On race: The multiple choice

Posted by Ria, 28 Jul 08

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Most biracial individuals always dread those forms that ask you to check one box only. Are you black? Are you white? Are you Asian? Are you Hispanic? And for the likes of Barrack Obama and other mixed race individuals, the choice hasn’t always been so clear. Some have been forced to check the minority box coz that is how the world sees you. And choosing “other᾿ means your race is totally non existent.

In the US presidential election, Obama’s diverse family has come up more than enough times but in the end, we have chosen to define him in one way … Black. Yes, Obama is black. But he is also white.

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For most people, it was hard growing up biracial, even with acceptance from family. Questions like “Where are you from … Really?᾿ have been raised especially when being brought up in an area where one race is more dominant. I remember some people thought I was Middle Eastern. And as always, the guessers never got it right. And for those who are half white realized that being part-white was to be not-white at all.

In the 90s, things got better and with biracial celebrities taking the stage on TV, we started seeing some forms with biracial-multiracial boxes and mark them with joy I did. Things got better 2000, when for the first time, the U.S. census allowed Americans to identify themselves by more than one racial category. About 7 million did.

When people file Obama under black and only black, I feel like I am facing those old forms, that gulf between the races - check only one box – forget about one parent, half your family, one part of who you are.

I have chosen to see this historic election as being black versus white; it’s more than that. It is also about families that fill the in-betweens. John McCain adopted their daughter Bridget from an orphanage in Bangladesh. So regardless of who wins, McCain or Obama, a racial milestone will be met. Americans will have the first interracial first family in the White House.

12 responses to "On race: The multiple choice"

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  1.   Wonka says:
    Posted: 22 Feb 10

    I come from two different races,my mother is Trini short for Trinidadian,and my dad is Irish-American. I have more of my moms features,however if you saw me you'd more than likely think I was a dark-skinned hispanic,why? because of my features,my mother is trinidadian,but,trinidad is very mixed and very,very diverse.She(my mom)has a black trinidadian father and a spanish/Indo-Trinidadian mother,her grand- father on her momside was venezuelan and migrated to Trinidad in the early 1920's met my greatgrand- mother who was Indo-trinidadian and eventually had a daughter,whom is now my grandmother,obviously and she then fell in love with my soon to be grandfather whom of course is my moms dad and they soon had a baby boomer(my mom was born in the mid-60's)that's why I say "baby boomer" anyway,so like I said I'm bi-racial and now you clearly see where my bloodline comes from.I do however consider myself to be of Trinidadian descent(of course)so I don't check mix, or write part Trinidadian,part Irish,I simply write NOTHING because it shouldn't matter.GOT IT,GET IT, GOOD!.

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  2.   Morgan says:
    Posted: 18 Dec 09

    I was really happy to start seeing more multiple options, and this is the first dating site that allowed me to check both white and hispanic. The last one I was looking at had a box for "hispanic/latino" and one for "white(non-hispanic)" which left me slightly confused because even my Cuban half is technically "white". Which is what I usually go with because of my looks, but I can't deny that I'm culturally influenced by my mom's family.

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  3.   Bellara says:
    Posted: 16 Oct 09

    I noticed that people of mixed race usually go with the race that dominates their look. Someone like Mariah Carey goes with white since she looks more white while Obama goes with black since she looks more black. Someone like Prince chose confused cuz we don't know what the hell he looks like...lol (jk). Either way, I think it should be mandated to have mixed as an option when it comes to race so pepple won't have to go through all that unnecessary and uncomfortable dilemma.

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  4.   Member says:
    Posted: 28 Nov 08

    Everyone (including whites) wanted Bush out of office, but they didn't want Obama(a"Black" man) in office. McClain was right on the side of Bush when he won, so what would life be like with him in office? The same way that is now. (Messed up) The reason that whites give for not wanting Obama in office is always because of taxes. Yes maybe he will raise taxes, but everyone knows the real reason, and it's simply because of his skin color. With the outcome of this election, it only proves one thing, and that is prejudice is a still a major issue. It is ignorance that shows how some whites don't believe in equal opportunity. My grandmother was Indian, so that means I have indian in me, which box should I check on forms? I always checked the box next to Black! Obama ran for president to bring "Change" to today's society, and most white people are too blind to see that. They are too blind to see that he'll be fighting for their rights as well. Human being's rights!

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  5.   jay says:
    Posted: 22 Nov 08

    I am the proud mother of two bi-racial kids.My oldest daughter is half black and white.My youngest daughter is half black and mexcian.When I fill out forms in school I would check both boxes afro american box and caucasion.Which I had to explain that if my daughter is ever lost or ex....I do not want them to be looking for a black american kid.So there is a big diffrence when it comes to races.The mixed races to me have there own race thing going on.But here me on this if Hitler was a live today no matter what color you think you are .If there is any ounce of black in you by being mixed ...you will be consider black.So deep down inside the black genes over rates it all its considered more dominated gene.So everyone should look at Obama not as a color but as a human being.If you close your eyes for just a second and think all the other presidants were human and then when you open your eyes there still stands a human being nothings diffrent from the others.Thats what the world needs to do is open there eyes,over look the color issue and look at life as it is we are all human out here trying to do better in helping out one another.Whats color anyway if we all had no skin for cover.Then how could you tell who I am and what color I am.Put your trust not in his color but in him for being the human being that he is today a good person in heart.Who is out here trying to do good by you and for the people.Like the good word say..thou should not be judge by the color of his skin.........

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  6.   ode2you says:
    Posted: 07 Sep 08

    It is true that the election is black versus white. Let's not forget that it is also North versus South. That being said I think it is the educated versus the ignorant. Of course I realize that the South has many well educated folks, unfortunately it also has more than its share of ignorant people. Look at the polls and see for yourselves. It's the North versus the South all over again. I predict the same side will prevail. The North, just as before, needs to prevail.

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  7.   Mz.BiZzNeZz says:
    Posted: 26 Aug 08

    I am the proud mother of a mixed child. I grew up in a perdominately white area and i never thought i was any different than them.yeas i was aware that i was a different color but i mostly thought of us as the same.i have encounterd racism very often since 911 due to my fathers Race and my being two races. i think that its really tiem to let go of all that junk and move forward and try to put our country back together too much is going on with our own people to worry about the color of someones skin,I love the fact that thier are so many different types of people on earth.How boring would it be to be all alike?

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  8.   raven3658 says:
    Posted: 11 Aug 08

    I have 4 1/2 yrs old bi-racial twins and I refuse to have them be defined as anthing but black and white. I don't think bi-racial children should be asked to identify with one race over the other. They are who they are and embracing all of who they are, with an understanding of the challenges they face, will help to make them strong confident individuals with pride in who they are.

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  9.   dieter says:
    Posted: 10 Aug 08

    ilove the responce from hotfireman30 -1 august 2008, dieter/caucasion male.

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  10.   l3wilso says:
    Posted: 09 Aug 08

    Great post hotfireman30. The response your daughter gives is a true statement to the question asked.

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  11. Posted: 01 Aug 08

    I have two biracial children a daughter 20 and a son 16. Like the article said, I would always have them mark "other" as if they were aliens. Then later on I started to write in bi-racial on the forms myself. Now my daughter is all grown and a Senior at FSU, people alway ask "What are you" she replies "Human", they say no what are your parents, she says, "oh they are humans too...this goes on for a while until they give up..it is so funny, now I have my son do it for the same purpose, Yes they are humans, what does it matter what their ancestry is. By the way I am caucasion, and their mother is African-American. Just thought I would tell that story, and how silly people can be.

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  12.   Situations says:
    Posted: 01 Aug 08

    Frankly I think that race has been overemphasized in our society, which is increasingly depoliticized, because it is increasingly irrelevant. Trivializing public discourse is very convenient for the ruling powers who seek to keep the public out of substantive political discourse which is reserved for the elite, in essence those with the business acumen to understand what's really important (with a wink and a nod). Focusing on Obama's race is precisely what one should do in a command society. In a dictatorship the characteristics of the ruler are highly significant. However in a democracy or republic, the characteristics of the governors should be trivial. Who cares if Obama is biracial or black? What concrete measures are president Obama going to take in order to alleviate the extreme poverty faced by black Americans? I haven't heard him articulate anything of the sort. I have heard him say that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of a Jewish state. Far from the kind of rhetoric one would expect from a cosmopolitan liberal serious about ending the world's most pressing race war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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