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As a mom to biracial kids, I can see that when it comes to biracial identity, we've come a long way. But after actor Taye Diggs made headlines when he declared that he wanted his son to be referred to as biracial and not black, it's evident that the problem is far from over. Diggs, along with a bunch of other black and mixed-race celebrities, often face backlash for how they choose to identify themselves.
This kind of thing happens both off and on screen. I was watching an episode of Fox's hit show, "Empire," where the biracial identity of Alicia Keys' character is called into question after singing a socially conscious song.
Keys spoke about the issues that her character, Skye Summers, faces in the show during an interview with EURnews:
"People don't accept her for this new style that she does. It's a beautiful song about what's going on in the world socially, and they don't want to hear that from her. They say, 'Now she's trying to be black' because Skye is both black and white like I am. And we're able to talk about the biracial issue, which happens to a lot of people."
Unfortunately, so many people of mixed race face this problem in real life. Ebony Magazine released its 70 anniversary issue "Power 100 to the People" featuring Harry Belafonte, Jesse Williams and Zendaya Coleman.
The anonymous writer of a Clutch Magazine article criticizes the magazine for having mixed-race celebrities on the cover of this particular issue and insinuates that they aren't "black enough."
"I do not care to drive further wedges between black people—or to reinforce colorism—but I do believe the fact that the honorees on Ebony's front page are all lighter-skinned, biracial black people should not go without scrutiny. The politics of skin color has significance and it strikes me as odd that Ebony would not understand the implications of such a decision in today's racially charged political climate," says the writer.
"To then place (Zendaya) on the cover of a magazine edition that celebrates Black people who #StandForSomething, mainly because she responded to racist criticisms of her hair is simply daft."
The writer is referring to Zendaya's response to TV host Giuliana Rancic's racist remarks against her faux dreadlocks. According to the writer, standing up to racial Rancic doesn't quality Zendaya a spot on the cover, and I think that's absurd.
I'll admit that at one point in my life I probably would have agreed with the writer's statements. Being dark skinned, I often faced prejudice growing up and still do to this day.
Just because a person has a lighter complexion doesn't rule out his or her experiences.
As a former model and TV journalist, I was often overlooked because I was "too black." Companies that hired people of color would often go with someone of a lighter complexion to appeal to a "wider audience." Unfortunately, that has sparked a lot of resentment within the black community.
I also remember watching Spike Lee's "School Daze." The film deals with racism related to skin tone and hair texture biases within the black community, and I related to the darker skinned characters who were ridiculed by their lighter skinned counterparts.
There are times when I still face a tug of war between light and dark skin. However, since becoming a mom to biracial children, my perspective has changed.
A person of mixed race shouldn't be scrutinized for wanting to stand up against social injustice. Just because a person has a lighter complexion doesn't rule out his or her experiences—experiences that can be similar to what many black people face—and doesn't mean he or she shouldn't have a voice to address injustices.
The reality is that there are some people who will continue to think biracial people aren't black enough, and that's just not fair. They too can understand how important it is to support their ancestors who were a part of slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights and black power movements.
In fact, there are many who still believe in the "one drop rule," which means if someone is mixed with black, then he or she is considered black.
The issues that I've experience are far from over and my children will likely face their own set of problems concerning color. My husband and I choose to raise our children as biracial. And I'd like for them to acknowledge both sides, but society may not view them that way. They may also grow up choosing a race regardless if I agree with it or not.
But how biracial people identify shouldn't make them feel any less. I want my kids to feel proud of their identities—because they are enough. They're more than enough.