Racial Imposter Syndrome

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2017 by jerlina

code-switch_06062017_wide-fe4a3a83f99fa8f507d63842106856bfb1999754-s900-c85

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/06/08/462395722/racial-impostor-syndrome-here-are-your-stories

A podcast about Mixed Race identity by Code Switch. It is definitely worth listening to.

 

 

Oh Tiger…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2017 by jerlina

What if Tiger Woods had told Oprah “I decline to state” when she asked him how he racially identifies? I remember there being such a negative public backlash to this. People thought he was ashamed of being a Black man and this was so important because he was the first extremely successful ‘Black’ golfer. This is a great example of the discord between how a person self identities and how the social environment identifies a person. This is also a great example of how ugly and painful it can be when this discord arises.

“Black or Cablinasions? 80,000 Google Tiger Woods Ethnicity, Nationality, Parents Race and Family Background”

http://www.arogundade.com/what-race-and-nationality-is-tiger-woods-black-or-cablinasian-his-heritage-ethnicity-parents-mother-nationality.html

 

 

Racial Homelessness

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2017 by jerlina

The writing I have been doing lately has landed me with a new theory: it is possible that some people from mixed race backgrounds feel or sometimes have the experience of feeling/ being racially homeless. I think it is easiest to use the example of Mariah Carey, who is half African American/ Afro-Venezelan and half-Irish. Mariah can pass phenotypically as white but she is very open about her racial and cultural heritage so she has chosen not to pass. However, the question arises about what she considers her racial identity to be and what her diverse social environments consider her racial ‘status’ to be. Before I move forward I want to make it clear that how someone identifies and how the world identifies them is not always in accord and for mixed race people there are often moments of discord. With Mariah I wonder if she ever feels racially homeless? Is there a race of people, with whom, she feels at home with? Or perhaps, does she have multiple racial homes? If so, what are they? Here I want to point out that this experience of homelessness can arise and dissipate. Sometimes a person might feel at home with a racial group and then a feeling of homelessness can arise. However, for some people this feeling of homelessness can be a dominant experience. I know a young woman who is mixed with many cultures and three different races. My guess is that when she begins to think about her racial identity and look to connect with a racial home, as most Americans do, she will find herself without one. While the one drop rule with suggest that she is Black, she is phenotypically ambiguous and very multi-cultural. Integrity and authenticity are factors in the experience of identity that cannot be overlooked. Strategically, this young woman might chose a racial home and build relationships there. However, I have to wonder if in doing this, she can do this with a sense of being true to her experiences and who she truly thinks that she is? Can she claim this home with her integrity intact? I am now thinking about Drake, the rapper/ R&B singer. He is a biracial man from Canada- his dad is African American and his mom is Jewish-Canadian. I really like his music but he is constantly taking on new accents, from urban African American, to West Indian (and Jamaican in particular). On one hand, he is a performer and his job is to entertain so in this regard, he is completely doing his job. However, in the world of hip hop there is this vague belief that the artists are authentically representing their experiences and cultures. So when this man takes on identities that he clearly does not identify with, as a strategy, is there something wrong with this? Or as someone who can pass as all of these things, does he have the right to do so? I think it is pretty clear that his taking on a Jamaican identity is performance, but how about his identity as an urban Black Man. I mean, he grew up for much of his life in an Affluent neighborhood being raised by his single parent Jewish mom. So, is all of Drake’s public persona an act? Is he passing? I think that people with multiracial heritage have the potential to struggle with integrity and authenticity when it comes to making personal identity claims.

In mixed race circles you often hear people saying things like, “I don’t want to have to chose” between the different cultural/ racial groups that compose their heritage, as they construct their own racial identity. However, i am wondering what happens when you decide not to chose at all? I am not suggesting that a person pretends to be race-less, but simply decides not to make a personal racial identity claim. They simply chose to abstain. This means not trying to find a home in a biracial or multiracial identity because, these are homes. I honestly believe the identity of multiracial and biracial were constructed in order to create a racial home for people of mixed racial hertigate. The idea of being racially homeless was, perhaps, overlooked or dismissed as an option.

Finally, I think that culture plays a huge role in this issue. To be multiracial and multicultural/ multi-ethnic is a different experience than being multiracial but mono-cultural. Also, i believe that you can be mono-racial and multi-cultural and this multiculturalism can create a feeling of homelessness. This is a common experience for the children of immigrants.

Here is an article questioning Drake’s ‘cultural appropriation’ of West Indian culture:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/sajaee/some-ting-borrowed?utm_term=.lsB38xALZj#.cym6WPXBNZ

Kushite Prince on Biracial America

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2017 by jerlina

Well, I am just going to post this right here. While this author comes off as racist, he does have a point. The public face of Black America, right now, is a biracial face. Drake, Obama, Halley Berry, Jessie Williams, Trevor Noah etc. There is something really questionable about this.

“We better have a clear definition on who is black and who is NOT.  Otherwise we’ll keep getting melanin recessive imposters like Shaun King(pic above).  This white activist is going around telling people he’s a black man when he has already been exposed as a white man by his white mother and father. This is insulting to all black people.  But this is what happens when you let everyone claim blackness.  We got to put an end to this.  This has really gotten out of hand. So what do you think?  Am I on to something?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.”

https://kushiteprince.wordpress.com/tag/nba-star/

 

and then there is this:

 

and this…

 

After reading this blog and watching this video I am a little excited. It all proves my theory: there is currently no consensus on how biracial people should identify. All of these writers and commentators are as confused as biracial people are themselves. The difference is biracial people have to live with this confusion whereas these folks can make a few comments and change the subject. I am starting to feel like biracial people should disengage with conversations about racial identity. Let people around you make up a racial identity for you while you focus on the activities, people and practices in your life that make you thrive. If someone asks you what you are, tell them the racial identities of your parents but do not try and define your own racial identity. I really would discourage that. People of biracial ancestry are not going to win this game. There is no ‘correct’ way to identify so I suggest, just don’t play the game.

Steep Rise In Interracial Marriages Among Newlyweds 50 Years After They Became Legal

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2017 by jerlina

I am just going to link to an article I found on NPR:

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/05/18/528939766/five-fold-increase-in-interracial-marriages-50-years-after-they-became-legal

 

The Logic of Logic and Inconsistent Criteria

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2017 by jerlina

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/15/528159035/logic-is-ready-to-tell-the-world-who-he-is

The other morning I read an article about Logic, an up and coming rapper, on NPR. The article mentioned that he was biracial. So you know I googled him. He is biracial, half white, half African American. However, he could easily pass as white. This has been a huge issue for him and he discusses it often in interviews. He even raps about it. In one interview he talks about how important it is to know who he is because people have so many different opinions about who he is and how he should identify. His racial identity is extremely controversial. He talks about, in that same interview, that he feels like a Rorshcarch inkblot in that everyone interprets his appearance in a different way. It can be really hard for him so he has just developed a solid sense of self despite how other people feel about him. In that same interview he discusses how sometimes he is fully embraced as a black man and other times he is rejected. This sounds very hurtful and confusing. So, it is no surprise that this struggle is included in his art:

Logic – AfricAryaN ft. Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Official Audio)
Here is the interview that I was referencing:
Logic: I’ve Dealt With People Confusing My Race My Whole Life
Finally, I want to mention this youtube video that I found when I googled “Logic Biracial.” It was made by culture critic Sensei Aishitemasu and in it she discusses Logic’s white privilege.  While I agree that he benefits from white privilege, what is striking about this video is that Sensei seems personally angry with Logic. She even begins referring to him as Dick in a passive aggressive way. Now, i get being frustrated with racism and white privilege, but why be angry at this guy for being light skinned? Is that not allowed? Is he not allowed to be biracial? Is this wrong in some way? I am just wondering what he did personally that was wrong? Also, I understand being upset if he is trying to ‘pass’ or deny his African American identity but he is not doing that. In fact he actively embraces his black and white heritage.
So, About That Rapper, Logic… and white (Passing) Privilege
Finally, finally, I want to address this issue of racial standards and how they are completely inconsistent. In Sensei’s video she talks about the police being the ultimate arbiter regarding who is black or not. If the police take a quick look at you and they think you are black (even if you are biracial or some other ethnicity/ race) then you are black. Period. But then there is this other arbiter which is the one drop rule. So, with this gage, it does not matter how you look, what matters is whether or not you have one drop of ‘black blood.’ So with the police arbiter, Logic would be white. With the one drop arbor, Logic is black. So what I have just realized, while writing this, is the criteria by which people are judged is not stable or consistent. Therefore, one person can have different social identities based on the criteria that is used.
Finally, finally, finally I want to refer back to Rachel Malenson, Miss Black UT (ok, they really should reconsider the name of this pageant) and how she was attacked for not being Black enough to win a pageant for Black women students. In this case her Black identity was not rejected (as Logics’ is, sometimes) but rather she simply is not Black enough for certain things. Or put another way, she is considered by some people to be too white to participate in and win this pageant. Just as Logic is too white to be accepted as Black, by some people. This makes me think that there is another criteria at work with Ms. Malenson beyond the Police or one drop arbiter. Perhaps with her we can just call it the ‘too white’ arbiter. Because she is ‘too white’ some people believe that she does not qualify for this opportunity reserved for Black students.
One more thing! When googling Logic I stumbled upon this click bate posted on the BET website: Biracial Celebrities Who Identify As Black. Is this news? Is this a celebratory post? I am not quite sure but I have to ask, if they are Biracial celebrities, why would they identify as Black rather than identifying as Biracial? Well, I’m no dummy, I know why. They know that if they identify as Biracial they will experience backlash from people who use a criteria which identifies them as Black (and not biracial). To be clear, Biracial people who identify as such are subject to attack by people who do not agree with how these people label themselves.
I will wrap up this post by saying this: Our society has made it entirely unclear how to label Biracial people and Biracial people should self identify. This has created a deep sense of confusion for Biracial people and their families. Without constant criteria it is impossibly for Biracial people to settle upon a consistent racial identity. It also does not help that the King of all Biracials, Barack Obama, would switch between identifying as Black and Biracial. Sure he is allowed to be both but I never heard him claiming the both/and identity, such as “I am both Black and Biracial.” Instead, he is Biracial in one interview and Black in another. Well, thanks for adding to the confusion.

A New Theory!!! ! ! ! ! !!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12, 2017 by jerlina

Here is the basic idea: Race is a social construct. Whaaa?!?! Yes. It is a thing, which is part of our environment. It is a projection that society casts onto each and every physical body/ human organism. Race is an it and it happens to “it” i.e.. a body. It treats bodies as things or objects, which lack subjectivity. Racializing a body can be a form of ‘objectifying’ or, treating a thing with subjectivity (someone/thing that has consciousness) as if it does not. This is why it is weird when people say “blacks” or “whites,” It lacks the subjectivity that following the race with with word “people” can lend.  One more thing, when we racialize a body, we are projecting meaning onto it. This meaning might or might not align with the internal personality/beliefs/ perspectives/ experiences of the consciousness which animates that organism. This is the subjectivity part of the person but racialisation does best when the internal experience ie. the subjectivity of the organism is ignored or denied. Ok, still with me?

Ok, so in the United States, something very strange has happened. Instead of us acknowledging that yes, race is this idea that we keep passing on to our kids, it is a myth, it is flawed and we should forget about it, we instead look to this idea as our source of… primary identity! We look to this idea and accept it as a definition of who we are. In fact, as 100% of mixed people know, when someone asks you “what are you?” the question is primarily seeking to know “what race are you?” as if that defines you you are! Wow. This is because in the United States, this is the primary form of identification. So, in the United States, this construct is often more important to a person’s sense of self than their philosophical beliefs, favorite color or even life principles.

So, there is one particular unique challenge which arises for ‘Mixed Race’ people in this paradigm. Different environments define who belongs in which racial category, in different ways. So, for example, when I was growing up in the Bay Area where there were lots of black/white mixed race kids, when someone asked me what I was I simply responded that I was Mixed, Black and White. This category (and yes, it is its own category) exists without contention in the Bay and has for some time. However, when I moved to the east coast for college I soon discovered that mixed race as a category, does not exist (it sort of oes but it is fiercely contended) in that social environment. In that environment, because I have more than one ‘drop of Black blood’ I was considered Black. So, on one coast I am mixed, on the other I am Black. All I needed to do was to hop on a plane and my primary identity changed. Back and forth, back and forth. Four years of that was tiresome.

Perhaps this would not have felt like such a strain, if it were not for the ethnocentrism inherent in racial groups. While on the west coast, I would feel the weird ethnocentrism of my mixed race brothers and sisters who touted our mixed status as the most progressive and often the most beautiful. However, on the east coast I felt the ethnocentrism of folks in the Black community who suggested that we as Black people were in fact the most beautiful, politically progressive and culturally rich. Also, to be Mixed I was not one of them (a mono-racial person) and to be Black I was not one of ‘them’ (White or any other race). But as a mixed race person I was White, well at least in part, white I was on the West Coast?

What this predicament highlights is that for mixed race people, there is no stable racial identity. Different geographic regions write their racial categories in different ways and you can be prescribed a handful of racial identities depending on how many cultural/ geographical circles you travel through. So in essence, your primary identity changes without your consent. Do you resist? Do you conform?

What this highlights for me is that Mixed Race people are the victims of a very bad idea. We can tell you first hand, from so many experiences, that it truly is a construct. It is an idea that morphs and shifts and since we live on the borders, we are the ones that feel these shifts most acutely because it can lead to us be included or excluded from an entire racial category.

As an aspiring therapist this is when I suggest that we all return to our breath. Let’s not try and make sense of this right now. Let’s place our feet firmly on the floor and feel what is arising on our bodies. In other words, for mixed folks in particular, it is imperative that we get in touch with other parts of who we are, which are stable, and ground our sense of self in those. At this point in life I can say that I am Black and Mixed Race (and whatever else society wants to identify me as, b/c I really don’t care) but what makes me me is my deep curiosity, my interest in consciousness studies, my experiences, my relationships, my guiding life principles. While these can all intersect with racicalized experiences that I have, they are their own streams within the greater flow of my identity. To primarily base my identity on something which is unstable and entirely in the hands of (our wild and crazy) society will never lead me to a place of happiness or sanity.

What about culture though? Shouldn’t we be proud of who we are? Certainly. Culture is broadly a set of meaning that we share and transform over time. I happen to love the cultures that I grew up in which were predominately hippie Bay Area white middle class culture and working class African American cali- culture. I am very proud of what these cultures have offered to me and the world. These cultures have greatly influenced how I interpret the world and so, they are certainly parts of my identity. However, they are tributaries into a bigger stream. They are not primary, secondary or tertiary.

Ok, to summarize, racial constructs change geographically and this can mean for mixed folks that they actually have several different racial identities. Not all at the same time really, but different identities for different places/ contexts. Eeeek. So, the confusion isn’t our fault, it is society’s fault!  Second, there are other parts of our ‘identity’ that we can focus our attention on which will make us feel more sane. Finally, culture is one of those other parts but again, it is only part of the greater whole, which composes you! Your organism (your physical body), your emotions, your breath are all you too. Never forget.