The day I found out I had a bi-racial child.
bumped by carol.
A few weeks ago I was talking with some people about Obama's A More Perfect Union speech, and the discussion led to a discussion of race in general...
It was one of those conversations that became a little heated, causing others who walk in on it to be taken aback. They weren't there to adjust to the slowly climbing temperatures.
At one point early on, a woman (white) said she had a bi-racial child. The picture in my head was immediately of her and a black guy. I've got a place for that. The bi-racial couple, a bi-racial child, respective totalizing definite articles intact. Carry on.
Later in the conversation, the woman with the bi-racial child said something about her child's father, that he was Hispanic.
"Whoa", I said to myself.
I tuned out for the rest of the conversation, my thoughts having taken a turn I wasn't ready to share with those people at that table that day.
My son is 6. I'm Caucasian and his mother is Hispanic. It had never occurred to me before that moment that he was bi-racial. I even questioned it in my mind first. About the woman at the table discussing her "bi-racial" child... "Hispanic?", I thought, "She's white and he's Hispanic? That's not bi-racial."
My son's not bi-racial. Is he?
I continued to debate with myself. I wonder what I must have looked like to the others at the table, just sort of staring into space:
It's not like black and white.
But, then, it is a different race. Hispanic is another race , I mean... my kid's mom checked a different box than I did whenever the form asked race. It is a different race.. but it's not as different as...
...what about Asians? If my kid was half Asian would I consider him bi-racial? Yeah. That's bi-racial.
I think white and Hispanic are closer than white and black or white and Asian. What is that called, those classifications, like in anthropology... Anglo-something and Mongoloid... and something... I know mogoloid is one of them. Do Indians (not those Indians) have their own class or are they a mix of Asians and something else?
I know black is its own class, so is Asian. I'm pretty sure white is it's own class. I'm pretty sure Hispanics don't have their own classification. I think Hispanics are Asian and something else. And Indians (the other ones), I think they are Asian and something else too.
So I snapped out of it to the shuffling of the others getting ready to leave..
Later, I Wiki'd:
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, anthropologists used a typological model to divide people from different cultures into "races," (e.g. negroid, caucasoid, mongoloid which were part of the racial system defined by Carleton S. Coon).
"Right. That's what it is. Those are the three. So Hispanic is closer to white than black or Asian. Hispanic is probably a mix of white and something else." I'm thinking this as I read the first part.
The second part:
This assumption has proven false over time, and the typological model in anthropology is now thoroughly discredited. Current mainstream thinking is that the morphological traits that those who cling to the typological model use are due to simple variations in specific regions, and are the effect of climatic selective pressures. Those who claim typological models are scientific are criticized as anecdotal and unsupported by credible scientific evidence.
Oh. Right. I knew that. I had a couple of anthropology classes at some point... I knew that. That's way outdated and come to think of it, it's pretty obvious why a theory like that would be advanced at that time. Why is it that I remember something about a theory of classifications but not that it's known bunk?
Why did I go right to it? I'd heard the more recent theory:
H. sapiens began migrating from Africa around 50,000 years ago and eventually replaced existing hominid species in Europe and Asia. This model has gained support by recent research using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). After analysing genealogy trees constructed using 133 types of mtDNA, they concluded that all were descended from a woman from Africa, dubbed Mitochondrial Eve.
I knew this. I'd heard this. But the outdated theory I'd lodged in my memory was the one I went to. Why? For the same reasons the researchers of the time did? I don't know.
The out-of-Africa model is today's best science I guess. But we don't know that tomorrow's science won't say: Ha! Mitochondrial DNA was bullshit. Now we know [whatever] is the way it actually happened. There is also a Multigenerational model, and of course, the Good Christian© model.
Which is right? Who knows.
Funny that our only chance to know the truth for sure would be if God's giant head appeared in the sky and bellowed to us all that it did, in fact, all begin about 6,000 years ago.
It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one. -Obama
None of the other theories will ever be absolutely proven and the point is: why do we even care?
I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren. -Obama
I won't begin a sentence with: "I'm not a racist, but..." (notice how I cleverly inserted "I won't begin a sentence with:" in there?) I didn't know I had this in me. I know a lot of Americans are still backward on this, I lived in the deep South for a few years a few years ago and saw it up close. I know it exists in certain places, and in older folks who forged their beliefs in a different time. But I'm not that old, and I'm a Berkeley Liberal for Chrissake - I didn't think it was in me, not even a little bit. Now I know.
Do I feel differently about my son? Of course not. About myself maybe. I'm pretty sure having a bi-racial child makes me kinda edgy and cool. Dangerous. I'm pretty sure chicks dig it... Seriously though, it creeps me out some.
He's got a label. A category. He's a biracial child. He's got a pre-fab context within which he's pre-defined in some ways by some people. I guess my point is that I learned something in this experience, because before that woman, her bi-racial child, and Barack Obama made me sit down and think about it, one of those people was me.