AfriGeneas World Research Forum
Re: Mixed Race Families
In Response To: Re: Mixed Race Families ()
Thanks for your remarks and observations about Brent Staples’ article. You wrote, "I think it is a failure of our system that the author of the article is still using the one drop rule and labeling Jefferson's children "black". When will we acknowledge the complexity of individual's ancestry but categorize them as mixed or just American? "
I agree, in particular, with your last sentence regarding the complexity of an individual's ancestry and so does Staples. The quote comes from his profile included in the link below:
"I despise the expression [‘black experience’]….Black people’s lives in this country are too varied to be reduced to a single term….I’m writing about universal themes—family and leaving home and developing you own identity—which all Americans can enjoy and understand….Being black enriches my experience; it doesn’t define me."
My concern is for the destructive underlying and relentless theme found in too many histories of African Americans and in the Times' article. Do we still accept the myth of the big house full of privileged snooty mulattos and the cotton fields populated by pure Africans hopelessly ignorant, childlike and passive? Unfortunately "Gone With the Wind" as one historian remarked in an Afrigeneas interview, still clouds the true history of Africans in the Americas.
Throughout the pages of Afrigeneas, we read about the documented history of people of color who never worked at Tara-like big houses, who never labored in cotton fields, or grinned their way into the malevolent hearts of their enslavers. Rather we read about our multi-hued ancestors who left their rural, coastal AND urban enslavers to fight collectively in the US Colored Troops, or who as servants gathered intelligence in privileged white dining rooms and passed it on to the Union Army.
We've learned in the Afrigeneas Free People of Color Forum that "Free" didn't mean light skinned Creoles from Louisiana. Instead the Forum shares information about ancestors of all hues from all regions of the US. All of the pages of Afrigeneas document a legacy of a people who contributed to the shaping of America.
We're all guilty at times of lapsing into American slave history clichés. The Big House slave vs. cotton field slaves continues to divide us a people. This rigid and incorrect template of history encourages the mutual distrust of African Americans of all hues.
Your question about the one-drop rule supports my concern about the continued divide within our community. Perhaps if we erase Gone With the Wind and focus on the history of our ancestors and "How I Got Over" it might do the trick.
Richard, thanks again for your comments.
K Wyer Lane