We have been inundated, over the past year, by incessant reports of police crimes against black men; except the man from Madison Wisconsin, who has universally been identified as bi-racial.
Something is up with that.
Once upon a time during America’s tortured historical relationship with race, only one drop of black blood was all it took to classify a person. One drop determined how you would be legally defined. The system generated a nightmarish culture and multi-layered system that produced the paper bag tests; the octoroon balls; and, other subcultures of racial classifications that, unfortunately, still exist is some sectors of our society.
Miscegenation is no longer a loaded word. It lost its sting since it is no longer illegal to marry outside of one’s classified race.
But whites and blacks have been producing offspring since- well day one.
Thanks to DNA and improved ancestry tracing tools, we now know it would be nearly impossible to find a pure African (at least from a single tribe) amongst the millions of so-called African Americans. We are all mixed up. Henry Gates’ popular television program, in which he traces DNA linkages to ancestry, has proven that most black Americans have European blood; many different African tribes, as well as other geo-racial mixtures.
It is documented, attested to, and clearly visible on our faces; in our hair textures; and in the color of our
eyes; what happened to Africans brought to the west- we were casually, and deliberately, sexually exploited; the issues produced were mixed race.
Every single one of us is multi-racial.
But science had shown that there is no such thing as race; it is a social construct that we continue to apply to its most perverse degree in America- the land of the free, home of the brave.
So what is the point of distinguishing the man from Madison by calling him bi-racial?
What makes a person bi-racial anyway? In 2015, it seems to be primarily defined by the legality of the marital status of the parents. Or not. Just knowing the name of the white parent seems to be enough in some cases. Or, some passing acknowledgement by the white parent that they have sired a child with a person who has African blood fits the criteria.
Again, it is a rather casual phenomenon these days. Casual like during chattel slavery, only more acceptable by society a-large.
So the one drop rule has fallen aside; the paper bag test has gone way underground; and the “I’m black and I’m proud” ethos is remerging with the celebration of natural hair and afros. What’s left as a wedge issue?
It seems to me, that classification is being used to separate us, once again.
This type of wedge reporting can only be to the advantage of those in positon of
power and authority.
But to what end?
Let me be clear. This is about police crimes against citizens, and the reportage that is developing a false racial stratification.
Under this paradigm, it introduces the question: is there a degree of difference to kill an unmistakably black man than a bi-racial man?
How does that shift the conversation about racial profiling? Statistics against the police may get skewed in their favor.
It becomes dangerously slippery when we become distracted by these categorizations that are meaningless and, most importantly, take the focus off the real issue: police misconduct and the disproportionate killing of black males; i.e., bi- racial, multi-racial, and just plain black men.
I am just as concerned about how black people self- identify, and how we describe one another.
Black folks, when you allow yourself to get pulled into a discussion about being bi-racial, or multi-racial, or cablanasian, etc., and make yourself an exception, you play into the attempt to steer away from the problem.
Can we really train our boy children to say: “Stop, don’t shot, I’m not all black; one of my parents or my ancestor is white!
So, ok, choose again.
All lives matter.
Antonia Williams-Gary is a consultant with Miami-based Savings and Grace Enterprise. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org