What Makes Us Black?
So the name on the tip of the media’s tongue currently is Colin Kaepernick; a man who I really had no idea existed until he protested the national anthem. While reading one of the many articles regarding his protest, I saw that someone left the comment “I didn’t know that he was Black”. My off-the-cuff response was “Why would you think that?” and “Why does his race even matter?”
But truthfully…it does.
Most Black Americans and media outlets are spinning this as an example of Black people being judged harshly. Colin is the militant Black man/athlete and how dare he be so disrespectful when he’s being paid so handsomely! However my mind hasn’t caught up to all of that just yet. I’m still wondering, why is Colin considered to be a Black man? Yes, his biological father was African-American, and his mother was White. So he’s bi-racial. Leaving historical definitions (like the ‘one drop rule‘) aside, why is it that one parent’s race trumps the other? On top of all of this, Colin was adopted by a White couple and raised in a White household with White cultural values. And yet, his genetics is what defines his ethnic place in American society.
Being More Non-Black Than Black
Being seven months pregnant with a multi-racial baby, my mind is most likely dwelling on this more than it should. My BF always remarks “He’s more non-Black than Black” and my response is “(American) Society doesn’t care about that. They are going to label him a Black boy/man and that is that.” But my BF does have a point. I am not aware of any European background on my side. So assuming that I have none, my son’s racial breakdown, in accordance to genetics, will be:
Looking at the numbers alone, it would seem that my son should be able to call himself White if he wants to; mult-racial for sure. But to have Black forced upon him; when that’s only 1/3 of his racial composition? I am not protesting that (because we all know, that’s what’s it’s going to be). It just defies logic.
In discussions about modern-day American racism, people like to throw it out there that we have a “Black President in the White House”. Do we though? In all honesty, we have a bi-racial president. A man who had a White mother and a Black/African father. And like Colin Kaepernick, his White grandparents played a pivotal role in raising him. Now, Barack did grow up to marry a Black woman and identify with the Black American community. So is that what it takes to be seen as Black?
To be frank, ethnic/racial definitions are subjective and can change from person to person. And these definitions can not only change according to the observer, but the subject of the conversation. The actions and lifestyle of bi-racial people tend to solidify their Blackness. Because Colin Kaepernick has a Black father and because he protested racism in America, of course he is to be seen as a Black man!
It really is funny how that works 😉
A Gray Future
Here we are, almost a generation into the 21st century, and race is still being placed on us. It’s not just as a label either. It’s a defining characteristic of who we are as individuals. Communities built upon common interests, including race and culture are great. But to have your view of an individual steered by what their racial background is increasingly odd. As the multiracial population in the United States continues to grow, this norm will only become more awkward.
Instead, let’s make racial identity a choice to be made by the person owning it. And when (or if) that label is embraced, let’s still allow that person to openly embrace the other parts of their cultural backgrounds and not let their actions be intrinsically tied in with their racial identity.