Friday, June 18, 2010
What is a Mixed White Person?
When most people think of a White person, they imagine someone with typical caucasian features. American society expects people with obvious, non-caucasian traits, to identify as members of a minority race or ethnic group. In particular, we designate people with negro ancestry as "Black", regardless of their actual culture and appearance. For example, Anatole Broyard, Walter White, Danzy Senna, Nicole Richie, all have White appearances and are presented to audiences as "Black" (most of the time). This belief is institutionalized in movies such as "Imitation of Life" and "The Human Stain", and books such as "Caucasia", "The Color of Water", "Half and Half", and "Their Eyes Were Watching God". It is taught to children both formally in the schools, and informally in everyday life. Until the 1980's, it was legally enforced in the statutes of most states. Many people know this custom as the "One Drop Rule" - one drop of Black blood makes a person "Black". The concept of "mixed Whiteness" is contradictory to this custom and may seem paradoxical at first. Simply put, a "mixed White" is a person of European heritage and partial negro ancestry.
Confused? You probably are. This owes to the tacit assumptions that race determines cultural and behavioral traits, and that Black ancestry is inferior. If you doubt that this is the reason, simply substitute two European ethnicities for White and Black. If a person claims to be Irish, and later we find out that they are half German, we do not accuse them of "passing" for Irish. The reason why is that Irish and German are considered equal, and we do not regard the person as an inferior product masquerading as the superior, genuine article. Negro blood is thought to degrade the superior traits of caucasian blood, meaning that only pure caucasians are genuinely European in their cultural, behavioral, physical, and mental qualities. People of mixed origin are not "good enough" for their White heritage, so society assigns them to the Black caste. This practice is morally and scientifically bankrupt.
Consider the concept of "Whiteness". White" means a person of European heritage, or a person of Caucasian race or appearance. "Heritage" refers to the biological and cultural traits which we acquire from our parents and community. The "One Drop" logic reduces European heritage to a racial origin that mixed people, especially those with an intermediate appearance, are unable to "genuinely" appropriate. But heritage is irreducible to a racial origin, as race does not determine culture (i.e., our learned patterns of thought and behavior). It is not only possible, but normative for people of mixed negro and caucasian ancestry, to have predominately European cultural and racial characteristics. This is true whether they look fully caucasian, nearly caucasian, or intermediate. So long as "White" refers to "a person of European heritage", then it describes all people of primarily European traits, not simply those of pure caucasian origin.
Below is an illustration of how mixing between a White and a Black, produces a White child. Recall that "heritage" refers to the racial and cultural characteristics which we acquire from our parents and community. Racial traits consist of both ancestral lineage and appearance, so I have shown this in the diagram. The diagram also reflects that Blacks are approximately 18% European in their racial origin, and that Blacks who intermarry with Whites have slightly more European blood. The Black parent is drawn with a European cultural heritage, because "Black" culture is actually a variant of poor southern White culture. It's worth noting, however, that Black culture is actually irrelevant, as most biracials grow up in mainstream White environments with few contacts with Blacks. At any rate, as you can see, the first generation mixed offspring are predominately European, or "White" in their total heritage. Subsequent mixing continues this trend, with rapid attenuation of the Black heritage. The negro heritage is "white-washed" in the matter of a single generation.
I have so far used "White" or "European" in reference to a person's ethnic heritage. In this sense and only this sense, "Whiteness" is involuntary. A White person is someone of predominately European heritage, whatever their personal identity or ethnic community. However, there is a critical distinction between "White heritage" and "White ethnicity". Not all "White" people are members of a White ethnic group. For instance, many Native Americans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Dominicans, French Creoles, and Mexicans, are of predominately European heritage (i.e. White). Nevertheless, they are members of racially diverse ethnic groups that are not simply European in extraction.(see below)
In the case of Afro-European Whites, the majority are European people by heritage, whatever their ethnic identity. It should be noted, that to be a member of a community requires both your permission and the acceptance of that group of people. When I refer to Anglo White Americans, or "Mixed Whites" in this sense, I mean those that claim a White or European identity. I do not mean that they are accepted as members of the White community.