Recently the actor Taye Diggs made a statement that he didn’t want his mixed son to identify as black, causing a bit of an internet backlash and major trolling for Diggs via Black Twitter.
The thing is, I get what he was trying to say… and I don’t totally want to agree with the dude who presumably (temporarily) broke the heart of America’s sweetheart Idina Menzel, the white mother of Tayes son.
I’ve worked with Diggs, he’s intelligent and I think if you look at his actual statements in conjunction with the very positive childrens books he has written, you’ll see the words for what they are, a parent wanting a world where kids just get to be whatever they are, and in this case they are mixed or bi-racial.
I’m the gen-x mixed daughter of a white father, who had full custody, and a black mother but I learned long ago it was easier to say I’m black, mostly because that is how I’m perceived when I walk in a room and also I’d grown tired of having to prove my mixed-ness…
“well, you don’t look mixed…”
“you’re really dark for a mixed person.”
“Why don’t you just say you’re black?”
“I’m not down with the swirl” (it was the 90’s)
You get the point.
At times there was an internal struggle and I would attempt to code switch to fit in.
I felt I had to deny my parentage to fit in or placate my contemporaries, who were already confused by the patois of my voice, my northern twang still evoking claims of ‘talking white’. My very high yellow, let’s just say ‘Gina from Martin taupe’ light (same dad, diff black mom’s) half sister once said I didn’t know what it was like to be mixed. I corrected her by saying “I don’t know what it’s like to be light skinned and mixed”. Being mixed means having a different cultural back ground, not simply looking ‘mixed.’
So I feel Taye is saying why should his child or any child, have to deny part of their story because it doesn’t fit the narrative.
The narrative is bullshit.
The narrative says brown people who say they’re mixed are denying their blackness.
The narrative is anyone in the US with more than 1/16th black blood is black -this dates back to slave times and ownership of people as property.
The narrative is mixed people are always lighter than a paper bag, ‘exotically pretty’ and tragic.
Uh, no, old school bullshit narrative..NO!
For me and many others this couldn’t be farther from the truth… When we say mixed, we’re acknowledging all our ancestors and hopefully expanding the world view of what ‘mixed’ is.
We all agree for the most part that race is a social construct… We’re all humans right? So to have a phrase such as ‘mixed’ or ‘biracial’ cause such divisiveness in 2015 is mind boggling.
In truth, I am Black AND I am Mixed. I can be and am both. I love my blackness, besides being a woman it is the singular defining thing about me, and I did me some me.
To troll Diggs for wanting to explore and make his child feel comfortable with his full genetic background seems immature.
I agree he phrased it in some pretty clunky questionable dialogue, though…. for a writer and all.