For reasons that are rooted in supremacy thinking, biracial and multiracial people are often viewed as "not enough of any race" to truly fit in.
Way too often we're told "you aren't that Black / Hispanic / Chinese / Latinx / Native" before or after someone insults or degrades whichever part of us they're biased against.
Most people know this is problematic, but it never ceases to amaze the number of people who will come out in droves to argue otherwise.
To be honest, none of it is cute, but in collaboration with a variety of my biracial and multiracial friends, these are the top 6 problematic things we all wish would be cancelled going forward.
1. Calling us by ignorant and/or uneducated nicknames
You know the ones:
- Oreo. You know, for people who are supposedly Black on the outside and white on the inside?
- Mulatto. Which, by the way, is a cross between a donkey and a mule.
- Oriental. People of Asian and Pacific Islander descent aren't rugs.
- Exotic. This is gross and when you use this term you're fetishizing and othering us as "different than" the norm.
- Washed. You know, as in "whitewashed" because we are educated and chose to represent ourselves how we want instead of playing into stereotypes.
- Any racial slur. This goes without saying, doesn't it?
2. Trying to make us "pick a side" of our heritage to align with
Real talk, for anyone who is biracial or multiracial and isn't white passing, this is some bullshit.
We are literally BOTH or ALL of our heritages in a combined form. So, no, we aren't "playing both sides", or "denying our Blackness" when we exhibit pride or love for BOTH or ALL of what we are - we are simply representing the truth of our existence.
This said, our genetic status doesn't mean we don't show up, speak out, and fight to abolish anti-Black racism. It doesn't exempt us from being on the receiving end of racial bias, oppression, or mistreatment either.
In fact, almost EVERY biracial or multiracial person I know identifies as Black and stands firm in that. So can we cut the shit already? We're Black periodt no matter what anyone thinks about it.
3. Racial gatekeeping
Specifically, this one is for everyone who acts like there's only one way to be Black, we'll never be "white enough" (like that's actually something most folks are trying to do), and all the people in between who think it's appropriate to question how we literally live our lives.
Newsflash, folks. You don't get to tell us what we are or are not. Why? Because you don't own the entire Black experience.
It never fails that when I bring this up someone on the opposite side of the argument wants to bring up slavery days and how light skinned folks were house servants instead of farm workers, or how they watch BET and think the "typical representation" AKA stereotype is how all Black people are.
It's almost as though they truly believe these ridiculously uneducated statements hold some kind of weight.
More than that, it's like these folks think us having light skin, finer hair, or less traditional features suddenly means we're white passing and get treated better.
For anyone who thinks like this, I've got some questions:
- How and why do you think mixed race individuals originally came into existence during slavery?
- It was through consensual sex, right?
- The first Black female slave to give birth to a light skinned child wasn't raped, right?
- Oh, and slave owners didn't repeatedly rape, beat, maim, lynch, or otherwise torture light skinned slaves, right?
- And, you've based your thinking off of a diverse range of Black people from different cultures, educational backgrounds, and upbringings, right?
So can we cancel these uneducated arguments already? It's so tired.
You know what else? Where it's not based in fact, it makes you look bad when you repeat it. Sorry, not sorry.
4. Being outwardly rude to us, but being mad when that energy is met with **SPOILER ALERT** the same damn energy!
For real, why though? If you feel entitled to behave poorly based on our skin tone, why should we not feel entitled to return that same energy back to you?
I get it. To some this seems petty, and the whole damn thing in the first place is petty, but if you're the instigator of this raggedy-ass energy, you need to check yourself. You get what you give.
Besides, if we collectively stop wasting energy on this petty shit, we might have more energy to dismantle the system, right?
5. Assuming being "closer to white" means we think we're better than other Black people
I mean, it goes without saying but, if a large group of light skinned folks vocally assumed that dark skinned folks were arrogant assholes, or that "whiteness is better", we'd all collectively be rightful to drag those people, delete & block them, and pretend they never existed.
This said, I do understand and acknowledge that there are *some* light skinned folks who engage in ignorant behaviour that is rooted in supremacy thinking. The thing is, that's also true of some dark skinned folks.
The solution here? Stop making assumptions about people if you don't know who they actually are.
It's simple really, but it does require you actively challenging your own perceived biases - regardless of your race, heritage, or culture.
And while we're on the topic, what's the issue painting people with the same brush?
Stereotyping. By participating in stereotyping you further the incorrect assumption that everyone is the same just because they belong to a similar group. Just because *some* light skinned Black folks behave a certain way, it doesn't mean most or even a majority of light skinned Black folks agree with that way of thinking.
So, again, making assumptions about all biracial or multiracial people based on limited experiences with a non-representative subset of us is NOT OKAY.
6. Acting like we don't experience racism
I'll repeat this again for those in the back - biracial and multiracial people having light skin, finer hair, or less traditional features DOES NOT mean we're white passing and get treated better.
Am I saying we experience racism at the same level as darker skinned folks?
Not at all.
What I'm saying is we experience racism too, and it's not fair to diminish or downplay our experiences due to colorism.
If you've read this far, thank you for sticking with me.
Whether you agree or disagree with the opinions shared in this post, I hope you at least keep an open mind and attempt to understand how biracial and multiracial people feel when we experience these things.
I by no means speak for every biracial or multiracial person in North America, but I do speak for those close to me who are routinely othered by our own communities.
As is true of most things, Black people have diverse experiences related to racism and supremacy thinking. I encourage you to check out
"6 Things Black Folks Really Wish You'd Stop Saying (& Doing)" written collectively by some of my beautiful dark skinned friends to hear more about how dark skinned Black people are routinely othered.