I just read a column on an African-American-oriented website by a gentleman who espouses the belief that people who label themselves as “mixed” or “bi-racial” do so primarily because they are ashamed of being whatever the sole ethnicity is that others feel they should claim to be. He referred, for example, to Tiger Woods, who he says should only be labelled black but who is someone who embraces his multi-ethnic heritage instead.
I am not surprised to read this sort of opinion. Even when I write these postings for my blog and write about how proud I am of my multi-ethnic children, I can see how small-minded people might very easily think I must have some shame in simply calling them black, which is what most would prefer to call them. And I also recognize that as I teach them to be proud of all that they are, not just half, that I have to be very careful, even with them, to not give them the impression that simply being labelled black is a bad thing. Because it is not and I know I am personally quite proud of who and what I am and what we, blacks, have contributed to this world.
So I do understand why that columnist feels the way he does, this idea that “bi-racials” are running from something. All I can say is that for all the Mixed people I know, and for me personally, this is far from the truth. Choosing to focus on the multi-ethnic as opposed to the singular racial identity simply is more accurate. And it is more in keeping with how every other community is allowed to identify. Frankly I find it insulting that blacks are the only group that is forced to live by the “one-drop” rule. I am actually more surprised that blacks don’t choose to fight this rather than be shackled by it. So it is not about being ashamed of anything that people call themselves bi-racial or mixed, but rather it is about being allowed to accept both parents as equal, it is about living outside of what others try to force us to do out of outdated racist notions, and it is simply about getting beyond stupid classifiers based on skin color, when that should be the least important thing in our lives.