Biracial = Black?
One of the oddities of this election cycle is that, with all the focus on Barack Obama’s race, he’s almost invariably referred to as “black” or “African-American” despite having a white mother. The same phenomenon is true pretty much across the board, from Tiger Woods to Halle Barry. Biracial or multiracial people, regardless of hue or other characteristics, are seen and seem to see themselves as black.
Woods briefly fought back against this trend, telling Oprah Winfrey and her audience that he was actually “Cablinasian,” owing to his complicated ancestry. (His father, the late Colonel Earl Woods, was half black, a quarter Chinese and a quarter American Indian. His mother, Kultida, is half Thai, a quarter Chinese, and a quarter Dutch.) Nobody bought it and he’s still considered “black.”
Is this a vestige of the old “one drop of black blood” nonsense? A function of our identifying race through visual characteristics and the dominance of African traits? That Americans think anyone not white is therefore “black”? Or what?
UPDATE: In related news, South Africa’s high court ruled last week that the country’s 20,000 citizens of Chinese descent will henceforth be considered legally “black.”