Coming Clean About Blackness, Mixed Race Identity and the Multiracial Movement

Coming Clean About Blackness, Mixed Race Identity and the Multiracial Movement

Is That Your Child? Thought in Full Color

Michelle Clark-McCrary

Before I go into my reflections on CNN’s “Who’s Black in America” series, I have to come clean about the evolution of my personal perspective on blackness, mixed race identity and the “multiracial movement.” Over that last three years, I’ve been trying to develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding of race-particularly as it relates to how my marriage, motherhood, and my daughter fit within the historical continuum of our racialized society. Part of my process has to do with balancing my emotional, gut responses to race/racism with my contemplative, critical responses to race/racism. To be clear, there is room for both responses to simultaneously coexist. I’m a firm believer in trusting one’s instinctual, emotional responses, while at the same time interrogating and rounding out those responses with more rational, contemplative thought…

…As my critical contemplative response tempered my emotional one, I saw that the antiblack bias at the core of many multiracial organizations had shaped the larger discourse of mixedness and multiracial identity. While many mixed individuals and organizations are engaged and invested in social justice, discussions about mixed identity the realm of popular culture and mass media tend to frame the presence of black ancestry as a hindrance. While I believe that there is a definite mixed experience, I think that care must be taken not to cleave that experience from the broader historical continuum of how race has been constructed and reconstructed in America and that any analysis of race/identity must begin with defining whiteness and how the construction of whiteness has directly impacted the construction of all other identities in this country. As parents of black/white mixed kids and black/nonwhite mixed kids, we have to address the ways in which we’ve all internalized messages of antiblack bias and how that affects both the identity choices we make for our children and the ones we want them to make for themselves. For those outside the realm of the black/white/black/nonwhite mix, it’s still important to consider how antiblack bias relates to your child’s particular identity construction and how the historical black/white mixed binary informs how all mixed/multiracial identities are understood in our society…

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