No, Having More Multiracial Children Will Not End Racism:
Unpacking the deeply flawed misconception about a “colorblind” generation that would allegedly destroy the institution of racism.
In 1993, TIME released a special issue with the cover seen on the left. Depicted is a computer generated image of a woman with typical “racially ambiguous” features, the most noticeable being her skin tone. I was first exposed to it in my AP English and Language Composition class when writing a synthesis paper about African identity in Latin America, and to say I was disturbed by this image would be an understatement. The implication behind this photo is that this would be, as stated, “The New Face of America.”
At the surface, it makes sense. You would have to eventually learn to tolerate each other if so many people are willing to date and marry outside of their race and give birth to multiracial offspring. This would blur the lines of race itself seeing as everyone would be mixed, and this would mean people would stand in circles, hold hands, and sing “We Are the World” or something like that.
Well, that’s incorrect.
A generated image of a multiracial woman cannot account for the basic laws of biology. Dominant and recessive genes for eyes, skin, hair, and other physical features aren’t represented accurately. You can put any two, three, or four hundred old faces together, but there is no concrete way of proving that it would be the final outcome. Despite this truth, the belief among a fair amount of the population is that all multiracial people will be conventionally attractive and honey colored with green eyes and silky hair to match, that they will look “fifty percent” like their father and “fifty percent” like their mother.
Straying away from the image, let us take a trip to the South American country of Brazil, where diversity is something that is so emphasized that it’s difficult to forget it. This can be attributed to how the Portuguese were kind enough to colonize its indigenous population and transport slaves there. It’s so diverse that “anyone can have a Brazilian passport and they wouldn’t look out of place,” even though Black Brazilians are three times more likely to be killed by police than non-Black Brazilians and make up fifty-eight percent of police killings. A staggering seventy percent of the impoverished population in Brazil is made up of Black Brazilians.
After the Portuguese brought all these slaves into Brazil themselves, they began to complain about a “Negro problem,” so they made the decision to encourage European immigration to Brazil to “whiten” the country (which also entailed banning non-white people from entering). The endgame? Improving the race by diluting Black identity in Brazil via miscegenation. This worked quite well; there are now over 100+ categories to classify skin color in the country, and the Black population in Brazil continues to face gross mistreatment compared to their white counterparts.
The historical context of race mixing has an ugly history, and it is erased when people insinuate that an increase in mixed race children will end racism. Within Black and/or Latin@ families, older relatives will encourage the younger ones to “marry white to better the blood,” implying that non-European features aren’t as superior as European ones.
Is this to say all interracial marriages and births that result from it are rooted in self hate? Absolutely not. Falling in love is something out of our control. We don’t choose who we love, we just do it. It’s only a problem when family members and friends have been subtly guiding you into a marriage with someone outside of your race to improve your lineage. However, not even this is as common as an occurrence, especially when it comes to men or women who want “designer babies.” And I’m not talking about ones made in labs. It’s when people say:
- “I want to marry a black guy so my baby can have caramel skin!”
- “My baby’s gonna have dark skin, blue eyes, and wavy hair!”
- “I’d never date a dark skin woman because then I’d have dark skin babies!”
Other statements might not as be as intense, but this enforces the idea of what I like to call the “Multiracial Mold.” There is a predetermined look for mixed people, and if they do not meet the expectations of said mold, they are mocked, ridiculed, insulted, and subjected to extreme erasure. If you look too [insert ethnicity], people will think you’re lying, and if you don’t look [insert ethnicity] enough, people will still think you’re lying. Of course, mixed people who do happen to have “half and half” features deal with these same problems as well, but not to the extent of mixed people who present as monoracial (“present” is used loosely here, of course). It doesn’t matter how many photos of your mother you have in your wallet, and they don’t care if you spend money on a DNA test. Your identity will always be shaped by the opinions of other people if you don’t “look” Black enough, or Asian enough and such.
The other day on Twitter I saw someone say, “What Asian has blonde hair and blue eyes?” Someone responded with a picture of Alexa Chung and another user (who is Asian) responded with, “Her father is only 3/4 Chinese and her mother’s white, so it doesn’t count.” Ostracism doesn’t only come in the form of white people who believe in pure blood — it comes from our own kin too. People who should greet us with open arms, accept every part of us no matter what we’re mixed with, are doing the exact opposite.
I know a fair amount of multiracial people both in my family and within my friend groups, and they are all across the spectrum in regards to genetic makeup. A close friend of mine, James, is half black, but he resembles his white father in terms of skin color, eye color, and face shape. He does, however, have his mother’s 4C textured hair. It’s quite easy for people to write him off as a “white person acting Black,” categorizing him as someone who watches too many rap videos or only has Black friends. More often than not people have accused him of lying about being Black simply because he doesn’t look like his mother. He’s been subjected to an unfair amount cruelty throughout his high school career because at the end of the day, this is the truth everyone reminds him of: in the eyes of white people, he is too Black, and in the eyes of Black people, he is too white.
Expecting multiracial people to be the faces of the anti-racism movement is — pardon my French — fucking lazy. We are not the bridge between one race and another race. We can fight against racism, of course, but we also have to battle the fight for visibility within our own ethnic groups, multitasking while we are being pulled apart by the horses of judgement, otherness, loneliness, and fury. I am not your martyr who will lead you through the flames of burning churches and show you a colorblind utopia. I will not stand here and let you all think for me. I am myself. I am me. I am mixed girl, hear scream about how I am not one or the other, that my existence overlaps.
The “New Face of America” is every color. It’s a half Black and half Korean man with dark skin. It’s a boy from the Miskito tribe in Honduras with Spanish ancestry, his skin the color of cashews. It’s an Ashkenazi Jewish and Filipino child with freckles and a missing tooth. It is not what you want it to be. It’s what genetics makes it.
You want racism to end? It starts with monoracial people. This caste system was created, and is still enforced by you.