Starting a Different Conversation: On Mixed-Race/Biracial/Multiracial Visibility and Inclusion

Starting a Different Conversation: On Mixed-Race/Biracial/Multiracial Visibility and Inclusion

“It can be hard to talk about the complexity of visibility when “passing” is thrown like hisses at a dinner party, with no consideration to how it feels to “pass” — how it feels to be misidentified, mismarked, misjudged, misperceived, mislabeled, misunderstood. In a world where race relations are so often forcibly boiled down to black and white, it can be hard to raise my voice to start discussions about my unique experiences when broader forms of discrimination are hurting people in my community every day.”

“When white people see us, they often take on absurd, acrobatic leaps in conversation to let us know that they’ve picked up on our non-whiteness — even if they don’t know exactly what flavor of non-whiteness that is.”

 

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Ms. Opinionated: How Do I Deal With a Racist Friend-of-a-Friend?

Ms. Opinionated: How Do I Deal With a Racist Friend-of-a-Friend?

Eric Holder On Racism

Roberts was part of a court majority earlier this year that upheld the rights of states to ban racial preferences in university admissions. The 6-2 decision came in a case brought by Michigan, where a voter-approved initiative banning affirmative action had been tied up in court for a decade.

“This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb that it doesn’t need to be actively confronted,” Holder said. “In its most obvious forms, it might be. But discrimination does not always come in the form of a hateful epithet or a Jim Crow-like statute. And so we must continue to take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it.”

bell hooks and Loving a Feminist

I love a lot of things about my man. He’s funny, he’s honest, he works hard, he reads. His intellect and his artist’s eye will blow you out of the water. He’s well-traveled. You get the idea—I think my boyfriend’s amazing. I’m sure a million other girls would say the same about their significant others.

One of the things about this man that I will always remember is his reaction to this conversation between Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks (who I was delighted to see address the fact that the lowercasing of her name backfired). I live on the internet and am constantly reading articles all over the place, seeing funny images and comics, commenting on statuses and blogposts…and so I’m constantly sending my boyfriend links. Anything that makes me think of him, that I think he’d laugh at or otherwise appreciate, that I need him to share in my rage about, I send it to him. My guess is that he only sees about 20% of what I send because he does not live on the internet— but what he does see, we usually talk about. I’ll never forget the morning I woke up, looked at my phone, and saw a text from my man— who, six months before, had no familiarity whatsoever with feminism— that said:

“I love bell hooks.”

Could there be anything more beautiful?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we (or anyone) have been able to completely escape the patriarchy. We had a lengthy argument one very early morning about the state of my armpit hair. We debated once, for days, women changing or not changing their names after marriage (and we come back to the topic often). Just recently, he told me that sometimes you have to let a man be a man and a woman be a woman. Outraged, I asked what on earth he meant by that, especially when he already knows darn well what kind of woman I am.

“I think,” he said, “my manliness would be when I say I’m done talking about something. And your womanliness would be when you just keep right on talking about it anyway.”

Which of course, I did.

There have also been times when racism goes completely over my head because I’ve never had to deal with it. We’ve both said, wittingly and unwittingly, sexist and racist things. The difference, I think, between now and before we were together is that we address those things, acknowledge them and learn from them, which sometimes is all you can really do.

By human standards, I’m a little new to the relationship game. I’ve been with my boyfriend about a year, and before that I’d been pretty darn single for almost four years. So I’m maybe not the MOST experienced or seasoned person to give romantic advice. I imagine, however, that when you’re with somebody and plan to do it for a long time, you find a lot of good in everything they are in do. Even in their annoying habits, even when they say the complete WRONG thing or don’t shut up when they need to, hopefully you even find a little good there (or at the very least, some amusement). I’m coming to appreciate most aspects of who my man is, and I hope that feeling is mutual.

It’s not hard to appreciate that he loves bell hooks, though, and there’s a Beyoncé/bell hooks post forthcoming.

10 Warning Signs for People of Color in Interracial Relationships

10 Warning Signs for People of Color in Interracial Relationships

Bill O’Reilly Bashes Beyoncé: Problems in the White Community

Just a few days ago, Bill O’Reilly showed several clips from Beyoncé videos and said something along the lines of, “Shame on you Beyoncé. You’re not empowering women. Look at all the teen/unplanned pregnancies in the black community!”

(Bill O’Reilly just wants to keep young black girls on the right path. Such a kind heart. <3)

“Disgraceful,” said my grandfather, who was next to me on the couch. Fox News is a favorite channel at his house.

Frowning and perplexed, I refrained from trying to question Bill O’Reilly through the TV screen. Instead, I’ll present my thoughts here.

Bill O’Reilly apparently criticized Beyoncé out of concern not only for young impressionable women, but out of concern for the black community. I’ve noticed that O’Reilly and Fox and a lot of news sources in general are quick and almost happy to point out problems they observe as belonging to “the black community.” Violence in the black community. Poverty in the black community. Abuse in the black community. Pregnancy, abortion, sex. You get the idea— you just take any problem you can think of, and you add “in the black community.”

So…where’s the concern for the issues of the white community?

I’m serious. Most of these newscasters are white, aren’t they? And just look at what’s been in the news lately:

-that Clippers guy, his rant and how he was just banned from the NBA

-that Bundy guy (really, how could anyone defend a guy named Bundy?) and his racist remarks 

this racist letter distributed in a neighborhood in Denver

-the KKK launching a neighborhood watch initiative. I sure do feel safer now!

How can you look at this and not see the ENORMOUS problem here?

Why isn’t Bill O’Reilly calling on the white community to call friends out on their racism, to discourage family members from associating with organizations like the KKK, to tell their children exactly why Cliven Bundy and Don Sterling’s remarks were so wrong? Forget the black community for minute, Fox, and take a look at all those aging white viewers you’ve got. There’s a definite problem, and instead of trying to solve it, the white community is just looking the other way, pretending these current events and remarks are all isolated incidents.

The closest any news source seems to have come to doing this is CNN, who seems to want to help the KKK change its image.  You’re right CNN— we don’t need to abolish the KKK, we just need to rebrand them and make them “new”!

As my grandfather would say, it’s a disgrace!

Fellow white people, please join me in my concern. There is a problem here, and it’s OUR racism. If we are the mainstream,  if we are the majority, shouldn’t we be striving to set a good example? We can’t continue to let these kinds of attitudes permeate and represent our community.

**And on a personal note, Bill O’Reilly— if you’re concerned about unplanned pregnancies, why aren’t you more concerned about access to contraception and less concerned about deprecating black female sexuality?

Quick Note on Racist Body Stereotypes

So primarily thanks to tumblr (dear god I love that place), particularly this awesome blog and also this awesome blog and many others, I’ve gotten some views and some feedback on that post about, well, dicks. 

With time, more writing, more shares, etc, my hope is that eventually this blog will include more perspectives on interracial couples/racism than my own and my man’s, and I wanted to make sure I shared some of that feedback.

One of the things I saw repeatedly was that a lot of black women in particular have been asked by white dudes how they compare to black dudes. -_- So much intimidation and insecurity.

Another thing was that the discussion should be opened up to include ALL racist body stereotypes (e.g. black women all have big butts), how they’re perpetuated, and ESPECIALLY how they’re fetishized by white people.*

Last but not least, someone on tumblr remarked, “This is the type of thing that white people need to tell other white people…”

Yeah, we really do. What white people (I need to think of tags that will bring in more white people) really need to get past is that idea that racism isn’t our problem…because basically, when it comes to racism, we ARE the problem. Our obliviousness IS the problem.

So in my next post, which will hopefully come tomorrow, I’m going to try and address the feedback I got and go into a little more detail.

And thank you so, so much to those who posted the link to my blog. It is deeply appreciated (and so is your feedback, your suggestions, your criticism, etc).

*Yes, I KNOW white people aren’t the only people who fetishize other races. That doesn’t excuse the problem.

 

Do Black Guys Have Bigger Dicks?

If the title isn’t clear enough, I should go ahead right now and let everyone know- there will be “bad words” on this blog.

As a white woman dating a black man, I’ve gotten this question several times. For a long time, I would answer. At first it was, “I think so,” and then, “I can’t speak for all black men, but my guess based on experience is yes.” It was as though because I’ve slept with someone of a different race, I’m now some sort of black dude expert, some sort of “once you go black you can’t go back” scientist.

In case this is really necessary, I’m going to tell you why that’s incredibly ignorant and just a tad racist.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I understand that the human mind tends toward categorization. I also understand that sex is not only one of the funnest (is that a word?) activities out there, but also one of the most entertaining conversation topics there is. And let me be quite clear when I say that, in every person I have loved and in every person I have slept with, I have found things to be proud of in both their spiritual being and their physical body.

In other words, I think it should go without saying that I’m damn proud to be with my man and I’m enamored of his strong, well-endowed body. I hold those people I commit to in high esteem, and one of a thousand reasons I’m with him is because sometimes when I look at him and talk to him, I still can’t believe he’s with me.

But there will be time for amorous ravings later. Let’s get back to the dick question.

Have you seen that Meet Your First Black Girlfriend video? How about this Morning After video featuring Sasheer Zamata? Great, funny videos featuring talented black women…and, true to life, awkward white men. One of the themes that shows up in both of these videos is the white dude [awkwardly] uncomfortably trying to ask the black woman how he compares with black men. In these videos, it’s presented as funny, but also not quite right. And honestly, that’s a little bit how it is in real life.

Given the opportunity, plenty of women will rave about their man’s bedroom skills. They might even rave about his size. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And let’s be fair, I never had a problem giggling about (not in front of him) it if a white guy I slept with was small…but I never said, “Oh, he’s small because he’s white.”

If you happened to see and watch the video posted previously to this, a conversation between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith (both of whom are absolutely brilliant writers, by the way), it is said in that video that “race” really only matters because of racism. I think this is absolutely true.

I hope I don’t need to point this out, but race as humans know it isn’t a biological thing. Things like skin color, eye shape, etc etc, these don’t make other people a slightly different species. Ancestry and regional differences might mean genetic differences/advantages, such as being more susceptible to certain diseases that weren’t common to the region one’s ancestors grew up in. These differences DO NOT make any ancestral population less human than another.

But [white] people didn’t always know this, or care to know it for that matter. Throughout history (especially the times of slavery in America), we see white Americans and Europeans using black bodies as though they were another, lesser species. In racists today, we see a similar attitude. Just look at that idiotically antiquated Bundy guy referring to “the Negro” as though he were talking about his cattle. White people in history were constantly trying to prove that those of African descent were somehow different, somehow closer to animals than to human beings. The biggest reason they did this was in order to justify things like racism and slavery. There’s an especially terrible history of white men using the bodies of black women not only for scientific experimentation, but for profit. Look at the story of the Hottentot Venus: Saartjie Sarah Baartman was made into a caricature of the African woman and used as a lucrative carnival sideshow attraction. Even after death, her body was kept and casted for further scientific research because her genitalia and buttocks were shaped differently than those of European white women. Look at the history of gynecological research (will post a link as soon as I find the one I have in mind, but you can always google it). Look at phrenology, the false notion that varying measurements of the skull indicated a lesser species that for a long time, was taken as a valid science.

And this is still going on. Look at this racist piece of shit published by someone who was supposedly well-versed in evolution (I don’t fucking think so). Look at Eve Ensler, who’s supposed to be an intersectional feminist icon, obsessing over African women’s bodies to the point of likening herself to Jesus taking on their “Congo Stigmata.”

Black bodies aren’t here for the entertainment of white people. They aren’t here for our study. They aren’t here for us to try and create scientific theories about. And they aren’t here to prompt naughty giggle-fests among white women. And sorry ladies, but it’s just like with any man- you don’t REALLY get to know how big his dick is until you reach down and grab it. (Also, if you’re only having sex with a guy to see how big he is or to have a specific “racial” or “cultural” experience, you might have some other issues to deal with.)

From here on out, if my boyfriend isn’t uncomfortable with it, I’ll have no problem answering the question of whether HE, HIMSELF is a well-endowed man. But being asked the question of whether black guys have bigger dicks in general isn’t something I can address. Black men aren’t another species. Black people aren’t here for our study and our speculation.

**If any people of color would like to weigh in on this or have any corrections/suggestions, please always ALWAYS feel free to offer them.

From ForHarriet.com: Watch Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Adichie in Conversation

http://new.livestream.com/schomburgcenter/events/2831224/videos/45613924

Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Adichie talk books, writing, and race throughout the world.