|Black and White America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
That said, I began my writing/blogging/podcasting pretty purely from that emotional, instinctual space. My emotional responses to blackness were informed by a lifetime of being "black checked" and being told by both white and black people that my particular brand of blackness was insufficient, despite my firm protestations and phenotypical/ancestral "proof" to the contrary. Compounding this was the emotional reality I was living as a black woman married to a white man with a child whom all races of people were not recognizing as black or mine. While I knew that my daughter was black, I also knew that her experience of blackness would be quite different from my own because of her phenotypical ambiguity. How was I going to assure my child that she was indeed sheltered under this ostensibly broad umbrella of blackness and the black experience, when I still felt the pinch of its narrow definitions? With all those thoughts swirling (no pun intended), I was relieved to find aspects of my family's reality being expressed and affirmed in spaces like Mixed Media Watch and Mixed Chicks Chat which were exploring issues of mixed/multiracial identity. As I went on to explore other outlets in the mixed/multiracial oeuvre, I began to notice that the voices of moms of color were limited (or absent) and that many of the more formal multiracial organizations were helmed by white moms with a limited comprehension of systemic racism. Seeing this, I felt it was important to have moms of color to mixed children be a vocal, visible part of the growing conversations in these digital spaces, so I started this blog and podcast in 2010.
I wanted to create digital community for moms of color in the "mixed experience" and gain some perspective on what this "mixed moment" signified for us as women/mothers of color. Along with my interviews, I started to read books about the history of interracial marriage and miscegenation laws, mixed identity, critical race theory and more. I even revisited some of my favorite works by writers/thinkes like Gloria Anzaldua, James Baldwin and George Lipsitz. I discovered the work of Michele Elam, Marcia Dawkins and Erica Chito-Childs and many more writers,scholars and thinkers who helped me to a more critical view of mixed race and multiracial identity. I began to understand that the conversation was much larger than box-checking and paper identity. I also realized that many of the multiracial movements for "census justice" saw no connection to the larger freedom struggles against antiblack bias and ultimately discovered just how deep the roots of antiblack racism ran through many of these organizations. At that point, I took a step back to investigate just how much these antiblack biases had affected me and my own view of my daughter's identity.
As my critical contemplative response tempered my emotional one, I saw that the antiblack bias at the core of many multiracial organizations had shaped the larger discourse of mixedness and multiracial identity. While many mixed individuals and organizations are engaged and invested in social justice, discussions about mixed identity the realm of popular culture and mass media tend to frame the presence of black ancestry as a hindrance. While I believe that there is a definite mixed experience, I think that care must be taken not to cleave that experience from the broader historical continuum of how race has been constructed and reconstructed in America and that any analysis of race/identity must begin with defining whiteness and how the construction of whiteness has directly impacted the construction of all other identities in this country. As parents of black/white mixed kids and black/nonwhite mixed kids, we have to address the ways in which we've all internalized messages of antiblack bias and how that affects both the identity choices we make for our children and the ones we want them to make for themselves. For those outside the realm of the black/white/black/nonwhite mix, it's still important to consider how antiblack bias relates to your child's particular identity construction and how the historical black/white mixed binary informs how all mixed/multiracial identities are understood in our society.
Most digital spaces and offline spaces that address issues of mixed/multiracial identity allow people living those experiences to share stories/resources which provides much needed emotional support and affirmation. While I continue to find that support and discussion very useful, I think it's important to locate those discussions in the broader discourse about the centrality of white supremacy and antiblack bias to all identity formation in this country.