I struggle to figure out why it is so unacceptable amongst many black people to mention your non-negro heritage or even to specify what type of negro-heritage you have. People get mad at celebs like Rosario Dawson, Melyssa Ford, and most notoriously Tiger Woods who are proud of their mixed race heritage. These angry people say things like, “All black people are mixed, so why do you have to itemize what you are?” “Part nigga, all nigga” “When you break down your racial identity then you’re denying the fact that you’re black” “When you say that you’re more than just black, you’re trying to get white people to accept you”
Just because I/we can and will break down our racial identity doesn’t mean that we deny that we’re black. Me especially, my skin color gives that fact away so I could break it down till I’m blue in the face, but at the end of the day most people just see a black woman. But that doesn’t mean that I have to be ashamed of what I am racially. Why am I only allowed to be proud of my African heritage? Why is it not okay for me to admit that there are other races that are part of my DNA? And for the record, non-black doesn’t automatically equal white. I really can’t stand when people say the opposite.
For me, it’s not an issue of white is right or trying to gain anybody’s acceptance by identifying all the other races that I am. I’m proud to be mixed with a little bit of everything, because who I am is a little bit of everywhere.
In the approximately 143 years since blacks were declared free people in this country, we’ve been trying to get other people to accept us and treat us equally. Having stated that, why are we not able to accept OURSELVES? Identifying oneself as more than just black is not indicative of an insidious level of self-hate, it is instead indicative of soaring self- and ancestor-respect.
There are some who say, “defining yourself as ‘black and…’ is disrespectful to your African ancestors”. Well, isn’t it more disrespectful to my Native American, Jamaican, Portugese, Chinese, and English ancestors to not mention them at all?
When I have to check off a race on some legal form, I check “Black, of African descent” because that’s most apparent and has been a major factor shaping my life experience; or if I’m feeling bold I check “other” and in the space provided next to the box I write “HUMAN” because at the end of the day, I’m human. Nothing more, nothing less. Race, class, and gender do not figure in.
I embrace my heritage, I embrace my multi-layered racial makeup, and I embrace my blackness, but most of all I embrace being human and that requires no definition.