Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Taking A Chance

Big-ups to you Hip Hapa Homeez and Watermelon Sushi Fans for your continued love. This week’s Hip Hapa Homee is Chance, in the photo, who solemnly hosts an interactive website about being mixed. Check it out here: http://www.mgmix.com; then, read the Q&A below. This is some serious stuff, and sure to invite controversy!

Q: What’s a nice multiracial guy like you doing moderating MGmix.com?

A: MGmix is a multiracial website for biracials and multi-generation mixed people. It caters to biracials, and the issues and views that affect them in society. At the same time, there are many people who are not biracial but are multi-generation mixed. But, due to the "One Drop Rule", the majority of them have been labeled "black" and raised black/African American. Those of the multi-generation mixed, who could pass for white or another race, could escape this fate if they wanted.

The website also deals with topics about other mixed-race groups like Creoles, and mixed-race ethnic history from other countries. MGmix deals with biracialism, and the study of mixed-race people who are not biracial, but are also mixed. It's good that biracials get to know a little history about other biracials of the past who contributed to America politically, economically, religiously, and fought for the rights of blacks and mixed-race people.

I wanted to make MGmix a site that does not limit itself to one type of topic. That is why you find articles and commentaries on many subjects from biracialism, multi-generation mixed, Creoles, international mixed, politics, economics, religion, celebrities, music, etc. The more diverse topics you have, the more interesting the site. And, seldom will you have people getting bored because the same old subject is always posted. Variety is unity.

Q: What was your motivation for creating this site?

A: I visited many other multiracial websites, and I noticed that there were some things lacking in some of them--not all, just some. I noticed that some did not have a section for readers to leave comments, so there could be no feedback. When there is no opportunity for feedback, it discourages readers and they don’t return frequently. Then, there are some biracial and multiracial sites that have a forum which allows feedback. Now, having a forum is very good, but many readers don’t want to participate in a forum all the time. I also noticed that some biracial and multiracial sites were not updated frequently. I have seen posted articles sitting on the front page of some sites for over a year.

At some sites, there were many biracials who felt dissatisfied for various reasons--one of them was that some biracials felt they were being unfairly labeled "anti-black" because they disagreed with blacks pushing the “One Drop Rule”. Any type of criticism of blacks about certain issues would sometimes be met with an accusation of being "anti-black". Other biracials and some blacks would make these allegations against other biracials. Some were anti-black and many others were not--they were just stating observations they had made; like blacks frequently pushing the "One Drop Rule".

I felt that there were not enough websites out there for biracials and other multi-generation mixed people, and this lack of other sites forced people to have to settle for sites that were already well-known. So I decided to create a site for biracials that would welcome multi-generation mixed people, Creoles, monoracials, and supporters who were interested. I remember feeling a deep sorrow at times for many mixed-race people at other sites because of their being criticized just because they spoke the truth about certain things.

Q: But there's no personal information about you on your site. Who are you?

A: I’m not biracial; I’m a multi-generation mixed person. My ancestry on both my father and mother’s side of the family are mixed. On my father’s side there is black and white, on my mother’s side there is black, white, and Native American. I was raised by my mother, and she always said we were mixed and that is what stuck with me. She didn't talk constantly about race and ethnicity, but when the subject came up she would say we were mixed.

Now, some African Americans, biracials, and other people say it does not count if you have white and other ancestry from the past. I say this, I have never seen a black ancestor yet you call me black (African American). So if I have never seen a white, black, or Native American ancestor, then I guess that leaves the slate open for me to label myself. Notice people don’t challenge Latinos (who are multi-generation mixed) about their mixed ancestry. Many Latinos have never seen a white ancestor from Spain nor a Native Aztec, Mayan, or Inca ancestor. Many Latinos claim to be white even though they are visibly mixed, and they have that right even though they have never met a white ancestor. You are what you are, especially if it is visible and people take notice of it. Therefore, it counts.

For me, a mulatto is a person with one black parent and one white parent or a person who is mixed with black and white ancestry--especially if it is visible. Also phenotype (physical appearance), if a debate breaks out about whether some light-skinned African American is to be considered mulatto or not. The deciding factor that doesn't lie is physical appearance. Therefore, mulatto is also a physical appearance. Many biracials who are not born light-skinned have verified that often they are seen as "just black". Many light-skinned African Americans can verify that they are often asked by other African Americans and people from other ethnic groups what they are mixed with. This proves that phenotype carries more weight than just being biracial. So, when a person says they are mulatto, you should ask what type--biracial mulatto or multi-generation mulatto. I’m sure some biracials find it shocking to see many mixed-race, light-skinned African Americans walking around without them being directly biracial. Especially, those biracials who are darker than the multi-generation mixed-race person.

If the mixed-race ancestry of multi-generation mixed Africa Americans didn’t count, then why is it that they, in some situations, are chosen over darker African Americans simply because they look "less black" and more mixed? Obviously, the choosers are seeing something other than black. If mixed-race ancestry didn’t count, then why do people take notice of hair texture; blue, green, hazel eyes; light skin; soft European features, and features of other ethnic groups one is mixed with? If mixed-race ancestry didn’t count, then why do many light-skinned African Americans and Creoles have to defend themselves from accusations by darker skinned blacks and other people who claim that light-skinned African Americans and Creoles think they are better because they are mixed? This proves that people recognize differences.

Q : How has your racial make-up affected your life?

A: From my life experiences, people go by how you look more than anything. I did not know that I was considered black until the third grade. I was sitting in class one day at school, and another third grade teacher came into the classroom and spoke with my teacher, then left. My teacher stood up and said there was a black kid running around on the playground with his head down chasing other kids. He had something crawling in his hair and they found out it was lice. So the teacher wanted all of her black students to stand up and form a line.

There were white students in the class, but since the boy with lice was black I guess she felt it was better to check the black kids’ hair instead. I did not get up. I felt fearful because I knew that I was mixed with black, but I didn’t look like a black kid with dark black skin or caramel brown skin. For me, black was a color. I have yellowish brown skin. I knew I was not white either because I didn’t look like them in color. I was the only yellow kid in the room; none of the others looked like me. I felt afraid and very scared because I wasn’t sure what I was because I didn’t fit in either the black or white group in appearance.

I stood up and continued to stand just looking at all the black kids lined up until my teacher looked at me, called my name, and said 'come on'. I felt a relief not because I saw myself as black, but because the pressure of not knowing was gone. At least I was put somewhere and this took the fear away, and the fear of worrying that the other kids were going to start staring at me. I have experienced racism from other black kids growing up because I was lighter and some kids liked me a lot because I was lighter. I could pick up on these things as a kid. Some adults and kids would make compliments about my skin color. Being a light-skinned boy at times was tough, and at times very rewarding because I could tell people felt a little comfortable with me because of it.

As an adult, the same factors played themselves out with certain darker and sometimes caramel brown skin blacks creating problems for me for being lighter. Being lighter, I noticed that black females seen to find me a little more attractive--not all, but many. This is because of the white ancestry showing up or some other non-black ancestry that is visible. But when I am among other females from other ethnic backgrounds, some of them find the black ancestry more attractive. Some employers feel a little more comfortable with you if you are light-skinned, too. Being mixed-race and having all of these wonderful and interesting experiences constantly reminds me that I’m seen as mixed and not "black only" all the time. If you have to defend it, then it is a part of you.

Q: Briefly explain the FGM v. MGM battle.

A: An FGM is a first-generation mixed-race person, meaning a biracial. MGM is a multi-generation mixed-race person, meaning the person is mixed in their ancestry but are not biracial. Some biracials, but not all, get angry when they see someone who is not biracial being labeled as mixed. They feel that it should only be them being labeled as mixed. One of reasons for this is that they feel that people who are not biracial, and are being labeled as mixed, actually helps keep biracials seen as black. But they fail to understand that if you don’t look black by America’s standards, then you don’t have to worry about it. They seem to hold a special anger towards light-skinned African Americans because they look mixed; and, some even more mixed than some biracials. I noticed that it is mainly biracials who can’t pass for white or another race that are the most hostile.

Light-skinned African Americans are the result of biracials and multi-generation mulattos who married into the black race. Matter of fact, this is the origin of the white ancestry among African Americans in general regardless of their phenotype and skin color. Biracials look like African Americans because African Americans are already mixed. Biracials who can pass for white or another ethnicity look like those multi-generation mixed African Americans who could pass for white or another race.

An example is former Senator Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. who looked like a white man with some Native American ancestry. Powell was not biracial. Walter White had an octoroon phenotype, and even walked among whites down South to investigate lynchings that had happened to blacks. He looked totally white, and this is why he could walk among whites to investigate the lynchings. Walter White was not biracial. He was the president of the NAACP for 20 years. W.E.B. Dubois was not biracial, but notice in many books and articles written about him, or mentioning him, that he was called black and mulatto.

Powell and White were MGM’s. Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington were biracial, but Powell and White both could pass for white. Powell once joined a white fraternity while in college, and they later did a background check and discovered that he was labeled "Negro". He was then told that his membersmembership had been revoked by the white fraternity at his college. All of these men, whether they were FGM or MGM, helped African Americans progress.

Q: What's the difference between being African American and black?

A: African American is an ethnic group. Ethnic groups are made up of culture not phenotype, while black is more of a description of a phenotype (physical appearance). Many people around the world are black, but not everybody is an African American. African Americans descend from the survivors of American slavery. Those black and mixed-race slaves who came out of slavery are the survivors, even though some blacks and mixed-race were already free before slavery.

Q: What do you think of Obama and his racial identification?

A: Barack Obama is not by birth an African American according to what America considers to be African American. Neither one of his parents descend from black American slaves. This not being an African American by birth actually benefits him and played a role in why he was elected president. I feel he likes being a part of the African American ethnicity, and at the same time he understands his uniqueness of not being born as one. This forms his personality, and helps him view things more with an open mind because he did not have a black parent to pass along to him black anger at whites. He was raised by his white mother and her family in Hawai'i, so he understands that ethnic group. At the same time, he realizes he is seen as black and, before he became a famous politician, he was treated accordingly. Obama has related some of his experiences with racism. He's mentioned that, because of being black, how hard it was for him to get a cab.

Obama is biracial/mixed-race, and I feel he is very proud of that. He sees himself as mixed-race, white and black, and, therefore, an internationalist who can touch all people around the world. His father Barack Obama, Sr. was Muslim, and he himself has studied Islam, the Jewish Talmud, and the Bible.

Believe it or not, Obama is a part of the new mulatto elite, and it’s not by choice either. African Americans helped get him elected as president. They saw hope in him. The mulatto elite will continue as long as African Americans continue to not be able to get past certain problems that they have created for themselves; obstacles like lingering racism, the lingering effects of white social discrimination in all spheres of society, police brutality, etc.

W.E.B. Dubois spoke of a talented tenth, and Obama is one. African Americans, especially the darker ones, have often looked at the talented tenth as elitist. If they were like every other African American, they would not be able to help very much. The talented tenth is the result of a person making efforts to educate themselves and help African Americans and humanity in general regardless of ethnic background. The problem that has been noted by some African Americans is that many of these talented men have always been mixed-race, light-skinned or biracial, and this is why the tenth was seen as elitist.

Many multi-generation mixed men and biracials who helped African Americans progress education-wise, politically, and economically saw themselves as mixed-race. This, no doubt, played a role in influencing their personalities and behaviors. Like Obama, they were seen as black yet not "officially black" but more from a mixed-race group. Any group should be grateful that there are men who think outside the box and have a more open mind which leads to new ideas about how to go about accomplishing something. Barack Obama enjoys being biracial and enjoys being an adopted member of the African American ethnic group. By becoming president, he has helped bring attention to multiracial awareness. This interest and awareness will continue to grow nationally and internationally.

Q: Have race relations improved with his election?

A: Race relations improve with time. Just look at how bad race relations were just 45 years ago in the 1960s, and worse the farther you go back in time. The success of the Civil Rights movement helped destroy legalized segregation and race relations improved a lot. The country and the world are becoming more mixed racially and culturally, and this is a very good thing. There is a lot we can learn from each other, contributing our genetics and culture into one mixed world. I want to leave some footprints in the sand by contributing what I can and by doing my part.

Wow! That was a lot of information, and we thank Chance for sharing. Tune in again next week for another featured Hip Hapa Homee, and if you have something to unload hollah at hiphapa@comcast.net


For those of you who have purchased a Hapa*Teez t-shirt, please contact us with the correct spelling of your name for your rear crawl credit. And for those of you who haven't yet bought one, we are working on new designs especially for men and children. Sign up for our newsletter at the link above to stay updated.

As always, you can join our Hip Hapa Homeez group and Watermelon Sushi Fan page on Facebook. And, you can follow us on Twitter.

Until next time, I am...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

4 comments:

Kahlil Digitalx said...

Chance Kelsey: Another unheralded hero of the Mixed-race community!

Yayoi Lena Winfrey said...

For sure. Incredibly nice guy on a personal level, too.

Kahlil Digitalx said...

Heard @ 'Mulatto Diaries' that Chance died:
http://mulattodiaries.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/john-how-could-you

Any word?

Yayoi Lena Winfrey said...

I had not heard that, Kahlil, but if it's true then I am incredibly saddened. How can we be sure without starting any rumors? I hope we're wrong, but thanks for the alert.