Monday, March 31, 2008
Over the weekend, the NYT offered an article on the growing mixed-race population of the US, including the varying contexts in which they find themselves. For them the two goals of racism can be shorted-circuited, the first being to control an ‘out’ group behavior, the second to control one’s ‘in’ group. Of course, Barack Obama is the leading example of how individuals of mixed race can navigate the sometimes treacherous racial seas.
People of mixed race, especially those who are black and white, get to possess both perspectives, if they choose, without having to represent their ‘loyalty’. It is this loyalty that often gets us into situations where we are defending something that is otherwise indefensible. Mixed-raced individuals have the built-in advantage of motivation to see the ‘other’ point of view, even if they more strongly identify with one side of their ethnicity.
The ability to walk in the other person’s shoes is a long-held advantage in resolving conflict, but, not just external conflict. These individuals may more easily cherry-pick the best of each part of their ethnicity for reduction or assimilation. By example, a good athlete may also study hard, minus the accusation of ‘acting white’. In truth, black-white admixtures, in the US, are probably more racially white than black when we toss their DNA under a scope. Recall that since most blacks are on average 17% white, via genetics, intermarriage with a person who is on average 97% white will produce off-spring that are 57% white.
Lastly, if a mixed-race individual indentifies ethnically with the minority, but across a spectrum politically, and assimilates the leading behaviors of the majority, the trust of both (all) groups is possible. This is not only a strategy for political success, but success in school, on the job, and in the neighborhood. Obama’s rise, thus far, is more instructive than we might think.
James C. Collier
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