Mixed-race identity is not a novelty act waiting its debut. It has co-existed alongside monoracial designations.
Race is a Social Construct
So many people have such a hard time participating in racial discourse, First, it bears remembering that race is a made-up construct. In a sense, it isn’t even real. For instance, you can’t reach out and touch “race.” You cannot identify a racial drop under a microscope.
Why Does Race Matter?
Race is a social construct. However, to some, it means everything with respect to how they intend to treat another human being. Moreover, this construct was intended to facilitate and sustain economic power and inequality. That helps put so much else into perspective. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
How Does Race Impact Mixed Heritage People?
It shouldn’t, but it does. Biracial and those with multiple race identities tend invoke many of the insecurities and hopes of those in dominant culture. This might be because many hold confused and unprocessed feelings about race and racism. This often leads to exploitation, objectification or outright hostility towards those who don’t fit within monoracial categories or race.
As a social justice advocate going back decades, I’m appalled by current discourse around anti-racism that contains exclusionary messages aimed at those whose features and associations might not fit conventional understandings of racial designation.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
One Drop Rule
Some of the attitudes and predicaments faced by those of mixed heritage can be attributed to the very mechanisms that hold up racism in the first place. For example, the “one drop” rule. This sometimes prompts behavior trying reconcile racial ambiguity that is unwelcomed. For example, insisting on designating someone as being of African American ancestry no matter how far back in a person’s lineage that was the case.
Or, making such a claim regardless of a person’s self-identification or presentation. Many mixed race individuals feel strongly that the dominant culture doesn’t get to decide identity for them. This is a personal choice. ⠀⠀
Some of the Challenges Faced By Mixed-Race Individuals
Objectionable behaviors include:
- Aggressive questioning of mixed-race allegiance
- Demanding renunciations of privilege
- Asking “what are you?” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Virtue-signaling ⠀⠀⠀
Education Around Mixed Race and Intersecting Identities is Key
It’s the 21st century. There’s no reason for this level of uncertainty about the rich diversity of human experience. Break out a book. See some movies. Or better still, people need to get out into communities to discover the multitudes that represent humanity including those with mixed-race heritage. Their identities are their own and none of anyone else’s business. They do not need to feel like imposters in their own lands. ⠀⠀⠀