Racism, White Supremacy and Biracial/Multiraciality (2011)

Racism, White Supremacy and Biracial/Multiraciality (2011)

Tim Wise, Antiracist Essayist, Author and Educator
September 2011

Tim Wise

From my September 2011 talk at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. In this snippet, I respond to a question about how we should understand or think about biracial and multiracial folks’ experiences in a system of racism/white supremacy.

[Transcribed by Steven F. Riley]

I think it would be wise for people who are biracial and multiracial to never forget that this is a system of formal historical and institutional white supremacy. And I’m afraid sometimes, there are a lot incentives that the culture puts out there to biracial and multiracial people to forget that. Right. Because they’re not quite as Black or they’re not quite as Brown. And so there is a tendency for people to think that they really escape that system. Right. That they’re not really in that system. And look, and I think that every person ought to be able to claim whatever parts of and all parts of their identity. So if… look, if you’re Tiger Woods and you want to call yourself “Cablinasian,” which is what he did back in the early part of his career. He called himself Cablinasian because he wanted to honor Caucasian part, the Asian part, the Black part, the Native American part. Okay, here’s the deal… He was Cablinasian. He instited on that. He was not Black!

Okay. And then… when Tiger Woods did what Tiger Woods did… repeatedly, apparently, I went on the chat boards—sports chat boards, not political chat boards–sports chat boards. [Be]cause you can tell a lot about the culture based on the annonymous comments that folks post on sports boards. Forget politics, just read any post after a NBA game, after a NFL game, hell, read the comments after a storm goes through your community. Any story at all, folks will bring up race… with an “Anonymous,” just “Anonymous.” They never put their name and they have no avatar, it’s just that shadow-head and “Anonymous” and they put some nonsense. And so, I went on the chatboard after this Tiger Woods thing broke. And it was funny, everyone who had stuff to say about him, none of them said, “You know, this is just what Cablinasian men do.” [laughter] “What do you expect from a Cablinasian.” [laughter].

That’s not what they said, he was Black… as midnight, as soon as he did something that reminded the dominate group of the stereotype they had come to believe. So, multiracial, biracial folks: claim all of, claim every piece of it. Do not forget where one still sits on the trajectory of white supremacy. Because when once you forget that, there is real danger, real danger.

Listen to the clip here (00:02:14). Download the clip here (395 KB).

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