On the heels of Super Bowl XLVIII that featured the halftime show featuring Bruno Mars we’ve got a plethora of articles regarding this mixed raced rockabilly throwback. One such article featured here was based on the HuffPo article , “What Race is Bruno Mars”. Strangely enough, this caused a minor collective gasp when used by our Blog Mother as a segway into her piece about society’s interest in racial ambiguity.
It was this exact point I made during my more recent piece about colorism that I want to expand on here. Society focuses on race, culture and gender; this is not up for debate. Whether you like it or not, whether you are the choice option or not, human’s will judge you based on your appearance, class, and racial presentation.
Humans use visual cues to determine familiarity; this familiarity can either work for or against an individual’s efforts to progress in society. Though not much scientific study has been focused on the life experience of those who can maneuver between easily identified markers of race (skin tone, hair texture, facial features) we all know that mixed breed individuals exist.
If you are from a race that includes people of color than you are also aware of the preferred treatment of mixed race individuals versus that of darker individuals. This difference, though not the fault or mixed race persons, is often the catalyst of much resentment and anger directed at those who are perceived to be at an advantage by those who are at a disadvantage.
Pride in one’s race is separate from the awareness that belonging to a certain culture or race can work against one’s efforts. It is the knowledge of these differences, and the option and ability to morph one’s physical presentation. The willingness to fall in line with the physical attributes that may allow mixed race individuals to choose which racial presentation best fits their needs can also be a cause for resentment. Those who are unable, or unwilling to pass as another race may think that an individual who can is denouncing their heritage and can be seen as a form of shame.
The honest truth is that some mixed race people both consciously or subconsciously separate themselves from the less valued culture as a means of obtaining greater quality of life for themselves and their families. Blacks who can ‘pass’ as White or Latino have historically been valued above those of obvious African traits. Whether or not the value placed on members of each race is right or wrong makes no difference. The fact that the system is in place is all that matters. Not every decision made as an individual need contribute to the betterment of one’s race. The same way that not every Black person is a reflection of all Black people, and the same as not every White person wants to be associated with the shared history of White people, is the same as not every mixed person choosing to claim a specific race.