Passage to identity is still a struggle

Passage to identity is still a struggle

Kansas City Star

Commentary by: Jeneé Osterheldt

I’ve always known I wasn’t white like my mama. Even as a little girl, I could feel adults stare as we passed by.

I was different. But was I black like my daddy? It took me much of my young life to figure that out.

Earlier this year, we took the census. The hardest of the 10 questions revolved around racial identity.

President Barack Obama, born to a white mother and a black father from Africa, checked one box: Black, African Am. or Negro.

I checked it, too. But I also marked the ones next to white and Native American. The president and I are both mixed.

So, who chose the right answer?

More and more black-and-white mixed Americans are “passing” for black, according to a recent study in the current issue of Social Psychology Quarterly, titled “Passing as Black: Racial Identity Work Among Biracial Americans.” That’s a reverse form of what biracial and fair-skinned blacks did in the Jim Crow era, when they denied their race altogether.

It’s claptrap. Yes, Obama is mixed, but he’s also black. It’s possible to be both. How can people “pass” for something they already are?..

Read the rest of the commentary here.

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