April 29, 2008

Black - White biracials' race radicalism: does it matter which parent is Black?

I ask the question as though I had a solid answer, but I'm hoping for help from readers with more extensive mental catalogs of what races celebrities belong to. A recent Steve Sailer post on Alicia Keys' race radicalism explored the issue somewhat, with many suggesting that once the Black father leaves the family, the biracial kid identifies with the missing parent in an attempt to establish some connection, which in cases like Alicia Keys or Barack Obama means dialing up their Blackness.

Actually, let me pause for a second to point out that a commenter in one of my posts somewhere suggested Alicia Keys as a good female role model for not being slutty or gangsta, and pretty enough for girls to pay attention to. That may be true, but she's pretty much ruined now. I would suggest instead Mya. She graduated high school at 16, is not skanky or gangsta, and is much better-looking than Alicia Keys, who has a somewhat mannish face. Yeah, let me think about that for a bit. That song of hers is right: her ass is like whoa (could be a little bigger, though maybe they Photoshopped it to placate the booty-phobic majority). Most importantly, she is not a dopey race radical.

Back to the main topic, the assumption that biracials become more race-radical due to identifying with the missing parent relies on them coming from a Black father / White mother marriage -- males are more likely to leave the mother with the kids than vice versa, and if the White father left, that wouldn't lead to race radicalism since the missing parent would be White.

So what about biracials who come from the rarer type of Black mother - White father marriage? Lenny Kravitz and Slash (from Guns 'n' Roses) are the only examples I can think of, and they certainly don't seem to be very race-radical. Too bad David Bowie's wife Iman didn't squeeze one out, or we'd have another well known data-point. Any ideas on whether the kids from these types of interracial marriage are less race-radical?

Assuming -- and it's a big assumption -- that this pattern holds, what would cause it? I think it has to do with the personalities of the parents, which all parents pass on to their kids to some degree. The White mother in an interracial marriage seems to be very exotophilic, Obama's mother being a good case-in-point. (The Black father may also be this way, though I don't think his exotophilia score needs to be very high to enter into such a marriage, whereas the White mother's score has to be very high.) So even if the father did stick around, the kid would partly inherit the exotophilic tendencies of the mother and get turned on by (rather than simply appreciate) Black culture and race radicalism.

For the Black mother / White father case, neither seems to be very exotophilic. It's tough for Black women to be exotophilic because the males of other races tend not to be as strong-minded and assertive as they are themselves: "White men are just too wimpy for me." And exotophilic White males tend to go for Latin Americans of all colors, East Asians, and the duskier White females -- Italian, Persian, Jewish, etc. So, it's far less likely in this case that even one of the parents will have a high exotophilia score, and thus it's far less likely that the kid will inherit a high score.

It would be hard but not impossible to dig up data that would shed light on this. Children of Black mother / White father marriages are pretty darn rare, and a typical psychological study doesn't look at how they score on exotophilia or race-radicalism -- grades in school, height, maybe personality, but not this. Failing that, we could just look at celebrities since their racial backgrounds are well known, as are any weird political views they may have. Any ideas?

Or we could look at cases where the Black father stayed around with the White mother. My prediction is that their kids will still be more race-radical than those from Black mother / White Father marriages. Mya is actually one case -- her dad stayed around till she was an adult, and she goes against my prediction, but she's just one data-point. Everyone knows you need at least two before you see a pattern, jeez.

19 comments:

  1. One thing that seems to have little or no effect on racial radicalism is the biracial person's physical appearance. Barack Obama is dark and identifies as black, which is what you'd expect - but Alicia Keys also identifies as completely black despite being very light. Neither Lenny Kravitz (quite dark) nor Jason Kidd (lighter even than Keys) seem to make a big deal out of race at all.

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  2. 1. Notice also that not only are they not radicals, but both Kravitz and Slash went on to play white rock n' roll. While both of them appreciate black music, they chose to get involved in the white music scene.

    It would be interesting to investigate the background of black musicians who play white or whitish rock. Hendrix, Living Colour, even Fishbone.

    2. Counter examples to the Alicia Keyes/Barack Obama type would be someone like Neneh Cherry, with a Swedish mother and African father, and also her half-brother Eagle Eye Cherry, who her mother had by a different black father, jazz musician Don Cherry.

    No radicalism among them that I know of.

    Time for some Buffalo Stance:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EQCOshGwPI

    A couple encores from the underappreciated Homebrew album:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LMTtsM95XE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prMXw5xKXtM&feature=related

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  3. Halle Berry isn't all that radical and is having a child with a white guy, albeit a very good lookin white guy.

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  4. I like to use the divergence between my cousin and I as an example. We're only three months apart in terms of age, and we were relatively close to each other, but she adopted a highly afro-centric lifestyle, while despite the lack of a college degree, I follow the stereotypes of the typical "oreo". One should simply ask why do some blacks become highly nationalist and suspect of whites, while others don't have the same mental barriers towards whites, and wish to avoid black nationalist sentiment? We both grew up in black neighbourhoods, and she grew up with more financial resources, but I suspect that the only real noticeable difference is my high school and elementary school had more white students than her schools. Also, I wonder if our gender differences have played a role.

    I would argue that exposure to whites would solve the problem, but Alicia Keys proves that it isn't a magical solution to the problem. Mind you, one could presume that acting white doesn't really provide any benefits. Acting white doesn't make a black person magically popular with whites, per my experience, and it creates isolation from the rest of the black community. In addition, reading about race realism and human biodiversity from places like Half Sigma or Steve Sailor certainly doesn't convince one that acting white has any real benefits. In fact, it simply reinforces social isolation, and confirms the beliefs of black nationalists while poking holes in the arguments of those who wish to move beyond a false nationalism.

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  5. Presumably, the anti-miscegenation feelings that many non-Black people have with regards to their daughters are rooted in a desire to have grandkids who look like themselves. This to me seems a profoundly primal and universal attitude.

    So why is there such a number of White women do make babies with Black men? Don't they too want to have kids who look like them?

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  6. In fact, it simply reinforces social isolation, and confirms the beliefs of black nationalists while poking holes in the arguments of those who wish to move beyond a false nationalism.


    But at the same time, if an individual black person is intelligent, no one on any of these race realist sites say that that person shouldn't be respected and appreciated for who they are.

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  7. Futilius9:48 AM

    If by race-radical you mean identify as black, then almost all mixed-race people qualify. The pressure for self-enforcement of the one-drop rule is enormous, because a person of mixed black/white race identifying as white will appear to be pragmatically abandoning the socially weaker portion of their racial makeup, or worse, passing (if light skinned). Obama would be nothing if didn't say he was black.

    It doesn't matter which parent is which, it's a question of culture (which one you grew up in), skin color, and how others see your skin color. The only way for a mixed musician to identify as white and survive is to play white rock. Lenny Kravitz and Phil Lynott together probably don't have enough black fans to form a three-piece band. Jimi Hendrix at least tried to play black music.

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  8. If by race-radical you mean identify as black, then almost all mixed-race people qualify. The pressure for self-enforcement of the one-drop rule is enormous, because a person of mixed black/white race identifying as white will appear to be pragmatically abandoning the socially weaker portion of their racial makeup, or worse, passing (if light skinned). Obama would be nothing if didn't say he was black.

    I don't see why race, almost alone among human characteristics, is seen as having discrete categories rather than as a spectrum.* What's wrong with identification as "mixed race?" When talking about height, for example, we do not require everyone to identify as either tall or short. Most people fall somewhere in the middle and we're fine with that. Same thing with weight: attempting to categorize everyone as fat or thin would be considered ludicrous.

    Race is entirely different. It's treated like gender, with everyone being classified as either male or female. The difference is that biologically speaking everyone actually is either male or female, excepting some very rare and largely irrelevant cases such as hermaphrodites and pre-op transsexuals. Applying gender's either/or treatment to race runs into the uncomfortable fact that many many people actually are blends of different racial backgrounds. Neat categorization defies logic.

    There's also the fact that many people identified as nonwhite are, genetically speaking, almost entirely white. We seem to have no trouble classifying a person with straight blonde hair, blue eyes and very pale skin as nonwhite merely because one of his or her great-great-great grandfathers might have had a somewhat dark complexion. Once again, logic goes completely out the window.

    * = one minor exception, there seems to be some willingness to treat people of mixed white/Asian ancestry as being of mixed race, "Hapa" I believe it's called. But it's a trivial exception.

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  9. futilius1:45 PM

    Peter,
    You seem to be in agreement with the paragraph of mine you quoted, so I'm not sure a retort is necessary, but just to clarify... I was describing the stigma against people of partial African heritage "abandoning" blacks by not identifying as just black, which is surely counterproductive to the progress of social integration. Ideally mixed race people would identify as such. However, we should also understand why some people feel pressured to go with black. It's really not so radical.

    Alicia Keys grew up white, so her black accent is a little blackface-ish for my taste, but that and crappy music aside, her face has to be near perfect. Mannish? Are you insane? Although now that you mention it she does have kinda square jaws...

    But at the same time, if an individual black person is intelligent, no one on any of these race realist sites say that that person shouldn't be respected and appreciated for who they are.

    Most of us are not equipped to gauge intelligence reliably on an individual level, so any statistics would inevitably color our judgments in that area. A black person will have a harder time than a white person of equal intelligence at impressing Steve Sailer, or anyone else for whom psychology, racism and social constructs are so unpalatable that genetics are the obvious (and only) solution to the IQ-gap phenomenon.

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  10. I was describing the stigma against people of partial African heritage "abandoning" blacks by not identifying as just black, which is surely counterproductive to the progress of social integration. Ideally mixed race people would identify as such. However, we should also understand why some people feel pressured to go with black. It's really not so radical.

    I don't see why acceptance of a multiracial identity would constitute abandonment of black heritage. Passing as white, maybe, but not identifying as multiracial. And does it not matter that these "blacker than thou" mulattoes are abandoning half - often, much more than half - of their heritage? In many such cases the heritage they abandon is the heritage of the mothers who raised them single-handedly. Alicia Keys' mother would be fully justified in disowning her.

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  11. I don't see why race, almost alone among human characteristics, is seen as having discrete categories rather than as a spectrum.

    This is true only in America. In Europe mulattos (for example) are clearly viewed differently from full-blooded blacks. This is partly because mulattos are typically culturally European (because raised by their single white mothers), whereas blacks are usually first or second generation immigrants who retain (some of) their third world habits.

    In contrast, American blacks are culturally American to begin with, so black/white mixed race people aren't culturally that different from "full-blooded" African Americans.

    Aside from these cultural differences, there was of course the "one drop rule", which means that in America mulatto-looking people have for centuries been considered black, and still are. Many AAs look like mulattos though both their parents are AA (e.g. Reverend Jeremiah Wright).

    In Europe, black people are not mixed, so normally there's a clear physical difference between a black person and a mulatto in Europe.

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  12. White father/black mother - actresses Thandie Newton & Michael Michelle, Susan Fales-Hill, Leila Arcieri, SNL's Maya Rudolph, Faith Evans. None particularly race radical as far as I know.

    Examples of non-race radical black father/white mother offspring are actresses Jennifer Beals & Rashida Jones (Quincy Jones' daughter)

    BTW, Iman did have a child with Bowie. She's probably still a little girl though. She's also being raised in Europe, which I've noticed often serves to blunt the trend towards race radicalism in biracial people.

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  13. Anonymous3:25 PM

    Actually biracial children from WM/BW relationships are the majority planet wise. Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Brazilians of color including "white ones" mostly descend from WM/BW and WM/indiginious indian pairings.

    Even in the U.S. the WW/BW IR pairing is relatively new. Most African-Americans and many White Americans come from mixed backgrounds consisting of WM/BW relations from back in the day.

    I believe that you have more of a so called "radical" image with biracials coming from WW/BM pairings because often times the the WW herself is suffering from white guilt coupled with the often self-hate of some of the BM involved. Any attempting to be "blacker than black" some of these half black biracial children from WW are attempting to feel extra good/proud of blackness to "make up for" the lack of true self love their daddies had.

    Many black fathers (sperm donors) leave their biracial children just as fast as they leave their black ones.

    In being "extra black" many of these fatherless biracial kids by WW are probably trying to prove to themselves that they are lovable.

    They may be trying to reconnect with a side they feel has rejected them.

    I rarely see biracial children with white fathers and black mothers (and I know many) experiencing the inner turmoil that some biracial children from WW and BM experience.

    Just my observations...

    Oh, and for the record there is NOTHING more wimpy and unmasculine than abondaning your children at the rate most black men abondon theres.

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  14. BouncyCastle5:23 PM

    Hey guys,

    great debate! Let me just add some views from across the pond - I live in the UK but am actually Slavonic.

    Anonymous and "th" are right - almost all American blacks are actually of mixed race (colonial remnant).

    The reason why Black guys are more likely to marry WW than WM to marry BW? Easy. Black guys overall seem to have more alpha male characteristics. It shows up. Plus the degree of novelty and negroisation of the US/global culture ("bitches", dumbed-down all-black cast comedies..).

    Racism guilt imposed on the Whites plus this process of cultural negroisation might simply make being Black perceived as "cooler". So more Black kids of mixed race identify themselves as "Black".

    Just a spe

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  15. Anonymous2:02 PM

    My mother is a black female and my father is a white male. Because I had never seen my mother date a black man I also lacked interest in black males. I simply did not find them very attractive unless they were biracial looking. Sometimes it is who you see your mother with especially when you are a biracial female. To be honest I don't have a strong desire for white males either because I find them wimpy compared to other races of men. However they are very attracted to me more so than any other males. I prefer mix race men regardless of what race they happen to be mixed with, they are just better looking physically than pure bloods.

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  16. Anonymous8:23 AM

    Someone said that celebs of white father/black mother heritage are rare. They are but I know some: Maya Rudolph, Jenny Lumet, Tracy Ellis-Ross, Troy Beyer, Raven-Symone Pearmann, Ramsey Noah,Leila Ariceri.. Does anyone know thier race views and if they are radical? Btw I always found it puzzling why more black women tend to marry Jewish and Italian men like the mothers of the above celebs rather than men of Anglo-Saxon descent? Thanks for the answer.

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  17. Anonymous6:30 PM

    I am so tired of people trying to find some scientific fact about race and personality that must be set in stone. I am biracial, I have a white mother, and a black father. My parents divorced when I was two, but I saw my father almost every other weekend for the remainder of my childhood, until now. I have lived in a white community all of my life. I'm articulate and well-spoken, so does that mean I talk "white"? I like to wear fitted jeans and polos. Does that make me dress "white"? I also wear urban T shirts and baggy jeans, and I like to listen to rap music. Does that make me "race-radical?" I play indie pop music on the guitar, does that mean I play "white" music? What annoys me so much is that people MUST have you IDENTIFY yourself with your race. They can't accept the fact that we are simply PEOPLE, we aren't black, we aren't white, we are people. I recall one of the posters saying that Lenny Kravitz plays "white" rock and roll, as if race must identify with music. Were you unaware of the fact that rock 'n roll derived from old time R&B? Music that was predominately played by black people? The reason why biracial people feel enormous pressure to identify with either race is because of people like the OP; you are constantly observing us and trying to find an explanation as to why we deviate from a niche that you created FOR us. The only people who are "race-radical" are supremacists, black or white. The majority of biracial people act the way they do because it's part of their personality, and nothing more. Stop putting race under a microscope, I've had to deal with it all of my life.

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  18. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Have all of you people gone mad the racist ignorant statements made on this panel are derogatory and so untrue. My son is black and his wife is white they have a beautiful son and my son is still with his wife and his child. You should do more research before you pass such ignorant comments.

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  19. Anonymous8:50 PM

    I agree, I'm mixed race and it's to much people going on about being from a White mother or black we are just people and not a colour, get a life.
    Have you nothing better to do, I feel these people that go on about sombody race have issuse themselves.

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