A drop is all it takes

America loves its one drop rule. A person from mixed racial background-most commonly Black and White- is automatically Black. Yes you are technically biracial, but is your hue even slightly darker than milk? Then you are Black. This rule may have been invented by racists who wished to distance themselves from racial hybrids, but now everyone lives by it. A biracial person who wishes to identify as biracial rather than Black is sure to annoy some Black people. “Oh you are ashamed of being Black? If the KKK walks in here do you think they’ll see you as White or bi-whatever? No you are BLACK black blackitty black”

Side Note: I particularly find this KKK point quite daft and do not understand why people think it is a valid argument. We are telling people they must identify the way racists want them to. The KKK thinks this so you must be it. The same KKK that thinks we are scum unworthy of life.

A biracial person who wishes to identify as White? Just throw them away and keep the bath water.

Biracial is usually taken to mean Black and White (because as we know these are the only two races in the world), but regardless of what the other race is, as long as there is a drop of Black in your genes, you are considered Black.

Some may say: why yes it does make sense to label a biracial person as Black because black genes are strong and well a person mixed with Black will have darker skin and therefore no longer qualify as White. 

Okay even if we accept this argument, there are lots of people who do not look Black at all but are still referred to as Black *Cough Mari-cough-ah*. I am speaking about the White Passing.

The first time I came across this term-though I did not know it then-was in a Reader’s Digest story of a Black man who lived his life passing as White. Even his wife had no idea of this and it wasn’t until he was on his deathbed that his secret came out. My ten year old self found the story so intriguing and baffling. How is it possible that no one knew he was Black? Didn’t his children look Biracial? I realise now that he must have been a biracial man himself, and if so he was not passing as White.

White Passing.

One drop is so strong that not only are people with darker skin called Black, but those who look White are still not White but rather Black people passing as White. It is remarkable.

This issue was recently brought to the fore of my consciousness when I saw a headline about a singer called Hasley who is in her own words a White passing Black woman. I was quite confused because this woman looked quite White to me-not even biracial-just White. Turns out her father is half Black. This white woman who has three white grandparents and looks white says she is a woman of colour who passes for a White woman. Huh?

The headline took me back to 2009 when there was a reality show on BET called College Hill. One of the cast members was a White man with cornrows who I did not pay much attention to until a scene where I heard him say to another cast member “You know I’m Black right?” The details are fuzzy but I think he said his mother is Black and he spoke about how he doesn’t look Black. I was stunned. Wow I would never have guessed he was Black. Now I think about this differently.

A biracial person is White and Black. Due to the politics of the land, they are labelled Black because of their darker hue. If a product of an interracial relationship is Black because of the darker skin tone then surely a person who does not have this darker skin tone is White. What is all this White passing nonsense?

I daresay most racially mixed people (want to) identify as Black, even those with tenuous links to Blackness. Why? Because despite all the struggles, it is “cool” to be Black. Why be White and have to apologise for White privilege and Slavery when you can identify as Black and get to say Nigga whenever you want?

 

Derek Jeter is yet another person I would never have guessed was African American man until he was outed by Diddy.  Who else is walking about looking like a Caucasian from the mountains of Caucasus but is really Black? Fret not, someone has helpfully compiled a list of celebrities most people don’t know are black.

All it takes is a drop.

Biracial identity is treated like the relationship between milk and coffee. A drop of coffee in a glass of milk will change the colour of milk ever slightly, whereas a drop of milk barely makes a difference to a cup of coffee (or does it? I don’t drink coffee or milk for that matter). Daft analogy, I know. I do dislike analogies of this nature, where people are compared to food or to keys and locks (you know what I’m talking about) but this does seem to be the case.

If the one drop rule was created by racists, when then do we work so hard to maintain it? Is it because we think it is reasonable? Is it because we need more people on our side?

Another incident that comes to mind is that of footballer Ross Barkley who was compared to a gorilla in an article in The Sun. At first it was a silly jibe-white man compares another white man to a gorilla. Then it was revealed that Ross Barkley has a Nigerian grandfather and bam! it became a racial slur. This man was White until someone called him a gorilla now he is a man with a Black grandfather.

White passing is not the same as people who look obviously biracial. I have always thought it was unfair to say a person is not Black enough because of their fair (not White) skin and curly hair. I also understand that biracial people are caught between two worlds and the Black community is more likely to feel like home. These points do not in any way contradict my earlier points. It is just interesting to me how the one drop rule works. You see someone and think they are White, until you find out they have a Black ancestor then it’s oh I didn’t know you were Black.

If people have to see your family tree or genealogy records to confirm your blackness then perhaps you are neither Black nor White passing. You are White, and that’s okay. (unless you have found the cure for cancer then come here my beautiful African sister)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…a state of perpetual terror

“The trouble is that some children are timorous and some children are reckless, and in order to save the lives of reckless children warnings are calibrated for their safety; the result of which is that the timorous live in a state of perpetual terror. What I needed to be told is, “you know what? Most days, you won’t die. It’s fine.”” 

-The brilliant David Mitchell puts it so eloquently.

Murder on the Jubilee Line

A week ago I witnessed an incident on the London underground; the southbound jubilee line to be precise. Commuting in London can be terrible at the best of times, but everyone will testify that the morning rush hour is especially hellish.  It is packed tighter than a sardine can and the slightest cough-or God forbid-sneeze could take down at least a hundred people.

Still the trips are uneventful-horrendous but uneventful; nothing to write a blogpost about. Until about a week ago when I witnessed the type of theatrics I usually only see on youtube.

Curtain opens.

The tube stops at Canada Water. As usual there is an orderly line of people waiting to get in. A young lady cuts the queue and hops on to the consternation of the woman who was in the line.

Cast
Young lady who hops on the train-Hereafter referred to as BW (Black Woman)
Miffed off woman standing in the line-Hereafter referred to as WW (White Woman)

WW: *soft whiny voice* Excuse me please, there is a queue. You can’t just cut the queue.
Me: *in my mind* Just squeeze yourself in and don’t make a big deal out of this.
BW: Silence.

*Five  Mississippis later*
BW: WHY ARE YOU FOOOKING TALKING TO ME? 
Me: *In my mind* alright sis just leave it alone there’s no need for all this.
BW: DO YOU WANT ME TO RAISE MY VOICE? WHY THE FOOK ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? ARE YOU GOING TO KICK ME OFF OR DO YOU WANT ME TO PUSH YOU OFF? WHO PUT YOU IN CHARGE OF THE LINE? ARE YOU PAID TO MAINTAIN THE QUEUE YOU DUMB BITCH?

Random people on the tube: *whimpering* Hey that’s not necessary.

Me: *Looks around for the exits.* Oh God I hope nothing happens. There is no place to run.

BW: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS WOMAN’S LIFE THAT SHE IS WORRIED ABOUT A FUCKING TRAIN? WHY IS THIS WOMAN’S LIFE SO DULL THAT SHE’S TALKING TO ME ABOUT A TRAIN?

Me: How long before she mentions White Privilege?

BW: …WITH YOUR FUCKING WHITE PRIVILEGE YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT A TRAIN?
Me: Bingo!
BW: YOU HAVE EVERYTHING AND YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT A TRAIN YOU STUPID ASS BITCH!
WW: Silence. Weak embarrassed smile.
BW: Silence.
Me: God get me to my destination safely.

*Two Mississippis later*
BW: STUPID ASS WHITE PRIVILEGE BITCH WORRIED ABOUT A FUCKING TRAIN
Me: *in my mind* Let it go you psycho!
Random people: Hey stop it…unnecessary…c’mon now
BW: ANYONE WHO TALKS TO ME IS GOING TO (get it? be yelled at? Feel my wrath? Cannot remember exact words)

Voice in the tube: This station is Canary Wharf. Change here for the…
Me: Praise Jeeeessuuuuus! *hops off and sprints away*

Curtains close.

The incident occupied my thoughts for the rest of the day and even now I still think about it from time to time. This may not be a memorable incident to some-just another day in the jungle of civilised society. To some, this may be positively banal: “You call that a incident? Why I once saw  a woman fight five men, bite off a cat’s head and give birth to her own grandchild on the Bakerloo line from Baker Street to Edgeware road.”

This is surely not the worst thing to happen on public transportation, but as a lifelong scaredy cat and avoider of confrontation this shook me up. Prior to this incident I had seen videos of people being verbally attacked on public transportation-usually a racist piece of shit telling someone else to go back to their country. When these videos are posted, people often ask why none of the witnesses did anything:
“Oh look at all of them sitting down and allowing this to go on”
“Even the few people who spoke up are still complicit because they did not do anything to stop it.” blah blah blabity blah.

I have never been one of those people sprouting these lines. I have always known in my heart that if I was to ever be in a situation like that, I would not be able to do anything. I knew even then that I would be one of the cowards who say nothing; one of the people who sit still and wait for the whole thing to pass quickly. Whenever I watched those videos I wondered what I would do if I was the one being attacked. Again I knew-as I have known for years-that I would not have the courage to defend myself. I would most likely stand there humiliated, attempting to mask the awkwardness with a week feeble smile like the WW. Maybe that’s why I could not get this incident out of my mind.

I wonder if I should have said anything, but what help would that have served? Surely a person who can snap at a stranger like that would not hesitate to let me have it. It is unlikely that my objections would have made her stop her attack: “You know what sis? I was going to berate this bitch for another 5 minutes but hearing your feeble voice has made me change my mind.” 

Excuses excuses. I’m not even going to deceive myself by saying I would have intervened if it was a more serious incident.

A friend of mine-much smaller than me- once saw a group of men sexually assaulting a drunk woman and managed to run the men off and get them arrested. My first reaction would probably be to find a safe place to hide and call the police from, or find other people and point them in the direction of the crime. I know if she had been on the tube, she would have said something.

It is a terrible thing to be weak and afraid.