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:

Typology (anthropology)

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[19][20] 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.

[xposted@dkos]

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thankyou for this thoughtful musing.

I guess I am just stuck on perhaps coming up with labels is a bad thing...

It troubles me because labeling is the precursor to stereotyping.

Or maybe this is your point?

I thought about sitting on this one for another week and hashing it out a little more... I wasn't sure I'd get my point across - not even sure I had a point for that matter. I guess it is sort of a query? If that makes any sense..

It's like, saying "bi-racial" forces you to think about people in entirely weird ways. From my perspective... and I share some background a bit with you... that just interfers -- it's not important. This is my child, my niece, my friend....

Another way to come at it, for my niece's generation, the racial checkoff point is totally irrelevant -- they think about their lineage and check them all off.

...and it is, I think, the "color" of the future.

We are, ultimately, all descended from similar parents and perhaps one or three common ancestors...so, even tho we've differentiated, we're still all mutts at heart, IMO.

I always thought that feeling obligated to stay within racial boundaries was a form of inbreeding anyway...

(of course, I'm therefore inbred and guilty of marrying into the same "family" 'cuz I'm the same race as my wife, so I guess that makes me a hypocrit, too...)

;)

Thank you for the analysis, Dopeman.

But in fact many of us are, unbeknownst to ourselves, mutli-racial. Depending how far back we trace our American genealogy we are very likely to have black, white and native American in the mix. But then let's say you are of Spanish descent. Remember the Moors? and if you are of Jewish descent, you ancestors, like mine, were all over the place. I don't look especially mid-eastern, I can assure you.

The saddest thing is that our damned/wonderful human species are a warlike, pugnacious lot. I sometimes wish I had some Neanderthal mitochontria. They were by accounts a peaceful folk.

carol

when filling out forms at the doctor's office. Under race it had:

  • white
  • white - non-hispanic

I could never understand why all of these forms are so damn interested in race, tho I guess there may be medical reasons for asking ... at least on a doctor form.

It has been my experience that geography more than genetics impact a persons cultural heritage. And I think it is about time that we quit classifying people based on the color (or lack of) of their skin. It really means nothing. We are all just citizens of planet earth.

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary ...
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If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

racial populations for certain disabilities and diseases -- sickle-cell anemia is one, for example, that I believe occurs more frequently in genetic populations that are predominantly black. (That's not a factoid I can stand firmly behind -- I only remember hearing it, not fully researching it -- and there may be better examples.)

Hence, race makes a potentially life-saving component of information if one's access to testing labs is restricted: a doctor could follow a different heuristical diagnostic path depending on answers to certain questions.

Overall, however, an arm is an arm and a leg is a leg, regardless of culture or racial or genetic or any other difference.

_____

Q: You say that sickle cell isn't a racial disease. Are you denying that this and diseases such as Tay-Sachs are genetic in origin or that there are clear racial differences in their rates of occurrence?

Pilar Ossorio: First of all, we need to say that being of a certain race is not what causes somebody to have the gene variant for Tay-Sachs, or the gene variant for sickle cell. It's having ancestors who were in a geographic region where those things either occurred by chance or were selected for, as in the sickle cell case. Although many people in the U.S. think sickle cell is a disease of black people, that's not necessarily true. Sickle cell is found in people in Greece, the island of Orchomenos, in particular, has very high carrier rates for sickle cell. There are also high carrier rates among people on the Arabian peninsula and people in India. There are parts of India where sickle cell carrier rate is as high as it is anywhere in Africa. On the other hand, people in the southern part of Africa - or people whose ancestry goes back to the southern part of Africa - don't have high sickle cell carrier rates because that allele is selected for only in human beings who have lived where there's a high instance of malaria, which you don't find in southern Africa. People do not carry the sickle cell gene variant because they are of a certain race, but because of some more particularized population history.
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From here.

The response also seems to back up more of your comment, too, Roxy.

geography does have a lot to do with "who we are", but I had not heard that about sickle cell ... very promising. Maybe one day we will all be just the "human race".

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If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

:)

...in my mind, we're all already "the human race" -- just another animal species that is missing the big picture and coming oh-so-close to understanding a portion of it, just enough to be dangerous.

Oh, and there's our developmentally challenged, genetically limited throwbacks, the neoconservative race...they're sometimes hard to distinguish until one carefully observes them, or until they open their mouths...

;)

(yeah, I know -- cheap shot at 'em...)

I think sickle cells go along with resistance to malaria which is why there is a natural selection tendency in areas where malaria is endemic.

carol

findings in the article.

He wrote a book in 2007 America Beyond Black and White:How Immigrants and Fusions are Helping Us Overcome the Racial Divide. Ronald Fernandez in which he discusses the question of how American racism has forced Hispanic to redefine themselves.

He is a professor of sociology and so the book is a combines his own experiences with his professional overview. It is really a wonderful book because he concludes that a biological melting pot is in the offing here in America. Just like we routinely will have a highly assimilated food culture and pick up Mexican or Chinese takeout or Pizza, we see more an more racial mixing all the time, as the natural course of things.

Until then he claims that as long as whites are the “designer originals,” while the rest of the population are “knockoffs” [immigrants will not be assimilated. Brown-skinned Arabs, Indians and Latin Americans who come to the United States face racial prejudice and the children of mixed marriages have an even more difficult time.

He also goes into the history of how immigration has impacted The United States' economy and culture. The book covers the history of U.S. immigration law, the economic role of immigrant labor in maintaining large-scale agriculture, and the cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean; but its main thrust is his contention that racial bigotry still runs rampant in the U.S., and that this rather than the unchecked influx of immigrants, threatens to tear our society apart.

Really a great book and right on point.

carol