2008-12-13

The Concept of Being White



I saw this video about a book by Barbara Delinsky titled "Family Tree". The book is about a white couple who give birth to a child that has obvious black ancestry, tanned skin, curly hair, etc. The husband apparently knows his family tree very well, but the wife does not, to the point she even doesn't who her father is. The book is supposedly about the struggles the couple faces because they have this child and the shame and embarrassment it causes.

I have heard many times on this blog and others that white men want children who look like them, and they fear if they have children with black women, this won't happen. They don't seem to have this hang up with hispanic or asian women, as they are under the belief that they are closer to white, therefore being better options as mates. I can't buy that belief as I believe I can tell and identify eurasian or hispanic/white people the majority of the time, like I can black/white kids, but hey maybe it is because many times, being raised in the family I was raised in, I can tell when black folks "pass" for white. I've seen dark skinned hispanic, asian, and indian folks, people darker than me who aren't black, so I don't think it is a matter of skin coloring. I see dark skinned black couple have light skinned, mixed looking children all the time, hell I have a brother who is the perfect example of that. White people have been making babies with black people for centuries, they might not have taken care of those children in the past, but they don't mind making mixed race children with black people. I can still see Strom Thurmond in Essie Mae. I am sure Sandra Liang looked like both her white parents, just a darker version, with maybe a kinkier hair texture. Do white people flip out if they have red headed children, if both parents have dark hair, or if they have a child with brown eyes, even if neither parents have brown eyes? Do they cry if the kid has curly hair, instead of straight hair, like themselves? Or do they see themselves in those children and attribute it to recessive genes. Can they still see themselves or does eye color and hair color distract them from seeing the family resemblance?

I think black folks for the most part can accept that this country has been racially mixed for a long time, but white people, not so much. The concept that a white person might be "part black" scares the hell out them. I think it is because even though many white people claim to embrace multiculturalism, they still believe in the one drop rule too. The concept of being black, even with a black president, even when the "advanced race relations" that exist, there is still the belief in this country that being black is less than. I think this book represents that. The fact that the mother is scared to look into her history for fear of being black, and the shame that the father and his family feel for having a "dark skinned" child, speaks volumes about the value of whiteness in America. Even though we spout the "equality" diatribe over and over, in America the races aren't seen as equals and never have been. Being white is a commodity, being black is a liability, even if it is just a small percentage of blackness, the feeling is the whiteness is diminished, making some whites view their whiteness as less valuable.

So my question is this, is whiteness devalued when mixed with other races (asian, hispanic, etc.), or just when mixed with black?