It’s not something I keep secret, but for those of you who don’t know I’m a biracial, black woman. My mother is white. My birth father is black. The man who raised me was white. This saves for an incredibly complicated family dynamic.
I know that the multiracial experience in America is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor so this is from my lens of growing up in the south, raised by a white family.
I think I’ve heard it more times than I can count from white people that the biracial existence is “proof that two people can come together and create something beautiful”. I’ve also heard that biracial people get the enormous burden of fixing a race-divided society by… existing. While that sounds like a fluffy, idealistic line that you could find in a white-washed movie about interracial love, let me get you all the way together if you think this is truth.
I, nor other biracial people, are here to save anything. We’re not here to prove anything. We’re not here to fix anything, and we’re definitely not proof that society has progressed. Don’t believe me? Look at our last two presidents.
There seems to be this savior ideal when it comes to the biracial experience that because people like myself exist it MUST mean that two races that have been at odds with each other for as long as people can remember are holding hands and singing kumbaya while beating the drum of peace.
Society treats being biracial like a new thing when people have been fucking for a long, long time, and people don’t even have to necessarily like each other to fuck. On the extreme end of that, if you think of slavery in America, a lot of the swirl has been steeped in violence and fucked up power dynamics.
In the modern era, there’s this fascination that surrounds mixed babies. The language that people use surrounding mixed babies really reminds me a lot of the same language in eugenics. Not everyone, but think about it. People want to get with ‘x’ race so their baby will have ‘better’ hair. Lighter eyes. Lighter skin. People say things like, “In the future, everyone will be mixed!” But when this phrase is thrown around, we get people like Rasheeda Jones’s lookalike up top instead of acknowledging that mixed people include people that aren’t light skinned with light eyes. There are dark skinned mixed people too.
Am I coming down on anyone in particular by pointing these things out? No, but I want anyone who reads this to take away that the way we frame multiracial people speaks to the complicated way that we treat race in society and how it’s not going away any time soon. We can’t act like birthing more people is going to fix a very complicated issue. If anything, it just makes the issue that much more complicated, but it begs the question: Why are white people so quick to throw the ‘problem-solving’ on to brown shoulders for something we had no part in creating?
There are tons of issues wrapped in the multiracial experience and I’m hoping to break it down along the way to show that while we have made strides in racial-related issues, we still have a long way to go.
(The girl in the picture is Jordan Spencer from Grand Prarie, TX. She was 18 when the article Visualizing Race, Identity and Change was published in National Geographic on September 17th, 2013.)