Tired of The Tragic Mulatto Cop-Out

February 4, 2011  |  

In the January 29 issue of the New York Times, I was met with the news that the biracial and multiracial classes are still as confused about their identify as they’ve always been. The self-indulgent 2.0 version of “Imitation of Life” reared its ugly head for the gazillionth time in a four page spread where mixed race kids (again) lamented their victimhood and difficulty belonging.

In this article, one young man who was half Ghanaian and half Scottish bemoaned how his grandmother on his Scottish side dressed him in kilts and his grandmother on his Ghanaian side dressed him in dashikis. Tragic. I’m sure the introduction to two very rich cultures by adoring grandparents was internalized unfavorably by the already befuddled and blended creature.   The poor young lad probably headed off to therapy the very next week.

For too long, African Americans have allowed biracial and multiracial members of our community far too much latitude. This is due in large part to biracial tales of woe and other tragic mulatto-isms. Enough already. A cloud does not put out the sun and adding white to color just creates lighter color. If you have a black mother and a white father, then you are of course, less black than your mother, but you’re not white.  You are a watered down version of black. Feel better now?

In these tragic mulatto debates, the topic that is all too often skimmed over is the goal of starting biracial clubs like the ones mentioned in the NYT piece.  Why do they have an unyielding desire to isolate themselves from the broader African American spectrum? It seems that even mixed race people know that they aren’t quite white (enough),so they trot on over to the middle and settle for biracial and multiracial clubs in an effort to further distance themselves from their darker brothers and sisters. This is the only conclusion I can reach since I know first-hand that having lighter skin isn’t enough of an encumbrance to require a support group (and I doubt curlier hair is either).

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