Is Kim Kardashian black? Race and identity for mixed race families.

Race is a hard topic isn’t it, especially in the current environment. It’s especially complex in biracial families. How do people decide which parts of their heritage to embrace and identify with?

Which race do you appear to be? When you appear racially different to the accepted average race for your country (which is white in western countries like the US or Australia), people might treat you differently because of how you look. Some of the discrimination will be overt, like refusing to stop a taxi for a black person and some might be more subtle like hiring policies that favour more white looking people from front of house jobs. For some biracial families the siblings can all have a different perceived race, with some of them ‘passing’ as white. (Even though this generally means people who ‘pass’ do not have the same degree of overt racial disadvantage, but this can create feelings of guilt for the person who is treated differently from their family). This is often described as people’s ethnicity but this is not quite accurate, as discrimination is often more about the viewers perception of your ethnicity rather than your actual ethnic heritafe.

What was the culture that you were raised in? The next level of race is the culture that you grew up in, and the environment that surrounds you. This means for some people who look white passing, they still grew up within their culture and heritage and they have different cultural touch stones around events and family dynamics. In biracial families children are often raised with more influence of one of their parents families and may experience favouritism over which side of the family they seem to look like the most.

As modern life gets more complex you also have situations such as transracial adoption, where people may be raised in an area where they have no connection to their culture and may have other feelings of survivor guilt and disconnection for people racially distinct from their adopted family.

Kim Kardashian is not black. She is a mother of two black children from her husband Kanye. So while she is not black she is what you might call an ally and is learning more about black culture because of her parenting role and being the wife of a black man.

With the rise in DNA tests more and more people are talking about being 2% this race and 5% this race. But race is not about DNA because it’s a social construct. It’s about the way that you look to others and how they treat you as a result. It’s also about the culture you grew up in and your family, which helps you to see the world in a certain way. All at once it’s both more simpler and infinitely more complex than a DNA test will let you know.

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