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Playing "The 'Blame' Game" creates Division ... not Unity

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  • multiracialbookclub
    Hi All, Listed below is a memo that was written and submitted to another web site that covered the topic of Mixed-Race. The memo was written by a Mixed-Race
    Message 1 of 1 , May 27, 2006
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      Hi All,

      Listed below is a memo that was written and submitted
      to another web site that covered the topic of Mixed-Race.

      The memo was written by a Mixed-Race woman who
      had grown more-than-a-little-weary of listening to other
      `Multi'-Racials who were engaged in a persistent ranting of
      how they had chosen to simply perceive that `Mono'-Racials
      (the Blacks, in particular) were essentially "the cause of"
      all or almost all of "their problems" as `Multi'-Racials.

      In this memo, she seems to make some really very
      profound (and rather true) statements about how –
      as Multi-Racial / Mixed-Race people -- we should
      not choose to engage in the practice of imitating
      the behaviors of any of our many various former
      oppressors via singling-out, broad-brushing, and
      often even slandering any group of people at all
      -- nor should we attempt to create any sort of
      new admixture-based (or other) racial-hierarchy
      (and most certainly not in the name of
      Mixed-Race/Multiracial Pride or Unity).

      The memo is – in my opinion –
      really excellent and well-written.



      Date: February 27, 1996
      From: Sarah N. Gatson
      To: intvoice@...


      To the editor:

      [I] am writing in response to two of your
      editorials (Sept-Oct, 1995, and Jan-Feb, 1996).

      I am a [B]iracial / African American woman.
      I am a grad student in sociology.

      When I first found this magazine on the Web,
      I was very excited and grateful.

      Now, however, I find myself disturbed by the
      language you are using to discuss your ideas.


      My definition of being biracial is that I am
      simultaneously a member of my parent communities.

      As well, I find spiritual and often political kinship
      from more than one "racial" or cultural background.

      While this is confusing and at times very disturbing
      to other people, this is my take on my own identity,
      and I feel it is a hard-won and healthy identity for me.


      Keeping this identity in mind, I hardly think it is
      solely "the black community" that enforces `the
      one-drop rule'
      as you stated in one of your editorials.

      There have always been ... people that do
      not support interracial relationships and
      individuals, and there likely always will be.

      However, to paint an entire community
      with the broad brush
      that you
      choose to use is akin to slander.

      The way you seem to be content with
      laying all the blame for the pain of
      multiracial people at the feet of
      African Americans
      (at least in your
      editorials) is unfortunate since many of
      us multiracial people count ourselves as
      simultaneous members of that very community.

      Furthermore, if you examine the  historical record,
      the Black elite often consisted of a majority of
      light-skinned individuals, and these people often
      engaged in operating social societies known as
      "paper-bag" or "blue-vein" clubs - the idea was
      that you only got in if you were as light or
      lighter as a paper-bag, or if the skin on the inside
      of your arm was light enough to discern your veins).

      Perhaps the fear of some in the black community
      (and curiously, you don't seem to attack any other
      so-called "monoracial" community with quite as
      much vehemence
      ) is not entirely misplaced.

      While I do not advocate the continuing
      denial by anyone of the realities of us
      "mixed race" people, I do advocate the
      taking of responsibility by all of us,
      whoever we are, of our own and our
      communities' complicities in the ongoing
      project of racism and racialism in this country.

      Instead of playing the game of politics as usual,
      with all the broad name-calling and denigration
      and demonization of one's "opponents" ...
      we would better serve our purposes to sit down
      – literally and figuratively - with as many
      people as we can and exchange experiences,
      and the worldviews molded by these experiences.

      Only then can we understand the fear others'
      have when they see us coming, and only
      then can we own up to the fears and
      prejudices we are ignoring in ourselves.

      Another point I would like to ask about is,
      who exactly is "the black intelligentsia,"
      and is it really led by the NAACP?" 

      It seems to me you are engaging in the same kind of
      political rhetoric as Minister Farrakhan by making
      these kinds of empirically unsupported and blanket
      statements about entire groups of people.

      Considering that many conservatives have come
      down on the side of the new multiracial box
      precisely for the reason that they think it will
      in fact help them destroy affirmative action
      (notwithstanding the reality that
      [A]ff[amative] Action has benefited
      far more white women than it has people of color
      and other civil rights gains, and considering that
      many "multiracials" have accepted these strange
      bedfellows, it is perhaps not surprising or upsetting
      that the NAACP does not endorse this position.

      We should learn from the unsavory politics
      of expediency in our collective past:

      The example of the white women's wing of the
      suffrage movement and the shame - less way
      they ditched their black sisters in
      order to get the Southern vote.

      Do we want to behave this way?  

      I'm not saying we as multiracial people
      need to continue to sacrifice our selves
      and our definition of our selves for other
      people who might hate us and denigrate our reality.

      However, I do think there needs to be
      more real discussion, and less political
      catch-phrases and blaming going back and forth.

      Self-identity is important, and I will continue
      to engage in producing my own even if it does
      make other people afraid, angry, or unhappy ...

      To rage against "the rising tide of separatism" as
      you do, and then to turn around and encourage
      similar behavior from
      those of us that have been
      fighting to have our inclusive identities recognized
      to me [to be] the very soul of hypocrisy.

      We need to understand that there are real
      reasons behind beliefs and actions, and
      offer our understanding of them, perhaps
      because our experiences have been unique
      in a dichotomous and racist society. ...

      The reason for the hatred of people like us
      lies in *both* the hatred of the "racial"
      minority, and in the hatred of the combination
      of the minority with the mainstream majority.

      I do know that I refuse to play your
      game and attempt to separate these
      two facts from one another.

      I really don't know what our participation
      in the race game - by trying to count
      ourselves as "a wholly separate race"
      in the face of historical and cultural
      experiences very much to the contrary
      - is really going to make a real step
      in the eradication of race as a
      controlling and unjust ideology.

      It seems to me instead that we
      would be imitating the founders
      of race and slavery who took
      the people of vastly different
      cultural identities and forced them
      to become "black" in order to meet
      their own selfish need for creating social
      order of which they sat at the pinnacle.

      Is this the legacy we want to leave the world?

      Sarah N. Gatson
      Northwestern University







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