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Five Myths About Multiracial People in the U.S.

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Five Myths About Multiracial People in the U.S.

Tiger Woods

Keith Allison/Flickr.com

People Who Identify as “Mixed” Are Sellouts

Before Tiger Woods became a tabloid fixture, thanks to a string of infidelities with a slew of blondes, the most controversy he sparked involved his racial identity. In 1997, during an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Woods declared that he did not view himself as black but as “Cablinasian.” The term Woods coined to describe himself stands for each of the ethnic groups that make up his racial heritage—Caucasian, black, Indian (as in Native American) and Asian. After Woods made this declaration, members of the black community were livid. Colin Powell, for one, weighed in on the controversy by remarking, “In America, which I love from the depths of my heart and soul, when you look like me, you’re black.”

After his “Cablinasian” remark, Woods was largely seen as a race-traitor, or at the very least, someone aiming to distance himself from blackness. The fact that none of Woods’ long line of mistresses was a woman of color only added to this perception. But many who identify as mixed-race don’t do so to reject their heritage. On the contrary, Laura Wood, a biracial student at the University of Maryland told the New York Times:

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that. If someone tries to call me black, I say, ‘yes — and white.’ People have the right not to acknowledge everything, but don’t do it because society tells you that you can’t.”

Mixed People Are Raceless

In the popular discourse, multiracial people are oft characterized as if they’re raceless. For example, the headlines of news articles about President Obama’s mixed-race heritage often ask, “Is Obama Biracial or Black?” It’s as if some people believe that the different racial groups in one’s heritage cancel each other out like positive and negative figures in a math equation. The question shouldn't be whether Obama's black or biracial. He’s both—black and white. Explained the black-Jewish writer Rebecca Walker:

“Of course Obama is black. And he’s not black, too,” Walker said. “He’s white, and he’s not white, too. ... He’s a lot of things, and neither of them necessarily exclude the other.”

Race-Mixing Will End Racism

Some people are positively thrilled that the number of mixed-race Americans appears to be soaring. These individuals even have the idealistic notion that race-mixing will lead to bigotry’s end. But these people ignore the obvious: ethnic groups in the U.S. have been mixing for centuries, yet racism hasn’t vanished. Racism even remains a factor in a country such as Brazil, where a wide swath of the population identifies as mixed-race. There, discrimination based on skin color, hair texture and facial features is endemic—with the most European-looking Brazilians emerging as the country’s most privileged. This goes to show that miscegenation isn’t the cure for racism. Instead, racism will only be remedied when an ideological shift occurs in which people aren’t valued based on what they look like but on what they have to offer as human beings.

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