I am married to a Mexican-American woman and we have two beautiful children, a 9 year old son and an 8 year old daughter. By the way, I am a black American, or African-American if you prefer. So our children are, depending on how you view the world, black, Hispanic, mixed, black-Hispanic, black-Mexican, bi-racial, multi-ethnic, mulatto, or any number of other interesting terms our society has come up with to put a label on who they are. It truly is funny in some ways how important it is for people to have a label they can hang onto when defining people. And yet in many many other ways it is not funny at all.
Which is the point of this blog and this particular posting. While putting a label on our, and other children whose parents are of different ethnic groups, is important to others for reasons that are political, racist, ego driven and just to make things easier for some, it is not important to me and my wife. What IS important to us is that our kids be proud of who they are and what they represent. Which is both sides of their heritage – both all that it means to be black and of African descent AND all that it means to be Hispanic and of Mexican descent. And of course all that it means to be American and all that that means as well. Though this sounds simple enough, and logical, it is amazing how many people do not see things this way.
Most of us are familiar with the “one drop rule” that says if you have even one drop of black blood in your veins, no matter how far back you have to go to find that drop, then you are black, end of discussion. What amazes me about this notion and the fact that it is still widely accepted today, even by black people, is that most proponents of this idea have no idea how racist the notion is and that it is rooted in the idea of a pure white “race.” It is based on the notion that one drop of black is so pervasive and tainting that it overrules everything else. How stupid and silly. And worse, that black people back the idea is even more crazy. But I bring it up to say that my wife and I aren’t crazy. We understand that with such idiocy as the root of our notions of “race” our children will be pushed simply to identify and be identified by most who carry this outdated notion, as being black. As if half of their genetic pool does not exist. It reminds me of something I read the other day that sums up the idiocy best. The phrase was something like “in this country, a white woman can give birth to a black child but a black woman cannot give birth to a white child.” Does that not bring home how crazy this is?
And I need to make sure something is very clear, the point here is not that I am not proud of being black because believe me I love my culture and what we have brought to the world and I will make sure my kids are proud of that as well. But I believe that racism is stupid. And I believe that if we are ever going to rid ourselves of that stupidity, we will not do it with laws and whatnot, we will do it by blowing up the notion of race. Race is just a convenient way to label people. There is only one race with many different cultures and ethnic groups. My goal is that we get past these labels. And it starts with these kids. Interracial is a misnomer since its root is race, I prefer mixed or bi-ethnic if not the more accurate black-Hispanic in the case of our kids. In the end none of those labels matter anyway, except to be able to identify. In the end, ours kids and the thousands that are out there, are just people. Gloriously though, they are people who just may help destroy our notions of race.