Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Not About Me, But About You

Hey! I think I'm finally connecting with you--my Hip Hapa Homeez--for real, and that makes me feel so HAPA! Thanks for showing me the love.

This week, I want to introduce you to S.B. of London (pix to your left). Besides promoting our film by purchasing a Watermelon Sushi Hapa*Teez t-shirt, S.B. also shared some interesting thoughts about our biracial agenda. On the Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook, I had posted a statement about the One Drop Rule, and questioned why the press was so eager to label President Obama a black man when he is biracial. S.B. then responded with her belief that some biracial people tend to shun their black side. FYI, S.B.'s mother is white English, and her father is Nigerian (Igbo).

Rather than attempt to explain what I think she meant, I'll just re-post our dialogue here:


Isn't Barack Obama black/African American?

The mixed-raced community always makes a massive deal about embracing all parts of your heritage. But in reality, that seems to mean that you don't embrace any. Especially, especially not any black/African heritage you might have. It is preferred (in my experience) that you refer to yourself as "mixed-race", "biracial", "multiracial", etc., without ever acknowledging the different races that make up that heritage.

I think Barack Obama should be able to describe himself (and be described) as black. Because he is black, AND white. Both as opposed to neither.

I don't think it's the One Drop Rule unless the argument is that having black heritage EXCLUDES you from being anything else. That blackness (or non-whiteness) taints you.

But that's just my opinion.

And, here's Your Hip Hapa's response:

I don't know if you grew up in London, but the phrase "One Drop Rule" takes on a whole different meaning here in the states as it applied to slaves who were fathered by white slavemasters yet denied any claims to that white heritage, especially because it involved property and money. Slaves were considered property. Therefore, a child of a white slavemaster was still half slave and ruled by the one drop of black blood that would keep him or her always a slave first and foremost.

As for your argument about mixed-race folks not wanting to embrace their black heritage, I don't think that's true. Often, the black community doesn't allow us to embrace other parts of ourselves. Most recently, there was a big stink about the U.S. Census. Because mixed-race people were allowed to choose more than one race (and thereby acknowledging both of their parents for the first time in the history of the Census), a lot of black communities were upset over losing numbers. If you don't know, higher numbers in communities means that you're awarded more federal dollars for your programs.

Of course, it's up to Obama to define his racial identification. But clearly, his white mother and white grandparents raised him. Certainly, he was highly influenced by them culturally. For him to deny them, would make me suspicious of his political agenda.

And, here's S.B., again:

I would never deny that Barack Obama is biracial or mixed-race. Regardless of who raised him, it is a fact that he is biracial and I would never say that he should deny his biracial heritage.

All I meant to say is: The fact that he is biracial should not exclude him from being black. He should not be discounted from the ranks of African Americans merely because he cannot claim pure, 100% black racial heritage. Who can? Why can’t he be seen as being ALL that he is? Black, white, mixed-race, Kenyan, Hawai'ian, Kansan, Illinoisan, politician, husband, father, president…

As a European--and not an American--I do not claim to understand the nuance of American racial politics, and I hope that I have not offended anybody.

I do think that my argument that mixed-race people do not want to claim their black heritage is accurate at least here in Britain if not in the United States. At least I can say that I have provided some insight on life as a mixed-race person in Europe (it is not as depressing as it sounds!).

And, one more time, Your Hip Hapa replies:

I appreciate your opinions. As far as mixed-race people not wanting to claim their black heritage, though, I have seen that happen with certain black folks, too. I have lived in areas that are predominantly white, and experienced black people literally shun other black folks so as to not "offend" whites or have whites think that they are just like any other stereotyped black person. I call it "self-hating", and I've seen that occur among Asians, Latinos, and Indigenous folks, too. I have rarely seen it happen, though, in large, diverse, cosmopolitan cities so I think there's some idea of a "safety factor" involved in taking that type of stance.

Okay. So, what do you readers think? Do mixed-race people with black ethnicities tend to shun that part of themselves? Drop us a line at and tell all!

Also, last week I discussed the so-called FGM v. MGM battle. FGM stands for First Generation Mulattos (or Multi-racials) and MGM are Multi-Generational Mulattos (or, Multi-racials). FGM's are repped by folks like Halle Berry who can point to a white mother and black father, while a prominent MGM would be Vanessa L. Williams--with two light-skinned parents identified as black, but who is clearly mixed from somewhere in the past. Today, I received an invite from AP to join several multi-lineage yahoo groups based on that blog. I'll post their links after I check them out. However, I will list this one that I actually had the chance to visit:

We're getting close to scheduling talent auditions for Watermelon Sushi, so if you haven't sent us your submission yet, you have about a week. Check out the Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook for breakdowns. And, sign up to join our group while you're there!

Also, the panel I'm presenting, Mixed-Race Relationships, at the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival is gearing up. Here is a link to an article penned by Sam Cacas who will be one of the panelists:

And, let me know if you'd like me to forward you a copy of the MRFLF program.

My new feature is to introduce a Hip Hapa Homee every week, so if you have a photo of your family, especially your parents, and would like to be showcased on this blog, hollah at

Until next week, I am fiending to be...

Your Hip Hapa,


APGifts said...


While it is true that President
Obama is NOT a member of the
very specific Ethnic group that
is currently being referred to
as 'African-American' (AA) -- it
should be noted that his being
Mixed-Race is NOT at all what
prevents him from being an
African-American (AA) -- as,
more than 70% of the people
born to two (2) people who are
BOTH members of the AA Ethnic
group are actually also of a
Mixed-Race lineage (one that
includes +20-30% European
in addition to +25%
Amerindian bloodlines).

What prevents him from being an AA
is that the AAs are actually a very
specific ETHNIC grouping of people.

Contrary to popular assumption,
the term 'African-American' (AA)
DOES NOT even MEAN 'Black' !!!!

The term African-American (AA)
–- as it is used in the United
States -- simply means:

"a descendant-of-the-survivors
of the chattel-slavery system
that took place within the
continental United States
during the antebellum era!!"

And since President Obama is NOT
"a descendant of the survivors"
-- he can NOT be seen as an AA.

The following links may be
of some help in explaining
this in more detail:

Have a nice day !!! :D;_ylt=Al5eeK2CFwcv4rD5U5qzvEfty6IX?qid=20070527201834AAIhzhM&show=7#profile-info-CiC2JY9Maa;_ylt=AiebDu.tSshJzQ0wS5fMp7jty6IX?qid=20070623205206AANUzPN&show=7#profile-info-q1hdwifgaa;_ylt=AjwuxYj8agKY7yGgqaJ7i.Xty6IX?qid=20070704121228AA7ZMsA&show=7#profile-info-ezQwEaJLaa


Yayoi Lena Winfrey said...


You need to let me interview you. Off with the mask!

Your Hip Hapa,