Biracial Identity in the Media
I applaud this year’s Academy Awards on their progress towards inclusion, addressing racial, ethnic, and gender inequities, as well as confronting sexual abuse and harassment pervasive in our culture.
As I watched and listened intently, I could not help but notice the “elephant in the room.” For individuals of mixed race, especially black/white, self-identification publicly as biracial remains taboo, and the source of much conflict.
Publicly, the “rule” for individuals of mixed ethnicities is to identify as Black ONLY or risk being shunned, not only socially, but also employment-wise.
More biracial people and interracial couples and families are being portrayed in the media; it is also more socially acceptable to date and/or marry interracially. However, I am saddened by the fact that in order to work in Hollywood, a biracial individual must deny a part of themselves, or risk ridicule and rejection. Unfortunately, the hypodescent theory is not limited to the Entertainment Industry. I do not think our 44th President would have stood a chance in the political arena had he identified as biracial.
While black/white mixing has become more tolerated, social treatment of mixed race individuals remains guided by the hypodescent theory, the “One Drop rule.” The reality that biracial people biologically, psychologically, emotionally, and rightfully bear claim to both of their ethnicities is one that society, still today, refuses to accept. This is not limited to those of black/white mixture, the hypodescent theory is applied to people of other racial mixtures as well.
The issue of black/white mixing is still a “hot topic,” as evidenced by the success of the movie, “Get Out.” It is important to talk about the stereotypes, biases, bigotry, and restrictions individuals of mixed race are subjected to through misguided theories laid down by slave owners as a means of oppression. In part, these attitudes are now being perpetuated by the very people they were intended to oppress.
I write this because I know there is a need for this issue to be addressed in this time of inclusion and diversity. If we are to be sincere and successful in our pursuit of equality and acceptance, we must be willing to challenge this long-standing racism, deeply ingrained in our psyches.