dear abby: biracial edition

Dear Abby: Meaning of ‘African-American’ reflects nation’s past, present

by Dear Abby

Posted on Wed, Sep. 30, 2009

DEAR ABBY:: On July 23, “Wondering” asked why President Obama is considered to be African-American and you responded that the term “African-American” is used in this country as a label that describes skin color. However, in the U.S. the term is generally applied to black Americans of slave ancestry.

Before the Civil War we were African-American slaves, not considered fully human by the U.S. Constitution. After the Civil War and the outlawing of slavery, former slaves gained citizenship through amendments to the Constitution but were not able to exercise the full rights of citizenship. Most former slaves wanted to just be “Americans” with all the rights and privileges associated with it – but because of the color of their skin were discriminated against and given second-class citizenship.

The term “African-American” is the result of a search for identity by these new Americans, former slaves and their descendants. We were called by many names – most of them negative, such as “Negro,” “Colored,” “African,” the infamous “N- word,” “Afro-American” and finally, “black.” All of these at one time we considered negative because they didn’t represent self- identification.

The black power movement occurred when Black Americans changed the negative term “black” to the positive term “Black.” The musician James Brown coined the phrase, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Later other black folk began to adopt the term “African-American,” which brings us to the present.

We are a nation that has roots in all nations of the world. Truly, “we ARE the world.” We’re all American, either by birth or naturalization. The labels tend to divide us into groups which separate us rather than bring us together. The saying “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” is true. Let us all come together and all be blessed.

– Rev. Alton E. Paris, American

DEAR REV. PARIS: Thank you for your letter, which is both inspiring and educational. Many readers had comments about my answer, and they were all over the map. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am a white female with many African-American friends, and yes, I did vote for Obama. When Obama became president, most of my black friends said: “Finally! We have a black man as president. All this racism will stop. The white man is no longer in charge of things.”

To me, it was like it didn’t matter that his mother was white, he was raised by his grandmother who was white, and he is half-white. What I’m trying to say is, he’s a man of equal parts – not all black. So why do African-Americans make it sound like he is of all black heritage? Isn’t he of white heritage also? A lot of my white friends feel the same way I do.

– Nancy G. in Cleveland

DEAR ABBY: Please inform “Wondering” that according to Webster’s Dictionary, President Obama is mulatto, which is a person who is a first-generation offspring of a black person and a white person.

– William B., Clayton, N.J.

DEAR ABBY: When living in America, I am called an African-American. If I move to Africa, would I be called an American-African?

– Kenneth F., Saraland, Ala.

DEAR ABBY: Many biracial children are considered to be part of the ethnic group they resemble the most. While some may consider it disrespectful to say that someone is of one race when he or she is really biracial, this is the world we live in. We do, truly, “call ’em like we see ’em”!

– Devyn B., Fayetteville, N.C.

Posted on Thu, Oct. 1, 2009

Dear Abby: Is President Obama black, mixed-race or just American?

DEAR ABBY: “Wondering in Goldsboro, N.C.” asked why President Obama is considered to be African-American when he’s biracial.

While your response was accurate, you missed an opportunity to educate your readers by failing to give the historical context as to why most people refer to him as African-American.

There was a time in this country when “blacks”/African-Americans were considered to be only three-fifths of a human being.

Also, if a person had one drop of “black” blood they were considered black.

Although as a society we have progressed intellectually and in our understanding of what a human being is, we continue to hold on to archaic beliefs about skin color that not only pigeonhole an individual, but may force an individual to choose what so-called racial group that he/she identifies with most.

I can clearly see that the conversation regarding “race” and skin color must be continued in this country.

Though we’ve “come a long way, baby,” we still have a long way to go in understanding this country’s deep-rooted responses to skin color.

– Living in America

DEAR LIVING: I think if one digs deep enough, we will come to the realization that there has always been a component of economic exploitation and perceived economic threat that is, and has been, at the root of racial discrimination.

(But that’s just my opinion.)

Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In Obama’s book “Dreams From My Father” he calls himself a black man of mixed descent.

His decision to do that is as much a political decision as it is a personal one.

Most people of color of mixed race in our society have felt we had to choose to be the darker color because we can never be white.

In our society, most people who do or don’t know of Obama’s mixed background would treat him as a black man. (If you saw him walking down the street, would you say, “Hey, that guy’s half-white!”?)

By embracing his political identity he supports and strengthens all black people in the U.S. by standing proudly as one of us.

– Nicole in Marin, Calif.

DEAR ABBY: African-American does not denote skin color, but an ethnic culture, a term that describes those of us who are descendants of captive Africans in America.

It holds the same level of pride as it does for those who pronounce they are Italian-American or Asian-American.

– Michelle in Maryland

DEAR ABBY: You write that the term African-American is used in this country as a label that describes skin color.

I believe you are correct, and that’s the problem.

“African-American” identifies origin or ancestry, not skin color.

Furthermore, if the anthropologists are right, then – going back far enough – we are all African-American.

– African-American Member of the

Human Race in New Jersey

DEAR ABBY: Why can’t we all be called just plain Americans if we grow up in America and are citizens of America?

I think a lot of people have wondered this.

– Sandy B. in Harrisburg, Pa.

DEAR SANDY: That’s a good question and one that I hope will one day be put to rest – if not by our children, then by our children’s children.

– Sincerely, Abby

black mask

5 thoughts on “dear abby: biracial edition

  1. i like what Nicole in Marin, Calif. said…i agree with her, obama has a right to choose, and has chosen, people need to respect it and get over it. and anyways its true, a biracial person is black in AMERICAN society…america’s racial system is not the same as south america…and it will take centuries before it gets to that point.

    in all honesty, i hate when people (especially white people) throw the “biracial card” out there because, they are using it more for evil purposes, and are not really doing it because they care about biracial people, they are using that argument for the wrong reasons, and its not right. they simply used it as a reason to whine about obama, and to create useless controversy…they pretty much took advantage of a real problem and mocked it, as soon as obama is out of office, the notion of “biracial” will end up being forgotten again, as it no longer will serve them any purpose to use it…

  2. .

    People should try to remember that being Biracial is NOT
    what prevents US President Obama from being an AA
    (as there are many full-AAs who are of the ‘continually’
    biracial lineage known as Multi-Generational Multiracial)
    — BUR RATHER — what prevents US President Obama
    from being an AA is that Mr. Obama is simply *not*
    … “a ‘descendant-of-the-survivors’ of the chattel
    slavery system that took place on the ‘continental’
    United States during it’s antebellum period.”].

    In addition — people should try their best to remembered
    that (contrary to popular assumption & misconception)
    the ETHNIC term “of African-American” is actually
    NOT the same thing as the RACIAL term of ‘Black’;
    the terms are NOT synomymous; the terms should
    NOT be used interchangeably; and they are actually
    referring to two entirely different groupings of people.

    “““““““` “““““““` “““““`
    AAs & BAs: The KEY difference
    between these TWO (2) groups …

    “““““““` “““““““` “““““`

    The African-Americans (AAs) are an ETHNIC
    grouping of people that is comprised ONLY of:

    *** The ‘Descendants-Of-The-Survivors’ of
    the chattel-slavery system that took place
    on the continental United States of America
    during the antebellum era of its history.***

    Most (+70%) — although not all — of the people
    who are born to two (2) AA parents are found to
    have an ancestral “racial” lineage that includes
    varying amounts of African (45-55%), Amerindian
    (+25%) and also European (+20-30%) bloodlines
    — that were both admixed into and “continually
    remained” within the full lineage of their families.

    (Meaning they are of the Mixed-Race
    category that is often referred to as
    “Multi-Generational Multiracially-Mixed”
    — or as being of an ‘MGM-Mixed’
    racially-admixed ancestral lineage)

    Thus, this unique ETHNIC group of people is actually
    not seen (by most scientists and geneticist) as being
    a ‘Black’ RACE group (or any sort of RACE group)
    at all — but rather they are seen as actually being
    comprised of a group of people that span across
    the following “racial” categories and groups …

    **** Multiracial
    (about 70% of the AAs — ex. Jayne Kennedy)

    **** Black
    (about 20% of the AAs — ex. Oprah Winfrey)

    **** Biracial
    (About 5% of the AAs — ex. Jennifer Beals)

    **** Amerindian or White
    (About 5% of the AAs — ex. Walter White)

    The majority of people who are from other nations
    outside of the US, do *not* consider ‘the average’
    AA to be “racially” ‘Black’ (neither fully or mostly),
    but rather, they look upon ‘the average’ AA as
    being of a ‘continually’ Mixed-Race ancestral
    lineage, based largely on their features.

    [Added Note:

    It should be pointed out that the AAs did
    *not* “choose” the term AA for themselves.
    The term of AA was applied to this Ethnic
    group (without their consent, will or say)
    — circa 1988 — by the US Census Bureau
    and the US mainstream media (very much
    like the term ‘Black’ had been previously
    applied to them — circa 1968 to 1988, and
    in both cases, this Ethnic group, was for
    the most part, given no ‘say’ in the matter).]

    “““““““` “““““““` “““““`

    The Black Americans (BAs) are a RACE
    grouping of people that consists ONLY of:

    ***The ‘Volitional Immigrants’ that are from nations
    that are found all over the world and who are both
    Fully of the Black Race group and who are also
    NOT the descendants-of-the-survivors of the
    chattel slavery system that was once found
    on the continental United States of America.***

    As noted, the BAs are a RACE group and
    are seen as being of a fully-Black lineage.

    For more information on this topic, please feel free
    to contact me anytime at


    AllPeople (AP) Gifts, 2010 ©
    Founder of the Generation-Mixed;
    MGM-Mixed and FGM-Mixed
    Yahoo!Groups Discussion Sites




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