in response to passing or not
April 19, 2009 § 15 Comments
this is a response to aaminah and nezua comments here
1. i am interested in narratives from folks who could ‘pass’ for white but instead have chose to identify as people of color.
i guess i use the word -choice- because i have known women who had one parent of color and yet identified strongly as white. i am thinking of two women in specific.
the first: was raised by her latina mother. but said that dealing with issues like race were too complicated so she just identified as white. plus she felt that her latina cousins didnt consider her to be -really- latina. and when i asked her why she didnt identify as a poc, instead she identified as a white latina, in the ensuing weeks she seemed to have a mental/emotional break down of sorts. like she could barely breathe the first time she identified herself as a poc in a public space. like she was coming out.
the second: was raised by her white mother and black father. and said that she identified as white because she didnt want to be exoticized because her father was black and she felt like she would be taking away from – real- woc by claiming to be one. she said it like she was doing it from a position of solidarity with woc. and i said: exoticism is a form of racism. so it sounds like to me, you just dont want to deal with racism.
so i guess i am wondering why do some -mixed- folks identify as white and other dont?
and i guess i am wondering this in part because i have a -mixed- baby myself who i think will be just brown enough to not -pass- as white and i wonder how she will identify.
and i am thinking about how most african-americans/slave descendants are part native. i think the average black person in the usa is 25 percent native. and yet we dont identify as mixed. you know? even though a good amount of afr-am cultural practices are native.
and i am thinking about being in mexico and having this conversation with a mexican woman who called aza: mulatto. and i said: no, mestiza. and then the next morning, the mexican woman said to me that ‘mestiza’ was what ‘we are called’, in that mestiza means white and native. and mulatto means white and black. and i broke down the meaning of the word mulatto and why i dont use it to describe anybody esp. my child. and then i pointed out that my kid did have native ancestry. and that lots of mexicans have african ancestry.
and i am thinking about how it seemed in southern mexico folks said there was no racism in mexico because everyone is mestizo, even though i experienced plenty of racism. plenty. in mexico. and there were few mexicans who seemed to think that they had any significant african ancestry.
and i am thinking about the black radical congress i went to in 1998 and how black meant african-ancestry and thus obviously included latinos. no, it didnt include latinos. it was assumed that if you were latino, then you were black. no question.
and i am thinking about how when i was growing up my mother would sit and try to figure out who had what in them. like: see, that girl has some black in her. you can tell by the skin color and the hair. and that girl has some indian in her. and i wonder what race his parents are? he must be mixed.
and i am thinking about my family. how we are all shades from black black to white black can pass. and we are all black. and that is just the way it is.