The Evolution of Racial Identity/Equality
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Since my initial press release for the documentary “Biracial not Black,” I was a guest on the Michael Baisden radio show, CBS radio “Unfiltered”, Newstalk 1010 (Toronto), Tyra Banks as well as CNN live with Campbell Brown.  The subject matter has been talked about, rationalized and analyzed (while I was up close and personal even agreed upon). With all of that I am still getting daily comments and emails from balled fist wanting to throw a punch in my direction….telling me, I will always be a nigga to whites and I look black so get over it!

I want to throw my hands up and shout, “OMG, WFT” after 1,300 comments from the 80,000 hits on my YouTube account (a large percentage) are still advocating the one drop rule is alive and well.  It was documented in Marie Claire magazine back in Oct’07; that mixed-race is the fastest growing population in America….and three years later the rant is (still) if you look black you’re black, whew—I guess we just gotta keep at it.  I am a die hard optimist; I’ve taken this on as a cause, for a greater reason, not just to give a voice to the silenced millions of biracial folks, but to give understanding about race issues on a deeper level.  Who better than someone that has a foot in both courts?

harryreid The evolution of racial identity/equality can’t be explored if we don’t get past the basics; if you call me black (a biracial woman), better yet if you call Obama black, there will never be a black president.  There will be a light-skinned, biracial man passing as a black man.  Sen. Harry Reid’s statement drew massive controversy, he (Reid) was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama - a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' as he later put it privately.  Why are we jumping up and down and making the Sen. apologize?  He spoke the truth.  Whites are more comfortable with a ‘light-skinned person because the commonality is closer to the surface, and with Obama the evidence of a white parent gives a first hand revelation at familiar parts. 
Why would that be an issue when that same theory applies to blacks?   Blacks are more comfortable with a biracial person than they are with a white person.  They call Obama black; knowing he has a white mother.  You can’t have it both ways, get offended when the white man says whites are more comfortable with the light-skinned man that doesn’t really sound black, and not get offended when blacks questioned if he was black ‘enough when the election first started, or “talking down to black folks as Jesse Jackson whispered making a strong case Jackson doesn’t really think of Obama as black.  He is what he is, and everyone knows it but is considered politically incorrect when they talk around it— never about it.  Actually I’ve heard two men correctly identify our President, Sharpton on CNN and Bill Cosby at a round table discussion—didn’t get any write-ups about that.
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soledad To create equality we have to identify truthfully; it appears the biracial community has become the face of the black community, Halle Berry is classified as one of (if not the) most beautiful black women—ever, she’s biracial.  Soledad O’Brien is the host for Black in America, she’s biracial, President Obama is hailed the first black President, he is biracial!  Tiger woods is now a victim of the thug life persona on the cover of Vanity Fair, when he has always identified as a “Cablinasian”, to acknowledge his Caucasian, Black, American Indian and Asian background.  We (biracial/multiracial) people cannot represent black in America if we want true equality in America.  Even Obama himself says in “Dreams from My Father,” biracial identity is still murky in the narrow world of racial credibility; and he was right.
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I’ve talked to numerous Caucasians that don’t think of Obama as black, they actually ask me, why does Obama identify as black? (I can’t answer for him, but we do discuss this issue in part two of the series) Obama has changed the thinking in broad strokes of white America’s perception of biracial identity.  As it stands now, white America does choose me first (over a black American), understandably they relate to what they see in me that is also in them; but; that does not allow for an equal playing field.  If there is to be equality for all, we must acknowledge the fact that I am biracial and if I am always chosen first and blacks last, that will construct a permanent disadvantage for blacks…when we classify in truth the picture becomes clearer. 

A great book for everyone to read (was written as a text book to examine racist behavior in whites) is “Talking about Race” by Kaolin.  It dissects elitist behavior and the effect it has on blacks.  My overview is, it gets to the core of the classic cause and effect domino.  Kaolin creates a manual for self examination, unconscious behavior, learned traits, family dynamics—I believe through this process we can begin to understand each other on a fundamental level.  If we’re going to talk openly and honestly, this manual is a great prep for those conversations.

I told a friend recently I wanted to do a talk show about race, she felt there was one, when I asked her to identify it, she couldn’t—she said there’s always something or another on the television about race, I reminded her; that would be the news and generally it’s referencing something negative.  The real reason I decided I want a show on race is because of two incidents that happened in the last two months.

I was doing an edit on a trailer for my project, the editor has won (I think) 10 Emmy’s, he is also a part time police officer as well—he did some undercover camera work and loved it.  It so happens that when I work with whites and they see the subject matter of the project they get very comfortable talking with me on a level that is interesting to say the least, I think they see past my tannish skin and the guards come tumbling down and things are said that would never be said if I were not half white—its almost as if we are just people talking, until it gets strange..  Nonetheless, this man who owns the studio (a white man), who I have seen in uniform and gun attached to his hip made a reference to a black woman in the trailer, he said; “I can tell if she gets upset, she would have an attitude like Whitney Houston had in the movie The Bodyguard, her head would be moving back and forth and she could get real ugly”.  I matter-of factly corrected him, and said, “No, she’s a sweetheart”.  He completely disregarded what I said and continued, “I am trained to know body language, and her body language is just like Whitney’s in The Bodyguard, as a police officer I know that this woman would be quick to blow”.  I was looking down at my notes and stopped dead in my tracks, I was shook, I had just told him no, she was a sweetheart, and he wanted to argue not only that he knew who she was based on a make believe character that Whitney Houston played in a movie, but; even worse as a trained police officer that carry’s a gun…he knows who she is.  I had to speak up, I told him he was wrong, and then I asked him if he got all of his character associations from body language learned in the world of film, make believe.  That scared the shit out of me.  I was arrested once, for being in the wrong neighborhood (a very expensive neighborhood), in an expensive suit, walking down the street. 
In that moment I realized (most) white folks only know what they see in the media, be it a movie, the news, reality TV, and usually the portrayals are extremes, i.e.; “Meet the Browns” or Flava of Love, and (or) Housewives of ATL.  “OMG, WTF (again)”.  I don’t know one soul personally that is reflective of any of these portrayals and two of those shows aren’t even scripted, they search out the most extreme creatures and suggest they represent a culture of folks as a mass, in the real world, it just ain’t so.

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The second situation; I was in the grocery store, one I often go in with my husband, the clerk, who has known my husband since he was married to his first wife made a comment—in her southern drawl about me spending my husband’s money, “Don’t spend all of Timmy’s money” I indignantly replied, “I have my own money.”  She then went on to ask me who my husband worked for, I replied, “for himself.”  She said, “What does Timmy do?”  I told her he is an engineer.  Her mouth literally dropped open, after regaining her composure she said, “You have to be smart to be an engineer.”  As my blood surged through my veins, I replied, “he is smart, that’s why he’s not bagging groceries darling”. 

My honey has two pierced ears, a New York accent even though he has been south bound for the past two decades and dresses in polo and jeans…I guess she couldn’t tell  a colored man is smart unless he’s in a suit or glasses.  My two step-sons car stereos play hip-hop music so loud, you hear them two blocks coming and going, their dialect is completely urban, sometimes I’m even at a disadvantage and have to ask “what did you say?”  It would be easy to assume you know who they are, but one is in his third year for chemical engineering and the other is starting up his second four years in the medical field.  Pants are sagging and hats are cocked to the side, but they are smart, charitable, contributing men of color.  Reality is not what you see on the news, a feature production or reality TV. 

 

 

 

 

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Okay I know, my rant has gone all over the place, but I am in the trenches with everyday folks who don’t know their neighbors, only know the perception of, that works both ways; often times blacks are not exposed to whites that make a difference—so their perceptions become narrow minded as well.  I get emails from hundreds, at this point thousands of folks that understand, (or) don’t want to hear it, tears of joy, from the biracial child who see’s herself in the trailers…that’s why this once completed feature length documentary has evolved past the initial four part series to a ten part series, with the desire to open the discussion way past the mixed experience which is so much more than just black and white.  I want to talk to real folks about who they are, and remove the stereo-types, or validate them, whatever the case may be; but make room for truth, eliminate perception and open the eyes of millions.   The only way to create a real teaching moment is to disguise it under the pretext of prime-time, the framework is in the making with universal stories, the prediction is; distribution is but a call away.  Stay tuned baby!
Comments (3)
  • your brother

    :pirate: :love:

    Hey Sis, oka I made this time I remembered and I think your site is off the hook just like you
    now give me a few years to read evweything then I'll get back to you. Seriously I'm proud of you and your accomplishments, love you dearly.
    Hey tim looked like an OG with his young crew from the hood.

    love ya

  • Claude  - re:

    :) Hello Ms Carolyn,
    I have been one of your fans for quite a while as I enjoyed your many writings and your latest project about bi-racial identity is a hot topic that is long over due for discussion. This is one topic for me that hits close to home. Keep up the good work as I know we are going to see more
    cutting edge projects from you in the near future.
    Keep it Real!!!!
    Claude

  • Kaolin  - Hi, Carolyn!

    Just passing through to read your latest article. You already know how much I love a respect your work, but I will say it again "I love and respect your work!" - every line, every clip is so important. Thank you for putting your all in to it.
    Keep it going ...

    Kaolin

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