Is multiracialism such a hard concept to grasp?
When a person has parents that come from different racial backgrounds, he or she is considered multiracial. This according to Association of Multiethnic Americans and Project RACE . However, with the increase in cases of multi ancestry throughout the world, the categorization of people as multiracial seems quite puzzling these days.
Looking at this Nigerian couple (Ben and Angela Ihegboro) (pictured) that gave birth to a blond haired and blue-eyed white baby in London UK, their daughter Nmachi Ihegboro identifies with a totally different racial background from that of her parents. "How can a Black Nigerian couple have a white child!?" "Blue eyed!?" "Blonde!?" Those seemed to be the questions on most tabloid in the UK. Even genetic experts were baffled by this.
- Is she a product of some sort of gene mutation?If so, would her children be white too?
- Is she a product of dormant white genes passed on by ancestor for generations till now?
- Much as doctors said she aint an outright albino, could this be a mutated version of albinism?
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Going back to the point, people out rightly categorized her as White. Her parents are black. There could be a tiny possibility of mixed ancestry within her. But do you remember the “one drop rule” that categorizes anyone with any black features or just a drop of black blood as Black? Why wasn’t this same rule applied in her case since she has Black parents. Why didn't many headlines read: 'Black Baby Born with White Features'? Why don’t most mixed-race babies experience the same amount of genetic scrutiny?
The Obama’s consider themselves Black, much as Obama himself is mixed race. Going by the “one drop rule” the fact that they identify with more than one racial background has been ignored. Well, there's is by choice. Now, can you even imagine how Nmachi’s racial self concept will develop?
Given that the Ihegboro's swear that they have no history of white ancestry, how will their daughter answer questions about her racial origin – you know the “tick the box that... most adequately describes your ethnic origin” for the census? She has an array of options – White, Black, Black British, African, Black (other), mixed white, other mixed background ... Damn!
The thing is, no matter what box she ticks, no matter how she chooses to identify herself, her birth has, and her development and experiences over the years will always challenge the conventional thinking about racial and interracial identity. And the question about her racial identity and how people categorize her at different points in her life, will also determine her experiences within society.
Racial identity can make your life or screw it up all together. But the saddest thing is; most mixed race individuals have no control over their own identity. Their destiny at different points and situations in life ends up being dependent on other people's perception of who you they are - based on appearance - and not what they truly are!!!
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