Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where IS the African American part of my family?

At 12:04 am this morning someone bravely... anonymously of course, posted "where is your african american part of the family in the family picture." on my blog. It was a response to the 2010 entry and I don't understand the correlation there. But I thought I would respond in a post instead of have it buried so many posts down that readers couldn't enjoy it as much as I am.

I will resist sharing the assumptions I have about this poster. You can make your own. My readers are quite astute. I will say however that this post and the way it was posted are the very validation I give for a mixed race identity. So thank you anonymous midnight poster for making my point clear. The interviews that I have done for my documentary and my dissertation always hold some element of this social reaction. Most if not all of my interviewees reported having experienced this accusation from members of the black community in particular. I did have several participants who were Asian/South Asian who also experienced this kind of defensive social response. I have some sense of where this kind of defensive response comes from; but I don't feel like defending bad behavior right now. I personally get tired of defending my social and intimate realities.

My mixed race identity was not automatic; it has been an evolutionary process that began with this kind of social interaction. This challenge of my blackness is a large part of my self-realization that I was something outside of or in addition to being black. My understanding of black identity suggested that I experienced something different than those who considered themselves mono-racially black. My understanding of myself as a mixed race person came from other black people and the way THEY framed my social and intimate locations. My whole life I have been accused of not being black enough, not wanting to be black, and denying blackness. NEWS FLASH! I cannot avoid, deny, or wish away my blackness and I have no desire to. I also do not have to avoid, deny or wish away my whiteness and my white family. MY FAMILY IS WHITE. My family is white because they chose to BE my family. My mixed race identity comes out of those two places: the social - people challenging my identity, much like the anonymous midnight poster who is suggesting I am hiding the black folk; and the intimate - the reality that the family that raised me is white.

What the anonymous midnight poster failed to notice is there ARE other people of color in the picture. I am assuming that the poster is talking about the big family picture at my daughter's first communion. There are actually five people of color in the picture (I moved the picture up so we can play my favorite mixed race came...count the quarters...or one of these things is not like the others). I will resist enumerating the racial composition of those people of color but I will say that several of them identify as black. I do apologize to the anonymous (and omnipotent) midnight poster for my family not being dark enough for easy aesthetic socio-racial location. Some people are just limited, and bigoted.

In closing, I would like to answer the anonymous midnight poster. There are no aesthetically dark African American people IN my family that is why there aren't any IN the picture. I do want to share with my readers my initial reaction to this question and the feelings that it generated. I hope the anonymous midnight poster understands the pain that a response like theirs can cause. I hope the anonymous midnight poster understands the racism and bigotry that a person like myself experiences imbedded in questions framed like this question was framed. I do believe that this was a defensive question steeped in ahistorical assumptions about myself and people like me. If the anonymous midnight poster was interested in ME they wouldn't have posted anonymously and they would have asked a question that was curious not condeming. But here is the you seek answer anonymous midnight poster:

There are no African American's in the family picture because my biological mother ABANDONED ME AT BIRTH. Thank you for asking.

More soon...

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