“Hold Fast to Blackness”

“Growing up, Black people and white people alike said, “But why do you say you’re Black? You don’t have to. Say you’re half white. Say you’re mixed.” Everything you need to know about the value of Blackness and whiteness in America is in that statement. “You don’t have to.” Like being Black is a burden. Like it is something to be avoided. “Say you’re half white,” like white is something to want, to have, to get if you can. “Say you’re mixed,” like I’m part of a new special and superior breed, to be distinguished from the older, darker model…
I have resented the unnecessary interrogation about my race from white people at work; learned to accept that from other brown-skinned people, they are often wondering if I am with them, on their side… Darker skinned people have been suspicious of lighter skinned people in this country for centuries and for good reason in many cases: we have not always been on the right side of history. Sometimes we supported our father masters and benefited from their skin colorist hierarchies…
I would like the conversation about “mixed” identity to move away from those of us with mixed parentage thinking we are special. We’re not. Many Black Americans have mixed heritage without the privilege of knowing and being loved by the non-Black descendents of their ancestors. I would like the conversation about biracial and multiracial identity to move away from claiming whiteness, first of all because a lot of people who have mixed parentage are not of European descent, but secondly because whiteness and the tent of whiteness are part of a powerful and dangerous social structure. I would like other people who know and love a white parent or grandparent to join me in changing the conversation”
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