The Non-Problem of “Mixed-Race” People

One of the more tragic aspects of the racial worldview has been the seeming dilemma of people whose parents are identifiably of different “races.” Historically, “race” was grounded in the myth of biologically separate, exclusive, and distinct populations. No social ingredient in our race ideology allowed for an identity of “mixed-races.” Indeed over the past century and a half, the American public was conditioned to the belief that “mixed-race” people (especially of black and white ancestry) were abnormal products of the unnatural mating of two species, besides being socially unacceptable in the normal scheme of things. The tragedy for “mixed” people is that powerful social lie, the assumption at the heart of “race,” that a presumed biological essence is the basis of one’s true identity. Identity is biology, racial ideology tells us, and it is permanent and immutable. The emphasis on and significance given to “race” precludes any possibility for establishing our premier identities on the basis of other characteristics. In this sense it may be argued that the myth of ”race” has been a barrier to true human identities.

Audrey Smedley, “‘Race’ and the Construction of Human Identity,” American Anthropologist, Volume 100, Issue 3 (September 1998): 690-702.

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