So a few weeks ago, there was a Cheerios commercial, said commercial portrayed a mixed race family, black dad, white mom, and cute little curly haired kid. Of course, this caused a lot of racist people to loose their shit and take to the Internet to share their special brand of unenlightened stupidness with the rest of the world. Smarter people then came back with their own campaigns to fight the hatred and show that it is possible to have happy mixed race families and all the racists should shut the hell up.
Agreed! As a mixed race person, I don't really like it when people hate on me and my interracial kin. That said, this whole brouhaha left me with an uneasy feeling. Not so much about the racists, they're always going to be around and it's old hat, but the whole romanticizing of biracial love and families left me with my eyes rolling. But I couldn't for the life of me put my finger on the exact reason...that is, until I popped onto Facebook today and saw this.
Kate Gosselin Responds to Controversy Sparked by 'Asian Impression' Photo
Okay, so maybe it's old news, but it smacked me right on the head of why I was so annoyed with the biracial utopia family glurge going on.Now granted the whole Gosselin parents are morons in my books, as evidenced by this quote by Kate:
"It's normal to talk about and even 'exaggerate' the feature differences
between family members of a biracial family as they are noticed by
curious growing children within the family. These types of discoveries
and at home discussions are a normal part of being a loving, accepting,
biracial family and it does not make any of us prejudiced!"
And she went on to say that she is the last person to be called a racist.
Bullshit! PSA to Kate and anyone else in a biracial relationship, no matter whether you don't have any kids, have a few, have a clan, you can still indeed be racist. Imitating a gesture that has been used to hurt a group of people that your children belong to is not okay. My mom didn't run around in blackface to exagerrate our differences, surprisingly our differences can be discussed with our children without resorting to racist gestures, stereotypes, language.
This touches on why I felt so annoyed. There are too many people running around thinking that they get a "get out of jail for being a racist moron free" card simply because they have fallen in love, or fucked a person of a different race. This happens in circles of people where it is crudely illustrated such as Kate Gosselin, and it happens in circles where people consider themselves more progressive or enlightened.
I recall one time sitting with a biracial couple and the white male of the two went on to describe a Chinese tradition. It didn't sound quite right with me, and his wife gently and politely corrected him. Instead of thanking her for clarifying, he got upset. He didn't think it was okay for her to intervene. That he was trying to explain it and her correcting him was why he didn't want to learn about her culture. All I'm thinking is, how dare she politely correct him on HER cultural traditions. In fact, since I lack a filter sometimes, I may or may not have sarcastically said that.
Now don't get me wrong, I know so many biracial families that are doing it right. They respect one another's culture and do their best to bring their kids up in an enriched environment, while at the same time trying to shield them from morons who go apeshit bananas over a cereal commercial. I even know a family who adopted a child outside of their culture and they regularly expose him to cultural events. To those people, my hat is off. Kudos! As an biracial person, raising biracial kids I salute thee.
That said, there are way too many people who think that mixing races is a sign of some post racial harmony and they are automatically completely aware of racism and how it affects people. I once had a white woman, while talking about racism told me she knew how I felt because her little one was mixed. Um, okay, no. She then proceeded to tell me her ideas of how I should care for my hair and made a move to touch it! Now in her dealings with the black community, how she missed the pretty big fucking memo that touching our hair without explicit permission is a no-no is beyond me, but it illustrates the problem with some people who are in biracial relationships.
And don't get me started on the exoticising of biracial children. If I had a penny for each time someone has told me that they wanted a mixed or "mulatto" or "half breed" child. Speaking as a former biracial child, despite my greatness, it is not due to the fact that I an a "half breed". I grew up confused, pressured to choose one side or another, discriminated against by members of my extended family, it's not always an easy thing growing up straddling different worlds. I'm not saying its the worst, but if that Cheerios commercial has taught us anything, is that there are a hell of a lot of people not willing to welcome us biracial people with open arms.
So let me say this. First of all, if you find yourself chasing a particular race because of some fetishization, knock it off, it's annoying and racist. Go take a cold shower or something and learn a thing or two about what you are chasing to see if it matches up with your beliefs...chances are, it won't.
Otherwise, if you find yourself in a relationship with a person of a different race, religion, culture, keep in mind that that doesn't automatically make you an authority of that culture, racism or some post-race utopia that doesn't exist simply because you have mated with someone a different skin tone. Be open to the fact that you can still be racist, if you're white have white skin privilege, and learn about race and racism so you don't end up doing something dressing up in black face or slanting your eyes. Understand that while some gestures or words may seem harmless, they have a long history of being used to harm people. Be prepared to be called on stuff if you're wrong. Learn, learn as much as you can, about traditions, history, religion and culture. If you raise a family, you are embarking on a journey that requires more learning and growth than it would if you were with someone of the same race/culture, so nurture and grow with your children and the realities they will face growing up in a binary world, straddling a very clearly marked line that according to many, should not be crossed.