has to do with confusing nature with nurture.

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Interracial Dating: “Beyond Race” versus “Anti-Racist Dating”

by Guest Contributor Lisa, originally published at Orange Crushed

When I was in elementary school, maybe second grade, a white classmate asked me the deep, probing question: “When you get married, is it going to be to a white man or a black man?” To someone like me who is biracial, this question is probably up there with “Are you adopted?” and “Can I touch your hair?” But even at 7 years old, I felt that this was silly — how could I possibly know who I was going to marry so far in the future? And why would I care what color he was as long as he had all of the stereotypical Prince Charming qualities that little girls are taught that men should have? And besides, my 7-year-old self pointed out, what if he’s going to be Asian or Native American?

I can thank my parents for instilling in me the idea that people are people, and that it’s cool to date whoever you want. In fact, both of my parents were practicing misceganators before they got married to each other. My white mother and her black boyfriend once got kicked out of a Catholic church in the 1960s. When my parents got married in the 1970s, someone in the supposedly ultra-liberal college town that I grew up in would routinely slash the tires on their cars overnight. They raised me to believe that, despite the crap that they went through, the world was becoming a better place every day and that by the time I was an adult, I there would be nothing to worry about when it came to interracial dating.

Of course, real life didn’t work out that way. No, I never had people damaging my personal property or ostracizing me for my choices. But what I did find was that the interracial dating revolution from my parents’ time, when things were about challenging the status quo and being willing to take shit from everyone around you in the name of love, was highly romanticized compared to the pitfalls and quirks that I encountered when I was old enough to start spending time with boys. Given my status as biracial, pretty much anyone who I chose to date could have earned me the moniker of “interracial dater,” but I think that my skin is dark enough that it was assumed that by dating black guys I was dating with “my own” race. Still, throughout middle school and high school, I “went with” (as we called dating back then!) guys of various backgrounds.

However, if I look at the general pattern, I “liked” or “dated” more black guys in middle school and progressively less of them as I got older. This is a little bit of a digression, but I was always a tomboy, and the last black guy I dated, in my junior year of high school, really put me off by asking me a bunch of seemingly sexist (or at least nit-picky) questions about “what happened to your nails?” because I don’t get them done and “why don’t you try and look more cute” and stuff like that. I think at some point after that, as I made my way through college, I decided that I couldn’t/didn’t want to live up to a lot of the standards that the black men I knew seemed to have for women, because I didn’t care about makeup or getting my hair done and because I was actually a huge nerd who spent her time playing video games and chatting on the Internet (of course now I know that perfectly nerdy brothers exist too, but at the time I was feeling more than a little jaded).

Anyway, back to the main point. Out of the white guys that I dated before I got married, most of them fell into the category of thinking of themselves as “beyond race.” By this I mean that they were the kind of people who would proclaim that they honestly didn’t “see” color when they looked at people, due to some kind of extra special social enlightenment that they had attained and now wanted to brag about. Continue reading

When is Black “Black?”

by Guest Contributor Danielle Belton, originally published at The Black Snob

“She needs to quit.”

That’s how the discussion got kicked off on One Drop Rule’s message board July 2nd. The person accused of needing to cease and desist was CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien who spent the past year working on a documentary for the cable news network entitled “Black In America” which airs this week. And the quitting in question was in regards to her black status.

“I have watched her with (African Americans) before and never once did she refer to (African Americans) in the first person, as in ‘I’ or ‘We’, or ‘we as a people’, etc. Maybe that’s just a journalism thing. But Tim Russert did identify as a Catholic when the Pope died, so?” wrote one commenter.

“Also, I have read at least one article … that says, rather Soledad says, that while her mother raised her/siblings to be just (African Americans), she sees herself as being bi-racial or mixed race. Now, she could just be saying that because she’s doing this show. Maybe on St. Paddy’s day, she said she was Irish.”

This attitude was sprinkled throughout many of the comments. At one point a few seemed to get an interview O’Brien gave to MyUrbanReport confused where she talked about her own upbringing as “black” and the story of a mixed couple she interviewed for the documentary who differed on whether to raise the children as biracial or black.

    “Here you have a kid to me who is completely biracial,” O’Brien said in the interview. “They’re little children, but their dad doesn’t necessarily see that (they’re black.) … My mom and dad were like you’re black. That was just the way it was. The way they were very clear about it made me clear about it in my head.”

O’Brien has repeatedly in the past given accounts of her life as a black Latina. In a profile with the Irish Echo Online, she talks about her identity (her mother is Afro-Cuban and her father is Australian-Irish) and the struggles her parents went through as a mixed race couple back when it was still illegal in some places and some restaurants wouldn’t serve them.

    O’Brien tends to treat her own ethnic mix with a light touch. She said that people laugh when they see her without makeup “because I have so many freckles that I look very Irish.” She also gently mocked the notion that her mixed-race background exposed her to unimaginable horrors.

    “I have had people say, like, ‘Oh, so you were a tragic mulatto?’ Well, um, not exactly. I was just a middle-class girl growing up on Long Island.”

    It isn’t possible, she contended, “to over-dramatize” what (her parents) went through … “They were doing stuff that for the time was very risky – socially risky and risky to their own physical safety. And they decided they were going to go ahead and get married and have six kids,” their daughter recalled.

While the board eventually clears up the confusion over what O’Brien said versus what the couple she interviewed said, there seemed to be a prevailing hostility towards the reporter for her alleged flip-flopping on her “black status.”

I’ve heard this on more than one occasion, but haven’t seen much from O’Brien to back this belief up considering she routinely plays up her black heritage over her Irish roots. After awhile I started to wonder if this hostility was over the fact that she was white enough to pass, but still ensconced herself in black issues and news stories (she’s a member of the National Association of Black Journalists). Were their “lying eyes” keeping them from recognizing her as a woman of color? Especially with her straight hair and nondescript accent, standard for any TV journalist? Continue reading

Not Quite White: When Racial Ambiguity Meets Whiteness

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

I first met my significant other at a literary reading featuring writer Sherman Alexie. Those fortunate enough to have encountered the author of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven know that he uses comedy during his performances to explore race. That said, it came as no surprise to me during his appearance when Alexie discussed how racially ambiguous Native Americans look by joking, “People always think I’m half of whatever they are.”

My then soon-to-be boyfriend laughed hysterically throughout the reading. He’s not Native American—not by more than a drop, anyway—but he is often assumed to be “other.” In fact, at the reading even I assumed that he was half-something, and the mostly Latino and black students he teaches routinely ask him the question that makes mixed folks worldwide cringe: “What are you?”

The answer he gives is one they don’t expect. “I’m white,” he says.

“You’re not white! You’re not white!” they protest in disbelief. And they are not alone. Both strangers and acquaintances alike take it for granted that my boyfriend is a person of color. When the teachers at the school take count of their few white colleagues, my boyfriend is oft-overlooked. His dark-brown hair, beige-pink skin, prominent nose and lush lips take him out of the running. “You can pass,” one of his coworkers tells him. Only, in his case, she means pass for non-white.

Her observation brings to mind the groundbreaking essay “Passing for White, Passing for Black” by artist Adrian Piper. In the essay, Piper suggests peering at a white person’s features and complimentarily telling the person that he or she appears to have African ancestry, then watching the person’s reaction. She writes:

The ultimate test of a person’s repudiation of racism is not what she can contemplate doing for or on behalf of black people, but whether she herself can contemplate calmly the likelihood of being black. If racial hatred has not manifested itself in any other context, it will do so here if it exists, in hatred of the self as identified as the other—that is, as self-hatred projected onto the other.

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Bring back my body to me

by Guest Contributor Thea Lim

In order to show that I am an interesting person with diverse interests and a multi-track mind, I was going to stay away from the topics of Barack Obama, feminism and personal experiences for my second Racialicious post.

But sometimes good intentions get derailed by the nonsense we receive in our inboxes. In early June, via a feminist listserv (sigh), I received a link to this article from UK paper The Independent: “Calling Obama black is an insult to his mother” by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Call me close-minded, but just from its title, this article would appear to be too offensive to even comment on – its problems are pretty self-evident and don’t need an outraged commenter (ie me) to point them out.

But here’s an exhausting (discouraging, nightmare-inducing, etc…) thought: if Obama wins in November, we may just have four years of ludicrous op-eds spewing nonsensical assumptions about race – and mixed race people – as if it is the business of journalists to tell mixed people how they should identify. So here we go: round one of defensive blogging.

Says Alibhai-Brown:

Barack Obama is not black…the adjective has become an identity and racial marker for the Democratic nominee, and used that way, “black” is disingenuous, and in my view, iniquitous. Successful mixed-race Americans are pushed to call themselves “black” as a badge of honour, evidence that they are not ashamed of that background. And that too is wrong.

The first thing that rubbed me the wrong way about Alibhai-Brown is her belief that mixed race people just wake up in the morning and declare “I’m Black!”, or in my case, “I’m Chinese!” In my experience, a mixed race* person’s racial identity is based on:

a) the racial identity they identify with most, based on their complicated life experience,

but moreover on:

b) how they are seen by the society around them, based on their physical appearance.

My mother is English and Irish and was born in England, and my father is Chinese and was born in Singapore. In Toronto where I live, I’m usually read as some kind of East Asian. In Singapore where I grew up, I’m usually read as white. My race shifts depending on the racial politics of where I am. Continue reading

Lindsay Lohan Creating the Next American Apparel?

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Natalia sends us this casting notice posted by Perez Hilton:


Here’s the casting notice an industry insider sent our way:

    Casting for Models for Look book Shoot- Looking for diverse, multi-cultural, mixed races, an “off beauty” is good as well as “beautiful”.. No Blondes please.

    CASTING FOR: The Look Book Shoot for 6126 – a new contemporary collection of leggings designed by Lindsay Lohan

    USAGE: web, look book, worldwide
    RATE: trade
    DATE of SHOOT: May 9th 6am call time in Los Feliz (address TBC)
    CASTING DATE: May 8, 2008 430pm
    ADDRESS OF CASTING: 450 N Roxbury Drive (Little Santa Monica and Roxbury) 6th floor (Membrane Offices) ask for Sarah or Ken.

    No phone calls please.
    Please do not send models to the casting unless they are available for shoot and call time and they agree to trade terms.

C-H-E-A-P.

Part of me wants to just be happy that multi-ethnic models are getting any kind of play whatsoever. Even if it is for no pay.

But the other part of me thinks Dov Charney- style fetishization.

What say you?

(Photo Credit: BuzzBeyotch)