Critical Mixed Race Theory
When the question of mixed race is brought up, it comes with complications to the existent black/white double system. The Critical Mixed Race Theory would give race a new way of being theorized but people of mixed races have lived under the same existent social and political dimensions. The way that mixed races have been viewed socially and how racism has primarily been a black/white issue, has made the mixed races be a direct receiver of the racist perception. When an individual of mixed race has had to identify him or herself by verifying how equal the whiteness and blackness is, they have encountered problems. They have tried since many years ago to affirm their status, but as much the ugly history of racism has been there, the individuals have affected by it. The analysis of the mixed race category points out that mixed race individuals have been widely affected by history, undermined socially until the later period they tried to affirm their identity as part of one of their binary races.
The concept of mixed race people is not new but began as soon as Blacks arrived in America. The African American race developed from a rule called the “one drop” rule, signifying that one drop of Black blood makes someone black. Any individual who has a black ancestor is termed as black and the mixed race of whites and Blacks were in this category. The unmistakable idea behind this rule is how it was formed out of greed, malice, lust and a form of ignorance. Why establish a hierarchy deeming White as more pure and Black as a form of blackness? The mixed races would therefore unjustly be pushed into the category of racism. The individuals themselves would be examples of the degree of whiteness or blackness to determine if in the society they were to be judged on the wrong side of the law. Their identity and acceptance in the society was based on the prevailing social implications and it leaned more on their black side. Early history depicts the social implications facing mixed races. According to Gordon, (2004) they were born because of interracial mixing and as early as the 1700s, race-based mixing was not going to make the racism issue any lighter. There were consequences to be faced and judicially it was deemed that the mixed race individuals were not linked to their European ancestry. This merely categorized them and made the idea of interracial mixing not become favored at all. The Europeans were cleared of any responsibility or ties to these children. Legally, it was held that those of mixed race were not viewed as both African and European ancestry.
Early traces of statutes passed in 1662, just forty-three years after the time Africans first arrived, indicates how early the emphasis of drawing wide boundaries around the Negro race came about. These boundaries were also inclusive of mixed races. This is because they were not clearly in the boundary but emerging as a link between the prevailing racial systems. It is clear that White men and Black were involved and the law came quickly to assert the hierarchy that Whiteness was the dominant factor and Blackness was the other factor. The law hereby stating that a child gotten from an Englishman and a Negro woman would follow the status of the mother. This was the common law applying to farm animals thus a clear picture that the in viewing the mixed races, their traces in history were already stated on racist factor (Johnson, 2003, p. 105).
Psychologically, the children need self-identification from their fathers. There is a form of denial of the mixed race and this is affirmed by White fathers being excused in those days from social responsibility for these children. The system was ready to benefit Whites at all costs, this despite the emergence of the new classification of the mixed race. This early in history, the mixed race was still ignored and denied and it bears down to the present day. There might have been a difference if the law viewed the mixed races differently. This is for instance if the law perceived the mixed race as the responsibility of the parents of both races. The way that the mixed race category was thus undertaken seemed to make the existent race based system pushed further. In the United States, there was a statute in 1691 that also stressed on how mixed race were undermined and denied. It provided a clause for banishing Whites who intermarried with Negroes with the sole purpose being that a new race was deemed as abominable. The authorities thus had an angle of not being inclined to supporting the mixed races.
This is similar to what happened in Vietnam with the encounter between mostly White servicemen and Asian women. These relationships were encouraged only as a means of escaping the rigorous war and its troubles. The U.S. servicemen were not responsible for the short term or long term they had with Asian women. This meant that the children they got with Asian women were not accepted and they not in the plans of the U.S. government. The U.S. government did not instruct them as per the possibilities of parental responsibility. The mixed races in this case came about in complicated circumstance and were still denied since they arose as a new race altogether. The identity of the mixed race individual even in the situation of Vietnam of the American men and the Asian women was identified from how they were placed in society. The analysis shows that the Amerasians, the mixed race of Black and Whites did not have an identity for themselves. Their identity was compelled by the present situation and this affected their acceptance in the society.
The Amerasians are not accepted legally or socially. Vietnam mistreats them and the mixed race individuals, the Amerasians deal with a lot of trauma. Their new race is unfortunately subjected to this because in Vietnam, the nationality, race as well as an individual’s personal identity is derived from the father. The father of the Amerisians is deemed as a U.S. national and not Vietnamese.
The father is the one who registers the child at birth, claims paternity and registers the children for school but largely in the Amerasian’s case, the father is absent. With no father to make the Amerasian child have identification, the child will encounter many difficulties socially because they cannot adjust due to the new race status they present.
According to Johnson, (2003) they are socially bound by the fact that their roots are not Vietnamese even though their fathers are not present, and on two instances they lose out on a person to give them identity. Almost similar to the legal system in America in the 1700s, the legal institutions in Vietnam give the mixed race of Amerasians a hard time while creating a form of identity crisis for these children. The family system in Vietnam is patriarchal whereby the individual’s identity is derived mostly from the family group. This includes the living members and the ancestors so essentially, the Amerasian child does not only have a father, but a father’s family and the ancestors.
The social acceptance of a child in Vietnam is based on the family group and its support. When the child lacks this, it means that they lack an identity. As far as the family is concerned, when people in the society are seen as one of mixed racial ancestry, they are considered as contributing to the nation’s racial impurity. This is similar to the U.S. where they termed the children born of Whites and Blacks as abominable and undesirable in the community. This negative social identity placed on the mixed race gave them a new status in society that away from what was considered normal. The Amerasians and the mixed race of Blacks and Whites were termed as bad elements and those who were unwanted in the society. This brings out just how the mixed race did not get a chance to fit and possibly stir the beginning of a new racial categorization in society.
Johnson, (2003) adds that a betraying factor follows the Amerasian children and the mixed race children of blacks and whites. This factor is evident in the Amerisian case because they were singly termed as children of the enemy. The U.S. serviceman was the one they said to have bombed villages and towns so these will cloud the society’s view of the Amerasian child. The American mixed race child in the 1700s would be part of the slave population in the plantation just because of the one drop rule that any one black ancestor means they are black. The common factor traced from one parent betrays the child in the future. The Amerasians had difficulties going to school since they would be taunted for their appearance. They appeared American so they would be subjected to taunts like being told to return to their home country. At a certain point in history, as judicial proceedings continued in the U.S. it was even difficult to tell if the individuals had a quarter of black blood before they prosecuted. The mixed races were commonly seen not as having an identity of their own, but a part of their ancestry influencing whom they were as and influencing the social situation in their dwelling. There is an arising identity crisis even by the parents themselves. In America once, the Europeans were cleared of responsibility for the mixed race children, there was an increasing case of African women being forced into relations with White men.
There was little responsibility being taken for the mixed race children in America and this opened up an identity crisis. Once the mixed race children were born, the White men were not obligated to take responsibility for them. The mixed race children were thus an unaccounted lot and the resulting actions of the parents had a hand in the identity of the children remaining unknown. The parents of the Amerasians also had a hand in intensifying the identity crisis of the children. These actions taken by the mixed raced parents include the mothers of the Amerasian children doing away with the evidence showing the paternity of the children. The government was not to find out about their status and send them to camps for punishment. Some even went to the extent of applying shoe polish on the children’s hair and powder in the children’s skin to conceal their American attributes. The parents were well aware of the identity of these children but they took precautions due to the legal circumstances surrounding these children. Legally, they were pushed to the point of intensifying the identity crisis of the mixed races even though in America, with the white fathers it applied in a different sense. The white fathers used the law as an excuse and worsened the situation by increasing the mixed race population, while the Asian women tried to hide their children from the effects of the law since it would leave them in difficulties.
The children themselves, those of mixed races, were made as a barring factor to their parents. The Asian mothers were not allowed to take part in a number of programs and they suffer from rejection from their own families. The families of the Asian mother always felt humiliated by the fact that the child had American roots and this complicated the situation for the parents. In America, the mixed race children became the woman’s responsibility and the masters would have a bigger population in their inventory placing a bigger burden to families in the plantation. This situation is similar in the Vietnam society since the parents are forced to take certain actions. They would feel so humiliated that they could hardly live under those conditions. This forced them to sell their babies for an amount of money enough to fit a ticket to the U.S., give them up for adoption or even abandon them as last resort.
The mixed races have lacked a way of being adopted in the society and especially for black Amerasians, the task was impossible due to the unfairness shown to black people. Black children by Asian women were certainly not going to be an idea adopted in Vietnam because black people or dark skinned people are not favored in many Asian countries. The places that Amerasian children ended up were orphanages and since these orphanages were already overcrowded, they unfortunately ended up in the streets committing street vices in order to live.
Mixed Races Increase in the Past Centuries
The mixed-race people in the U.S. and Britain are a fast growing ethnic group as compared to the 1700s where mixed races were restricted. It was still deemed a horror getting mixed race children and in some 16 states, it was illegal for intermarriage between blacks and whites. The period after 1967 saw major legal issues between interracial marriages dropped. The fact that America has a black President, Barrack Obama, shows the great stride made in America. The mixed races have attained a certain level of acceptance and identity. Even though Obama himself does not term himself as mixed race, he terms himself as black. This must be mainly because even as mixed race people grew up, the white community termed them as black. Visually, they display the degree of whiteness and blackness but the society’s view quickly labeled them and they identified themselves to it. They have been accepted in many spheres with their appearance termed as beautiful and scientists maintaining that they are more attractive and healthier. Most importantly, their acceptance in society has come at a time where racism seems to be toned down. No one group wants to appear superior and the mixed race individuals do not want to go above others, and since they have no identity, the way society views them makes them term themselves as blacks.
The mixed races in the context of American children and Amerasian children identify themselves with the existent form of societal racism. There was no legal way of solidifying the barrier between black and white, between Americans and Asians as well as other mixed races. A mixed race person is not identified by their dominant feature but the society perceives the person as fitting in either part of the long-standing hierarchy. In the case that a mixed race person was a part of society’s perceived low hierarchy, this has dictated their social lives and undermined them just as it occurred in the U.S. plantations in the 1700s and after the birth of Amerasians in Vietnam. The law eased the identity crisis of the mixed races after it was not termed illegal for blacks and whites to marry. This eased the acceptance of the mixed races in society since no law bears down on them and even though they still have a problem with identity, they do not ignite a race debate. It no longer becomes about white supremacy or a racist subject, the mixed races come with a form of acceptance to the individuals and presently, even the parents whether black and white as well as the mixed race children do not have to suffer for it.
DaCosta, Kimberly McClain (2007) Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Desiree Valentine (2009) Visualizing a Critical Mixed-Race Theory. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Ian Haney López (2006) White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York: NYU Press.
Kevin R. Johnson (2003) Mixed Race America and the Law: A Reader. New York: NYU Press.
Lewis Gordon (2004) Her Majesty’s Other Children. New edition. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Naomi Zack (2005) Race and Mixed Race: New edition. Philadelphia: Temple University.