I’ve noticed in my latest research that in the ’50s and ’60s “biracial” described committees, boards, commissions, councils, governments, mediation teams, towns, schools, and groups. Not people. People were “mulatto” and things were biracial. Actually groups of black and white people were biracial. Now we’d say interracial, I guess. It is interesting to notice the shift in the language. I think the definitions are ever-changing. That’s why I have a love-hate relationship with words. I love them, but they can be fickle and misleading.
Kinda like, I know that when I say “monoracial” all the time that the proper term is “uniracial.” But to me uniracial is the big prize. It’s the word we get to use when the illusion of race has been globally recognized for the fallacy that it is and we’re uniracial. Belonging to the human race. We have various cultures and all, but basically we’re people and there’s only one race of us. So I’m saving uniracial. We don’t get to use it yet.
I totally did not intend to bring that up in this post.
Anyway, the first instance I found of a person being labeled biracial was in The New York Times on March 1, 1987- “LIVING IN TWO WORLDS. By Maxine B. Rosenberg. Photographs by George Ancona. A low-key and affecting photo essay about the fewer than two percent of children in the United States who are biracial.”
Biracial shows up thrice more in 1987 in reference to foster/adopted children. Through the early ’90s “biracial” is used mostly for the aforementioned groups with a noted increase in the use of the word as a racial categorization as the articles become more recent.
This brings me back to my defense of my use of the word “mulatto.” Most of my childhood was spent in the 1980′s when people were still referred to as mulatto and “things” as biracial. But “mulatto” was a bad word not to be spoken, so I was either nothing, “other”, or black. Everyone like me was. As I see it, this validated and perpetuated the one-drop rule. And threw shadows of shame onto my true identity. It gave me no chance and no choice to form an identity from a foundation of wholeness. I think this word “mulatto” is a larger piece of this race puzzle than most people think.
I mean, I definitely don’t want to be associated with that and if that‘s what people think of as “mulatto” I’d rather deny my whole self and be black which is exactly what “they” wanted when “they” created the system because the system will crash if too many people come to know that there is no great divide between the two races and that a person can actually be both black and white simultaneously.
The system is crashing.