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Race question: When there is a biracial individual...

Why do people diminish the value (if you will) of one ethnicity over the other?

For example - People consider Barack Obama Black, why doesn't his mother count?
Why do people erase one half of his racial make up?

I can understand if you don't know the persons background, but even when people KNOW, they delete half of the persons racial make up.
It happens SO often.

My friends daughter is White & Asian but people consider her Asian. etc, etc.

 
Alexias30

Asked by Alexias30 at 5:26 PM on Mar. 26, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 18 (6,342 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (16)
  • I guess that they are just going with the most obvious, rather than take the time to get to know someone.
    JLP2009

    Answer by JLP2009 at 8:24 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I wonder the same thing. My son came home from school one day when BO was elected saying he was the first black pres courtesy of his Dem teacher. I told him that he was not the first black president, he was the first biracial president. Big difference. I also think it is amazing that Black people HAVE to be from Africa. But, that is another post!
    matthewscandi

    Answer by matthewscandi at 5:36 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I think it's ultimately up to the individual to choose how they self-identify. If they prefer to be referred to as biracial, others should respect that, just as if they choose to be referred to as black or African American. The reality is, unless you are first or second generation and directly from the central 2/3 of Africa, most black people in America are really multi-racial, whether their families have been on the continental US for 200 years or if they emigrated here from the Islands. And at the same time, there are a lot more "white" people here who have non-white races in their ancestry, but far enough back they aren't really visible physically anymore.
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 5:44 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • we tend to grab onto what is most telling..in the majority of cases, one ethnicity will override the other by physical appearance. thus, most people label them as that race, because let's face it, we don't come with identity cards to tell strangers what our DNA is before they open their mouths to speak to us or about us.
    i am half-american indian..most people refer to me as 'that indian girl' because i look more AI than i do Irish, the other half.
    not that big a deal to me.
    dullscissors

    Answer by dullscissors at 5:33 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • Well, anthropology refers to this phenomena as 'hypodescent'. If a culture values one race over another (even if only on a subconscious level) biracial individuals are categorized as belonging to the "inferior" race. Now, the U.S. doesn't legally designate people this way anymore, but people still do it all the time. My kids are half white, half Native American. If you go on looks alone, they're pretty ambiguous, but as soon as people know they've got Native American heritage, people suddenly want to have a pow wow or something. I've always encouraged my kids to identify themselves however they feel comfortable (incidentally, they usually choose biracial or the ubiquitous 'other').

    On a lighter note, the Corrigan Brothers have a rather entertaining song entitled 'There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama' that is worth a youtube search. Not to take anything away from President Obama's accomplishments, of course.
    lytate95

    Answer by lytate95 at 6:02 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I agree with dullscissors. My LP is half white/half Japanese, and once you KNOW he is half Japanese, it is obvious in his features, but until then, when he is out with me people or other white people people will assume he is white. Obviously when he is out with his mother, people recognize his Japanese half more. It doesn't come up much, other than when we are asked to check a "race" box on some form or something.
    Mom-2-3-Girlz

    Answer by Mom-2-3-Girlz at 6:02 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I agree with the first post "we tend to grab onto what is most telling.."
    ____________________
    That's right, I am actually agreeing with this part. The only thing about race that actually affects you is how others see you. That's why I always say race is cultural, not biological, and scientists agree with this.

    Seriously, you know someone who didn't think Obama looked black? And if your BIL ans his sister "look" white, they will be treated "white", is what I am saying. If they wish to embrace their heritage, whatever it may be, that's great, that's why I say people should self-identify, and we should go along with it.
    stacymomof2

    Answer by stacymomof2 at 8:51 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • Well, my biracial student identifies with black. I asked her why she and her mom chose black instead of white. Her answer was - there are more opportunities if you identify with the minority. She's right. There is. They had a choice that most of us don't have.
    jesse123456

    Answer by jesse123456 at 11:32 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • i think its what a person looks more like , like white , black asian
    letstalk747

    Answer by letstalk747 at 7:44 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • It's not a matter of "erase." What you look like is what you "are", since race is not biological but cultural. People can identify however they wish, but I guarantee that anyone seeing Obama walk down the street would call him black, if they didn't know somehow his mother is white.
    stacymomof2

    Answer by stacymomof2 at 7:46 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

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