Towards the end of 2012, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were driving around and something caught our interest—an exhibition at Museum Africa in Johannesburg. The exhibit was about Black Music. It was only natural for me to want to see it if only to learn more about some of my favourite artists like Nina Simone and Marvin Gaye. Upon arrival, I was met by something that struck me so much that I had to take a photograph of it.
Creolisation of the World
I was hit by the opening words of the exhibition. It ended with the following words.
Today black music is a worldwide phenomenon, transcending all notions of ethnicity and nationalism. Black music is the very essence of modernity and at the heart of the creolisation of the world.
The word creole was not new to me. The creole, mulat, coloured or mixed race described me. The words are a reference to a race of people who are not of one nation but of many. The introductory words were concluded by a quote from Caribbean poet Édouard Glissant’s Traité du Tout-Monde:
Today the whole world is connecting and its cultures are mixing […]
“Creolisation” is not a fusion, it requires that each element remain present even as it changes […]. A country that is “creolising” is not a country that is becoming uniform. The multi-coloured movement of peoples is in tune with worldwide diversity. A country’s beauty grows with its multiplicity.
Songs about the Future
The exhibition not only told the story of famous Black artists but it also traced the roots of music itself. The Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO world heritage site northwest of Johannesburg is the home of the 2.3-million year-old fossil of the Australopithecus Africanus, otherwise known as the first modern human. That’s where it all began. Gradually people began to speak and make music. The exhibition took me on a trip all around Africa and the different types of music that would later influence music around the world. I was surprised to also see Elvis Presley among the biggest influencers of popularizing Black music. What was a rock artist doing there? Well, Elvis, it turns out, was the first artist to take jazz music and speed it up, creating a whole new genre of swing. I was mesmerised not only by the past, but the relevance of music as a signifier of globalisation.
Eugenics, Slavery and Apartheid
If we go far back in history, we have slavery and caste systems which divided people all around the world. This is because the colour of the skin was misguidedly linked to genetic quality. Our recent past is filled with examples of wars, genocides and hatred sparked by differences in race. The Nazis believed in an Aryan race and declared that Germanic White people were the master race. They had a plan to purify the human race by killing all people who did not fit into the Aryan race. Twenty years later in South Africa, President Hendrik Verwoerd created a plan to increase the white population in South Africa with the vision of the whites one day outnumbering the blacks; this plan included subsidising the travel costs of European immigrants entering the country. That is how my father went to South Africa. He went to the country as part of a plan to purify its population and then my rebel of a dad created two mixed race children. Although Verwoerd’s plan failed, similar race-driven agendas were successful in other parts of the world like with the native Indian population in the Americas and the Aborigines in Australia. There is a history of denying non-White people’s rights such as the “one drop rule” which denied anyone in the U.S. with Black ancestry certain civil rights under the Racial Integrity Act of 1924.
For centuries it has been believed that the fair-skinned and White people are the superior race. As a result of this, many darker-toned people have held on to an inferiority complex and invested heavily in skin-lightening creams and hair straightening. I wish to put forward the message that natural is beautiful. It is not the case that the white race is superior. What is happening in the world now is proof of that as the “pure” White race is dying out. That does not mean that Africans or non-Whites are the superior race nor there is a genocide of Whites, but that there will be more non-White people than Whites.
The Rise of the Mulat
This change of the ethnic make-up of the world is expected to take place around mid-century. National Geographic released a prediction in 2013 that by 2050, the average American will be of mixed race. 15 percent of all marriages in the United States in 2010 were between mixed race couples and currently 8.4 percent of marriages in the U.S. are between mixed race couples. Whites will be a minority race in the U.S. by 2044 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which predicts that the mixed race population will double over the next 40 years. This is due to the declining growth rates and rapid ageing of the White population. Thirty percent of grandparents in the U.S. right now have a grandchild that is of a different race or ethnicity to them. According to Paul Taylor (author of The Next America), there will be no majority demographic in the U.S. in the late 21st Century. Similar predictions can be made for Europe with the influx of refugees and the low birth rates of EU countries.
The mere definition of mixed race has changed—earlier in the 20th Century if you were a mix between French and Irish you were considered mixed race. Only in 2000, did the American Census allow people to identify themselves as multiracial. “Multiracial” is the fastest growing race in the U.S. Three decades ago, a Black American president was unheard of. Annie was a little White girl with red hair and freckles, now she’s a little Black girl with an afro. There is an increasing amount of mixed race and Black people in the media coinciding with the growing population within this racial category. My husband and I browsed through the Ikea catalogue. We live in Europe and yet the models in the catalogue represented us—a white male, darker (possibly mixed race) woman and mixed race children.
A child of mixed race is a thing of the future and not one of the present. (From Mark White’s essay Nigger Nigger Pull the Trigger: One More View From the Periphery of the Master Race*.)
This shouldn’t ring sirens in the ears of those of European ethnicity, but it’s a cause for celebration. It is saddening that Neo-Nazis that are claiming that there is a global genocide of White people. I think it is time for us to address not what it means to be one ethnicity or the other, but what it means to be human. Race is a social construction. Children do not see it, although they do see colour, but people naturally look different. As we intermingle and interact more with each other, it will become evident that at the heart of it all, we all want the same things—to live and to love in peace.
This is part of the evolution of the human race. Even on a physiological level, one can say that the mixing of genes will make the human race stronger, just as the mutt is stronger than any pure bred animal.
Someday we’ll All Be Black
Perhaps this theory is a little radical for some people. I don’t think it is. Growing up as a mixed race child, the signs are painfully obvious to me. I was born as a crime committed by my parents during the time of Apartheid. When I started school, I was one of few non-White children in the school. As time went on, our schools became more and more colourful. When I went places, I looked different and my story was unique. Now, not so much. I see figures resembling myself in posters and adverts. I can literally see the world becoming more and more like me. And if my race is the non-White or the Black race, well then I have no problem with that because I know that someday we’ll all be Black.
*Both Mark White and Maja Dežulović are contributors of the book Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide.
Maja Dežulović is Black South African and Croatian. She and her White South African husband live in Croatia. She is a poet and author, having published two anthologies and a novel. Maja has ghostwrtten several novels and stories in the genres of literary fiction, crime fiction, romance, biographies and other non-fiction.
Her books are: Expressions of Humanity and The 360 Degree Heart and they’re available on Amazon.
Maja’s website: http://bluedaisiesandpurplegrass.blogspot.co.uk