I recently received the following comment on an article I wrote and wanted to share my response with you:

“85 % of blacks in America are mixed.  This is not a new phenomena in our community.  Mixed race is just a new term that has emerged that tries to further seperate us.  If you look like you have any black blood, you are considered black, not mixed.”

Dear Reader,

I’m going to try and address most of the points you made in your post. Here it goes:

You are correct that the majority of African Americans are mixed to some extent. However, many are MGM (multi-generational mixed) and do not have one parent of a noticeably different race. Although I support their decision to identify whichever way they choose, many decide not to for this reason. Either way it’s their decision. You say that if you look like you have ANY black blood, you’re considered black and not mixed. I have to partially disagree with you. Individuals of mixed race can come out extremely light, extremely dark, or any shade in-between. We all have different hair textures and colors, some of us have freckles, and so on. Therefore, the way we are perceived by others varies. In my case, while it’s true that sometimes I am considered a black woman, there are other times when I am mistaken for Puerto Rican and even times when I’ve been told that there is no way I can be black. If every individual of mixed race were consistently considered as only black, this wouldn’t be a common occurrence.

I often hear people make similar comments as if being mixed is something we chose as a way to separate ourselves from the black community. Although I believe that everyone should have the right to choose how they self-identify, for many of us it’s not a choice. It’s simply who we are. I clearly have a white mother and a black father. This does not mean I am making a decision to separate myself from the black community in which I am also a part of. It also does not mean that I believe I am better than anyone who isn’t mixed or that I don’t know where I came from. It simply means I’m being true to who I am.

Your statement seems as if it was derived from the outdated and racist one-drop rule, which was created to classify and categorize anyone with even a drop of African American blood into one category. The rule itself was used to segregate the unfortunate “colored folks” and keep them from having the same opportunities as the “fortunate whites”. Statements about mixed people needing to accept that they are only black reinforce the same “us” vs. “them” mentality. Fortunately this rule no longer exists and we are not required to define ourselves the way anyone else says we should.

Being able to make this choice is a beautiful thing. It has nothing to do with separation and everything to do with the freedom to be who we really are. The way an individual identifies is a personal decision and no one should tell another person how they feel or how to self-identify. Should a mixed race individual be allowed to identify as only black? Yes, but not forced.

Much Love,

Kristen