Friday, October 29, 2021

Obsessing about that 7 Percent

At the Washington Post, a white woman discovers that her mother was "passing" and she is 7 to 9 percent African, then decides this is the most important thing about her:

For the majority of my life, I’d never been asked my race. Everyone, including me, assumed I was what I appeared to be — a White woman. I never considered that once my mother’s story went public, people would question my racial identity. . . .

Is that really who I am — a White woman with Black heritage?

The worst part is the article's title, "I thought I was White until I learned my mother’s secret."

Let's go over this: genetically, race does not exist. Does not. West African ancestry exists, but it is a completely different thing from East African ancestry, and it is only tangentially related to "race" as various laws and societies have defined it. Nor is there any genetic way to decide the race of people with mixed West African and European genes.

What exists, is culture. So if you grow up in white culture and think of yourself as white and everybody else thinks you are white, then you are white in the only sense that I think has any meaning. Your genes are irrelevant. You may find it interesting that your genetic profile includes a few percent of non-European genes, but there is no special reason anyone else should care. This writer ends up deciding that she is "mixed race," which I think is a farce. Not that it's any of my business. But I hate, with an abiding passion, the notion that anything about your ancestry defines who you are. How you grow up, sure, that's something you can't escape. But who your great-grandparents were? Who cares?

This why I hate royalty, and I mean really hate it. If other countries want kings and queens, fine, that's their business. But if somebody tried to introduce one here I would become a violent revolutionary and fight monarchy to the death.

"Passing for white" is an archaic bit of American lore we should toss in the same bin as all the other strange arcana about our past, like bear baiting and ducking witches.

And while I'm ranting, let me ask this: why is your race "who you are?" There is nothing – repeat, nothing – in this piece about a single other component of the author's identity other than race. Nothing about her being a woman. Nothing about her being a writer and a speaker. Nothing about being kind or cruel, generous or stingy, truthful or dishonest, shy or bold. Nothing about being her mother's daughter in any way other than the race angle. Nothing at all but the bald fact of her 7-9 vs. 93-91 percent.

I suppose she might say, in her defense, that this is what everybody else asks her about and wants to talk about. Which might be true. But because the rest of America is obsessed with race is no reason to feed the fire.


szopen said...
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szopen said...
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