Someone whom I’ve considered a friend and colleague for years dropped my identity in her blog post today. She said lovely things about the way my parents love me, lifted up my husband, called my daughters beautiful, and then she said:
"But here’s the thing: she’s not a black woman."
This is the part where I put down my phone, walk away, come back and read it again. This is the part where I close the article and take a shower to calm my thoughts. This is the part where I realize that in every intimate story meeting, large artistic meeting, conversation over a beautiful vegetarian meal, all those times I felt relief that there was someone like me in the conversation, someone who could understand my perspective when others couldn’t, all of those times I saw a sister she saw an other.
This woman is Black, brilliant, stunning, thought provoking and today she mutilated my heart by deciding that she knows more about who I am in the world then I do. She goes on to say this about my identity:
"She’s biracial, and they’re not one in the same, much as we in the black community want to pretend and assert that biracial equals black. The one drop rule is dead, and anyone who would have you believe otherwise is walking through life with a small mind."
First off, I’m multi-racial, but that is another conversation. More importantly let’s talk about this “not one is the same” “we in the Black community” and “one drop rule” business.
"not one in the same"
Indeed, I am made up of multiple cultures and that, happily, effects how I see the world. However, it does not make me any less a part of the individual communities. Both of my parents and all of my ancestors are full parts of who I am. When I go over to my families’ homes on either side they don’t make me sit at a White table or a Black table. We’re family. 100%.
"we in the Black community"
Present! Right here. I am a part of that community. You can’t ask me to sit outside. I’m already here.
"The one drop rule is dead, and anyone who would have you believe otherwise is walking through life with a small mind."
When I simply read this sentence, alone, I agree with it, but let’s look at the context. As it is being used here it says, having Black blood doesn’t make you Black. Well, I’ve got a bone to pick with that. The importance of the one drop rule being dead is not to stop people from identifying as Black. This “rule” shouldn’t exist because no one gets to choose our cultural heritage for us. The blood that runs through our veins is ours. The parents who raised us, they are us.
If I were going to make a list of why I am a Black woman it would look like this:
1. My father is Black
2. I am a woman
I could write a long tally, break my human body into an inventory sheet to prove where I belong in the world. I could dissect my skin, my hair, my hips, my voice, but I won’t. You don’t get to choose my identity in this world. I do. I’m not 1/2, 1/8, 1/4, or 1/5. I am whole. I am Black. I am White. I am Mixed.
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