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Again, thanks to the good and kind folks who contributed to my first annual donation drive over at my "home base" We Are Respectable Negroes. Some kind donors noted that they read me here on the Daily Kos and I wanted to acknowledge that fact. I appreciate all of you. If things continue for a week or so, I will be going home to see Mama DeVega. After kids, Starbucks, and Black Peter, if you have a spare dollar or two, do throw it in to the collective begging bowl for our first annual fundraising drive if you can.
Watching CNN, and listening to NPR on Sunday night, reminded me that Imitation of Life was not just a movie or a play; for many of us, such stories of racial identity, confusion, denial, and shame are all too real.

CNN's special on colorism and mixed race identity went as expected. It profiled many maladjusted young black people who would fail any brown paper bag test, yet have an almost pathological obsession with wanting to be white. I was laughing at the TV screen during the show because these brown complected black folks, who desperately want to "pass," would have been better suited for a skit on Chappelle's Show, than discussing matters of "race" and "culture" on national television.

As an antidote to such tragic mulattoes, Soledad O'Brien's Black in America special also profiled some well-adjusted black people who understand that race is a fiction. Despite the "race" of their not black parent, they understand that the one drop rule prevails in the United States, and these individuals gain strength and grounding from their identities as Black Americans.

By comparison, NPR's State of the Re:Union ran a much more powerful and important show on Sunday night. All aspects of the sad and twisted American obsession with race, and how it has damaged all of us, were on clear display there.  

There is a cruel and plain truth which ties CNN's "Black in America", and NPR's "Pike County, Ohio: As Black as We Wish to Be", together.

Being "black" is a social, economic, political, and social liability in the United States. Blackness is fetishized, desired, coveted, and wanted by non-whites. But, no one really wants to be black. Why should they? If one is assessing life chances, wealth, social stigma, risk, danger, and the added stress and anxiety that comes with being a black American--or another person of color (to varying degrees)--who would opt in to such an arrangement?

The young tragic mulattoes on CNN understand this fact. The black people who can pass for white in Pike County, Ohio certainly understand this fact: there, one of them even states that being black in America is too difficult, and who would want to be such a thing?

Thus, a provocative question: would any "rational" actor choose to be black (or not white) in America?

Would a self-interested, utility maximizing person, with complete information, choose such a racial identity? Are those black people who dare to pass for white--their cowardice being noted--just doing the "smart" and "rational" thing? Should they be condemned for such a "logical" and pragmatic decision? Are those who cannot cross over just envious of those who can?

A story.

When I was about nine years old, me and a friend, both of us black were wandering around the neighborhood in-between bouts of mischief--throwing rocks at cars, setting fires, chasing girls around the neighborhood with dog poop on a stick--and would fill these moments with the types of profound, deep, and intellectual conversations befitting young "men" of our age.

I asked my friend,  "would he choose to be white?"

My friend meditated for a moment on the question and said "no" because he would not know how to act. We went back and forth a bit more, reasoning as 9 year old boys do about the ways of the world. Our conclusion was that being black gave us more character and courage than the white kids had because we had to work harder for the same things. Black people were also pretty tough given all the stuff that had been done to us, and we were still here trying to do the right thing. The answer seemed right at the time.

He was cool people. I found out years later that he either died, became homeless, ended up on drugs, got killed because of some gang business and a woman, or some combination of all those things. Either way he was gone.

His brother got the "bug" from heroine, what we now call AIDS, and died. His mom was on drugs too when we were kids. I didn't realize that at the time. She was nice too and then passed on. Their house was filthy. I never said anything because he was my friend, and I was raised to respect people who were good to you and let you in their house.

He liked to eat at my house for dinner. Now I realize why my mother and father always invited him over. I think that one time I caught my father, who was homeless as a kid, secretly giving him some money during one time when he was looking especially raggedy and dirty. I buy homeless people food and give them money during the holidays. I probably got that habit from my dad.

As an adult, I now also realize why my mom would make sure that my friend got invited to my birthday parties, or bought him sodas or ice cream when she and I would go for our nightly walk, and he happened to always just show up spontaneously. When you are bit older and wiser you realize things that childhood innocence protected you from.

My friend and his family also had a great and nice dog named Sport. He was a big German Shepherd who would playfully fight with my dog Bandit. It was all the type of rough housing that dogs who live a few houses away tend to do. Neither got hurt. Their tails wagged the whole time, and then they licked each other's faces and came back to play the next day. One day my friend and his family were all gone.

My mom always regretted that they didn't give Sport to us to keep. We worried that he was abandoned and/or put down. We would have taken care of him. He was a good dog. I know that Bandit would not have minded--he was magnanimous and regal that way.

Even in those seemingly race neutral moments, I also remember my parents saying that we as black folks should try to do right by each other. That even included our pets.

This was not a claim that we should not do right by our white brothers and sisters in the human family. I think it was something more basic about imagined kinship, respectability, shared identity, and the power of those types of connections for black people, historically.

The language was never explicitly used in such a way at the time; but, now that I have such a vocabulary, it seems to make sense.

Looking back, I reason that like most children, my friend and I had internalized what our parents and role-models had taught us about what it meant to be black in America.

I know that I am not alone in having had similar conversations about race.

Were those of us who had such exchanges just noble fools? Or should our answer have been "hell yes" to the prospect of choosing to be white in America? Would the path be that much easier?

Originally posted to chaunceydevega on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM PST.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Black Kos community, and Community Spotlight.

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  •  Tip Jar (261+ / 0-)
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  •  I can't even begin to answer your questions.... (68+ / 0-)

    I do know about my wife's experiences, an AA, growing up in West Indian East Flatbush, with not even a Brooklyn accent to take to Vassar with her.  She was (and still is) told many times by resentful folks that she thinks she is white.  Meanwhile, she is proud of her culture and does not want to be white at all.  She leaves the whiteness to me.  Being Jewish, I am still trying to figure out what in hell to do with it!

    Buy Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand, and tear Ayn and the GOP new orifices. Plus, I get a small royalty, and Jeff Bezos and his employees get the rest. Not a bad deal, as CEO Bezos is not much of a dick, relatively speaking. @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:30:03 AM PST

  •  I haven't seen it. it's interesting, though, that (51+ / 0-)

    they chose my city (Philly)

    'cause... honestly... nobody assumes lightskinned people are mixed here.  there's just way too many that are products of two black parents.  everyone here knows people like that.  

    although vision, who I know obliquely, looks like a jamaican with chinese ancestry LOLOLOL

    meanwhile I never ever wanted to look whiter or actually be white.  my mom indoctrinated me with the whole "blacker the berry" thing... which I always thought was funny 'cause my mom was ben jealous' complexion hahahaha

    but it took:  I'm super proud of the little bit of color I got lol.

    This comment is dedicated to my mellow Adept2U and his Uncle Marcus

    by mallyroyal on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:35:37 AM PST

  •  When Stephen A. Smith veers away from sports... (29+ / 0-)

    ..I find him not only listenable, but insightful.  (When he is on sports, ehh.)

    He said the other day that he has 2 bosses in the entire circle at ESPN who are black.  He said the most important thing he can do to advance his own personal "causes" (involving his own race) is to perform for his bosses, so they look good, and get their kudos in the (mostly white) industry....and get to keep their jobs.

    He said this in follow-up, after he told a few slacker NBA players who were complaining about the lack of black leadership in NBA management positions, that the most important thing they can do is to perform for their black GM, and ensure that he keeps his job.

    (Of course a racist would imply that he is saying he (and they) do not have to perform for a white boss, but that is certainly not his point).

    Buy Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand, and tear Ayn and the GOP new orifices. Plus, I get a small royalty, and Jeff Bezos and his employees get the rest. Not a bad deal, as CEO Bezos is not much of a dick, relatively speaking. @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:36:41 AM PST

  •  It Could Have Been That Much Easier, Yes Indeed. (9+ / 0-)

    I can't think for 2 minutes about any stage of my life without seeing that some opportunity would have unavailable if I'd been Black, and often not because of economics or prejudice but because of position, connections, and freedom to think that an idea far outside the box has tangible prospects.

    This is entirely apart from the hassles stemming from racism, unfamiliarity and prejudice.

    It's been obvious since my integrated prep school days in the late 60's. I've studied and worked in integrated situations ever since, enough to see that your concluding question has a very straightforward answer.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:44:01 AM PST

  •  Ah, to be 9 again! (11+ / 0-)
    I asked my friend,  "would he choose to be white?"

    My friend meditated for a moment on the question and said "no" because he would not know how to act.

    Reminds me of a joke I saw in a joke book when I was, by coincidence, about 9: It's a good thing I wasn't born in France, because I don't speak a word of French.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:45:04 AM PST

  •  You tackle some really important topics. (11+ / 0-)

    Though this diary is a bit disorganized, I'm T'ing and R'ing.

    On the NPR program, this "listener-sponsored" station used to be all cutting-edge, but it has been so watered-down to appease Republicans and "social conservatives"--who don't watch NPR, anyway, I might add. I didn't see the show you mention, but I don't have a problem believing it was patronizing.

    Yes, biracial people are "tragic" and "maladjusted." So are lbgt people. So, get right down to it, are any women who do other than parrot RW talking points.

    I hope you called the station and complained.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:49:06 AM PST

    •  i love suggestions, i am balancing a few different (17+ / 0-)

      things---a story, a comment about 2 shows, and a big issue about identity. the story component was a bit organic and spontaneous so i let it stand.  comes from the heart and is relevant.

      i juggle lots of things and try to play with different voices in my writing. can always be improved.

      offer up some specific suggestions.

      •  I just read your piece again. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, smartdemmg, kyril

        I think the basic theme you're grappling with, is the amount of sympathy you have for AAs who want to be white, instead. Yes, we can understand it from one point of view. It's so difficult to be AA, this culture denies so much opportunity due to race affiliation, some AAs might want to "pass." Perhaps that's perfectly understandable. On the other hand, as you say, there are many good things that come from being AA, owing directly to that culture's tradition of care for, and support of, others inside the community and out.

        I wish you had gone deeper in to this, and perhaps used fewer examples, or used them very thoughtfully. Sometimes, one powerful example can very memorable, because it has unexpected resonance.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:29:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  styles make fights (13+ / 0-)

          maybe in another piece at another time.

          i thought my examples were pretty thoughtful, real, and honest. but point taken.

          i do not have any sympathy for those tragic mulattoes. i think they are sad, a very pathetic lot full of internalized racism. the npr story is well worth listening to. do check it out.

          what i am trying to set up is the rational pragmatic logic of the race traitor vs. a different type of evolved pride, strength, and pride that comes with what we used to call "knowledge of self" back in the day.

          those young people are an example of a huge failure of parenting. that is worth its own post on another day.

          thanks for the thoughts.

          •  I agree. (5+ / 0-)
            i do not have any sympathy for those tragic mulattoes. i think they are sad, a very pathetic lot full of internalized racism.
            And they aren't the least bit original. Quite a few white people are finding out about black ancestors in their DNA tests. Not every case but a lot of those people's ancestors simply let themselves be absorbed into the white community and never looked back.

            But crying about being privileged in this day and age? Irritating.

            Until these folks start getting followed in stores, stopped by police, shot by police, imprisoned and suspected of crime and denied unemployment as much as it happens to darker skinned black people, they sound like a buncha whiners. I know I don't have an existing criminal record because I'm not profiled as one on sight and therefore, I come into much less contact with law enforcement than darker people. I can get jobs that people with criminal records can't even think about applying for. That's just one example of the ways I unintentionally escape a lot of the stress of being black.

            I'd rather use this preserved energy to stand up for people with real life shattering racial problems and obstacles.

            "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

            by GenXangster on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:19:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I thought your piece flowed smoothly from start (0+ / 0-)

            to finish.

            (Just one quibble, and that's first annual. In the AP style book this is a no-no because until there's a second event it's not annual, no matter your intentions. Sorry, after a couple of decades as a reporter I can't see that usage without cringing.)

        •  I rather enjoyed it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, Lying eyes

          Just the way it was written.  You are most certainly welcome to expand within your own diary.

          Sheesh.  Really people.

        •  But even when someone chooses to pass (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          black folk are not generally resentful... especially if it is working out for them...I never considered the hypothetical of what if I were white because it would be as silly to me  as if I pondered what if I were pregnant; I've known from a very early age that both of those are impossible...


          Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

          by awesumtenor on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 09:30:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I liked your diary. Soledad O'Brien (12+ / 0-)

        Tells this story of being confronted by a white man who asked her, as a 9 y.o. child, whether she was black or white. The precocious Soledad asked the man how would her answer make him think differently of her. That blew me away.

        I've always said that a integral part of being black in America is when your child must confront it and you have to explain it. It is heartbreaking because you just want them to be innocent and carefree and have their childhood. In ways I think it is worse for black girls as they learn quickly that they will never attain the 'beauty' ideal that they are submerged in (I was one of those little girls, like Whoopie, that played with a pillowcase for hair).

        The Pike County folks aren't alone in their assessment that it is too 'hard' being black. As Chris Rock points out, with all of his money, there is not a white man who would want to trade places with him.

        "I feel like I'm still waiting to meet my true self. I'm assuming it's gonna be in a dark alley and there's gonna be a fight." ---Rachel Maddow

        by never forget 2000 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:58:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I didn't read this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    malharden, smartdemmg

    the title turned me completely off...and I'm black. You shudda watched Football instead.

    "I am no longer a candidate. I'm The President" - Barack Obama 2012 DNC Convention

    by AAMOM on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:05:25 AM PST

  •  Young people often struggle with identity (10+ / 0-)

    I'm not going to be upset at kids finding their way or questioning why others get to define them when they wish to self-identify.

    I think there were some interesting questions raised by the class during the program that went unanswered and underexplored. I think the basic question of what makes one "black", or "African-American" is much harder to answer than most people want to tackle. It certainly is much too broad for essential a 40+ minute show.

    I also thought that since they wanted to focus on teenagers, it would have been nice to have heard analysis from younger commentators.

    CNN is a global organization and yet decided to tackle this massive topic focusing on one city in the North East. What about the rest of the country? I would have liked to have heard from the Mississippi Delta region, or folks in Iowa, and out West.

    I applaud CNN for the effort. I'd like to see MSNBC attempt to do that type of work (without Tom Brokaw please).

    "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

    by sebastianguy99 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:28:33 AM PST

    •  as the classic question goes (12+ / 0-)

      what does it mean to be "black?"

      i did shake my head several times and have an epic face palm moment--especially the young black teen who kept mentioning "white" culture. someone should have asked her to define that. i worry that so many of these young people who are struggling with identity issues because of parental failure, yes i will call it what it is, have made blackness synonymous withe "ghetto" and "poverty" and "low achievement." they have internalized so much racism and cannot get past it.

      very sad.  not one of those young people could "pass." yet, they are desperate for it. that was damn funny in a sad way.

      •  You seem to be mad at them for finding their way (5+ / 0-)

        Not everyone you would consider unpassable grows up the same way.

        You also seem to be upset at these kids for acknowledging a truth: there are those in every community of color that see things as "white", or not. These kids didn't invent that type of racist thinking but they are grappling with it.

        Defining someone by the 1-Drop Rule is racist and also maybe inaccurate. If you have ever watched one of Dr. Gates' PBS programs about genetics and race, you cannot help but understand that science is a challenge to the notion of the 1-Drop Rule.

        For example, President Obama has been described by some as, "mixed", "half-n-half", or even had his "blackness" challenged. If we look at Dr. Condoleezza Rice, we see her darkness and question not her "blackness". Yet Dr. Gates' research revealed that she can be said to be of "only 50% African ancestry"?

        If someone with blonde hair and blue eyes turned out to have (sub Saharan)African ancestry, is she/he "black" too?

        Also, the following is inaccurate:

        very sad.  not one of those young people could "pass." yet, they are desperate for it. that was damn funny in a sad way
        That simply is not true. There was one young lady who seemed to really be troubled but at the end, she broke the way you wanted her to break. On the other hand, her friend, the Egyptian-American, identifies as "African-American", yet the darker tone kids seem to have issues with the identification. Also, the young Ghanian-American of dark complexion told a similar story of considering himself "African-American", but not being fully accepted by his surround black community.

        I have learned there is a certain tension between "black people" born outside of Africa and those born on the continent. Any discussion about this topic must acknowledge this tension and admit this is an intramural phenomenon that is quite ugly and challenges further the notion of a simple formula for "blackness".

        Lastly, I can tell you that kids of all backgrounds have identity issues of one kind or another and should not be looked down upon. Look at the teen suicide rate before you lash out at these kids. I don't mean to be a dick, but I have worked in this area and the vibe you are giving off tends to exacerbate their issues, especially those also struggling with LGBTQ issues.

        "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

        by sebastianguy99 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:46:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  huh? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tjcj, rikyrah, Dave the Rave

          who is upset at anyone. those kids in that documentary, most of them, have not found their way. they are very lost and are going to have some real harsh lessons taught to them in life. as i said above, mixed race confused biracial types are not an abstraction to me. i see them all the time. and many eventually come to be all upset when they realize that they are "black." their parents have not equipped them with the armor necessary to be successful on these matters so others have to step in.

          re: the one drop rule. you cannot impose a standard on a people based on white supremacy and then turn around and deny how said standard has become a source of strength and community. there is nothing at all "racist" in how black people as a subaltern community repurposed the "master's tools" for our own ends.

          race is a social construction. i understand the intersection of race and science. it is of no comfort the millions of blacks--most of us already mixed race--that science says that there is more genetic difference within racial groups than between races. day-to-day racism and structural racism is not paused by such inconveniences.

          i am trying to give those confused kids the strength of community to find some grounding in a society which despises people of color. these kids want to be "special" because one of their parents is not "black." they have likely absorbed that poison from their homes and society and schools. once they realize they are black, and loved by black people, and part of a history and lineage that is not prefaced on the fiction of "pure races" they will have strength. once they learn of mulatto and lighter skinned blacks who could have passed but chose to fight in the Black Freedom Struggle maybe they will have a sense of race pride.

          most are broken. many have not even realized that they are tragic mulattoes who want to belong to something-Whiteness-that has little use for them.

          •  My impression from your descriptions of them (4+ / 0-)

            ...gave that impression. They are young people, they are supposed to be confused and rebellious.

            I saw articulate young people questioning the world around them. I saw nothing that I would describe as "broken", or "tragic mulattoes". Look to the jails and prisons and on the streets if you want to see real tragedy. Running out of food today at the Food Bank and having to turn people away is tragic.

            Those kids questioning identity is not tragic. Only if we allow them to become self-destructive does it turn to tragedy.

            Now if you want to talk about the Clarence Thomas' of the world as tragedy, then I think there is a history to make a strong argument. There is no such history with the kids featured in that program.

            I want to see every person stake their own path. I am always suspicious of those who demand conformity and deem those that don't automatically conform as in need of help. Judging most people as they are/were in their late teens and early twenties as if they were older and more experienced just seems unfair and too easy.

            "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

            by sebastianguy99 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:18:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  i have to agree with clarence. he is a bundle of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              sickness. we can agree to disagree, but that young girl, much darker than a brown paper bag talking about how she knows nothing of "black culture" and doesn't consider herself "black" was a hot mess. get her help now.

              •  We only disagree that these kids make the case... (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                malharden, smartdemmg, gramofsam1, tikkun

                ...that I believe you are making.For example, the young lady you keep referring to comes to identify as "black" at the end of the program. So why harp on her journey rather than applaud where destination?

                Anyway, it would be very interesting to broaden this conversation to all communities of color. African-Americans are not the only community that has to deal with colorism and issues of "pasiibilty".

                "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

                by sebastianguy99 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:47:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Your description of the young people confused and (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ladybug53, tikkun, mim5677

              honestly upsets me. I'm in a biracial family, although mine is Chinese and white (Ashkenazi) rather than black and white. My daughter looks fairly Chinese. If I'm understanding you, you're saying that there's something lost or confused about her if she identifies as biracial or closer to white culture than to Chinese American culture simply on the basis that she'll never be confused for white... and that I'll be doing a poor job of raising her if I don't raise her to think of herself as primarily Chinese.

              I don't expect her to identify as white, and my husband and I hope and expect her to feel an understanding of herself as a product of two peoples and two cultures. But I have no intention of either erasing myself or my extended family from her conception of self or her awareness of genetic heritage. She's not primarily Chinese, whatever she looks like. She's happa. I'm real. My relationship to her is real.

              I didn't see the special, but it sounds to me like you're upset that these biracial children--some of whom apparently were raised primarily by their white parent--want to be able to acknowledge their white parent and ties to white culture. That's not lost or confused. That's just wanting a space for to acknowledge the fullness of their identity.

          •  you overlook a lot of stuff ... (0+ / 0-)
            ...their parents have not equipped them with the armor necessary to be successful on these matters so others have to step in.
            You only can equip your kid with that said armor, if the parents can live it as an example. You can talk all day long and "theoretically" equip your child, but you can't live that experience of being black, if you are a white parent. So, it's simply in earnest not possible.

            Having a black mother as a light-skinned "mixed-raced" kid, the kid can get this armor from his black mother, but a white mother can not do the same, because she happened to be born white and didn't live a black experience. Whatever she does, she is still a product of white privilege and inheritance, if she wants it or not. How are you so sure that "stepping in" doesn't cause more conflicts than it resolves?

            ...these kids want to be "special" because one of their parents is not "black."
            That's one-sided. My experience is that "mixed-raced" kids would love to be not "special" but are seen that way, because one of their parents is "black" or "white", dependent in which environment they grow up in.

            Do you consider the environment in which those kids grow up in? Is it a white school in the US, or a white school in Europe, is it an African school in Nigeria or a multi-race school of various asian, native indigineous and white people or is it an afro-american mainly black school in the US? For all these situations, these kids (dependent which parent is the white one and which parent is the black one, in addition you have to distinguish if you have a girl or a boy mixed-raced child) have very different experiences and to say that their parents are the ones, who are at fault and have not equipped them with the armor necessary to be successful on these matters is "a bit too big and easy an answer". Your simplification of a very complex and painful issue for many of these kids and parents is a bit baffling.

            The whole issue of asking someone to identify himself on the basis of race is bullshit. I think it's offensive and one thing I have always refused to do is making a cross at these racial categories the US is asking for. It's racist. Hitler did it, South Africa did it and the US is doing it.

    •  Tipped (6+ / 0-)

      for "without Tom Brokaw please"

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 12:42:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Chauncey, good to see you. (9+ / 0-)

    This blog is so fortunate to be able to count you among their contributors~!

    Just wanted to say.

    This is a great piece, thank you.

  •  There's this Chris Rock bit (19+ / 0-)

    Shit, there ain't a white man in this room that would change places with me.

    None of you would change places with me.

    And l'm rich!

    That's how good it is to be white.

    There's a white, one-legged busboy in here right now that won't change places with my black ass. He's going, ''No, man, l don't wanna switch. l wanna ride this white thing out. See where it takes me.''

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:43:27 AM PST

  •  Why? Because... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oracle2021, breakingsong

    ...Soledad and her producers are entitled to their opinion.

    As someone who has mixed race children, I find your characterizations unnecessarily smartass.

    That "tragic mulattoes" s#!T is offensive.

    It's your opinion and you're welcome to it. But just don't pretend it's scholarly, mkay?

    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." - Ron Burgundy

    by malharden on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 12:21:56 PM PST

    •  and is there an archetype in this country (11+ / 0-)

      and elsewhere of the tragic mulatto. what does it mean culturally and the like?

      if you would like me to cite articles on the developmental issues and challenges faced by "mixed race" children, especially those children of black-white pairings where the black parent is not present I can easily do so.

      since you are dealing with this issue directly, how are you preparing your children to navigate the colorline? what protections, life skills, and wisdom are you offering them? alternatively are you one of those parents who are teaching their "mixed race" children all sorts of fictions?

      if you read any of my pieces on this matter you will see this is my primary concern. you cannot have children across the colorline and be a responsible parent without preparing them for the real world.

      •  Is there such a thing as too much college? (4+ / 0-)

        Your condescension is common among many people who immerse themselves in liberal arts, racial studies, gender studies etc. without ever peeking their head outside their self-selected echo chamber.  

        You can't even comprehend of parents raising children properly without consulting "articles." Good lord, man, go out, grab a beer, and relax.  

        Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

        by bigtimecynic on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:18:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  you should read as a parent, you would be (6+ / 0-)

          surprised by what you would learn. you made a claim about a concept you may not understand.

          yes, parents of all children should read and learn. parents of mixed race children have a particular burden they need to learn about. lots of the kids who are profoundly messed up on these matters are the result of parents who did not prepare their children of color for the real world. it is very sad when I encounter young "mixed race" kids whose parents have not given them any knowledge, race pride, understanding of their own culture and (raced) people's history etc.

          open a book, you may enjoy it.

          •  Reading is, of course, a path to knowledge. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Larsstephens, malharden

            And I make that comment as someone with a liberal arts education and a graduate degree.  But there is such a thing as being too academic. Your comment irritated me because you seem to conclude that reading articles in a journal places you in a position to pass judgement on someone else's actual parenting .  Reading is never a substitute for experience in any field, especially parenting.

            Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

            by bigtimecynic on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:34:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  reading can help, and nice that you have a (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lcj98, Larsstephens, GenXangster

              graduate degree. welcome to the club.

              many folks with credentials in one field think they know everything. they do not. expertise in basket weaving 101 does not help me understand astrophysics.

              the know it all types who have an ma or even a phd in one narrow subfield in a particularly narrow specialization are often among the most tedious because they want to pontificate on stuff they know nothing about. they also get upset when they encounter someone with superior expertise.

              i simply said that we know a great deal about the particular challenges faced by mixed race children in terms of being well integrated psychologically and with identity issues. what are you afraid of?

              given you have a liberal arts education and a graduate degree one would think you would have some interest in empirical data and in learning about the challenges to be faced by parents in that situation.

              i wish more parents would read about rearing their kids and different approaches to it; we would not have so many messed up, in jail, impaired by helicopter parents, and tragic mulattoes and other maladapted mixed race types who are shocked when they encounter racism.

              the world would be much better off.

              •  "shocked when they encounter racism..." (7+ / 0-)

                Indeed. I spent most of my life growing up around Jewish people or other black people and I had never heard a white person say the nword (except on TV) until I was 23 and living in Kent, Ohio as a college student. I was enraged and defensive and it shocked the person I reacted to.

                I was sitting at a bar casually having a drink and chatting with a random white guy who say a black guy enter the bar and said to me, "Oh look, there's a nword in here..." I was like, "there's more than one nword in this bar, asshole." He got a good look at me and was horrified that he revealed himself as a bigot to a woman he tried to pick up and that he came really close to being attracted to a nword.. That will still never trump being shot to death because somebody thought a black man was running from a crime scene rather than jogging or something like that.

                Why had I never heard the nword before from white people? Because they had never called ME that. What alternate reality was I living in? It's the alternate reality of being privileged.

                There's no way I could discount somebody being too educated about race with the body I live in that shields me from knowing what it really is. Some people NEED this education. Even children that cant pass need this education so they can know how to confront or deal with the racism that will surely come their way.

                "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

                by GenXangster on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:43:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  This. (5+ / 0-)

                  My own echo of it, as a white of descent from at least almost all of Europe (and who knows where else) with an Irish name, came living overseas. I grew up in the West, away from the distinctive ethnic ghettos my grandfather told me about in detail - later. But when, as a young teen, I got a faceful of anti-Irish racism from a couple English kids, I was stunned and furious.

                  They hadn't known - Americans look like Americans abroad, regardless of almost everything else.  So I heard it all... And I vented. They were shocked, stunned, and even apologetic, trying to justify... classic racist stuff, if was a joke, not you.... But the sense of acute pain, your very own first paper cut experience with being on the receiving end of bigotry and racism....

                  An injury to one's privilege...

                  "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

                  by ogre on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:50:30 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Heh (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical

          Recced if only because I've had that "too much college" thought any number of times myself, though I recognize this particular term and how Chauncy DeVega is using it.  Sometimes academic terms hamper communication when used without definition and I do think the burden in such cases in on the academic to recognize the difference in meaning from the vernacular and take it into account when the responses start coming in.

      •  I don't need you to cite articles for me. (0+ / 0-)

        It's the high-handed, pseudo-intellectual tone of the post that's the problem with it in the first place.

        If you weren't so enamored with the 'sound' of your own writing you might realize how much the tone resembles other scholarly classics like The Bell Curve.

        You try hard to sound like you give a damn, but it smacks of you simply foisting your own view of these individual children onto them, creating more baggage.

        I'll answer your other inquiries in a different post, where I attempt to be more analytic and less pissed off.

        "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." - Ron Burgundy

        by malharden on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:39:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's just a discussion. (0+ / 0-)

          I think you are reading way too much into this one.

          •  Or, it's a set of real issues... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It's a reflection of why some kids will have it harder. Other folks including the diarist want to force them into boxes.

            "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." - Ron Burgundy

            by malharden on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:00:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  if i were writing a pseudo intellectual tome (0+ / 0-)

          trust me you wouldn't know it...that is part of sleight of hand that comes with such tracts--and why the bell curve was so dangerous as piss poor social science.

          sometimes when you hit the nail on the head someone yelps. i think i called you out in some way on a sensitive subject, what is that? Why so upset?

          "If you weren't so enamored with the 'sound' of your own writing" What the heck does that mean? That sounds like garden variety hate from someone who doesn't get to much shine for their own work. Am I right? Do share.

          And yes, you should try to be more analytic before trying to engage.  

          •  And maybe you should try (0+ / 0-)

            to listen to what people have to say, even when they don't agree with your infallible pronouncements.

            Ever consider that you might not have "hit the nail on the head" after all?  Do you honestly believe that you are the ultimate arbiter of all things race, and that you get to insult someone's family dynamics in a personal way because of your infallibility?

            •  no, I tell the truth, we can argue and disagree (0+ / 0-)

              about the facts, the theory, and the framework. but if someone wants to make some silly pronouncement that what they teach their kid at home will somehow override centuries of history i call it out as the silliness it is.

              •  You know, there's a way to talk about (0+ / 0-)

                centuries of history without insulting people, without using a term in your title that might have a place in academia but comes off as insulting when it's applied to individual people and people's kids.  Did that poster say that she's lying to her children, telling them that they're "not really black", or that she intends to completely ignore the role that race will play in their lives?  You chose to conclude that, to tell her they can come to her for lies, but you love them and will tell them the truth- and you wonder why she's upset?

                Believe it or not, those of us raising kids of color actually welcome advice and guidance from black people who respect us and our kids.  Right now my daughter is trying to choose which of her black friends might be best to advise my grandson when he has questions we feel are best answered by someone who's lived it.  But the respect has to be there, and it sure did not shine through in this diary.

                •  i used a term that is historically grounded (0+ / 0-)

                  is still in use, and is accurate to the degree that race is caught up with fictions of biology and the like. If you are doing that, more power to you. You are doing the right thing.

                  As for the original comment, way back up the thread, it was made clear that he/she was choosing to raise their child in some post-racial fantasy land. When children who grow up in such environments come out to the real world they are in for some hard knocks. You are right. I do not respect that choice by parents who raise maladapted "mixed race" children as I think they are doing a disservice to their kids.

                  The kids will hopefully figure it out with the help of others.

                  •  I did not read her comment (0+ / 0-)

                    the way you did. She was talking in broad strokes about raising strong kids- maybe she didn't say what you wanted to hear about race but she said her kids are young.  We didn't talk much about my race with my grandson in other than a casual, answering his questions kind of way until he was four or five and we took him to a museum exhibit on slavery.  We try to make it a topic that is always open but not an obsession.

                    Because with both my grandkids, they reached a point where it was like oh please, not another book or movie about slavery or civil rights or role models.  Or as my granddaughter said "Nana, you do know I already have two Ruby Bridges books, right?".  There's a balance between helping them honor their history and making them feel too "other" in our family- the rest of the world might see them as other but we don't and we won't.

                    As for "tragic mulattos"- it's an archetype. It might be in use in academia but the black people I know never use it to label each other. And if you mean that my using it to describe my grandkids would be "doing the right thing" then I'll just keep on doing the wrong thing.

                    •  as i said, i know some tragic mulattoes (0+ / 0-)

                      and have a few in the family...and we call them that. likewise, i have seen real life self-hating uncle ruckus negroes too. they just don't exist on TV or make rulings on the Supreme Court.

                      I think you misunderstand the term too. Not all mulattoes are "tragic." That is a very specific reference to psychologically not well integrated people who want to pass. Your grands likely are not going to fit in that box if you keep doing the right thing.

                      •  Honestly I've not heard mulatto (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        used in any conversational sense since my grandmother used it when I was a kid.  My daughter's best friend is biracial and she was steaming mad when someone used it to describe her- and it takes a lot to get her steaming mad. I think people get to reject terms they don't like having applied to them, whether you think it's just a misunderstanding or not.

                  •  How many mixed-raced children did you raise? (0+ / 0-)

                    Together with their white mother? Do you have any practical experience?  

                    Just asking because you seem to be convinced you would not make the same mistakes those parents you talk about made.

      •  To answer your questions, in part (3+ / 0-) children are a bit too young for explicit conversations on sociology and racial anthropology.

        I'm currently providing my young children with a base of healthy learning and love to make sure they feel valued as people. As capable self-confident people, when they have to deal with some judgmental jackasses in the future they get to understand that it's the other guy that has the issue, not them.

        I fully understand that there will be plenty of external forces (e.g., the cab drivers that won't pick them up at night) that contribute to defining their experiences. But, I will build them strong enough that that kind of stuff won't poison their character and won't drive their own definitions of who they are as people.

        With regard to"are you one of those parents who are teaching their "mixed race" children all sorts of fictions?", bite me. (Tried to keep the bitterness out, but I think you earned that one.)

        "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." - Ron Burgundy

        by malharden on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:45:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  good luck with this one (6+ / 0-)

          "in the future they get to understand that it's the other guy that has the issue, not them. I fully understand that there will be plenty of external forces (e.g., the cab drivers that won't pick them up at night) that contribute to defining their experiences. But, I will build them strong enough that that kind of stuff won't poison their character and won't drive their own definitions of who they are as people."

          the reality is that your kids will have lots of problems and unique challenges because of their race and how they are perceived.  just a fact.

          your kids are likely very smart. young children are very knowledgeable about race and racial difference. they absorb so much on these matters and have a very refined sense of race "mattering" in this society. look at the nbc special on color bias, implicit values, and color bias among kids. never mind sister elliot's brown eyes blue eyes test. or the classic black doll white doll test.

          an anecdote. a student came to me when i was an admin a few years back. she was a "mixed race" racially confused kid whose white mom--the  black dad was not present--had raised her that she was biracial/mixed and not really black.

          someone had called her a nigger. she kept arguing that she wasn't black. the person calling her such a slur made it clear that to most people in this program--and society--she was seen as a black woman.

          this young woman, in her early 20s damn near had a nervous breakdown when she realized that yes, she was black and had best get used to it. her mom lied to her and did not give her life and coping skills because of some dishonest post-racial mess of a dream that hurt her child.

          her eyes were opened and now she is a much happier and well-adjusted person for it.

        •  Sounds good to me. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade, gramofsam1

          Hopefully when they are older when things start to matter to them, perhaps the world [or this country] will be different enough that it won't matter either way.

          But judging from how the first African American President is treated in some circles of this country in 2012, I don't hold out a whole lot of hope for the immediate future.  

      •  I suggest a book: Negrophobia (3+ / 0-)

        by Mark Bauerlein. If you haven't read it, it is mainly concerned with the !906 Atlanta race riot but there is some interesting back story concerning Dr. W.E.B. DuBois who was living in the city at the time. DuBois attempted a dialog with a local white Religious leader who was so taken aback by DuBois' "radicalism" that he compulsively harped on the fact of DuBois designation as a "mulatto", as if that somehow rendered his views illegitimate.  

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 12:01:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  "tragic mulatto" has been around a long time (16+ / 0-)

      as an archetype - and I don't find it offensive - it is simply describing a construct manipulated by racism - when it benefits whites, blacks are encouraged to abandon ship. when it doesn't no shade lets you slip through the cracks.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:02:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Naw, sis (6+ / 0-)

        The term offends me. No one should feel or be deemed tragic for a circumstance they did not create. Nor should they pick up labels created by people who probably aren't concerned about their welfare.

        I'm surprised I'm against terms that do not apply to me. With my dark cocoa skin, I had to be smart to be noticed in a positive way. Growing up, my worst nightmare was to be in a room filled with "high yellow" folks. Wonder where I learned that phobia?


        •  Being offended was my initial (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CocoaLove, Be Skeptical, smartdemmg

          response too, for the reasons you mention. I guess using it as an archetype is considered okay, but people are not archetypes, and I don't like seeing it used to define individual people.  And I sure don't want anyone using it to refer to my grandson.

        •  This. A thousand times. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CocoaLove, gramofsam1, smartdemmg
          No one should feel or be deemed tragic for a circumstance they did not create. Nor should they pick up labels created by people who probably aren't concerned about their welfare.
          And the use of the term, and consequent analysis of mixed race children with roughly the same degree of warmth that one would show a lab rat, is a goddam shame.

          "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." - Ron Burgundy

          by malharden on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:49:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They do get analyzed to death, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WB Reeves

            don't they. And I don't doubt that there might be some figuring out for them to do at times.
            Thing is, the actual mixed race kids that I know, including my grandson, do not seem nearly as concerned about this as all of the people trying to study and evaluate them.


            •  It's a good thing that your grandson (0+ / 0-)

              isn't so concerned.  I don't know how old he is or where he is growing up, but I think it could account for that for now.

              •  He's thirteen, growing up (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tardis10, ladybug53

                in a family with white parents, an AA sister, 2 white siblings. He is lucky in that my daughter found a school with a good amount of racial diversity, which sadly was not easy to find.
                I agree it's good that he's not so concerned, he has friends of all races and seems equally comfortable with all of them.
                If people ask him about his heritage, he will tell them that his birth mom was white and his birth father was black, but if he's checking off a box on a school application, he checks the AA box, not whatever they're using as a mixed race category. And it's his choice to do that.

                Ironically, although I used to hear so much about mixed race kids not fitting in anywhere,  the kids I know seem to fit in everywhere, at least so far. The world is changing, and kids are always ahead of the curve.

        •  We've got lots of 'em (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          breakingsong, CocoaLove

          high yellows is another.  :) .  I call that one the "beige aristocracy" .  It's why Malcolm was "Red" for "redbone" You know we use "Uncle Tom" and other versions of that.  Along with "oreo" (don't know if that is used much any more)

          Some came into usage within our own community, some without - most as terms of analysis.  

          Donald Bogle's "Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films" comes to mind.  

          You are correct about "they didn't create" since even the term "mulatto' has little to do with having one white and one black parent - it was a state sponsored (census) category until 1920 used to count those of lighter hue.  And was also used to create a buffer class loyal to the colonizer (Haiti)

          That is a tragedy of sorts.

          Fanon explores the psychology in depth -- and not just for "us' since it played out well in Algeria.

          I guess since my dad played one of those archetypes on b'way in Strange Fruit  (he was cast as the tragic mulutto) and in real life was anything but - I don't bristle at the use - but I do find it sad when children grow up with confusions imposed by the unrelenting systemic hierarchy of race - and that can be applied to all of us.

          Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

          by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:47:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think the issue is (3+ / 0-)

        that while the term may be entirely valid as an academic description of a literary/cultural archetype, it's being used in this diary to describe real nonfictional people.

        It could be argued that the show was constructed to cast them as representatives of the archetype, and as such the term might be valid for discussing the show itself. Nonetheless, the people interviewed were real people, not fictional characters, and so the considerations are different than they would be in a purely literary academic context.

        I wouldn't presume, as a white person, to tell a respected Black academic of mixed heritage how she should refer to other people of similar heritage. But I would say that it might be worth listening to the people in this diary who feel the word 'mulatto' applies to them or their family members and who find it offensive.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 12:56:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agree (5+ / 0-)

          that it can be both personal and academic/political kyril.
          But so much of my academic understanding is rooted in real people - many in my own family whose names I know, others who I will not ever, and those children of friends who are either solidly grounded or caught in confusions this society makes.

          There are now hundreds of websites using mulatto/mixed race/bi-racial as their subject/content.  Just google.

          I have had students refer to themselves as mulatto - and this becomes even more confusing when you also include students from Latin America/Brazil/Caribbean where "mulata" "mulatre" or "mulato" are terms used daily-and are in song and prize-winning literature.

          Further complicated by hypo-descent (the one drop rule)  
          the mess that has been created of "race", cultural identity, phenotype, color hierarchy...will not be sorted out soon.

          Better to have these discussions than not.  

          Does that make me insensitive to how people feel - or the pain. No. It does however mean that these conversations need to be aired somehow, and if we don't - ultimately we will never get past them.  

          I have a friend who is currently angry with her daughter because her daughter refers to herself as black.  

          She feels that her daughter is rejecting her - mom is white.

          Her daughter loves her mom dearly but refuses to be identified as bi-racial, or mulatto or mixed race.  

          I have another friend who has raised her child to think of herself as "white". That daughter is now experiencing trauma because she has been rejected by her white boyfriend's family.

          They don't embrace her "black' half. They reject her whole self.

          This stuff ain't easy.  And I know you never presume.  I still think it needs to be discussed and aired.  

          I've seen too many comments right here on daily kos about Obama's choice in choosing "black".

          A few people here even agreed that he had thrown his grandmother and mom under the bus.

          I guess I've been lucky to have a white grandmother who never felt threatened by her son, and me being black.

          But then she was forced by her time to live in the black community.

          It's harder for a parent or parents raising a child with some African ancestry in a white community or one that may be majority white.

          I've spent much of my life having people ask "what are you" which is pretty funny (and painful)
          since I am obviously to me - black.  

          I've been challenged academically too - had to inform someone in the black studies department a few years ago who objected to a course I was teaching simply because they decided I wasn't black.  My former Panther membership shut that up - but I didn't think I would have to "prove' anything.

          It offended me.  But I didn't let it stop me.  Nor did I avoid the discussion.

          Anyway - I'm up early AM as usual - and glad to see your comment.  Hope you see my long-winded response.


          Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

          by Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 02:50:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  When I took a black history class at KSU, (21+ / 0-)

      we learned about The Tragic Mulatto as one of the stereotypical portrayals of blacks in media.

      The Contented Slave
      The Wretched Free Man
      The Comic Negro
      The Brute Negro
      The Mammy
      The Tragic Mulatto

      It's a completely scholarly term that I learned at an accredited university.

      "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

      by GenXangster on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:19:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The tragic mulatto (5+ / 0-)

      is an established trope in multiple forms of media.

      Or in other words you need to step your Donald Bogle up.

      Lenin Cat says "In soviet Russia Cat chases Dog"

      by DanceHallKing on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:32:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Homosexual characters used to be required to (7+ / 0-)

      end badly, even in books written by and for a gay audience -- the classic example being "The Well of Loneliness", by Radclyffe Hall.  

      I'm glad that young GLBT people have access to numouer more encouraging messages and portrayals now.

      But that doesn't mean "the tragic Invert" doesn't make for a very interesting study in literary and historical themes.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:43:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a needed discussion (6+ / 0-)

      Agree that those characterizations are offensive, and unnecessary. But we have to discuss how we view ourselves in this country. In our attempts to fit into this society, we've avoided the issue for decades.

      Black families have a rainbow of hues and depending on the neighborhood or popular trends, some colors are more popular than others. During my childhood, people favored the lighter skinned boys and girls. Now, dark-skin men are the rage. Not so much for the women, though. There are a few exceptions, like supermodels Alex Wek and Naomi Campbell. I think the term is exotic.

      We have to come to terms with who we are and learn to love us AND become comfortable with the skin we're in.

      •  "Exotic" is exactly the word (0+ / 0-)

        I hear people use to describe my granddaughter. She's very dark skinned and strikingly beautiful. And honestly, sometimes it scares me because of the media presentations of young black girls as hyper-sexualized- I'm afraid she'll be seen as an easy target when she gets a bit older.  

        I worry a lot more about her than I do about my light-skinned grandson.  She loves hoodies, loves to wear the hood up, and with her locks pulled back under the hood she could easily be mistaken for a young teenage boy- she's 5'4" and very slender- but she's a nine year old girl.
        After the Trayvon Martin shooting, the sight of her in a hoodie was suddenly very scary. So for now we try to make sure her hoodies are pink or purple or something that says "I'm a girl".

  •  I watched (9+ / 0-)

    I watched the first several minutes of the CNN doc, but switched the channel when it seemed that the focus was going to be on the trials and tribulations of light-skinned black people and biracials. I mean, it's not as if the paper bag test was devised to exclude people whose complexions were lighter than a brown paper bag.

  •  Shades of Black (6+ / 0-)

    is the book we read to our kids to teach them that black people come in all colors.  My blue eyed two year old loves it, but mostly because it has ice cream and chocolate.

  •  Quicksand and Passing, both by Nella Larsen (3+ / 0-)

    (She rather nailed this phenomenon, although I really hate the ending to Quicksand.)

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:06:14 PM PST

  •  Eons ago, in my twenties, a shrink asked me (13+ / 0-)

    if my lesbian identity was problematic for me in any way, or words to that effect.  She was no homophobe, she was just looking to define the issues.  

    I told her that if I could take a pill that would make me HAPPILY straight tomorrow, I would not take it.   She nodded and moved on to the next item, end of subject.

    But given that social and economic discrimination surely would (and did) come my way, not to mention decrease in physical safety, was that a rational answer?  Yes, because I found value as well as risk in defining myself outside the dominant paradigm.  

    In general, all humans instinctively take pride in who and what they are.  It's hardwired.  Every being asserts its own right to exist.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:09:02 PM PST

  •  "I remember Marvin Gaye used to sing to me.. (21+ / 0-)

    he had me feelin like Black was the thing to be..." -Tupac Shakur

    I'm a passable black person although I tend to look southeast Asian to most people. Mexican to some, Native American to others. I've been compared to darker variety white people; Greek, Italian, etc.

    Because of light skinned privilege, I didn't realize how black I was until I went to college and took a formal Black History course. I felt like a part of history and the story of Black America for the first time. That course was about me. I would never be confused again.

    My own family confused me, claiming Native American roots that didn't exist. Other black people didn't immediately recognize me as black and racist white people would feel comfortable telling racist jokes in front of me or addressing offensive racial grievances about black people in front of me, not knowing I was black. All this stuff continues to be problems. "Tragic mulatto" problems which certainly don't trump the problems of the darker skinned black people in our community.

    I'm stubbornly black. I insist on being recognized as black because it's what I am. I know it comes with hardship but I would never try to escape blackness even though I escape it almost everyday by virtue of people not knowing that I'm black and not stigmatizing me for it on sight.

    I'm proud of the awesome culture we create under pain of oppression and the will to march on and keep on pushing. What a glorious and wonderful thing to be black. I see people around the world that imitate our culture and music and it makes me smile because "everybody wants to be a nword but nobody wants to be an nword" -Paul Mooney

    Good diary, CV.

    "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

    by GenXangster on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:11:16 PM PST

  •  "Colored people are nicer than white people" (12+ / 0-)

    I grew up Jewish in Philadelphia during the '60s. My childhood, for family reasons, involved a lot of city bus rides, alone or with my slightly older sister, from a very early age. One day - I must have been around 8 years old - I forgot to ask the driver for a transfer when I paid my fare. I went up later to request one, but the driver chose to be a dick and told me he couldn't give me one because I didn't ask when I paid my fare. I went back to my seat devastated by worry and guilt. I didn't have enough money to pay another fare, and I had to use a connecting bus to get to my aunt's house where my mom would pick me up when visiting hours were over at the hospital. I may even have cried a little. But a black lady, who apparently had overheard my exchange with the driver while she was waiting to pay her own fare, walked past me and surreptitiously pressed a transfer into my hand. I was overwhelmed by that simple kindness to an unknown child. I mulled over this for a few days, and finally remarked to my mother, while I was watching her prepare dinner, "I think colored people are nicer than white people." She was totally shocked by this, she had no idea where that came from because for some reason I was unable to tell anyone what happened to me that day. But I've never forgotten that kind lady. No white stranger has ever done anything like that simple act for me.

    Democracy - Not Plutocracy!

    by vulcangrrl on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:33:42 PM PST

  •  You make some points here that speak to me (11+ / 0-)

    in a powerful way. Both in terms of the way you were raised, and the fact that you feel strongly about helping others with whom you feel a kinship and yet that you also feel it important to do right by others as well who are outside those bounds. Saying all of that is a welcoming thing to say for those reading who are not black.

    As for my own kids, I'm honestly not sure they feel much of a kinship with white or Jewish Americans more than anyone else. It's an interesting question, at least for the 9 year old. The 5 year old couldn't even discuss it in a meaningful way. They probably feel more of a kinship to New York City kids than to other American kids, although I'm guessing there. I'd also be guessing about American kids vs. other kids outside the US. I'd be reasonably confident they feel more of a kinship to children in need than adults, not b/c they understand, as adults do, that children's needs are different, but just b/c that's someone who is "like them." We've been reading (to the older one) about history and the experiences of those who have faced racism/discrimination for some time now, so there's an awareness. But I really don't what's in her head at this point. My dream would be that all Americans would see one another as kin. That would help make us a far more egalitarian, democratic, and progressive society. I hope we keep on getting closer to that ideal, far-off as it may be.

  •  Really beautiful and thought-provoking (7+ / 0-)

    work, chauncey. There is a wistfulness in the voice of your writing that makes my heart lurch for so many reasons.

    Not the least of which is why we avert our eyes when we see black people on the street, and for my friends and me who bear with that kind of social invisibility. Where our perfect English cannot obviate our skin tone. And the amount of work we have to do just to dress up and look "respectable" to go out  shopping so as not to be profiled.

    I've had this discussion before with Denise Oliver-Velez at Black Kos. Living a life is difficult enough, but living to make sure an entire society is "comfortable" with you is a whole other thing.

    Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. -- Dr. Seuss

    by Fe Bongolan on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:39:43 PM PST

  •  Just live and let be (6+ / 0-)

    From someone who knows.  I come from a very diverse family Black, White, Asian, Spanish, Italian and Middle Eastern.  We just enjoy the diversity and love each other intensely.  We are proud of all of our heritage.  Some of us are strongly African American and others are multi-racial...Life is just too short to care.  We know life isn't fair...but don't let it stop us from achieving...we've have seen it all...tragic stories (drugs, jailings, lynchings (my fourteen year old great uncle in the early 1900s) and good stories (college graduates and professionals like doctors, lawyers, military officers and enlisted).  We just refuse to let society box us in with its prejudice and labels.  So yes we still have problems.  Life is tough and you have to work harder.  But like my old grandmother said, working harder and being the best at what you do is not something to be resentful about, its something to be proud about...its a way to put food on the table at the end of the day and its a way to keep your family moving forward.  To my 13 brothers and sisters and over 50 neices and make me proud that you achieve despite the struggle...amen  

    Oracle2021: I live in the reality based world where facts and math do matter!

    by Oracle2021 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:48:15 PM PST

  •  I really liked this diary (7+ / 0-)

    It is so important to  have nuanced, diverse, thoughtful conversations with other people of color, and those who love them, on this topic.   We have always been a complex people, and continue to be so.  I use the term mulatto as an antique reference, not in regular conversation, because I assign it to categorizations imposed upon us, like quadroon, octaroon, etc.---from the slave block.  

    I understand your use of it here, and am not offended.  There is a certain amount of consciousness raising one must participate in as an African-American, in order not to react in a knee jerk fashion, or from a place of shame, when discussing such complexity.

    Love your writing....keep it up...and I will also start participating on your "home" blog.......

    "Fear is the Mind Killer"--Frank Herbert

    by vmm918 on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:54:40 PM PST

  •  Well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, raincrow

    You know what Paul Mooney said about white people wanting to be black.

    by DAISHI on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:02:47 PM PST

  •  Thank you for such a thought-provoking diary. (6+ / 0-)

    Sadly, "doing right" these days is a topic in dispute.  Everyone used to know what "do right by each other" meant:  treat people with kindness, dignity, respect and generosity.

    Now, the Fake News world & right-wing nasty Talk Radio has convinced a sizable group of the nation, who function at just above the level of mental deficiency, that sarcasm, nastiness, shouting, and disdain are all justified toward the rest of our nation's citizens.

    Do right by your neighbors.

    A friend of mine is currently writing his memories as a teen and young man.  Perhaps it will be good enough to actually become a memoir.  I can tell you that it has me interested in each chapter that comes out.

    The timeframe is late 70s, early 80s.  In some of the latest chapters, he has moved into a house with some friends in a Black neighborhood.   He writes (sorry paraphrased from my memory):

    I always like living in a Black neighborhood, compared to the sterile white suburbs.  People sit on their porch and say hello.  They watch out for each other. Often, Black neighbors find white people like me to be a novelty, a curiosity, and that leads to great conversations.
    The next door neighbor, an older Black lady, rings the bell, presents a delicious sweet potato pie and promises:  "Bring back my glass pie dish if you want more of those."   She's lived there 35 years.

    As a gay man, I don't want to be straight. I like how my life has gone and can say that now that I'm older and have the experience.   I think everyone should be able to be who they are - as they were born - and everyone else should respect that.

    Parenthetically, people should be free to reinvent themselves if they wish. Just like Robert Capa, if you want to be someone else - a different past or background or whatever, being able to reinvent yourself and embark on a new career should be possible.  With all the tracking now done of everyone in every way, I don't know if that is possible any more.

    We aren't to a post-racial society yet, but we should keep working toward that goal.  I think young people today have great advantages that we didn't have 30-40 years ago:  openness of mind is a powerful tool in navigating the world.  The prejudices of the past are slipping into deeper into the past.

    Just as opponents to gay marriage are literally dying off, so are rigid race categories as younger, more open, more communicative and more racially-blended people come to the forefront.

    Well, those are just a few thoughts.  I'm optimistic about society in general, despite the ugliness of hateful people who still remain.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:03:18 PM PST

  •  I was a kid in the 90's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, raincrow

    and we did not talk about race at all. My family is all white except my step mother (Asian), and we're northerners. I had black friends, Asian friends, but no Latinos - they just weren't / aren't that common in the rural Northeast.

    When I moved to Ohio to go to college in Cincinnati, I met racist people for the first time, black and white. It was a great shock to me! Obviously I knew about race differences, I don't mean I was "color blind." It was just never treated as something other than a factoid, like being a tall person or a thin person.

    •  Similar situation in my upbringing..BUT (0+ / 0-)

      I was in a small Wisconsin town, and grew up in the 80's with one biracial boy (Japanese & white) and one black boy (adopted  by a white Lutheran minister, and had a white brother).  Everyone else was white (well, later I realized that some were partly Native American but this did not register at the time).

      The thing is, these people were culturally like the rest of the folks they grew up around, and "passed" in that way.   As a high schooler I was naively proud that we didn't seem to experience racism in our town.  I was taught that that was something that only happened in the deep south, and believed it because we had no "Merles" (Walking Dead reference) around.

      Looking back, I forgot that we had racist protests against Native Americans during that time. After I left, as more Hmong students moved into the area one school district experienced protests over integrated busing (in the 90's, in Wisconsin!).

  •  There are getting to be more and more of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, Oh Mary Oh

    us grandmas with mixed race grandchildren.

    Didn't see this program, but get offended just hearing about it.

    In my circle of friends, not one of us thinks of our grandkids as tragic.

    Just off the top of my head:

    2 of us are white with part part black grandkids
    1 is black with half white grandkids
    1 hispanic with half white grandkids
    1 hispanic with half black grandkid
    1 white with half black grandkids, oh and she also has part hispanic grandkids
    & 1 white with half hispanic grandkid

    Not to say there aren't any problems with other parts of the extended family, but we avoid them.

    We don't wish for grandchildren to be anything but what they are.

    This was a great diary.

    I'm so sorry for what happened to your friend his family.

    MHP said once said that having part AA relatives doesn't make you an expert on race. She's one of my favorites, but that offended me. Hard to put into words why.

    No it doesn't make me an expert, but it does make me vitally interested on the subject of racism. Yes, I always cared about the subject, but now it is deeply personal: it's about family.

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Nov: Lives lost trying to earn a living.

    by JayRaye on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:29:22 PM PST

  •  I'm a minority too... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Denise Oliver Velez

    I doubt it that I (or other Asians for that matter) have had it anywhere as bad as African Americans, but still, we've got to stick together.

    16, Progressive, Indian-American, Phillies Phan. Obama/Om/Chase Utley

    by vidanto on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:33:53 PM PST

  •  There is stunted twisted thinking in this diary (3+ / 0-)

    People choose to be black over white all the time and they do it for sane and good reasons.

    I'm Native American but I think our reasons for choosing our own people over "passing" would be much the same. First and foremost is our love of family and culture. You see, I don't much care for white society and the way they live their lives. I like Indian society and the way we choose to live our lives.

    I prefer Indian religion and following the tribal ways of my grandfathers and grandmothers which have been passed down to us over thousands of years. Christianity seems silly to me as I read about all those they exclude and their magical thinking about mankinds place in the circle of life.

    I also prefer my people way of enjoying themselves. To us dancing and singing are ingrained in about everything we do. Powwows are somewhat well known as our way of having fun, and they are fun, with dances and songs and competitions which include everyone from young to old. But alongside powwows are many other entertainments like stick ball games for women and men which also begin and end in song and dance. There are also sports and other gatherings which bind the people together. Being Indian is just plain damn fun.

    I perfer the way we organize our society and know our extended family, clans and societies. Warrior societies, Clan Mothers societies, Elders societies, Women societies of many different sorts based on various activities. All make being Indian a good basis for growing up in and taking part in. All age groups together and all income groups as one.

    I like the way our societies are not stratified by money (well that has changed some but not as much as non-Indian society) our poorest person can and do become tribal leaders if they are qualified.

    So yes, our long range prospects for things like college and good jobs may be hurt somewhat by being Indian and openly living as such. But know what Chauncy, to me the rational, sane and intelligent decision for me is to choose being Ponca Indian in all our glory. Your thinking on the matter seems twisted and a sure way to live an unhappy life of stunted futures. Put simply I'd rather live my life than Mitt Rmoneys any day.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:04:06 PM PST

    •  huh twisted thinking? you mean real talk (0+ / 0-)

      honesty, and transparency. the condition of first nation's people and black people are at times similar and at other times very different. oppression takes on many forms.

      re: Native Americans there are many who choose to pass for white.  This is a huge issue among native people. Tragically, the Racial State and Jim and Jane Crow America ran schools and programs--Dartmouth's being one of the most famous--to civilize and deracinate our indigenous brothers and sisters. That legacy continues today.

      I am a pretty happy guy. I hope you are trolling, but on the off chance you are serious I hope that you realize that as a person of color--and heck, if you aren't rich, the Mitt Romneys of the world have it in for you both because of your color and your class.

      •  well, I didn't write that very well (5+ / 0-)

        My writing was meant to respond the those "tragic mullatos" in the diary who make a concious decision to 'pass', not you or those who choose another path. So I'm neither trolling nor unserious. I just didn't make my point clear and hit post too soon. Here is what I wanted to respond to...

        The young tragic mulattoes on CNN understand this fact. The black people who can pass for white in Pike County, Ohio certainly understand this fact: there, one of them even states that being black in America is too difficult, and who would want to be such a thing?

        Thus, a provocative question: would any "rational" actor choose to be black (or not white) in America?

        The issue of 'passing' is a concern to us because we really need those young folks who leave the tribe. We are trying to live red in a sea of white so it's very hard to lose anyone. It's been happening at such a rate for so long we're kinda numb to it. It's very common for us to meet and talk with people who want to reconnect with their "Indian Heritage" because their folks had chosen to pass sometimes in their past. Or they were forced to do so which is another story too.

        Today most of them don't even do it by a concious choice. They just drift away, sometimes over generations. Intermarriage has taken it own toll along with adoption and child stealing. The governments "relocation" programs of the 40's -70's took a major toll on our people. We were given money and job assitance to move off the rez to cities and many were never seen at home again.

        America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

        by cacamp on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:00:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  chauncy - carter (cacamp) is not trolling (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        i realize you may not participate much in other diaries/communities here but you perhaps need an introduction

        our brother fought at Wounded Knee - and is one of the strongest anti-racist voices here at Dkos.

        jes sayin'

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 08:22:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  by stunted and twisted I mean (5+ / 0-)

      on the part of those who reject their family heritage to pass as a white person. I feel sorry for how much they lose to gain so little.

      My sister married a white man and had twins with him before they parted. The girl is blond and blue eyed while the boy is dark skinned and dark eyed. In other words my niece looks white but she grew up being Indian and as far as I know she has never thought of herself any other way. She participates fully in Indian ways and religion. She married a Ponca man and they have beautiful brown kids.

      In my comment above I neglected to mention our language which is so integral to our way of life too. It's another thing which binds us together as Ponca.

      America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

      by cacamp on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:18:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  damn, this is a mistake... (4+ / 0-)
      Your thinking on the matter seems twisted and a sure way to live an unhappy life of stunted futures.
      I said "your" when I meant "Their", sorry.

      America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

      by cacamp on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:22:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  now i got you :) yes, so very sad (3+ / 0-)

        how do you work with them to reclaim their proud past. if forgot where i read this observation about the shame felt by some blacks, native americans, and even jews in certain circumstances, but the observation was that we feel "ashamed" and "embarrassed" because our people "lost." we should not be ashamed of anything because we did nothing wrong; moreover we triumphed when whole groups of people would have given up, surrendered, or been vanquished.

        there is lots of pride and honor there. that wisdom has carried me through lots of things.

  •  Have A Question Chauncey. (0+ / 0-)

    Are you saying that folks who are mixed race (part black/part whatever) who choose to ackowledge their mixed ancestry and identify as such....are wrong in doing so?

    I am just trying to get what you are saying here.  Are you a person who says "If you are even part black, then identify as 'black'"?

    •  people should do what they like (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, tjcj, Oh Mary Oh

      however, this choice exists in a social and political and historical context. it can also be held up to critical scrutiny.  in this society a "part black" person is black. i also have little use for fictions of "mixed race" identity which suppose that there are "pure races" and these mulattoes and other mixed race types are something new or novel.

      There is only one "race" the human race. The majority of black people in the Americas are "mixed race" already. Why the need to create a buffer group that is closer to whiteness? I get the choice strategically, i.e. selling out to access white privilege. Folks have done it throughout recent history. It is no less contemptuous and cowardly, even if it is understandable on a basic level.

      •  The term (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WB Reeves, Oh Mary Oh

        race is what's wrong, as in biracial. As you say one race the human race.
        To myself, I am who I am. My children are descendants of kings and slaves and rabbis. French and persian and black and white, Jewish and moslem and christian and baha'i, they are who they are, a result of a mix of cultures and nations and religions. My daughter is always offended when asked where she is from. She is identifies as Canadian and Montrealer and colored and she and her sister and brothers like every part of their heritage.
        I am always interested in finding out how people identify themselves. Very fascinating. Like saying Italian for kids who are 3d or 4th generation in Canada. Boy are they surprised going to Italy.  We are all more than what we think our identity is.

  •  you are a good teacher chauncey (5+ / 0-)

    not so much for the diary, meant to get discussion going, and it did, but for the way you handled the comments.

       My family: white, my grandparents were inner city white teachers and guidance counselors and did it well from my very young observations, but was too young maybe to notice differently. They worked thru their church to help inner city poverty.
         I helped with the church charity work as a 12 year old, that led to several very uncomfortable moments in the awkward and difficult ways well off people can bumble the giving...... unlike the black lady with the bus transfer. I always knew the anger and resentment we threaded thru was at the center of the later conflagration that erupted in the city in the summer of 64 when the cities burned. Amazing that it took that long to happen. And I was educated in a big way, if only for the quote from the mayor maybe..'but we're nice to out Negroes!'
         My other grandfather worked organizing inner city trade unions, as he was a printer and union worker as well.
      My mother was in her older years the giving church lady helping everybody who needed help church lady.

    Yet.....I also remember the cautions and looks I learned from as well that taught me their worries about poor people and black people...never outwardly articulated...never educated rightly or wrongly, just mystery 'clues'.

    When young I remember how frustrated when I was prevented from being friends with Howard, a very dirt poor white (Irish as well, catholic I think)(C/P, yet another issue for white people) farm kid..muddy yard, falling down house, the worst of Appalachia farm housing. It was very disturbing as he was the first friend I had had my own age. The message was they were too dirty....and it may have been more that the adults were too problematic...but it left a mark.
        In your case your mom fed and looked after the poorer kid...and a good story it is.

    Living in white rural area, I didn't ever speak to anybody black until a migrant worker child showed up in our 6th grade for a few months. He was well liked and we were all sad when he was gone one day and we didn't know what happened to him, the teacher said they went back south. It must have been tough for him too, I have wondered and hoped everything turned out well for him..
       A lot of this diary refers to AA families teaching their kids to cope with a multiracial world, the obvious real failing is the failure of way too many white parents to raise their kids right to cope, be kind, and do right in a multiracial world.

       I am still trying to learn.. I stumbled over a big chunk of the issue when at music festivals I discovered the official Creole culture and politics, seen in LA , SF, and Louisiana. We'd need a couple of diaries if that ever gets tackled here. I would guess to say it is all on the continuum of coping in a racial america.

    anyway.....sry to ramble, it's what I do :>

       Thanks for this, thanks very much.

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:16:34 PM PST

    •  how kind, your grandparents sound like great (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, SoCaliana, lgmcp, blueoasis

      people. There is another conversation to be had here too, very often white people who do the right thing, live and feel and breath and have loving friendships across the colorline and just do the right thing on principle are called "race traitors" by their own people.

      radical, loving, secular humanism, and decency has to confront white supremacy as much for what it has done to people of color, but also because of the harm it has done to White society and white people.

      let's be good to each other. and also let's empathize and relate to each other as human beings while applying the golden rule.

      •  yes indeed, father went against the Power in his (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, DW Dawg, Oh Mary Oh

        Fortune 500 company..he was on the Way Up until he took a stand against their demoting of the first black person in the high office, a black secretary.

        It was just the start of a series of events where his reactions to the pig headed paternalism represented there just couldn't be tolerated by either side, and he left this that WAS a lesson to the kids.

        The trade union organizer grandfather was also an inner city elected many times ward leader, and ironically was , altho German pure drop, was darker than many of the mixed color and Puerto Rican citizens all around him. He was well loved by people of all races in the harsh stew of race  in the inner cities 40's, 50's, 60's....his good heart and strong will along with his simple kindness also a lesson for us kids.
          Yet despite that I had an older brother who was too influenced by somebody somewhere and had a big problem with race and was often involved in racially inflected sports fights...ugly to me for someone I otherwise looked up to, somehow I learned a better lesson.
        It's dam messy innit?... the same person can act well one time and be an idiot next time. People...

        20 years later I hitchhiked back thru the city and was soooo knocked out by the changes in the people, black kids talked easily to me and helped with directions, they seemed so much happier and involved in school and being funny and made me so happy after I had seen the awfulness of the 64 riots the last time there. There was none of the high tensions I experienced then, none that I saw from walking and then riding the bus...but then, you know...thanks..

        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:00:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Can't believe I forgot to rec this diary. (4+ / 0-)

    I fix it! Tip'd and rec'd.

    "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

    by GenXangster on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:21:49 PM PST

  •  Sometimes your diaries piss me off... (3+ / 0-)

    But this one was rather brilliant.  Good job.

  •  Is potpourri a self-identify choice now? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, Oh Mary Oh

    I would like it better than all the assigned choices I get.

    Hey, GOP - Get In, Sit Down, Shut up, & Hang On!

    by 88kathy on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:32:55 PM PST

  •  Intriguing diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm glad there was so much response and wish I had been here for discussion. I did not see the CNN special but I'm not surprised Soledad focused where she did. I did wonder how it was "news". The whole notion of "passing" is old. I also think that the diarist is a bit harsh on those he deems "tragic". Forming your identity in a racist society is not easy, no matter how well your parents raised you. Cut people some slack. I'm half black, half Middle Eastern and was often excluded by other blacks while I was growing up -- treated differently, as if I did not belong, was not black enough. That made me wary of the people I most wanted to identify with. Things are easier today, but my son is often questioned when he says he's black -- other black kids don't want to accept it. Why are we so rejecting of our own? I don't expect a racist to accept or tolerate me; I do expect other people of color to. So next time you meet a multi-ethnic person who seems confused, don't be so quick to judge. Ask him/her to tell your their story; you might be surprised.

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:34:26 PM PST

  •  Why Would Someone Choose to Be Black? (5+ / 0-)

    This is a really interesting question and the answer looks directly into the heart of what it means to be a human being.

    Why do suburban white males love rap music?

    Because the black voice is a sacred voice in our culture, even as the culture despises black people. It's sacred because we only permit the "other" to engage in certain kinds of critiques against the mainstream.

    From the other perspective ...

    I happen to be a homo type person.

    If I had a choice, would I choose to be straight?

    No freaking way.

    Despite the extreme limitations that you put on my external life, I know that people who are living inside the mainstream can never dream of tapping into the kind of inner richness that I am able to experience by living on the outside.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:47:07 PM PST

    •  white kids, like white folks loving black culture (4+ / 0-)

      more generally, is an old story of white privilege in action. you can be a tourist and indulge but none of that comes with any real personal cost. old story.

      there is a whole separate conversations with white kids, hip hop, and race minstrelsy that could be had and whole books written about (and have).

      moreover, a love of "black culture" does not translate into a love of black people.

    •  Really interesting (0+ / 0-)
      ... the black voice is a sacred voice in our culture, even as the culture despises black people.
      I think you've hit on something there.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 01:19:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A question in another language (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Would you choose to be black?" is like asking me "Purple duck exasperation proxy?" I can't make sense of it because if I wasn't black, then I wouldn't be me, I'd be someone entirely different.  

    I didn't see the CNN piece or hear the NPR one, but I'm curious about your thoughts on kids who identify as biracial when they have a black parent and a parent who's a person of color but not black.

  •  I'm white so I can't really relate, or answer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, Oh Mary Oh

    your question, obviously. But I just wanted to stop by and say that it was quite an interesting read, and made me think, well written too. So tipped and recced.

    As long as we have love, we will always triumph over hate, for love is the most powerful force in the universe. There is nothing greater.

    by Crazy Moderate on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:32:11 PM PST

    •  I can say that as a homosexual (5+ / 0-)

      I would not choose to be straight. But sexual orientation is different from race. I can hide my orientation, if I wish to, very easily. One cannot hide their race.

      I would not choose to be straight, because being gay is a part of who I am, and if I were straight I would not be me. Certainly life would be easier as a straight man, but I want to remain as myself.

      But like I said, I cannot understand what black people, or anyone of another race goes through, as I have not experienced that. Sexual orientation is just not the same thing, it's the best I can do to try to relate, but I will never understand fully.

      I think a lot of white kids I know are into rap because they think it makes them badass, tough, they don't understand what black people go through. They don't really understand the struggle black people go through. It's mostly born out of ignorance, they think listening to rap makes them tough. They don't understand that the lyrics come from real struggle, struggle that they certainly wouldn't want to go through, that no one really wants to go through. But the struggle still shapes people's experiences, makes them who they are, and can sometimes make them a better person.

      I don't know, I can only do my best to understand from the outside looking in, that's why I love diaries like this, they help me understand better, something that I will never experience.

      As long as we have love, we will always triumph over hate, for love is the most powerful force in the universe. There is nothing greater.

      by Crazy Moderate on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:37:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  good sharing, be mindful though most "rap" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Crazy Moderate, raincrow

        is not describing the real experiences of black people. either sadly, many young people believe that it is. that hurts black kids who internalize the new age race minstrelsy of much of contemporary southern infused commercial hip hop; it includes white kids and others who do not know real black people and take 2 dimensional caricatures to be an authentic representation of black humanity.

        •  Good point, looking back on my post, I generalized (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raincrow, mali muso

          far too much there, and that was a mistake, my bad. I was thinking more of older rappers like Tupac, though I am sure he only represents some experiences, namely his own. I don't mean to offend, and I hope I don't come across as ignorant. I try to learn about other cultures, and I try not to speak as any kind of authority on things I know I can never truly understand. I should never generalize about things I don't fully understand.

          I am here to learn, so I appreciate your response. It gives me especially, but all people a lot to think about. I think this kind of dialogue is very important.

          As long as we have love, we will always triumph over hate, for love is the most powerful force in the universe. There is nothing greater.

          by Crazy Moderate on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:14:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think TV and movies are even worse... (0+ / 0-)

 that regard, generally.  There are the stock rap/thug caricatures that most AA characters are slotted into, and then the more subtle (and therefore insidious) stuff, as you chronicled in your Walking Dead examination.

  •  My POV (5+ / 0-)

    I am mixed race. Any further attempt to define myself as belonging to one group or another simply disrespects 1/2 of my heritage AND defines myself by the ham handed racial groupings of simpletons basking in the warm glow of the comfort of past history. I cant live in the luxury of a past, I am a precursor of the future. Tragic indeed.

    According to the "math" presented here I can either be part of "blackness" (because my pigmentation defaults me into this),  or "pretend" to belong to whiteness. As someone who was raised entirely in a white community that welcomed and nurtured me, and not by my black father who failed to show up or be around me growing up so he could hang out, may I say I find the "invitation" to be black a day late and a dollar short. Nor do I feel I belong to being white, but I do know in my experience who had my back. And and I bet there are a ton of bi-racial kids being raised by white moms who go through this same thing. I don't think your racial assumptions about how other people should approach this help(nor do the shows you cite), that just my opinion, thanks.

    •  textbook, can i borrow your story? fitting of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, Plantsmantx

      an article on much of what we are talking about here re: tragic mulattoes, identity issues, and why so many try to opt into whiteness because of personal pain or the like.

      the mixed race movement is being driven by white mothers who are trying to access white privilege for their children. your example is further proof of what the research suggests on the topic. thanks for sharing.

      you are not a precursor of the future. you are part of a long old story. do some research; you may be pleasantly surprised.

      •  NO I do not belong in your predefined box (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I AM NEITHER white nor BLACK. YOU have the problem. MY research is my life, which you want to ever so intellectually suggest I discard in favor of your racial chains. You are simply wrong about me, my experiences and my motivations. The tragedy is the fact you think you speak for "real" biracial people, the "not confused"ones who have "accepted they are essentially black" which is as goddamned foolish as pining to be white. What I am saying is I identify with the way I was RAISED, and ALSO accept and LOVE the color of my skin because I have the ABILITY and right to do BOTH as a BI-racial human. Something you apparently are both jealous and afraid of. There is no "mixed race movement" this theory is being driven by your fear of being lower on the "racial ladder" you so despise, yet need to justify your own antiquated racial views(I don't believe in this ladder, but without it how could YOU write this stupid fucking post?).

        White mothers and their biracial children have had to survive and define themselves WITHOUT the help and support of the black (or white) community in many(most?) cases, why does that piss you off/make you tremble so much?  I don't need to ask a black person what to make of my bi- racial identity, they cant help me define it EITHER. Sorry you lose. Please just fuck the hell off, I think you want to make a case for the benevolence of the black race toward bi-racial people they helped create which in many cases is NOT REALLY THERE. Color IS only skin deep, after all. No reply needed, its your theories against my reality. Reality wins. Goodbye.

        •  Not to discount your personal experience (0+ / 0-)

          but what he said is true...  Bi-racial children have always had to struggle with their identity and the environment they were raised in plays a huge factor in that.  It's great that you don't feel the need to belong to either but not every bi-racial child is that lucky to be that secure.  Chauncey is just pointing that out.

          The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

          by lcj98 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:44:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You are being generous... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The diarist does have a lopsided point of view on this topic.  

            Mainly that bi-racial individuals that "choose" whiteness are doing it because of outside influence and that all things being equal they would choose differently.  Not only that but a bi-racial kid "choosing" blackness is due to some sort of educational process and deeper reflection on the more positive aspects of "American blackness"

            My point being that he does put a value on it.  In other words, there is no tragedy should a bi-racial child feel more black than white.  The diarist in an earlier thread suggested I was white because my opinion differed from his so there is certainly a bias involved here.  

            You can choose both, you can choose black, but if you choose white or neither, it's because of your negative perceptions about black.  

            The struggle that bi-racial kids go through isn't created from within.  The struggle actually begins from in most cases black or white people that are struggling with their own identity.

            "Do you think your better because of __?"


            "You're one of them so you can't be like us."

            It's certainly not one of these situations where we create this internal conflict out of nowhere, it is presented by the struggles of people that have trouble dealing with the concrete lines that were laid down before them.  

            Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

            by mim5677 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:23:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  don't presume to speak for me, i called you out (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              in a previous post because of your juvenile name calling and over identification with Whiteness. Biracial people can be whatever they want. They can call themselves purple striped green melba toast people. Don't care.

              I am interested in how race works in this society. How some choose to walk away from blackness and their other raced identities. And what are the mental, social, and psychological motivations behind such a choice. Tragic mulattoes--just like self-hating black people--are real.

              CNN chose to make a whole show profiling the former. That is fascinating to me.

              •  Just making an observation based off your own (0+ / 0-)


                I don't know how my calling you a name makes a person white nor am I sure what "over identification" with whiteness is.  

                Not only that but how can you presume to be an authority on what over the level to which a bi-racial person can identify with anything without knowing their experiences.  

                Don't let your prejudice get the best of you.

                Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

                by mim5677 on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:02:26 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  i like this, more evidence, i will explain (0+ / 0-)

                  yes, there are people, apparently such as yourself based on your comments who are desperate to be white and who denigrate black people and blackness. without taking too much more time on this issue, to say that someone "overly identifies with Whiteness" is to suggest that they are invested in either maintaining white privilege or in supporting its structures to their own gain.

                  Non-whites do this too: Clarence Thomas would be a classic example, as would someone like Michelle Malkin. In other words they are "sell-outs" or "race traitors."

                  •  That doesn't really explain it (0+ / 0-)

                    which of my comments would show that I am desperate to be white?

                    Which of my comments were denigrating black people?

                    Since you are saying you have evidence and I clearly have no way of knowing which comments were doing that why don't you help me out.

                    Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

                    by mim5677 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 04:42:43 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  just take a look below... (0+ / 0-)

            I would ask you this...

            If the diarist has no interest in anything but pointing out the struggle to indentify, why would he be calling anyone out as a race based on a discussion?  

            How in the world does someone over-identify as white?

            Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

            by mim5677 on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:39:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  there is a biracial movement in this country (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the Google is your friend. the library is an even better friend.

          who do you think is pushing to modify the census? why has there been an explosion of those organizations in number and influence as of late?

          You are so textbook by the way. Please share more.  You have lots of pain and projection.

          This is a classic phrase some a person who wants to be a racial middleman or part of a buffer race:

          "Something you apparently are both jealous and afraid of. There is no "mixed race movement" this theory is being driven by your fear of being lower on the "racial ladder""

          You should read some Fanon. He figured this out a long time ago. There are also great Afrocentric psychologists and others that could really help you better integrate your psyche too. Read them.

          •  Yes, there certainly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            is a biracial movement in this country, and it's predicated on their fear of and disdain for being on the same rung of the racial ladder as black people.

            •  Or it's predicated on their desire to have their (0+ / 0-)

              actual reality recognized. Why is there such investment in ignoring what people say about their own lives? Also, not everyone involved with advocacy for biracial/multiracial recognition are even dealing with black/white. There are a whole lot of ways to be biracial/multiracial. There's an interesting article on Swirl by a Japanese/white (Ashkenazi) woman talking about how she realized as an adult that her embrace of a monoracial Japanese identity was (for her) causing her to reject her Asheknazi whiteness. She did as the diarist advocates (identified wholly with her non-white side) and realized as an adult that it did not work for her. I have a friend who's Mexican/Vietnamese, who identified wholly with her Mexican side for most of the time I knew her (as an adult always) and then decided she wanted to finally connect to her Vietnamese side. She didn't reject her Mexicanness to do so; she added in her Vietnameseness (and where in a monoracial structure does Mexican vs. Vietnamese work? Which was she supposed to pick lest she be acting on her fear and disdain?).

              •  But... (0+ / 0-)

                what does their "actual reality" have to do with me? They get to be "not black". I don't want to do anything to keep them from being "not black". On the other hand, why should what they want involve trying to take my blackness away by joining the anti-black right in agitating to abolish official racial documentation?

                They already have the right to be "not black". All they have to do is check off "white", or if they prefer, not check anything at all. We- meaning black people who aren't ashamed of being black- aren't the antagonists here- they are.

            •  rather than (0+ / 0-)

              seeing the value in their own lives as individuals?  

              Rather than being able to have rational thoughts about their own identity?

              It couldn't be anything realistic, it would have to be based on fear and hatred because that's the most plausible scenario?

              Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

              by mim5677 on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:04:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Please (0+ / 0-)

            suck my textbook brown dick. I'm proud of what I am and amused by your inability to accept it.

            There are many white people that call me brother that will call you a n-word to your face, why is that?

            There are many places I go where because of my mannerisms and speech I am welcome, and you are not. Why is that?

            Are all of us deluded, because your theory says no? Jesus fucking christ NO, YOU ARE SIMPLY WRONG!!!!

            Please get over your fucking opinion. Go tell bisexual people they must choose to be gay only, or something else constructive. You and I are not the same, we don't share the same racial societal acceptance (except for in the  minds of race-fetishists like yourself, which counts for shit except when speaking to the like minded)and I'm neither lost or trying to merge with your identity.

            I'm not looking to think or act like you, or any white person for that matter, why does that make you sad? I don't NEED your black culture to love myself. I don't NEED white culture either. Some of us CAN be fine without a definition to fall back on. Jesus Christ are you fucking stupid.

            •  you need some hugs. you also need to be a (0+ / 0-)

              bit more mature in discussing these matters. as I said you are a textbook case of what we are discussing here. please do share more. i am learning a great deal from you.

              •  in what way do you assume I am textbook? (0+ / 0-)
              •  These are your words: (0+ / 0-)

                "As an antidote to such tragic mulattoes, Soledad O'Brien's Black in America special also profiled some well-adjusted black people who understand that race is a fiction. Despite the "race" of their not black parent, they understand that the one drop rule prevails in the United States, and these individuals gain strength and grounding from their identities as Black Americans."

                I submit these people cannot be black and are not black, any more than they can choose to be (tragically) white. Yo posit that only one can be legit. in fact you attempt to belittle my statement of my reality and experience by repeating the word textbook. your simply a black racist, the dark side of the overvalued coin.

      •  so, trying to put your mixed-raced kid through (0+ / 0-)

        college equals to trying to access white privilege for your children? How about I send my mixed-raced child to a "black" college? Am I still trying to access white privilege? Are you blaming white mothers of black kids for having separated from the black fathers of their kids? Or blaming them that the black fathers of their kids having left them behind ?

        Obama's mother and grandmother tried to give their mixed-raced child access to white privilege?

        Who paid for your college education? Were your parents trying to access white privilege for you as well?

        I am sorry to formulate that so personal, it's just that I don't know how else to formulate the point I want to make. I really don't want to be personally offensive here.

        But what you say would mean that every black parent who sends his kid to college is "trying to access white privilege".  Not to be too cynical I agree that these days you think twice about the so-called white privilege of getting a useless college education, but that is another issue.

    •  I stopped letting people define or question my (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      indentity in public in my early twenties.  

      As a practice I am who I am based on where I am and what the situation requires.

      I don't have to pretend because I've been exposed to all cultures.

      I find most often that it is people who are unfamiliar with racial ambiguity or people who are not children of parents with two different races have a more challenging time sorting out what boxes people should check off or how they see themselves.

      I can't count the number of times a person has misjudged my race based on my opinion.

      It's not the "mulatto" that is tragic, it's society.  How well do we expect the average person to deal with the enormous racial baggage that this country carries, especially when that person is from what is perceived to be two opposing backgrounds.  

      Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

      by mim5677 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 06:58:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your diaries are always (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, Oh Mary Oh

    interesting and enlightening. Thanks.

  •  Late to the game here, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    this reminds me of something that happened to me and a friend when we were in high school together (in Dallas, TX).  I'm white and female and my friend is black and male, though fairly "light-skinned" or "bright" in the parlance of the times.  We were on the city bus together after school just  chatting about the day, and another woman on the bus leaned in and asked him if he was mixed-race or black, because he "didn't talk black".  He replied quite respectfully with "No, ma'am, I am a Black Man" and we carried on.  It was so weird for me to witness this exchange and it has really stuck with me.

    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."-- Isaac Asimov.

    by ssundstoel on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:28:08 AM PST

  •  Something you said really penetrated (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mali muso

    and I thank you for that. It was the part about your parents talking about reaching out and helping other African Americans without necessarily excluding white brothers and sisters. I have found and have never really analyzed why this is, that when Black brothers and sisters have spoken about supporting "their own," that is, not to exclude or speak ill of those not African American, my reaction has been (with not intending it so) that that is somehow exclusionary or even exceptionalist. I wonder if other white people react similarly. I've even been told when I've bothered to argue this point, to Black friends, that there is nothing farther from the truth, that the intent has nothing to do with exclusion and certainly not with ill-will toward whites. The motive is tied directly to identification, and therefore, I imagine, to identity. I wonder if someone can expand on this for me. I do believe that this is a helpful insight if I am seeing it correctly. Any help? Thank you for this writing and for that insight. Best,

    I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

    by dannyboy1 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:53:12 AM PST

    •  great question and kind insight (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plantsmantx, decembersue

      black americans for a variety of reasons have had to be self-supporting and sustaining historically. we also have fictive kinship networks that go all the way back to slavery. sometimes family is what you make of it. now, i know lots of white folks and others who are not black just (if not more so) generous too.

      so i would never want to point out race as a causal variable that over determines generosity or kindness. that would be wrong and imprecise.

      there is research that suggests that white americans see and understand race as a zero sum game. here, meaning that if their group is not being advantaged or privileged then some other group is taking something from them. this is the basis of the type of racial resentment, rage, and anger we saw on the party of millions of white voters this last election and that romney and the tea party gop tried to mine for victory.

      what you are picking up on could be a function of that dynamic where self-help and mutual aid by people of color is looked upon as somehow "anti-white."

      •  If you need to see the research on that (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sure the election results in my district, MN-06, should suffice...

        The whole "Jim Graves is a muslim terrorist sympathiser" thing (yes, she went there) was a dog whistle about Somalis.

      •  This is helpful, too. (0+ / 0-)

        I can see this as well. I remember writing a paper on James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time (decades ago) and, of course, taking it personally, when he spoke directly to the fact that whites will never really be able to "know" what it's like to be black but that blacks have pretty clear insights into what it is to be white by virtue of their historical (and ongoing) exposure to whites via jobs keeping their houses and raising their kids. However, though I took umbrage, I do believe that there's a lot of truth to this in the sense that in those historical relationships between blacks and whites, African Americans have been placed in situations in which the "real" them did not belong to be shown, whereas the "real" white was shown all the time in intimate family relations. Vincent Harding characterizes the small acts of "rebellion" that almost every relationship blacks have had to engage in with whites in this country's history represent part of the history of black protest in American (in There is a River). I think this is still all too true in the majority of our interactions (maybe unfortunately or just as a matter of what is--what do you think?). I wish it were different but, as you say, the last election proves how this legacy of our race relations is a force to still be reckoned with if we really ever want to emerge from the pathology of our history. I think individually we can make headway, but as a culture, it's still pretty huge. What do you think?

        I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

        by dannyboy1 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 10:06:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  BTW (0+ / 0-)

          Would you please read this link (if I can get it on here) if you get a chance and tell me what you think? The link is to a diary I wrote on December 7, in case I don't successfully get it here. I'm new here and am still learning protocol. Thank you.

          I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

          by dannyboy1 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 10:14:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  ... (0+ / 0-)

    When race is the topic, ownership of a race/culture is always brought up and fought about...  I find that to be very interesting.  Also, when I was younger I didn't want to be white but I did wish I was lighter, had straight hair and blue eyes.  

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

    by lcj98 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:59:57 AM PST

  •  Tipped and rec'd. (0+ / 0-)

    I knew you were opening a can of worms here. My POV is that more speech beats no speech,always.


    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:20:18 AM PST

  •  On passing... (0+ / 0-)

    I've found  in my experience that there's "passing" as in trying to "be" physically white, and "passing" as in trying to be "culturally white".   There are similar but not identical dynamics for gay men (I'm a gay white man).

    My first black boyfriend taught me a lot.  He couldn't pass physically, but he was trying to pass culturally, I guess.  I just thought he was very materialistic and this was always a point of contention between us.  It took me a while to figure it out.  He was proud of living in a mostly white, affluent upscale neighborhood (in Montgomery County, MD), and justifiably proud of his educational achievements and career path. He loved his family but had a disdain for much of "black culture" and was painfully aware that his speech "sounded black".   I came to understand that a lot of his outward materialism was a way of projecting the idea that "yes, I may be black but I'm not one of those unsuccessful Negroes".

    To take this into a realm where I have more experience, Gay men have the ability to "pass" physically more often than not.  The feminine gay men with a natural swish in their walk find it harder, but the "tragic" gay men (in an analogy to the diarists's "tragic mulattoes") would have to be the closet cases.  I think the analogy helps illustrate some of the arguments earlier in the comment thread.

    See, some gay men choose to stay in the closet (taking advantage of straight privilege), some are flaming from a mile away, and some are "straight-acting," meaning when they just act as themselves, most people don't figure they are gay.  To me, the diarist's depiction of"tragic mulattoes" is akin to closet cases who are cynically taking advantage of straight privilege. Heck, we even have "sexual orientation traitors," both in the closet (Ted Haggard) and out (LCR members).

    Some of the people critiquing the diarist in these comments, like "Miss my village" are more like the "straight acting" gay man in that they are not ashamed of black heritage but minimize it in their life, and have taken up a cultural white majority identity as part of their identity, based on their own life circumstances and upbringing.

    My black classmate, who grew up in rural Wisconsin as an adoptee of a white Lutheran minister, only knew the rural white majority culture of our area, and couldn't even reject someone else's idea of his blackness, since he had no idea of what blackness meant (not that I do either, but I know that his experience, hard as it must have been, was not it.)  I think that with more and more biracial or multiracial kids being raised in households that are quite mixed in many other ways, there are many more black-appearing kids/adults who have never developed a "black identity" enough to reject it.  To see the CNN or NPR pieces, or to read this diary, would probably put these folks on the defensive.

    I'm sure I've probably said something that can be construed as offensive somewhere in this comment, and if that's the case, I welcome a chance to review, correct, or investigate it. Thank you Chauncey for the insightful writing. Even though we may have small differences of opinion, I agree with much of what you write and find it thought-provoking.

  •  This is a really sweet diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It is a good read on a cold afternoon. And there are moments in here that I recognize, and that helps me to remember why it's so, so important to write.

    I know you didn't necessarily intend this to be a sweet diary, but for me, it is. Thanks.

  •  It’s hard enough being Jewish. (0+ / 0-)

    It’s hard enough being Jewish...
    I’d like to thank all those black people who have pushed civil rights for all of us.  

    Love Me, I'm a Liberal!

    by simplesiemon on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:19:46 PM PST

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