Biracial and Multiracial black people: Are those considered a race?

Like Tree24Likes

It seems that SOME people who like using the biracial or multiracial label or want their kids to use it say that they are using it to get away from racial thinking or to honour their parentage... but how so? How is it getting away from racial thinking to further break down or analyze who is half this or a quarter that? (and of course those who are considered "full Black", whatever that is, is on the bottom.) I don't like the "half and half" thinking because it implies that the "two halves" were pure to begin with, which they likely were not.
Originally Posted by Amneris
I don't know if you are referring to me, but since I am a parent who wishes her child to identify as what she is (biracial/African Polish-American/Black and Polish), rather than what someone wants her to be (Black or by some slim chance, White), you may be referring to me. In which case...

I've stated that I do not mind race in and of itself. It's is very obvious that there are is something different about me and my husband, besides our genders. It's when people place some value on it, as you seem to be doing, that causes the problem. I certainly do not put myself at the bottom of the race totem pole. But then, I do not think of it as a totem pole. To me, it's more of a rainbow or a spectrum. (And that's not meant to sound all kumbaya.) There is no better or worse, as they are all on the same plane, as far as I'm concerned.

Regarding purity, and this is not meant to be taken as a sign of some sort of superiority... As far as I know, the three to four generations above me are all Black. My husband's are all Polish. That makes us pretty close to "pure," and I'm sure there are lots of other folks who can claim the same, and maybe trace further. That doesn't make us any better or worse than my daughter, you, Tiger Woods, Barack Obama, or any other person. I'm sorry, but if I have a great great great great grand parent who is white, I'm not claiming biracial. That is just a bit too far removed.

I don't really buy into this idea that everyone is multiracial. It seems almost as bad as those who hold tight and fast to their purity as though it is some sort of badge of honor. Not only does it buy into the one drop rule, it sounds to me like a desperate attempt to make us all the "same," and simultaneously make some "not different." But, I am one of those people who celebrates our diversity. I love that there are different types of people in this world. I do not want a world where everyone is the same!
Originally Posted by CocoaCoily
I wasn't referring to you specifically, or anyone in particular, but since you responded....

I am not "putting value" on different races. The fact is that society already does that, and yes, those of African descent are in a less advantageous position than others. In reality, racial differences are superficial and unimportant and it would be GREAT if we just saw them as a beautiful spectrum of diversity - if we saw all different cultures and varieties of persons as interesting. That's how it should be, I totally agree. But just looking at who is poor, and who is underemployed, and who is in jail, and who is dying, etc. etc. etc. we can see that that isn't really the way that it is in the real world. I don't think me being honest about this is "creating the problem" - it far pre-dated me.

I think accepting that we are all multiracial means we are all the same - we are all human - AND we are all different, since the way in which those races blend in each of us is different and special - we all have our own unique DNA, and yet it is all human DNA. I don't think I am extra-different or extra-unique because I can point to ancestors who were Asian, or African, or European.... but because I am me and I uniquely inherited those genes and made of them who I am, I AM different and unique... as are you... as is anyone... if that makes sense.

I understand that to you a white great great whatever makes you feel it is too removed to be biracial... but what if someone else doesn't and wants to claim biracial? Isn't that their choice as to how to identify? I don't like the idea that there are "rules" as to how biracial someone can be - how is that any better than the one-drop rule?
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali












Me, too. I don't think any of us owe anyone else any explanations or justifications as to who we are or how we identify. We don't choose our parents so to me there's no point in being "proud" of their "races." I think there is a difference in celebrating the culture and heritage of all parts of your family and labelling yourself one way or another. If a person has a healthy sense of self, recognizes who they are etc. they can call themself whatever they want. My only issue is that labels come with certain baggage and assumptions, and this is why people don't need to have access to that information for situations like school or voting, and creating more labels only creates more baggage and assumptions.
Originally Posted by Amneris
do you think the bolded contradicts your choice of signature? and if not, why? i always took your signature as a symbol if racial pride, especially since it doesnt acknowledge a specific culture or heritage.

Me, too. I don't think any of us owe anyone else any explanations or justifications as to who we are or how we identify. We don't choose our parents so to me there's no point in being "proud" of their "races." I think there is a difference in celebrating the culture and heritage of all parts of your family and labelling yourself one way or another. If a person has a healthy sense of self, recognizes who they are etc. they can call themself whatever they want. My only issue is that labels come with certain baggage and assumptions, and this is why people don't need to have access to that information for situations like school or voting, and creating more labels only creates more baggage and assumptions.
Originally Posted by Amneris
do you think the bolded contradicts your choice of signature? and if not, why? i always took your signature as a symbol if racial pride, especially since it doesnt acknowledge a specific culture or heritage.
Originally Posted by subbrock
No... that's pride in MYSELF and how I choose to live... not in how my parents identify. Their identification isn't relevant to why I chose that sig. The sig isn't about racial "pride" (which I think is silly) - it's about standing your ground and not being who the world wants you to be.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











yea that quote has to do with pride in onesself...which I love btw!!!

everytime I see it I'm like I need to put that somewhere where I can see it everyday!!
I remember you saying you would never post in one of these threads again
Originally Posted by kindredspirit1983
oh yes, i forgot.
Well, we agree that the real world isn't pretty when it comes to race. And being in the skin I'm in, I've certainly had my share of demeaning treatment. But, I also know that the people who treated me that way are the ones with the problem, with the small-minds. Yes, I acknowledge that some of them were also in the power position, and that makes for this very major issue. But, things don't change by themselves. So, as a person responsible for teaching a member of the next generation, I will alert her to the dangers of the world, but also constantly remind her that that is not how it should be. That said, my wanting her to identify as biracial (if going for the "short version") is not an attempt to give her distance from being Black. She is Black, but she is also just as much Polish. I could ask why no one wonders why I may not be trying to give her distance from Polish.

My not identifying as biracial if an ancestor 5 generations removed was White seems to buy right into the one drop rule, as far as I'm concerned. In my mind, that would be like saying I am at high risk of cancer, if that same ancestor died of it, when no other had. It would also look suspiciously like what you and others who hold similar opinions think, that they are trying to be NOT Black. So, no, I would not claim biracial if I found my 4th great granddaddy was White. And, yes, I'll admit that I might look sideways at someone who did...Then I'd go on about my business, because that wouldn't be mine anyway.


Last edited by CocoaCoily; 08-06-2009 at 07:08 PM.
Well, we agree that the real world isn't pretty when it comes to race. And being in the skin I'm in, I've certainly had my share of demeaning treatment. But, I also know that the people who treated me that way are the ones with the problem, with the small-minds. Yes, I acknowledge that some of them were also in the power position, and that makes for this very major issue. But, things don't change by themselves. So, as a person responsible for teaching a member of the next generation, I will alert her to the dangers of the world, but also constantly remind her that that is not how it should be. That said, my wanting her to identify as biracial is not an attempt to give her distance from being Black. She is Black, but she is also just as much Polish. I could ask why no one wonders why I may not be trying to give her distance from Polish.

My not identifying as biracial if an ancestor 5 generations removed was White seems to buy right into the one drop rule, as far as I'm concerned. In my mind, that would be like saying I am at high risk of cancer, if that same ancestor died of it, when no other had. It would also look suspiciously like what you and others who hold similar opinions think, that they are trying to be NOT Black. So, no, I would not claim biracial if I found my 4th great granddaddy was White. And, yes, I'll admit that I might look sideways at someone who did...Then I'd go on about my business, because that wouldn't be mine anyway.
Originally Posted by CocoaCoily
I agree with that... she is Black AND white.

The italic is what I would teach my son too. I think we agree on the same basic philosophy. I want him to understand where the idea of race came and why it was made up... but then figure out how to work within that framework to do what he can to better himself and others.

The last bold is pretty much what I do when I hear the word "biracial", LOL.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











I agree with that... she is Black AND white.

The italic is what I would teach my son too. I think we agree on the same basic philosophy. I want him to understand where the idea of race came and why it was made up... but then figure out how to work within that framework to do what he can to better himself and others.

The last bold is pretty much what I do when I hear the word "biracial", LOL.
Originally Posted by Amneris
Ok, so hold on a moment... You agree that she is Black AND White. Black and White are racial terms. "Bi" refers to two. Sooo, that would make her...biracial, right? I'm just saying!

I agree with that... she is Black AND white.

The italic is what I would teach my son too. I think we agree on the same basic philosophy. I want him to understand where the idea of race came and why it was made up... but then figure out how to work within that framework to do what he can to better himself and others.

The last bold is pretty much what I do when I hear the word "biracial", LOL.
Originally Posted by Amneris
Ok, so hold on a moment... You agree that she is Black AND White. Black and White are racial terms. "Bi" refers to two. Sooo, that would make her...biracial, right? I'm just saying!
Originally Posted by CocoaCoily
Sure, but what I'm saying is that most people are biracial. You however are saying the term doesn't apply to people whose 4th great grandparent is white and the rest Black - though that person is also Black and white and biracial. So I'm getting that when people use the term biracial, they usually mean one parent is Black and one is white, or maybe a grandparent. I don't like the separate term based on what generation your mix comes from.

Your daughter has one parent who identifies as white and one who identifies as Black - that's a fact and is part of who she is. But labelling herself "biracial" because of it is a political choice. Labelling herself "Black" is a political choice. What choice you make depends on what value you (gy) put on the fact of having a white and a Black parent, is all I am saying.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











but if you say your daughter is black and polish that kinda makes no sense because,then I'm black polish and german but i'm still black and white because my mother may be polish and german but she's still white, and I know black people from poland and germany and i know mixed kids who have parents who happen to be black and white, but from germany. Its kind of like your saying black people can't be from europe or something unless your referring to a black person who is polish but then why would you say black and polish?
Originally Posted by turtles

Because that's what she is. If you ask my husband what he is (and people do, because he can pass for many things) he will tell you he is Polish. If you want to get technical, she's Belizean Polish. But, then she'd have to explain Belize is where Belizeans come from, that it is a country in Central America, blah blah blah, because not many people know of Belize. Hence, Black and Polish, or briacial for short. ETA: She could also say African Polish-American, which is how my mom sometimes refers to her.

And yes, Black people can be in Poland, but that is not necessarily their heritage. They would likely be African-Polish (or have the luxury of being able to claim a specific country in Africa to be really technical), similar to the way we here are African-American. And to further get technical, those Black people in Poland may not be Black Poles like my daughter, because they may not have a Polish blood line.

zoe kravitz, daughter of lenny kravitz and lisa bonet is...? can someone choose her identity?
Originally Posted by frau
Since you ask, I would say that Zoe Kravitz is biracial, since she happens to come from two biracial parents with the same basic mix.
Originally Posted by CocoaCoily
not asking w/ any malice. What if your daughter grows up and only identifies with her black side? Like she may still be up on Polish tradition but self-IDs as black when she gets older... would you consider her black and white or go w/ what she chooses? Or the converse, opting or maybe passing for entirely Polish?
The poster formerly known as Aeddy

not asking w/ any malice. What if your daughter grows up and only identifies with her black side? Like she may still be up on Polish tradition but self-IDs as black when she gets older... would you consider her black and white or go w/ what she chooses? Or the converse, opting or maybe passing for entirely Polish?
Originally Posted by Dea
She definitely can not pass for entirely Polish, but her last name is a sure sign of her Polish heritage! I tend to believe that identifying as only Polish or only Black may not happen, since her framework (that is, what we teach her) won't allow for that. I'm sure she will come into contact with people who will want her to call herself Black, because she has a black mother (I doubt that any who would encourage her to identify as only Polish, since that's not "allowed"). I would hope that she would resist. Otherwise, we would be having some serious debates!

I have some evidence of how that framework has played out in the examples of my three youngest siblings. They are Black and Italian, and they identify as such (sometimes biracial, sometimes African Italian-American). If someone tries to call them either one or the other, they correct them. They see it the way I do. And it's quite simple. Mom's black, dad's Italian. So they are Black Italians. If both parents were Italians, that's what they would be. If both were Black, that's what they would be. It's not really something that you can choose. You can deny, but that would not change what you really are. And, of course, it doesn't make for who you are.

But I notice that so often people who are highly attached to the "biracial" label are also highly attached to being Not Black, and will claim they or their kids "look white", which is often untrue, get upset and "correct" people who think they are Black, etc. I don't find that threatening, but I find it sad, and I don't think any of it moves us closer to ending racism or improving the state of affairs for people of colour. But, people have their reasons for doing what they want.
Originally Posted by Amneris
I can't speak to any of the unbolded part because I don't have kids, etc.. But I will speak to the bolded part because I see truth in it and some may characterize me in that way.

I've posted before and I will post again that the segment of the black community that insists that someone with two or more cultures AND races must call themselves black or else (1) be denying blackness, (2) be an uncle or aunt tom, (3) must be self hating, etc.. pretty much makes me want to run far and wide from that community. It's almost like a form of emotional blackmail that you can't be part or half black and claim the other side because it is "denying blackness." Every other group gets to be mixed and proud of it - asian/white, latino/asian, latino or native american/white, jewish/asian, etc.. etc... But if one of your parents is black, then that's the end of any recognition of a mixed background, including a mixed cultural heritage. And I do see it as enforcing the antebellum, slave era, one drop rule. And I reject it.

The issue of what a mixed person looks like (as an adult or child) raises a lot of separate issues as to how they will self-identify, which self-identification may change over time. I don't really feel like going into that. But I felt strongly enough about the above to post on this thread, which I also rated (1 star).
"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."

"I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then we live with that decision."
- Eleanor Roosevelt (both quotes)

(taking a break from posting starting late august 2009)

I have some evidence of how that framework has played out in the examples of my three youngest siblings. They are Black and Italian, and they identify as such (sometimes biracial, sometimes African Italian-American). If someone tries to call them either one or the other, they correct them. They see it the way I do. And it's quite simple. Mom's black, dad's Italian. So they are Black Italians. If both parents were Italians, that's what they would be. If both were Black, that's what they would be. It's not really something that you can choose. You can deny, but that would not change what you really are. And, of course, it doesn't make for who you are.
Originally Posted by CocoaCoily
The experience of your younger siblings rings true for me and other bi and multi-cultural/racial people I know. The honoring part is in recognizing 2 parents who contributed to your genetics and raised you, in a world that can be very hostile towards miscegenation and interracial marriage. I, for one, am not going to give up claiming the identities of both parents just because of what may make others more comfortable or happy in their own skin and narrow world views. I am most concerned with how I live, my choices and their consequences.

I will acknowledge that one's appearance and how one is raced by others can have a very big impact on self-identification and maintaining a comfort zone with self-identification.
"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."

"I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then we live with that decision."
- Eleanor Roosevelt (both quotes)

(taking a break from posting starting late august 2009)


One of my best friends is half white, half black. When her hair was relaxed, everyone thought she was white. Her facial features, her body type--everything about her "looked white". Well, she went natural, and her hair is a 4b. A lot of our black sistas joke around with her, saying that she looks like a white girl with a 'fro, and that her hair is nappier than theirs!
Originally Posted by notyouraveragecurl
I think this is an interesting example because it shows the complexity of how people are raced. Everyone always refers to skin color and hair type and texture (which do play a big role in how someone is raced). But just as significant are facial features and body type, which have racial associations as well.

And the reality is that race-mixing will create a broader range or variety of looks that do tend to challenge or strain racial stereotyping (for example, how you classify Rashida Jones, Meg Tilly, Halle Berry's kid, Jessica Alba, Kristin Kruek, Rosario Dawson, Mariah Carey). In a sense, its harder to cling to the old racial classifications when increasingly so many people don't fit the mold.
"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."

"I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then we live with that decision."
- Eleanor Roosevelt (both quotes)

(taking a break from posting starting late august 2009)
okay how come white people don't get the white polish the white german the white italian, white american? you know what i mean??

I think it is ridiculous to have to declare race for school, or for voting. I don't think the solution is to demand a 'mixed' category. The solution is to refuse to fill those forms out at all and demand they stop asking.
Originally Posted by Amneris

I like this idea.
Originally Posted by turtles
FYI, if in the US and filling out the census report you only have to report how many people are in your household. Everything else is extras. You don't have to indicate race or anything else.
There's no such thing as global warming. Chuck Norris was cold so he turned up the sun.
okay how come white people don't get the white polish the white german the white italian, white american? you know what i mean??
Originally Posted by turtles
I'm not exactly sure, no. But I have known white people who strongly identify with a european heritage, so will proudly call themselves "irish", "italian" or "british" for example. If you are asking if there is a presumption that people from Europe are racially white, then, yes, there is that presumption. The opposite presumption is true of africans - if you learn someone is "south african" for example, would you automatically think they were of dutch or european africaanz descent? or would you think they were black? I think it does boil down to numeric majorities/minorities. It makes less sense in the US with all the diversity, especially as the population grows more and more non-white and also mixed.

But there are always exceptions. For example, the delicious Marcus Samuelson - swedish and raised by swedes but racially ethiopian.
"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."

"I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then we live with that decision."
- Eleanor Roosevelt (both quotes)

(taking a break from posting starting late august 2009)
But I notice that so often people who are highly attached to the "biracial" label are also highly attached to being Not Black, and will claim they or their kids "look white", which is often untrue, get upset and "correct" people who think they are Black, etc. I don't find that threatening, but I find it sad, and I don't think any of it moves us closer to ending racism or improving the state of affairs for people of colour. But, people have their reasons for doing what they want.
Originally Posted by Amneris
I can't speak to any of the unbolded part because I don't have kids, etc.. But I will speak to the bolded part because I see truth in it and some may characterize me in that way.

I've posted before and I will post again that the segment of the black community that insists that someone with two or more cultures AND races must call themselves black or else (1) be denying blackness, (2) be an uncle or aunt tom, (3) must be self hating, etc.. pretty much makes me want to run far and wide from that community. It's almost like a form of emotional blackmail that you can't be part or half black and claim the other side because it is "denying blackness." Every other group gets to be mixed and proud of it - asian/white, latino/asian, latino or native american/white, jewish/asian, etc.. etc... But if one of your parents is black, then that's the end of any recognition of a mixed background, including a mixed cultural heritage. And I do see it as enforcing the antebellum, slave era, one drop rule. And I reject it.

The issue of what a mixed person looks like (as an adult or child) raises a lot of separate issues as to how they will self-identify, which self-identification may change over time. I don't really feel like going into that. But I felt strongly enough about the above to post on this thread, which I also rated (1 star).
Originally Posted by love yourself first
I must be lucky, because I haven't really met many Black people with that mentality - maybe Caribbean people treat this differently? Most Black people I know know that they are mixed somewhere down the line, and they have no issue with anyone celebrating a mixed or multicultural heritage. I have almost always felt loved, accepted and embraced by the Black community, without having to deny anything about who I am or how my family is.

I don't see it as an either-or choice. You can be multiracial and be Black, and any other culture you want. I see myself as multiracial, Black and Latina, for example. I think if you WANT to call yourself white you can too, but in most cases white people and others won't accept this. I don't see why a person who is mixed with Polish and Black can't say they are Polish or Black Polish or whatever - if they have a Polish name, speak Polish, know Polish traditions etc. then they are Polish - since when do Poles have to be only white? I also think that IF more people classed as people of colour identified as white, it might take some of the privilege and exclusivity away from it. I also think in different settings, people can have different identities. In no way am I suggesting that anyone with some Black ancestry should be forced or guilted to ONLY call themself Black or not to acknowledge any other heritage. However, if they ONLY call themself biracial, I personally think they are just adding confusion and not unity. Just my opinion - I don't speak for all Black people.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











okay how come white people don't get the white polish the white german the white italian, white american? you know what i mean??
Originally Posted by turtles
I'm not exactly sure, no. But I have known white people who strongly identify with a european heritage, so will proudly call themselves "irish", "italian" or "british" for example. If you are asking if there is a presumption that people from Europe are racially white, then, yes, there is that presumption. The opposite presumption is true of africans - if you learn someone is "south african" for example, would you automatically think they were of dutch or european africaanz descent? or would you think they were black? I think it does boil down to numeric majorities/minorities. It makes less sense in the US with all the diversity, especially as the population grows more and more non-white and also mixed.

But there are always exceptions. For example, the delicious Marcus Samuelson - swedish and raised by swedes but racially ethiopian.
Originally Posted by love yourself first

I don't get what your saying, but what I'm saying is okay you've met people who are white and will be like I'm Polish-american...BUT most white people i know just go by straight up white or Caucasian. Yet black people have to be like african american. When you fill out that crap on papers you don't see irish-american scottish-american german-american yada yada.

If two white people came from africa and got citzenship would they be african american?
I don't see it as an either-or choice. You can be multiracial and be Black, and any other culture you want. I see myself as multiracial, Black and Latina, for example. I think if you WANT to call yourself white you can too, but in most cases white people and others won't accept this. I don't see why a person who is mixed with Polish and Black can't say they are Polish or Black Polish or whatever - if they have a Polish name, speak Polish, know Polish traditions etc. then they are Polish - since when do Poles have to be only white?
Originally Posted by Amneris


thats exactly what I was trying to say earlier, I guess i just said it wrong.

Trending Topics


Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:58 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2011 NaturallyCurly.com