Chosing Racial Sides… American Society Forces Its Children To Make Tough Choices

Chosing Racial Sides… American Society Forces Its Children To Make Tough Choices

Cassandra Franklin-Barbajosa

When Jolanda Williams looks in a mirror, the image she sees is a warm peach complexion framed in dark silky hair, high cheekbones beneath almond eyes, and full lips that slip into an easy, radiant smile. She has a face that could belong almost anywhere in the world, Mexico, India, or Indonesia. Yet Williams, the daughter of a white German mother and a black American father, has spent the better part of her 35 years coming to terms with where she fits in.

“In America, it is all about your physical characteristics,” says Williams, a resident of Brooklyn, New York, who, for as long as she can remember, has identified herself on paper as African-American. “If I were to put “white” on a job application and walk into an interview, whoever was interviewing me would assume they had the wrong person. It is unrealistic for me to think I can actually walk through the world identifying as white, considering the way I look.”…

Dr. Melissa Herman, assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College in Hanover, [New Hampshire], understands the reasoning behind the choices made by the more than six million multiracial people in the United States.

“A lot of our choices about identity have to do with phenotype, our physical characteristics, because it is these characteristics that determine how other people perceive us and treat us,” she says. “If you look even slightly black, there is extreme social pressure in American society to be black, which is certainly a vestige of the system of hypodescent, or the one-drop rule. Even though it is no longer legally enforced, it is very much socially enforced. It is ingrained in children from a very early age; not necessarily by their parents, who may want them to have the freedom to choose, but by our society.”..

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,