The Multiracial Movement and Anti-Black Racism

biracial-black-motherThe American multiracial movement is a social and political campaign to encourage recognition of the multi-ethnic background of racially mixed people. A primary focus of the movement is the large-scale acceptance of the mixed heritage of individuals of black and white parentage, or African and European parentage, who have been historically classified simply as “black” due to the legal and later social One Drop Rule.

The multiracial movement claims to be a crusade for racial progress in the United States by promoting the acceptance of and creating communities for mixed race individuals. But is the movement, in its focus on ending the One Drop Rule, encouraging anti-black prejudice? Informal aspects of the movement suggest that it is not as tolerant and beneficial as it claims.

Minimizing black/African heritage

Mixed race advocates and their supporters attempt to reduce the black or African ancestry of people of black and white parentage. Comparisons are made between mixed race individuals and those of “pure” African descent to show the “striking” difference in phenotype. Within the informal movement, a social hierarchy is created amongst mixed people — those with the least African ancestry (as judged by appearance) on top and those with the most on the bottom.

Reverse one drop rule

Some advocates of the multi-racial movement categorize not only those of directly mixed parentage as multiracial, but anyone who share outward traits with mixed individuals. This results in a reverse One Drop Rule — anyone who is suspected of being mixed due to appearance is labeled as such, whether they are or not. This is done to separate mixed individuals from “true” blacks; mixed race people can not be recognized as mixed if there are blacks with a similar appearance.

“White is right” and blame blacks

Supporters of the movement claim that mixed people have been marginalized and denied their true identities. However, these same people view white-identified mixed individuals as inspiration. If the multiracial movement’s goal is to encourage a mixed identity, it should be opposed to mixed people identifying and being seen as white. Since the most vocal supporters are not opposed to this, it suggests that the movement is not so much about supporting mixed heritage, but lessening black heritage.

Multi-racial advocates blame black Americans for past and current lack of mixed race identity in the United States. But these supporters rarely mention the role that white Americans had to play in this; whites historically proposed and upheld the One Drop Rule and continue to view most individuals of black and white ancestry as simply black. Mixed race advocates failure to acknowledge this fact again suggests that the minimization of black identity is a most important goal.

The multiracial movement is a campaign that began with positive intentions, but with methods that hinder its goals. Acknowledgment of the multi-racial parentage of mixed individuals should be just that, and not the disregard and resentment of one part of their heritage.

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All X People Look Alike ™

test-tubes

All X People Look Alike ™ is the psychological phenomenon whereby most or all members of other ethnic and racial groups appear to look similar. This mindset is fairly common in heterogeneous nations such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, but can also be found in more homogeneous societies. When displayed in conversation, it is one of the most commonly used racist remarks. This comment has the uncanny effect of making my arms prickle with annoyance, every single time I hear it. Some who make the comment seem to be unaware that it is, in fact, ignorant and racist, but most seem to understand its implications.

But why is this frame of mind racist? In case it’s not clear, it’s because All X People Look Alike™ seeks to discriminate (i.e. distinguish) based on perceived race or ethnicity. In doing so, it disregards the individuality of others and keeps its possessor in ignorance.

Some hypothesize that All X People Look Alike™ results from assuming that people of other races look more similar than those of an individual’s perceived race. But research suggests that this mentality is a bit more complex than that.

they-all-look-alikeDaniel Levin, a cognitive psychologist at Kent State University conducted research designed to test the hypothesis that people can distinguish between individuals of races that are not their own. It’s simply that they choose to place emphasis on racial categories, disregarding individual differences.

Levin tested this theory in a series of experiments involving facial recognition of averaged and real white faces and black faces. He found that participants in his study were better at recognizing faces of members of their own racial groups, than those of others. Yet they could accurately distinguish the subtle differences in faces which were of the same racial group. He explains this phenomenon with the example, “When a white person looks at another white person’s nose, they’re likely to think to themselves, ‘That’s John’s nose.’ When they look at a black person’s nose, they’re likely to think, ‘That’s a black nose.’” White participants were more likely to have difficulty in telling apart faces of other race groups.

The truth is that there is no group of people who all basically look alike. All Asians do not look alike. All white people do not look alike. And most certainly, all black people do not look alike. The same goes for the various ethnic groups — all Mexicans do not look alike, nor do all Finns. If you’re one of those who tend to believe “all [insert racial/ethnic group] look alike”, it would be helpful for you to take a closer look and recognize the nearly infinite range of phenotypes beyond your stereotypical racial categorizations.

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Why I Am Leaving the Race Blogosphere

anti-racism
Those of you who were familiar with me prior to start of this blog probably know me from various blogs (which shall not be named) dealing with the subject of race, primarily, or as one of their regular subjects. Well, my days on such blogs are over — I am leaving the race blogs for good. Why am I waving goodbye to the blogs which I’ve participated on a regular basis for the past couple of years? The decision has been a long time coming, but here are some of the major factors in reaching this conclusion:

1. Race blogs provide a skewed view of the importance of race in life

Before my “racial awakening” a few years ago, the concept of race had very little conscious impact on my life. My upbringing could best be described as “raceless” as my parents and immediate environment placed no significance on identifying with a particular race or understanding the world through a racialized lens. I was encouraged to find and be myself, as unique individual. And while I am thankful for certain circumstances bringing the racial dynamics of American society to the foreground of my mind, too much of a good thing is never good. The overemphasis on race in an often negative way gives a person a lopsided viewpoint regarding what they should concern themselves with in life and exactly how important the idea of race is in how they are viewed by others.

2. Most anti-racist blogs fail to address intraracial discrimination

crayon-discriminationAs with all groups, the people who own and frequent anti-racist blogs have their boundaries and ways of dealing with those who cross those boundaries. One such boundary is intraracial discrimination. While this topic is addressed occasionally, by and large, commenters are expected to address white racism and attribute all problems between non-whites to white racism. My mind rejects this attitude because I’ve seen that racism is not just a white-on-others issue — racism can never be eliminated unless and until intraracial issues are discussed in the open and as often as white racism, without a person risking being shunned if they mention it.

3. The race blogs are becoming increasingly pessimistic and losing perspective.

As various blogs have merged in readership, their content has become more unconstructive and narrow in scope. A glance through such blogs will leave one with a feeling that American society is hopelessly and unchangeably racist, and unless a person is of the “chosen” race(s) (and often, gender), their ultimate lot in life is restricted by the overarching sentiments held of their group by society. Again, my mind rejects these sorts of thoughts – I believe that, even if obstacles present themselves, the individual is the final judge of their fate. Despite my supposed misfortune of being born black and female, I’ve never been deprived of my needs or desires in life. I believe my assuming that I was not limited in life helped tremendously, and ironically, in not limiting me in life.

Finally, I am at another turning point in my life where I feel that it is time to move on to other issues. While I may address racism on this blog, my main focus will be in other areas.

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