by Rachael Williams
Having grown up Halfrican—a black mother and a white father—I have a slightly different perspective on race-relations, and the ability to truly see both sides of the issue. The view from here, I’m sad to say, is not always a pretty one.
In “Dreams from my Father”, Obama writes of making a conscious decision to stop advertising that he is half white. Coincidentally, at the same age I had an epiphany of my own: that for as much as racism against blacks is decried and the subject of disgust, racism by blacks—both against other races and against their own—is just as widespread and much more culturally accepted.
I remember vividly the day that my best friend, who was Black, came over and found that my family had four different brands of cereal. She said, only half joking, that “it must be ‘cause yo’ daddy White”. While I didn’t grasp the insinuation that I had an unfair advantage in life by being part white, I did pick up on the thinly-veiled contempt in her voice. I understood that she felt that my White half had left the proverbial glass half full, and that hers would forever be fully empty in her own eyes. That was when I first realized that there would come a time when I would have to decide for myself whether or not I really was black.
The following year, just after my 13th birthday, my family moved from my diverse hometown and put me in a school where I was one of only a half dozen blacks. I tried to seek camaraderie with other black students, but it seemed that there was nothing about me that they liked. From my bubbly personality, to my valley-girl accent, to my eager participation in class served as proof to them that I was “trying to act White”.
Decision time had come: was I Black, or was I White? My decision was both…and neither.
Rather than take Obama’s route and abandon one half of my heritage for social benefit, I accepted that what I am does not define who I am; and I decided to be myself and let the cards fall where they may.
The post-racial America that we were promised when President Precedent was elected hasn’t exactly worked out as planned. What we have in its place far less resembles the utopian dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. than it does the racially tense times during which he gave his famous speech. Extremist groups like the New Black Panther Party have made the climate in race-politics even more volatile—pitting Black against White, and leaving many wondering where they fit in.
When Black Panthers start yelling about black men having “white, dirty, cracker whores” on their arms during the “Doomsday” of their people, they make it clear that being only half Black makes one a glass half empty as far as they are concerned. I wonder if it has occurred to them that there are an awful lot of people who were born to those “cracker whores” and their race-traitor Black fathers—our own President among them, his pardon for being half-cracker coming from marrying a Black woman.
There is, however, no wiggle-room allowed when the NBPP declares that the only way to seek racial equality is to kill whites, and white babies. This kind of hate speech doesn’t get Black people pumped up and ready to sign on. Instead it makes us do a collective eye-roll and wish that people like them weren’t out there giving the rest of us a bad name. Most Blacks, Halfricans especially, see the danger in extremists claiming to speak for all of “their” people.
The NBPP have given the media a sensational sound-bite of Black racism, and it’s not going to waste. Groups are springing up like wildfire in response—with names like “Cracker Nation” and “The National Association for the Advancement of Cracker People”—but it’s not self-deprecating humor in which the danger lies.
When the Black Panthers proclaim their group to be the true voice of a people, some people take them seriously in that regard. The idea of Blacks setting out to kill white babies as a means of achieving power only seeks to reaffirm racists’ belief that the race with the highest rates of unemployment, dropouts, illegitimacy, and abortion are indeed a primitive and inferior race. Having the First Lady decry the Tea Party as racist while telling Blacks to “increase the intensity” certainly doesn’t help present the race as moderate. While Blacks cringe at how this makes them look, racists delight at finding a treasure trove of proof that their way of thinking is correct.
My own life experiences have included many more where I am seen as “not Black enough” than ones where I was discriminated against for being Black. However, the cycle that the Black Panthers are perpetuating—where racism and threats of violence lead only to more racism and threats of violence—leaves Halfricans like myself dodging racism from both sides.
Instead of feeling as though I don’t belong anywhere, I see that now more than ever, I belong everywhere. The duty to point out extremists of all races as just that—extremists—lies on those of us in the middle to show what both sides (or, in this case, races) are really all about. I can rant with my friends of all colors about the dangers and innate racism of Affirmative Action, while showing an example of someone who chose not to look at their heritage as a racial handicap, and found success on their own. I can have a “just between our own kind” conversation with Blacks or Whites, reminding that White Supremacist groups nor the NBPP or NAACP speak for but a small minority of people of their race.
Whether I am seen as half-Black or half-White, this Halfrican knows that my glass is completely full.
(c) The Black Sphere, LLC
Rachael Williams is a Researcher and Writer for The Black Sphere. Kevin Jackson was a contributor to this article.