Should We Cease To Embrace the One Drop Rule?

I am quite sure that you’re familiar with the ‘black people come in many different colors” or “we range from dark chocolate, caramel, and corn yellow” mantras. Heck, some of us are sandy-haired and green-eyed. Are we all really black? Growing up, I accepted the One Drop Rule but it always left me puzzled. Perhaps it is because I pondered the reasons why black people range and was troubled. The only reason that black people range is because of nonblack genetic influences. This revelation is in addition to the fact that this One Drop Rule has a negative origin…that being that blacks were at one time considered less than human so if you had our blood running through your vein, you were tainted. Why do blacks generally embrace a rule so deeply rooted in racism? Why is it so acceptable that anyone can be black but not everyone can be white or Asian? There are a myriad of possible reasons why blacks embrace it. Some are adamant that self-hatred is the cause meaning blacks just want to brighten up the race hence mixed folk are classified as black. Others believe it is due to the fact that black people are more accepting of biracial individuals as a result of a shared experience. We have also heard that blacks and mixed folk are viewed and treated similarly and should therefore share a identity. However, that has been proven to be false:

“We found that a light-skinned black male can have only a bachelor’s degree and typical work experience and still be preferred over a dark-skinned black male with an MBA and past managerial positions,”

Harrison found that in black women, credentials did play more of a role. If a dark skinned woman were more qualified, she got the position; however, if all things were equal, it would go to the lighter skinned woman.


So who exactly benefits from biracials self-identifying as black and who does it harm?

Many people believe that the inclusion of mixed race women actually harms black women with authentic west African features. In other words, light skinned and biracial women are privileged and seen as more beautiful because they are closer to the white ideal. This privilege banishes dark-skinned black women to the outskirts of femininity. This means that they will not to be presented as beautiful along with light skinned women of any race. There are exceptions to that rule but generally, the bias exists. For example, there have been eight black women nominated for the award for best actress in a leading role. They include Cicely Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg, Gabouray Sidibe, Angela Basset, and even a lighter toned Dorothy Dandridge and Diahann Carroll. Who becomes the first black woman to win the award for best actress? Halle Berry who is actually biracial. That is not to imply that Berry is a horrible actress but a question needs to be asked. Has a black woman ever won the award for best actress? Many will say no including those who are biracial.

The documentary, I’m Biracial Not Black Dammit! clearly shows us that many mixed race people do not believe in the union that monoracial blacks tend to embrace. They absolutely do not consider themselves black. Strong title aside, they simply want to be free to identify themselves how they see fit instead of taking on an identity forced upon them by society. Monoracial blacks may cry foul accusing them of rejecting blackness but they need to focus on the possible benefits. If biracial individuals are no longer viewed as black, society will have no other choice but to accept blackness for what it truly is. If a role calls for a black actress, the Gabriel Unions or Kerri Washingtons rather than the Thandie Newton or Paula Pattons.

Remember the iconic 80’s hit The Cosby Show? It featured biracial/creole women in an unrealistic casting with a brown skinned mother and an even darker father. Were Lisa Bonet and Sabrina Le Beauf the best women for the jobs or did they need biracial or light-skinned women in order to offset the presence of two darker sisters? So to those in the video I would say Your Biracial Not Black Dammit.

None of this is a slight against biracials because they are a special people. However, their presence in the race has been detrimental to monoracial black women. What about those who are adamant in solidarity with black women? Of course they should not be rejected but they should be sensitive to the plight faced by black women and respond accordingly. They should recognize that while they identify as black women, their features are in essence not authentically black.

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