With Determining And Accepting Racial Identity, Do Biracial Men Have It “Easier” Than Biracial Women? » VSB

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With Determining And Accepting Racial Identity, Do Biracial Men Have It “Easier” Than Biracial Women?

Full disclosure: I love Sage Steele. 

If you don’t know anything about sportsball, Ms. Steele is veteran journalist who came up in Indianapolis news scene and made her way all the way to the hallowed halls of Bristol, CT and ESPN.

Even though I have long since stopped watching ESPN, partly because of there are a plethora of other options on the internet and partly because seeing Stephen A. Smith’s atrocious choppa suits are like a handful of salt in the eyes, Sage was and is always a welcome sight during NBA broadcasts.

Last week, I happened to come across an article on the Huffington Post detailing her career and the racism and sexism she’s faced. In the article, she offered something that piqued my interest:

“I will say this though, and I’m pretty specific about it, My mom is white, half-Irish and half-Italian, and my dad is black-so I identify exactly 50 percent with each. Even though, if someone were to see me on TV, they wouldn’t go like, ‘Oh yea, you know that white girl with curly hair that does the NBA?’ No, they’re going to say the Black girl, but it’s really important to me to identify with my mom’s side as well.”

Now, if you weren’t aware before, you now know, Sage is biracial.

It’s 2016, and there’s nothing odd about that. She’s a person. She loves her mom. The sky is blue, trees are green, and the earth is flat.

Then, as I recollected seeing a giant billboard of Sage for Mixed Chicks hair products my peace was mildly shaken. My brow furrowed, because I found myself contemplating a question that I hoped proved to be false:

Does Sage Steele feel pressure to let people know she’s white because she’s not ambiguous looking?

Does she feel like she’s not reaping the benefits of her Whiteness because she didn’t end up a shade of indeterminate beige?

Elsewhere, SNL alumnae, and verified indeterminate beige person, Maya Rudolph was coming to terms with her blackness. Her episode of Finding Your Roots also aired last week, and Rudolph, whose mother (soul legend Minnie Ripperton) passed in 1979, openly admitted to “feeling orphaned by her heritage.”

These two examples touch into the gamut of issues that biracial people (particularly from Black/White pairings) face when forming their identities.

1. People (both White and Black) often say horrible, uncalled for things to biracial people chiefly out of insecurity and bitterness.

2. Having an absent parent can skew a biracial person’s formation of self-identity.

3. Cultivating exoticism is a large part of racial politics.

With all of these neuroses and social pressure on biracial people, I find myself asking, “How did Drake do it?”

As an observer, I’ve come to recognize that Aubrey “Drake” Graham has apparently solved this puzzle, and become a person who appears, at least on the public stage, to love the totality of his racial self without reservation.

This man has the gall to consistently reference both of his parents in his music and humanize them in an earnest, non-judgmental way. He regularly discusses his Jewish mother, Sandi Graham’s worrisome nature. She judges all of the various strippers and “good girls” he brings home, and doesn’t want to end up “70 and alone.” Also, he speaks of his soul drummer father, Dennis Graham, who left his mother and son in Canada, and served a couple of jail stints in a positive light. He loves his country black cousins in Memphis and his Jewish uncle who let him borrow his car in “Look What You’ve Done.” He even dedicated a music video to each of his parents. Dennis Graham got to flex with some of his dice buddies in “Worst Behaviour” and Sandi Graham posted up in front of the stoop “Started From The Bottom” Video.

And of course we can’t forget Drake inviting Lil Wayne to his grown man bar mitzvah.

On top of this well executed parental reverence, Drake has weathered a biblical storm of light skinned jokes over the years, culminating in the personalized #drakethetype hashtag. Through all of this he never made a peep about Black people being mean spirited, or bitter or jealous, he just kept making great music and basically won over the entire world by being himself. Coincidentally, the hit single from his mixtape/album “If You’re reading This It’s Too Late” was titled “Know Yourself.” Maybe Drake is really that self-aware or maybe he’s the just the result of a magnificent case of co-parenting that needs to be studied for future generations.

The first two characteristics of the Drake model that initially made question Drake’s biracial brilliance are Canada and age. I wondered if growing up in Canada would shape his perception of race in a different light. Then again, Drake is half Canadian-half Memphian. And being half from Memphis is a worth two lifetimes of racial baggage. My second thought was that being a millennial, like I am, Drake had the benefit of the internet to shape his identity. Unlike, the 40 plus year-old women, who may have had the scope of their images limited as children, a teen in the aughts could find positive role models who looked like him with a little less effort.  However, having access to all of the knowledge mankind has accrued over the eons, hasn’t imparted a nuanced understanding of race onto most millenials. So the Drake model stood until I considered a third characteristic.

Gender. Drake is a man. A man who is not beholden to the same beauty standards that drive colorism. This realization sent me down the rabbit hole where race plummets into cornucopia of sexism. A study of college-aged women in the American Sociological Review, which I read via Code Switch, co-signs this. It reveals that 76 percent of black-white biracial women identify as multiracial, which is the highest among any racial pairing and 12 percent higher than Black-White biracial men.

Perhaps, because biracial men don’t feel these same pressures, the journey of racial self-acceptance is an easier one for them. With less obstacles in the way, and less pressure to identify as one or the other. (Or identify as anything other than a “man.”)

Brandon Harrison

Brandon lives in LA and has Hollywood stories that rival those of Rick James. He prides himself on staying righteous and knowing more about basketball than you.

  • I feel like some sort of kudos are in order for VSB being a place where this post and “The Tragic Mulattos Of The Real Housewives Of Potomac” can peacefully co-exist within a seven-day period.

    • Abejita78

      Agreed!

  • Kris

    The simple answer is yes, they do. Seen it personally in my brother having an easier time and it’s very obvious in the media, etc. It’s why intersectionality is relevant and important in many various ways.

  • miss t-lee

    I read this twice, and I still don’t even know what to do with this.

    • Cleojonz

      Me too. As a parent to biracial children I have so many feels,I just don’t know how to unpack it and put it into words right now.

      • miss t-lee

        My late nephew was blaxican as he called himself. I also have many other family members that are biracial. As a person who is not, I’m not sure I can even discuss this and give an educated discussion.

        • Brandon Allen

          I feel like all other axis of biracial don’t have that same baggage.

          • miss t-lee

            I don’t agree.

            • Brandon Allen

              What do you think? Of course there’s issues and hangups and racism with other pairings, but there’s so much historical weight here in America in black/white relationships.

              • miss t-lee

                There other issues that arise in any biracial pairing. It’s not just black/white folks that have a monopoly on that.

          • ParisBrother

            LOL. You should try the blasian baggage…especially if the kid’s family hate black folks like Koreans and they grow up around black kids that make fun of Asians. They’ll have enough baggage to fill a plane.

            • WORD. Ebony back in the 60s did a major cover story on Black people in Japan that puts that Asians Aren’t Prejudiced myth to shame!

              • miss t-lee

                Just look at the current Miss Japan and her story. Not prejudiced? Pshh!

            • Pinks

              Seen a case of this and it’s been awkward for mad years lol

            • miss t-lee

              Yeah, I have a homeboy who married a Chinese woman. Like 5 years in, her family is just now accepting him, and their kids because they look more Asian than Black.

            • Brandon Allen

              Oh, I’m not trying to discount other baggage. It’s just that other intersections of baggage are historically more recent and involve more ignorant hate then slavery and rape.

              • ParisBrother

                I feel you. Definitely different circumstances…but believe me, the Tiger Woods’s of the world are all fucked up regarding racial identity…Sorry for any blasians out there. My homeboy is and I’m basing this off of him and what he tells me.

  • Aly

    Hmm… I would have preferred to maybe hear from Panama or another biracial person about this.

    • Brandon Allen

      You know what? I would love if biracial people gave their perspective.
      Initially, before a couple of edits. I had the open ended call for people to explain their experiences but changed it up for a smoother conclusion.

      • Aly

        I think you make some interesting points. Maybe others will share their experiences in the comments.

      • Maya Turner Holcomb

        My mother’s Jewish and my dad is Black, I grew up around a mix of white, Latino and Black. I’m super light but always identified as Black- I never saw myself as anything else even though my skin tone is the same as my mother. I went through a stage in high school where I wouldn’t tell people I had a white parent when I was asked “what are you mixed with”. I felt ashamed of my connection to whites because of the evil they’ve done in this world and my mother understood and accepted my perspective- she wasn’t hurt or insulted by my feelings because she knew they were based in truth. I have never understood Black people who “identify” with whites, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

        • fxd8424

          Interesting point of view. I think a lot of blacks who identify with whites are not looking at it from your perspective. They are looking at the alleged “superior” aspect of whiteness. As in everything white “allegedly” is better, superior, in all aspects.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            Given the history that blacks, and bi-racial blacks who identify / been exposed as Black have endured in this country, if given a choice why would one willingly subject yourself to that drama?

            • Maya Turner Holcomb

              But how are you given a choice in how you’re treated? You can claim white all day long but you’re everyday experience is affected by the way you look. White people may not be able to tell just how Black you are but usually they can tell when someone isn’t 100% white and to a lot of them that’s all that matters.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                “White people may not be able to tell just how Black you are but usually
                they can tell when someone isn’t 100% white and to a lot of them that’s
                all that matters.”

                That’s part of the point I’m making; some people will attempt to explain away Black features in an attempt to stay on the good side of the dominant race. At a minimum, it you were treated unfairly as white and had not been outed, it was still better treatment than being black or found to be of mixed race. It’s one of the reasons Hispanic baseball players let folks know with a quickness they were Hispanic / Cuban and not Black.

                • Not necessarily true.. I’m Cuban… Most black people outside of the States identify by country first and not race where as here… Race is the identifier BEFORE nationality. I’m telling you FIRST HAND Cubans are grounded as hayle in our ” BLACKNESS” . Our ENTIRE culture is derived from it

                  • Akhibrass

                    Not the Cubans in Miami.

                    • Most of the Cubans in Miami aren’t black.. they are the children of Spanish nationalists.

              • Akhibrass

                Mixed is always better than black in the eyes of white people.

            • fxd8424

              Oh, I ain’t mad at them. LOL! I’m a live and let live kind of person.

            • Beauty In Truth

              Because it’s a weak azz coward azz choice. Real blacks arent weak and we ain’t never been afraid.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                You may consider it weak but there’s a loooooong list of folks who chose that route. Are you implying a) they are not really Black? and b) they are weak? If so, that’s part of the problem that manifests itself today with skin issues and perceptions of what Black is.

                • Beauty In Truth

                  I don’t “imply” I simply state my ideas. It is weak because they’re giving into white supremacy. Why do they care so much about what whites think. I pitty them for such a choice. Every race is proud of their culture except for this large segment of I hate being black blacks ..Yeah it’s hard to be black but kissing their azzes won’t make your life better, unless you like white booty tastes in your mouth….Yeah.

                  It’s other ways to be successful as a black person we aren’t in the civil rights era anymore and my ancestors and freedom fighters before us should not have done work in vain. So pretending to pass (cause I can tell a passer anyday, you not fooling me) is a selfish and cowardly choice that is highly disrespectful to those who have come before us. And I’m not about disrespecting my heritage and history. But many weren’t raised with that sense.

                  • Sigma_Since 93

                    I don’t disagree with you but you also need to recognize that passing is an option to be successful. It may not be one that you would chose but it is an option never the less.

                    In theory, if you are passing, you’re not kissing azz. Whites are treating you in a manner that they should….as an equal.

                    • Beauty In Truth

                      You need to recognize that it is a cowardly and sad option. Its just true. Yeah their choice but it doesn’t make it right.

                      I’m done with this nonsense topic wasting my time speaking on worthless “passing” individuals. Next!

                    • Sigma_Since 93

                      I recognize that we all have choices to make. I would hope that we all analyze the consequences of our choices before we make them.

          • Maya Turner Holcomb

            That is the brainwashing in full effect.

            • fxd8424

              Yes, sadly, it is.

          • Mochasister

            Yes, and that is so sad. So many whites can’t even identify with us on a simple human basis.

            • fxd8424

              The brainwashing is real. The fact that they refer to us as animals, apes, tells me all I need to know. Not human, but animals.

              • Mochasister

                Brainwashing is a good way to describe it. There is a real need for them to believe that we are no better than animals.

        • My 11-year-old daughter is going through that right now. (My husband is white.) She has always identified as Black as well, and tells her friends she’s just light skinned. Did your high school stage just pass, or did someone help you through it? Both of my husband’s parents are Irish, and he wants her to be proud of that heritage as well. I have no idea what to say to her, or if I should say anything.

          • Maya Turner Holcomb

            With age I grew out of denying the fact of it, now I acknowledge my mother is Russian. I came to understand that having a white mother didn’t change that fact that I am Black (and proud) anymore than having a Black daughter changed the fact of being white for my mother.
            I think it’s all well and good to teach children about their family’s history and culture but I think it does “mixed” children a disservice to encourage their belief that racial identity in America can be wholly self-designated.
            Our experience in America is going to be affected by what (in terms of race) others perceive you to be no matter what you tell them you are. I have friends that have straight hair, light eyes, sharp features and don’t have a white person in their immediate family but we’ve all had experiences in which we were identified by others as Black and mistreated because of it. People who discriminate against Blacks don’t do so based on what percentage Black you are, they base it upon the fact that they see you as Black and telling them about your white parent or relative is not going to change that.
            Black is Black and that should be a point of pride.

    • I would also like to hear from someone with a similar economic background as some of the Potomac wives speak about this…and also the show.

  • Man…my comment was sent to moderation for being bad :(

  • yaz

    Its because Drake is a genius. #nuffsaid

  • mr. steal your costco samples

    Men of color have it somewhat easier with everything (obvs certain notable exceptions), so answer is basically yes, I guess?

    I ain’t real sure what to do with this one.

  • SirKnows DevoidofPunk

    I read this joint 3 times… looked at Miss-t-lee’s comment, nodded my head and decided to Netflix School Daze.

    Now I’m singing “Good and Bad Hair” while I calm down and put in my colored contact lenses.

  • Julian Green

    Can’t say I’ve ever given much thought to this subject. All of my mixed-race friends self-identify as Black so I suppose I just assumed that that was the norm. On reflection, it would make sense that there would be pressures mixed women would have to deal with that mixed men wouldn’t.

  • Quirlygirly

    It is funny that Brandon uses Drake as his example for biracial men because in the Tragic Mulatto thread @cleojonz commented that Drake was the model for interracial behavior. I asked why and she said the following:

    “He fully and outwardly embraces both sides. He is proud to tell you about his Hebrew school experience and Bar Mitzvah. His mom would never say she’s been denied. He also is very free talking about his West Indian dad and is clearly immersed in black culture.”

    I thought about it and agreed with cleojonz but do people still see drake as a “black” man like they see Sage Steele as a black woman although being biracial?

    • mr. steal your costco samples

      I kinda see Wheelchair Jimmy as like Prince, singular to hisself.

      Steph Curry is like the only biracial dude I see as explicitly biracial, but that’s my read and YMMV

      • Quirlygirly

        But Prince is not biracial

      • Jacqueline

        Steph Curry is not Bi-Racial. His mother is light skinned but not white.

        • L8Comer

          Yeah she’s obvi black. And beautiful smh! She’s aging VERY well

          • mr. steal your costco samples

            huh. my b.

            *homer disappearing into bushes gif*

      • miss t-lee

        Yeah…Steph Ain’t mixed.

    • L8Comer

      I see drake as a black man who is also mixed. I think I pretty much see all mixed people this way.. If they see want to ID themselves as mixed, I have no qualms with that. I may still see them / refer to them as black if they look black though lol.

    • Cleojonz

      Thanks for the mention @quirlygirly!

      Well people do see Drake as black just through the way he lives his life. It would seem he really identifies as and is proud to be a black man, but he also won’t let you forget the rest of his heritage as well.

    • Val

      I see Drake as a Black Jewish guy. But, if I didn’t know his background I would have seen him as a Black guy in the same way I saw Sage as a Black woman before I found out, today, that she is bi-ethnic.

      • menajeanmaehightower

        Agreed. She doesn’t “look” biracial to me and nor does Drake. They look like very light skin black people.

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