I was reading a discussion on Kola Boof’s facebook page recently and I found out that she is engaged to a man named Jason Applebaum. He is white. This may come as a surprise to many people, seeing as Kola Boof has always advocated for Black relationships, but Kola Boof had this to say in response:
“I have never been against marrying a White man, I have been several White men in the past…but I will admit that my preference (all my life) has been for Black men. It was always Black men who had the best chance with me…
Even though they are my preference (my first husband was Black)…I don’t think I could marry a Black man now at age 44 after everything I’ve witnessed as an American.
I already have two sons by my first husband who was Black. Jason Appelbaum has one teenaged son who is fully White. We have decided not to have children.
But if life steps in and we do end up having a child, I would like it understood that our child will be considered “Biracial” and not Black. It’s very important to me that African-Americans understand that about me as an African woman.”
Now, I don’t know exactly what experience Kola Boof has had with Black men, but I respect her right to marry whomever she chooses and I share her sentiment in the sense that, I too am becoming more open to non-Black men. HOWEVER, I am still very open and receptive to Black men and it’s likely that I could end up with a Black man, even though I am open to white, asian, Latino men etc…But, one thing that struck me was her comment about her children being Biracial. I know that Kola Boof is vehemently against the One Drop Rule and she believes that it is a tool used to erase authentic Blackness. I no longer support the One Drop ideology either, however, I also am not jumping on the “Biracial/Multiracial,” bandwagon either.
I think that children born of Black and white (or other non-Black ethnicities) can embrace all of their heritage without having to identify specifically as Biracial/Multiracial…or exclude one part of their identity.
These are my thoughts on the Biracial/Multiracial Movement:
FIRST TO BE CLEAR, I do not think that Brown children (black/non-black) have to call themselves Black, but I also do not think they have to call themselves Biracial in order to acknowledge their heritage/identity. There are other less contentious and more inclusive terms that children of dual ancestry or multiple ancestry can use aside from the term biracial. So, I repeat I AM NOT SAYING THAT MIXED-RACE CHILDREN NEED TO CALL OR IDENTIFY THEMSELVES AS BLACK.
If I ever have children with a non-Black man, I don’t think that I will advocate the term “Biracial,” to our children… not because I think that children of Black and non-black parents shouldn’t be able to embrace all of their ancestry, but because I believe that the history of the term and its usage is divisive in itself.
Prior to the 1960s/1970s in America, primarily Black women were birthing “mixed-race” offspring, often against their will, and Black mothers had to adhere to the One Drop Rule. Black mothers of mixed-race children did not have the privilege to identify the white men who fathered their children and their children, who were regarded as being Black, were subjected to the same Slave status and later Jim Crow laws as their Black mothers.
But after interracial marriage was made legal in Loving Vs. Virginia, white women who could legally marry Black men in droves, started pushing the term “biracial.” Initially, it was used as a social term that identified the mixed-race children of Black men and white women and designated a unique Biracial cultural identity. Later, it was used as a political term to give children of white women and Black men the right to select multiple racial categories on the Census or to be able to identify as multiracial (a separate racial group from Black or white). Conservative politicians like Newt Gingrich liked the idea of “Biracial/multiracial” because it pushed their political ideas and helped to divide the Black community…in other words by making multiracial or biracial its own group, the Black community would be divided and political race issues and institutional racism would be more easily pushed aside. (source)
Many of the white mothers who pushed the biracial/multiracial movement advocated for a “colorblind society,” but their white privilege blinded some of the white mothers to the fact that advocating for a colorblind society is nothing more than advocating for colorblind racism. If you don’t see color, then you don’t see institutional racism and if that problem doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t get challenged and it never goes away.
One of the main reasons that I’ve been hesitant to become involved romantically with non-Black men, especially white men, is because of some of the ideas that have been voiced by SOME who claim the Biracial/Multiracial movement.
Several things have bothered me about it.
1. The idea that “race-mixing,” started in the 1970s with white women and Black men. It is a major pet peeve of mine when some people act as if children born of both white and black parents did not exist before the term Biracial was coined. No, brown children , born of Black and white parents have always existed, but prior to Loving Vs. Virginia, the majority of the time, they were the illegitimate children of Black women and white men. These brown children didn’t have the privilege to acknowledge their white fathers, so we just called them Black. I think that when people pretend that “race mixing,” is an innovative trend that started when white women/black men got together in droves, they ignore the complex history of race relations and they erase the struggles of Black mothers who had children by white men from history. This idea that “race mixing,” is a new phenomenon makes society seem more “post-racial,” than it really is…and it creates the illusion that race no longer matters just because white women and Black men can marry and have legitimate children with more ease than previously in history.
2. The idea that children born of white parent and black parent will end racism. As I mentioned, race mixing has been going on forever and there is still racism. Black and white people having children together will not eliminate racism, sorry.
3. The idea that teaching these black/white children to be colorblind will end racism. We live in a Eurocentric/ white supremacist culture. Everyday, we are taught that Black is inferior. We learn this from the white images that we see on TV, the Eurocentric and white supremacist school system and from society in general. Black children continue to fail the Black doll white doll test generation after generation because we are so stigmatized as Black Americans that we internalize racism against ourselves.
As a Black person in a white society, you almost have to overemphasize the fact that Black people are not inferior and actively teach Black children and children of color not to accept the idea that white is superior just to get our children to see themselves as equal to white people. When you can look on TV and see white people portrayed as heroes and role models and then go to school and learn about Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and other white historical figures…yet learn hardly anything about important Black people and their contribution to this country, your mind becomes warped and you associate positivity and accomplishment with white people and dysfunction and failure with Black people.
SO by default, when you don’t actively teach your children to challenge racism/white supremacy and you don’t teach about their heritage as children of African-descent, you’re creating a white supremacist child. In one way or another, your child will internalize the idea that white is superior. Any child will internalize the idea that white is better just by being in a Eurocentric culture. So colorblind child-rearing does not sit well with me. I want my children to see color and embrace color as that is part of a person’s identity.
I would want my child to understand white supremacy and to speak against it and to truly do that you can’t be colorblind. I would want my child to advocate for true equality and that only comes from embracing color, not being colorblind.
4. The idea that being “biracial/multiracial,” is superior to Black. Just as some children internalize the idea that white is better, many also internalize the idea that being “biracial/multiracial,” is superior to Black. Society reinforces this idea by casting light-skinned/mixed-race actors and actresses in desirable roles in films and television, while relegating dark-skinned Black people, especially Black WOMEN, to stereotypical, subservient roles. Think of the film Norbit or the upcoming film Half of a Yellow Sun.
I have no problem including Brown people (of Black/non-black heritage) in the Black community , but I do have problem with Black people or dark-skinned Blacks being portrayed as inferior and being made invisible (as Kola Boof would say) in favor of a whitened, less-threatening mixed-race person of African descent.
The issue of colorism and “good hair,” is still prevalent in the Black community and some children who are born of Black and non-Black unions internalize the belief that they’re better than Black people and the term “Biracial/Multiracial,” can be used to deem Black people as inferior. There are some white mothers who embrace the term “Biracial,” because they feel that it’s better than being Black and they instill this mentality in their children. There are some Black women who do this as well, but because in this day white mother/black father is more common, I see it more in Black father/white mother combination. So, in a way, the Biracial movement, although this may not have been the original intent, can create a modified color caste system.
However, I do not think that there is anything inherently wrong with embracing all your ethnicities. I encourage Brown people of Black and non-Black heritage to embrace all of their identity, but it’s the direction that the Biracial/Multiracial movement seems to have taken that is problematic for me.
Now that I’ve been seeing non-Black men as romantic partners (though I still love Black men, I’m just open), this topic has been at the forefront of my mind.
If I ever have a child with a non-Black man, I would not inculcate the ideology behind the terms “Biracial/Multiracial,” into my children nor would I inculcate them with the idea that they have to be “just Black,” and deny their other ethnicities. I would want them to embrace all of their heritage (my ethnicity and whatever ethnicity their father is)…but I would not, as a Black mother, want to associate myself with a movement that inadvertently strengthens white privilege and inequality.
Just my thoughts.
Do any other Black women out there who are interested in serious relationships with non-Black men feel this way about the Biracial/multiracial movement?
If you’re a Black mother of a Black/non-Black child, do you feel the Biracial movement has benefitted your children or your family at all?
Do you think the Biracial/Multiracial movement was created to benefit white mothers and white people more so than the children of Black-white unions?
If you’re a child of a Black/non-Black union, how do you feel about the Biracial/Multiracial movement?