Home > People > Why is being Biracial an issue?

Why is being Biracial an issue?


“People seem to instinctively value group membership more than group purpose.”

Xenocrates

This is a trailer for a documentary called “I’m biracial… not black, damnit!“. It chronicles an ongoing and topical issue among Americans. Is a person who is mixed to identify with blacks or whites? Personally I think the whole issue is moot. Scientifically, the question is as irrelevant as the whole topic of race.

I have said many times on this blog that race is scientifically irrelevant because it only represents a set of conspicuous biological characteristics that account for no more than 3% of our DNA. Unfortunately, human nature has demonstrated that we humans are inexplicably more concerned with the things that could divide us instead of the things that would unite us.

The Scourge of Tribalism

TribesTribes: A facet of human nature where birds of a feather kill together.

A university professor once said that the key to why black people are struggling to advance in modern civilization is that they are fiercely tribal – just like their African ancestors. You’ll see this manifested in their heightened propensity to form gangs, cliques, and their very tightly knit family units.

However, there’s no validity to this claim whatsoever. Tribal behaviour is not exclusive to black people at all. Tribal behaviour is a function of human nature. The genocide in Rwanda and Sudan are not the first times in human history that tribal behaviour has gone deadly awry. There are countless examples of other races wiping each other out because of deadly tribal politics.

This propensity in mankind to enact acts of violent tribalism is what created such lovely periods in our history as the English Reformation, The Catholic Crusades, The American Civil War, the Holocaust, the American Civil Rights upheaval, Apartheid, the Croat-Serbian War and today’s Islamic Jihad. None of these were perpetrated by blacks. Tribalism is a function of human nature.

What does this tell us about human nature? Something profoundly simple: People seem to instinctively value group membership more than group purpose. It’s a redundant function of herd logic that in today’s global village tends to do more harm than good. This is what ultimately affects peoples:

Colour Perceptions around the world

Multiracial People in JamaicaThe Jamaican populous features a rich tapestry of multi-ethnic people

In many Caribbean and European states, multiracial people are extremely common. Nobody seems to care too much – until they get to the USA. People still haven’t gotten over racism there, so the feelings still run hot. White people want to forget that slavery happened, but black people won’t let them. This tension only seems to be palpable in the USA though. Not so elsewhere.

In a country like Jamaica for example where “jungle fever” is rampant, it is common for the locals to refer to their fair skinned counterparts as “brownings” (if they’re more black than white) and “red” (where they’re more white than black). You might say that the fairer skinned folk are sometimes treated as whites. These people however get a very different experience when in the USA.

In the USA, they’re black – and it pisses them off.

But take a look at this statistical map from the Happy Planet Index. It shows that Caribbean states number among the happiest in the world, with Jamaica being listed as the third happiest country in the world. By comparison, the United States, is one of the unhappiest countries in the world.

With people still being hung up on trivial issues such as colour in the US (as if the economic crisis wasn’t already enough to worry about), there’s positively no surprise there. Maybe Jamaicans anxious to migrate to the US would do well to realise that the only reason the grass appears to be greener on the other side is simply because the water bill is substantially higher there.

…but I digress.

Race Encounters of the Third Kind

The Biracial DilemmaIf they’re neither Black nor White, where do biracial people fit in?

If ethnicity was really that important, then the genetic material of differently coloured people would be incompatible. But they aren’t – and the children of these unions are beautiful! So what’s the big deal? Now we have multiracial people who are trying to differentiate themselves from both source races.

What great social benefit will it impart unto mankind if we think it is relevant that our colours necessitate that we be recognized as separate? We spend so much time copying each others’ behaviour that we are hardly very different from each other anyway. We only seem to care about our individuality when someone makes a generalization about a particular demographic.

Concordantly, people who get hung up on colour fall into one of two categories:

  1. The Superiority Complex sufferers – “We are better than you because we think so
  2. The Inferiority Complex sufferers – “We are being polluted / made extinct / victimized because we think so.

You can be in either camp irrespective of race – so long as you think colour is important.  The trouble arises when people who are multiethnic come about and are then expected to matriculate to one side or another, depending on the school of thought being unfairly and unreasonably forced upon them. They unwittingly then become the third kind of colour conscious folk:

3. The Identity Crisis Sufferers – “We are biracial/multi ethnic. We don’t know where we’re supposed to belong. So leave us alone.”

It is no small wonder they feel the need to separate themselves from both ethnic groups – like when Tiger Woods declared that he’s not black several years ago. It frees them of the nonsensical contentions from either side of the fence, free to live in a domain that doesn’t require matriculation to any of the other bits of rubbish that comes with tribal race politics.

Unfortunately, multi-ethnic people are being forced to make the same kind of mistake all over again from being pressured by this tribal race political movement. The inherent human capacity to overvalue group membership will create a whole new context for separation and segregation. We could solve this problem rather quite simply if we looked at the bigger picture:

You’re HUMAN, not biracial, damnit!

A Biracial CoupleOur humanity is much more important than our ethnicity.

Many years ago, (hundreds of years in fact), Caucasians were viewed as only people who were blonde haired and blue eyed. This is what Hitler tried to reclaim as the “master race” with his doctrine of Aryan Supremacy. Over six million Jews who weren’t white enough paid the ultimate cost. Today we recognize not just Nordic Caucasians, but many other permutations worldwide.

Thousands of years earlier, the East Indians developed a caste system which treated lineage (among other things) as grounds for distinction among people. We now know that this perception was grossly derisive and only served to inhibit Indian development using this ancient form of divisive politics. However, millions of Indians suffered because of this primitive system.

The point of these examples is that this idea of separation (for whatever reason) is inherently self destructive. Separation is always grounds for conflict. Always. The number of separations that exist, if left unchecked, represents an escalating probability of conflict. Absolutely no good can come of it.

Similarly, while I understand why biracial folks would want to break away from the herd of dissent, it would be more providential to consider yourselves as something beyond race itself: Human.You don’t need to make any excuses for your ethnic makeup. You owe no one an explanation for your diversity.

We are children of DNA. As such, like everything else in the animal kingdom, we can be expressed in a variety of ways depending on the unique conditions of our various environments. There are many more permutations of appearance that exist in our DNA that we haven’t seen yet. Therefore our preoccupation with the current races is largely based on narrow sighted ignorance.

The mere fact that you exist as a child of multi-ethnicity, shows that your humanity is something so profound that it cannot be defined by something as innocuous as your physical appearance. By virtue of the fact that your parents are from different races, this shows that they have already been so enlightened.

People who preoccupy themselves with the meaningless nature of racial differences are like children fighting over the value of identical toy trucks from the same brand just because one is coloured blue and another red. Variety is the spice of life. Without it, none of you would care about your individuality.

Conclusively,

People are beautiful. The ingredients are never as important as the product.

Beauty has no racial identity.

I don’t mean to suggest that the value of the Civil Rights movement is moot or that the struggles of blacks in America were all for naught. Rather, I wish to highlight the simple reality that we’re making the same mistake all over again with this issue of distinguishing biracial people from other races.

Biracial heredity is irrelevant. We’re too old a civilization to still care about what shades of chalk we’re made of. We’re so caught up in the perception that identity requires validation through group membership, that we’ve become forever trapped by the tunnel vision of racial politics. One begets the other.

If we could, just for once, look at the big picture and see ourselves for what we are and not what we look like, then I think for the first time in our history, we will be well on our way to transcending our humanity. We’re so much more than human. We’re just still too blind to look beyond our colours.

Can you imagine if we could? It would spark a new age of human cognition. By eliminating segregation, we’d mostly cure social inequality, thereby paving the way to harnessing the full power of humanity. The possibilities are endless.

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  1. AP
    February 27, 2011 at 12:21 am

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    RELATED COMMENTARY ON THIS FILM:

    http://mixedchickschat.typepad.com/mixed_chicks_chat/2010/10/film-re.html

    http://www.stevenriley.com/BiracialNotBlackReview.pdf

    http://www.stevenriley.com/photography

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  2. mulattoxbeauty
    November 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I really do like your standing point on all of the issues you addressed. I love how you said that “humanity is more important than our ethnicity”. I am Biracial, and growing up i felt out of place in the world. As i am growing older, I also am becoming much wiser. You are awsome opinions!

  3. Primavera
    November 7, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Very well-written and interesting post!

  4. October 16, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Oct 15, 2009: Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License – The saga continues…

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