In a recent article entitled: “It’s quite racist to call your mixed race friends black if they don’t identify as such”, British writer, Miranda Larbi writes: “To simply lump everyone together – including those who are of very light skin and who do not see themselves as ‘black’ – can be quite offensive.”
Before anyone jumps to conclusions that Ms. Larbi is suggesting that Multiracial people will take offense at being called Black, it is worth reading on. What she actually is suggesting is that calling Multiracial (Black/White) people like herself “Black” doesn’t honor the experience of Black people who have (or may have experienced) treatment that she never has had to face:
“How can someone as light as me be assigned the same label as someone with an experience of blackness that I can never relate to?
In beauty, fashion, relationships, careers – everything – our experience of race plays a role. Not only is using blackness as an umbrella confusing for those of who are not fully black, but it downplays the significance of that experience for those who own it.
Black people have enough to worry about without us beige folk trying to share the stage.”
On the other side of this discussion is actress, Halle Berry, who some years ago, in an interview, said that notwithstanding the fact that both she and her daughter are Multiracial, they are Black (see report of interview here).
So, there you have it, two Multiracial (Black/White) people – Ms. Larbi and Ms. Berry – coming down on opposite sides of this discussion. So, who’s right? And, who gets to decide?
It would seem that as with all questions of identity, the individual should be free to choose for himself or herself what their identity is. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where society should be able to make that decision. In fact, living in a free society, by definition, means that people get to make these sorts of decisions for themselves.
What do you think? Do you agree with Miranda Larbi? Halle Berry? Let us know.