Biracial History is not Part of Black/White History: Creating a New History

In my last post I wondered how much Black History Month, which happens every February, will affect Annika’s when she’s old enough to understand the racist history of our country.

It got me to thinking, as I have every February for the past few years, about the history of being biracial. Since becoming pregnant with Annika, the notion of being biracial was something I’ve thought long and hard about.

Toyin told me a few times early on that Annika is simply black, at least, in the eyes of society and the rest of the world. I’m not entirely sure that he really believes that deep down, it’s just one of those things that is ingrained into the mind and society of African Americans.The belief is held based on white history as well. The one drop rule is something whites forced onto blacks during the years of Jim Crow and slavery.

Ironically, the one drop rule has been perpetuated by the black community and accepted by many biracial people. In recent history, they would have been, most likely correct more often than not. I believe that is changing because of people who aren’t afraid to speak out about their inner beliefs.

I came across these videos from The Phil Donahue Show from the 1990s. Eight video clips show light-skinned blacks and biracial people talking about various topics like, “passing” for white, being the victim of unwitting blatant racism, and struggling with the creation of their own identities. Passing is huge part of the biracial person’s history, as is struggling with finding acceptance from both the white and black communities. These videos are very telling, very interesting, and the relative recency of them makes me wonder how much will have changed in another 20 years, when Annika is a young adult.

Speaking about the identity struggle based on race mixing is new, in the historic sense. And it started with people like you’ll see in these videos, not afraid to share their experiences, and demanding the right to choose which culture they felt most comfortable with, no matter what their skin color said about them to other people.

This stuff is a big part of the biracial person’s history. It is a struggle that separates them from both black and white, and at the same time, gives them access to both. Historically, the African American/Caucasian biracial person has struggled with identity in ways that blacks and whites cannot identify with fully.

Here are the first four. You can watch all eight clips here.