these are my sentiments exactly, jason haap! i try so hard not to judge or be offended by anyones’ choice to self-identify as they choose, but…. come on obama!! how will we ever move forward if the most recognized living ‘mulatto’ doesn’t think it matters that he is one? how will we eradicate the vestiges of the one-drop rule, which implies that black blood is a pollutant, and that if your drop is visible you better forget about the rest and fall in line at the back with the other tainted ready to fight the good fight? if we can’t get rid of that idea, then how will we get to the point where we see ourselves in everyone because we are indeed all mixed up and there is no inherent opposition. i have a feeling that we as a human race could reach untold heights if we redirected the energy that we (perhaps unconsciously) spend on categorizing/demonizing/stereotyping/judging/comparing/othering toward a more inclusive, unified system of brotherly commune. like, no fighting, no distrust, no base-less fear. what!? i don’t even know how to say what i mean. maybe there’s not a word for it. yet.
Unfortunate message to our mixed-race children
by Jason Haap, an educator, citizen media activist, and father of two multiracial children
The “one drop” rule is alive and well for America’s multiracial children! Last week, President Obama gathered fanfare from national media. Despite the obvious existence of his white mother, he checked just one box on his census form regarding his racial identity: “Black, African Am., or Negro.” By ignoring the option of checking multiple boxes (or of writing in a word like “multiracial”), Obama sent an unfortunate message to America’s mixed-race children.
People may have the freedom to pick racial identities individually, but Obama’s public actions as president of the United States deny the rich history of America’s multiracial realities, hearkening back to a racist period that said one drop “black” makes a person “all black.”
I remember, a few months ago, playing with my kids at the Cincinnati Children’s Museum. I heard one boy point at my oldest son and call him “that black kid.” Certainly my children are more brown-skinned than me, but they are also more fair-skinned than their mother. That’s because I have multiracial children, and I think it’s too bad their racial identities are being formed by a backward-thinking American culture before they are even old enough to notice skin color might mean something in the first place.
Despite the mythologies some of us have been raised to believe, there is nothing “stronger” about black blood. It does not “take over” a baby’s genes if one parent is black and the other white. These ideas were promulgated by racists who wanted to scare white people into thinking their genes would be obliterated by the act of intermixing with blacks. But it’s just not true. It’s bunk science and even bunkier sociology.
When the Race exhibit came to the Cincinnati Museum Center, I learned how some cultures have radically different ways of articulating race – such as in Brazil, where dozens of descriptive terms are used instead of polarizing opposites like simply “white” or simply “black.” Instead of helping move our racial understandings into the 21st century, Obama’s public actions have placed us back into the old racist thinking of the one drop rule, and that’s a shame.