Monday, April 6, 2009

give birth to black children

A couple of days ago was this blog's first birthday! A lot of new readers have come along since then, so I decided to spend part of this week reposting some earlier entries. For some reason (or reasons), the following, slightly updated post, from April of last year, has been viewed more times than any other one on this blog. There's a lengthy discussion thread at the original post.

Did you ever notice that white women can give birth to "black" babies, but black women can't give birth to "white" ones?

If a white woman gives birth to a baby that looks more or less black because the father was black, most people today still say the baby is black. But if a black woman gives birth to a baby whose father was white, that baby also becomes a black person, whether the baby looks black or could pass for white.

In 1996, James McBride published a popular book called The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. Why is it that a white person could never write a tribute to his or her black mother?

Recently, I thought this paradox might be changing when I saw this headline: "Black Women Giving Birth to White Babies on the Rise." However, as the article explains, this phenomenon is happening in Europe, not America, and furthermore, it doesn't mean that the age-old idea that black women can't give birth to white babies is fading away, even in Europe. Instead, as the article also explains, the "number of Black women who are giving birth to White babies has been on the rise [because of] the increasing number of infertile White couples choosing cross racial surrogacy across Europe. . ."

Presumably it's still the case, then, that if a "Black" woman in Europe had a child through normal reproductive methods whose father was "White," the child would be considered "Black," and if a "White" woman had a child with a "Black" man that way, that child would also be considered "Black." (The comments below that article bear this out--notice how many people there were initially shocked by the headline.)

Such bizarre differences would seem to expose the absurdity of the whole notion of "race," and one might hope that we're moving beyond such double standards. However, despite the inclusion of a new check-box on the most recent (2000) U.S. Census, which for the first time allowed people to declare themselves biracial or multiracial, the tenacious grip of traditional racial categories remains strong. This racial conundrum also determines how we label and perceive our president, Barack Obama.

Obama's parents were a white woman from Kansas and a black man born in Kenya. He may well have checked the multiracial box on the 2000 census, but in the eyes of America, and no doubt the world, he is still America's first "black" president. A label that we almost never hear for him is the biologically accurate one, America's first "biracial" president.

Obama's mother is white, but we usually consider him black, especially because he looks black. But if his mother were black and his father white, we would still consider him a "black man," whether he looked black or white. We perceive our leader through the lens of this double standard because it's still the case that white women can have "black" babies, but black women can't have "white" ones.

Is your head spinning too?


  1. all comes back to the "one drop" rule...

  2. Right B, but as I said when the first commenter said the same thing at the original post, "what I'm basically asking is, why does such an outmoded rule still have such currency?"

  3. Because racism still exists. Black is now a political identity. I don't think any intelligent person can really argue that these binary "race" categories exist scientifically. But politically, it still very much does.

  4. "what I'm basically asking is, why does such an outmoded rule still have such currency?"

    Because this country is still heavily invested in racial difference and all the benefits racial difference bestows on those in power. This is not just to say that we are culturally still invested in racism (though I think that is true in many ways) but that the categories of race are firmly entrenched as well the hierarchies structuring those categories. Think about it: to acknowledge that black women can indeed give birth to white babies would mean radically rethinking so many (racialized) assumptions related to black motherhood and the so-called black family. It would also make plain that racial categories are *not* genetic but are cultural constructs. That 'outmoded rule' is really the foundation of a wide swath of social relations and cultural understandings in the U.S. - if that foundation were to fall, we would be in the midst of a severe, but much needed, cultural crisis.

    happy one year anniversary, by the way. it seems like this blog has been around longer than that. i guess i've been reading it since day one, or thereabouts. keep up the good work!

  5. Wow, I just read all the responses. I have no idea how long I've been reading your blog but it seems I was there almost at the beginning. Kudos to me.

    What I find interesting is the anger of the white mothers who seek to label their children as biracial "because that's what they are." Just because you don't go around announcing what you are doesn't mean you are in some way denying your ancestry. Most black americans have white and native american in them and it's not us who deny that, it's normally white people. And it's pretty obvious when you see black americans, especially in the same family. My mother used to be confused with my sister's teacher or nanny when she was a baby simply because they didn't, and still don't, share the same skin color. I think what ends up happening, when the child who is forced to identify as biracial and only as biracial, is those children become openly hostile and resentful to black people and biracial people in general.

    Case in point, Rashida Jones. She is the daughter of Quincy Jones and a Peggy Lipton, I believe, and she and her sister identify with separate ethnic groups. Rashida is a little lighter than her sister Kidada and they began to resent each other because Rashida could pass and often did. Rashida did a stint on one of my favorite shows, the office, and in the show she plays an Italian. In many of her shows/movies, she plays a white woman of the darker hue. Why can't she play who she is, a woman with a black father and a white mother. This really bothers me. It's as if they are saying, it's not possible for her to be the love interest of so and so therefore we are going to change her ethnicity completely. To me, she looks like a biracial woman so I don't understand why she can't play who she is. Thandie Newton, and I know Europe is different, doesn't seem to have this problem. In one movie I saw with her (the one with Simone Pegg), a marriage was supposed to take place. Her clearly black mother and clearly white father were in the scene because it made sense and is closer to the truth.

    I just wish that people will be accepted and yes I believe identifying as black is a political choice. I identify as an african american--that's my ethnic group and everything it comes with, rape and all. Because in the end, aren't we all multi-racial, well except for most whites right. I think we need to redefine what it means to identify as a black american or african american.

  6. This racial conundrum also determines how we label and perceive our president, Barack Obama.

    And yet, Obama's own decision weighs heavily. And, frankly, what you're referencing is not a "double-standard." This is almost as absurd as Whites who call the intra-Black use of the N-word a "double-standard" like they are upset because they can't use the term with impunity. Like you wished a Black woman could have a White baby so this "double-standard", as you call it, wouldn't exist.

    Also, it's rather disrespectful when Obama has made a decision as to how he wants to be "labeled" to then act like the reason why he's considered Black is merely because of the One Drop Rule. I think people view(ed) Keanu Reeves to be White but I bet the idea of the One Rule hardly ever enters the discussion when it comes to Reeves identity, perceived, preferred or otherwise.

  7. I'd like to know when and if anybody seriously questioned why Shelby Steele is "labeled" Black.

    I wonder if there isn't an element of White pride that's involved here.

  8. Also, since we all came from Africa...

    Well, now. I think that settles it.

  9. Nq wrote, And yet, Obama's own decision weighs heavily. . . . Also, it's rather disrespectful when Obama has made a decision as to how he wants to be "labeled" to then act like the reason why he's considered Black is merely because of the One Drop Rule. I think people view(ed) Keanu Reeves to be White but I bet the idea of the One Rule hardly ever enters the discussion when it comes to Reeves identity, perceived, preferred or otherwise.

    On the latter point, yes, the remnants of the One Drop Rule seem stronger when black blood is involved than when other kinds are.

    On the former, thank you for adding that--I definitely left Obama's own self-declaration out of consideration in this post. Nevertheless, even if he had decided to declare himself "biracial" or "white" instead of "black," I think most Americans would still consider him "black." The post is about that widespread and skewed perception. And yes, "double standard" doesn't seem like quite the right term for it. Still, who knows--is it possible that if he continually asserted a "biracial" identity instead of a "black" one, most Americans would go along with it and see him that way, instead of black? One thing seems certain--if he'd somehow chosen to self-identify as his "white" half instead of his "black" half, very few would go along with that.

  10. "And it's pretty obvious when you see black americans, especially in the same family."
    Or if you compare black Americans to "pure" Africans...

  11. One thing seems certain--if he'd somehow chosen to self-identify as his "white" half instead of his "black" half, very few would go along with that.

    Well, one thing people who decry the supposed present-day presence of the One Drop Rule (but don't apply it across the board -- see Keanu Reeves) is the significance of the whole "few would go along with it." So what? The consequences of someone self-declaring an identity "few would go along with" are incredibly different from what it was in the past to the point where what other people think is largely irrelevant. But I'll defer to bi-racial/multi-racial identity activists on that subject.

    Personally, I think Obama and Tiger Woods are viewed differently because of the 'labeling' decisions they've made even though a lot of Black people take pride in their accomplishments and expect a lot out of them. Yet, no matter how Obama self-identified (as Black/African American), a number of White people (and some Black people) did exactly what you did and disregarded how he self-identified and kept mentioning his White mother/family.

    So the question is: why aren't people going along with Obama's (or whoever's) self-declaration?

    the remnants of the One Drop Rule seem stronger when black blood is involved than when other kinds are.

    Seem? What an understatement. My point was to show how this "double-standard" idea only "seems" to involve "black blood." And there should be no reason why that phenomenon isn't questioned here.

    Also, I wonder why all the ways ostensibly Black people appear to distance or disassociate themselves with "the Black community" isn't part of the discussion here for the history of the One Drop Rule includes the phenomenon of "passing" and other assimilation behaviors (see Clarence Thomas) that make me wonder why there seems to be a problem when someone wants to identifies and willingly chooses "Black".

  12. Yet, no matter how Obama self-identified (as Black/African American), a number of White people (and some Black people) did exactly what you did and disregarded how he self-identified and kept mentioning his White mother/family.

    I think that may be worth a post Macon. Stuff White People Do: disregard self-identification. We actually had a discussion about this at a symposium held by UCLA and NYU. Obviously President Obama choosing to identify as black at a young age has shaped who he is. Just as choosing to identify as biracial/mixed has shaped Tiger Woods. The one drop rule lives on, but there's also a degree of how one sees their own identity which greatly shapes how someone interacts with the rest of society. Not to say that since the world saw Obama as black that didn't shape his choice to identify as black, but there are other factors and self-identification is a big part of it.

  13. During the campaign I frequently heard people joke that if Obama won he would, to most White people, become "biracial" or otherwise have his White ancestry stressed. If he lost, or if he became a bank robber, he'd definitely be "Black."

    The other side of the so-called fluidity of race is that some people have the ability to choose a racial marker as it becomes beneficial to them to do so. A couple of high profile music artists are often given as examples of this.

    Often the "one-drop" rule is discussed as something that is unfair to Blacks, because many of us do not "get" to be White. Someone like President Obama, or multiracial individuals with Black ancestry who do not look "Black" but who choose to self-identify as Black are often confusing to some--Why, when given a choice, would someone in their position choose Black?

    Perhaps they do not perceive themselves to be the "victim" of the one-drop rule. On the other hand, there are those who decide Black is "in" so may choose this identity and along with it "everything *but* the burden."

    P.S. Happy 1-Year Blogaversary!

  14. Hmm,

    I kind of agree with your post and I also feel uneasy about having this discussion at this point in time (and for reference, I'm African). I remember someone joking 'until the guy who robbed the liquor store is described as bi-racial rather than black, we will know race still exists'.

    What they meant was that it was a bit irritating to see whites trying to lay a claim to Obama (whether valid or not), because unless they were willing to extend that to anyone who was bi-racial (and the fact of the matter is, a LOT of African Americans are, as a legacy of slavery and rape there-of etc), it doesn't mean shit. Essentially, by virtue of his accomplishments they've let him through that door but keep it closed to anyone else who may be bi-racial ut not as accomplished. So it seems that some whites want to have it both ways. In this particular instance, there is almost a direct parallel with Latin American countries where there are multiple shades of color, with of course black being on the bottom. But money and accomplishments 'lighten' one.

    We all know logically that Obama is half-white/half-black. Race is but a social construct, but social constructs exist within a given context and can be powerful and have consequences. Joe Schmoe racist police office stopping Obama while driving won't make that distinction. Obama self identifies as black, as is his right, Tiger Woods identified as something else. They are both valid choices, but methinks that someone who is visibly black in the U.S and identifies as white is in for a very rude awakening. I was an immigrant who didn't really consider myself African-American until I was staring down the barrel of a cops gun for the henious crime of jogging at dawn in the majority white neighborhood I was living in at the time. That and many other experiences (less traumatic) made me realize that I was African American and that my political/social affinities lay with the social construct/group called black.

    My wife is white, and this is a choice we will have to deal with when we have children. But I'm not going to lie to my kids, sing kumbaya and tell them 'Hey, you're bi-racial, you don't have to worry about the things that blacks have to (profiling, discrimination etc)!'. We're going to arm them with the tools and support to navigate this society. One can wish for a better society, in a perfect world visibly black bi-racial kids wouldn't have to choose one or the other (and blacks wouldn't be discriminated against). But we don't live in a perfect world.

    Anonymous African

  15. The Myths of the Aryan Race and the Anglo Saxon Race are being disproved by the sciences of Genetics and Archeology.

    I am becoming a hobbyst specialist in studying all these scientific papers and finding the pertinent videos and articles, to post them in RACIALITY.COM

    White America is not Anglo-Saxon in any way but in a very tiny percentage. And the same for England.

    Anglo-Saxon and Nordic Genes are a very small percentage of the Gene Pool of England, most of it is Celtic, Iberian, and PreRoman.

    Even the Celtic Myth is being questioned by the Greatest Genetists. It is highly probable that there were other languages different from celtic when the Romans arrived.

    The myths of the Anglo-Saxon or Viking Extermination of the Celts have been disproved.

    Vicente Duque

  16. You know Macon D I have made this point to my biracial-black friends and family many, many times.
    'The only way to defeat the One Drop Rule is for biracial people to have the option of self-identifying as white as well as black or biracial. How does adding a biracial box defeat the One Drop Rule?' The response is always something like 'I don't want to only identify as white or only identify as black.'

    Let's be honest, adding the biracial box still adheres to the rule that one drop of black blood makes you black--the One Drop Rule. Which is why the Biracial Movement's objective is confusing to me. The One Drop Rule keeps people who are mixed in a sort of racial no-man's land & keeps people of color at the bottom, and "pure" whites remain at the top. The racial hierarchy remains.

  17. I did not read all the discussion from the original post, so I apologize in advance if my comment is redundant.

    I am a white woman who gave birth to a black child whose father is black.

    Now, let me address the difference between 'racial identity' and 'ethnic identity.' Race is a matter of perception and assumption.
    My son is black because people see his hair and his facial features and label him as such. His skin is closer to mine than his father's though.
    My race is white because that is what people deem me to be, and I am afforded privilege because of that perception. The race that is put upon me, however, erases my Native heritage.

    The difference is that race is a perception that is based on physical attributes. Ethnicity is how a person self-identifies. My race is white. My ethnicity is Native (although, I don't claim it because I do not suffer the oppression as a result of my perceived whiteness).

    My son's father and I will have to guide our son through the racialization process, which will (no doubt) be confusing for him, just as my racial identity has confused me.

  18. There is a definite difference between how the one-drop rule applies to blacks vs. people who are white+something else, and I think that sarahcasm's comments about how being read as white confers privilege while also erasing ones heritage are spot on.

    There is sort of an opposite one-drop rule going on with non-black plus white. Keanu Reeves is a good example of this, he is from backgrounds that are whitish (isn't he lebanese and hawaiian?). Another example is Bill Richardson. My mother is white and my father is latino. I identify as hispanic and am identified as white. Actually, I'm usually identified as Jewish, and the most blatant incidents of racism I've been directly subjected to are by drunk-seeming anti-semites on public transit in my hometown.

    I hate talking about my dad and being accused of trying to be a "victim" or to excuse myself from white privilege, which is never my intention when he comes up (which is almost always in response to a direct question about either my ethnicity, or my family). Is it so wrong that I want to be connected to my heritage, even if it is not the one that others perceive me as having?


  19. Happy e-birthday, Macon! :-)

    I'm just soaking in all the responses. This racial self-identification issue is one I've been hung up on for a while.

    I mean, if I have no connection whatsoever to the African continent (besides having traveled there), can I truly be African American?

    And as brusque as the term is, I might understand how some dark-skinned West Africans might be identified as black, but I and most "black" Americans I know are brown-skinned or lighter. So can I truly be black?

    And I am without a doubt biracial since, as Moviegirl points out, most "black" Americans have white and Native American blood. But I don't see any of these folks at my family reunions, so I don't really take them into account when I'm self-identifying, either.

    As a matter of fact, as Adrian Piper asserts in her video installation piece "Cornered", most "whites" have non-white blood, as well. (I'm not sure how accurate that assertion is.) So where does that leave them?

    Lots of questions, no answers. I'll be eagerly reading others' responses.

  20. Just skimmed all the comments, and it seems like a lot of people hit on the point that most African Americans are biracial. Historically, white slave owners have essentially open access to their female slaves, and runaway slaves would sometimes have relationships with Native Americans, so many black people generally assume that they are of mixed heritage even if they don't know exactly where in their genealogy.

    The one drop rule will never go away because it is essential to the concept of race. Racial categories are not natural human behavior. They were created centuries ago to separate whites from non-whites and then stratify non-whites. Race and genealogy is a question of purity. So, if you're 1/64 black and otherwise white (which are made up categories anyway) then you're not purely white, and identifying this is one of the main points of the race system.

    So, when one looks at a Barack Obama, he is black, because being black means having black parents or grandparents, etc. Being white means not being black. For other non-white races, it gets more complicated because they occupy different places on the racial hierarchy. But, because the whole system of race was created to benefit whites, it must also protect white purity, which is why a black woman can never have a white baby under this system.

  21. as Moviegirl points out, most "black" Americans have white and Native American blood.

    I think that's more pop fiction than fact. Yet, the Native American situation shows how the One Drop Rule stigma is BLACK.

    That is, part of why Moviegirl's point may be more pop-fiction than fact is because one aspect of colorism and the stigma placed on Blackness had all kinds of Black people claiming their grandmother was "full blooded Indian" or whatever. But White people do that to. Example: Anytime a sport's team's "Indian" mascot is in the news due to protest of the image, White folks almost literally come out of the woodwork claiming to be 1/8, 1/32 Native American. But no one talks about the One Drop Rule as meaning "one drop of red blood."

    And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Cherokee Freedmen situation where "Black" tribal membership was questioned when "White" membership was not.

    So this issue is complex and I find the One Drop Rule issue is always framed as if Obama, etc. are saying there is something wrong with being White to be rather curious, let alone oversimplified. It's not like "White" has ever gone out of style.

  22. More fiction than reality, I think not.

    Even though the Huxtables are a fictional family, they are true representation of the black american family. You'll never see non-black people at a black family reunion because of the stigma associated with being black. Therefore, non-blacks didn't identify with blacks and neither did many blacks who could pass.

    In my family reunions (we actually don't have them just BBQs) I can see my cousins with blue and green eyes or red hair, etc. I have no idea why they look this way, both parents appear black (maybe lighter, but still black). You really don't have this type of coloring in other ethnic groups outside of latinos. This is not fiction it's reality.

    I have no idea how many generations the kids from John and Kate plus eight have to breed with white people to get the asian out of them but as of now, they are 1/4 asian and they look Vietnamese. They couldn't deny their Asian-ness any more than my blue eyed cousin can deny his white blood.

    The point is, it's there, but seriously who cares. Having less or more white/indian blood than my neighbors isn't going to make a difference in my life now. This really shouldn't even be an issue. Is there an issue that Spanish blood has Moor blood within it? I think it has to do with people not knowing one god-damn thing about this country and it's history.

    We need to learn to treat people as human beings instead of pigeon-holing them as soon as we meet them. A great way to not do that is to not assume you know someone's racial makeup or who they may be married to. My last name may be Antolini but that don't make me Italian!

  23. This is not fiction it's reality.

    What you've related does not support this idea that MOST "black" Americans have white and Native American blood. You only mentioned that some of your relatives appeared to. There is a difference and I'm not one to accept this MOST framing just because "it is there."

    Since we all came from Africa then, presumably, all human beings have "black" blood. (Your point about Spaniards and Moors duly noted.) Yet, no matter how much "race" mixing has gone on people tend to bring up Black people as if their/our "racial stock" is the only one impacted -- your statement about Latinos notwithstanding.

    And I don't know what the Black family reunion comment is about. The idea that non-black people don't attend them is supposed to mean what? How is it related to this idea that MOST "black" Americans have white and Native American blood?

    Also, since you insist that it is "reality" or fact then where is the data? It's almost like the One Drop Rule that's been invoked here was of no consequence. I'm just saying... there would have had to been a lot of 'race mixing' for there MOST Black people to have white/Native American blood. The One Drop Rule is one indication that such race mixing was not so widespread. And it still isn't.

  24. Perhaps this is where people get the idea (or why people are quick to say MOST Black people have white/NA blood):

    The genes that build America

    "...One-third of white Americans, according to some tests, will possess between two and 20 per cent African genes. The majority of black Americans have some European ancestors."

    I don't see majority and most being quite the same but I'll concede the point if the mere presence of a single White ancestor on a "Black" family tree makes the idea of Blacks with "white blood", e.g., worth mentioning.

    Now, if you read more of the article, you'll understand why I'm inclined to ask:

    "What's coloring have to do with it?" especially since you (Moviegirl) would admonish us not to assume to know what someone's racial makeup is by what they look like.

    From the article:
    Last year, Professor Peter Fine at Florida Atlantic University had an idea for an art class. He would gather a group of students to produce work around their idea of their racial identity. But as part of the class he asked them to take a DNA test that would break down their racial background. His bet was that most of the class - of whom the majority saw themselves as whites of European descent - had no real idea who they were.

    He was right. Of 13 students, only one turned out to be completely European. The rest displayed a mixture of European, Native American, African and Asian genes. The one black student turned out to be 21 per cent white. Fine himself - who admits to looking like a corn-fed stereotype of a white Midwesterner - discovered he was a quarter Native American.

    Apparently, looks, even White looks (you know, an ethnic/racial group where "this type of coloring" isn't apparent), can be deceiving.

  25. Oh my, Nquest is trying to get a fight going again. That's his modus operandi: find faulty details to "correct," focus on individuals who wrote them, and then build things up into a major junkyard brawl, so he can start calling his opponent a "dumbazz" who needs to just "STFU," because there's no way they can defeat the mighty Nquest!

    I wouldn't take the bait, Moviegirl. But then, maybe he only treats white men that way.

  26. "...maybe he only treats white men that way."


    Snafoo, your comments about the topic and contribution to this discussion are amazing. I mean, the way you focused on the topic and the content of posts vs. individuals is admirable.

  27. LOL, Thanks, I didn't know that he or she had a pattern!

  28. LOL

    Speaking of patterns, Snafoo... Would you please reveal your posting pattern?

    I think while you're talking about other people's supposed M.O.'s you should also speak about yours. Simply put, tell everybody how you have come to know my supposed M.O. because the username "SNAFOO" is certainly one that I (Nquest) recognize and those details regarding what I call my "opponents."

    Sounds like the comments, the recognizable comments, from one such scorned (and, dare I say "defeated") "opponent." Sour grapes and multiple identities will get you nowhere.

    But, hey, maybe your readers appreciate that. And maybe you can actually explain your "he only treats white men that way" speculation.

    "Maybe" I should say, "continue stalk me (or keep crying) if you can." lol


    I meant to say I do not recognize -- i.e. have never seen, much less interacted with -- someone with the name "Snafoo" on this blog or any other cyber-space. But, somehow, "Snafoo" supposedly knows so much about me -- a person who has posted here heavily in the early months but hasn't posted here on a regular basis in months.

    So the question is how does Snafoo, again someone I (Nquest) don't know, knows so much about me and why does Snafoo (1) has problems with "corrections" being made and (2) feel that s/he knows how I interact with people based on their race and/or gender.

    You know, since Snafoo is so interested in the topic of this thread.

  30. The one drop rule is racism, since it is based on the idea that black blood negates and pollutes white blood.

  31. People say "biracial people are treated like black people so that's why they self identify as such" and while this is true to an extent, the fact is statistically they are given preferable treatment by white America.

  32. The one drop rule is racism, since it is based on the idea that black blood negates and pollutes white blood.

    Exactly. Racism necessitates the one drop rule. It's a logical and predictable extension of the notion of black inferiority.

  33. When I read this post, I thought of this story about a set of twin girls. The parents are both biracial, and the girls are usually listed as black and white.

  34. "Obama's mother is white, but we usually consider him black, especially because he looks black."

    We've been conditioned to think light brown looks "black", which is also part of the one drop rule legacy. Michelle Obama is black and when they stand together you can see Obama looks like what he is the shade halfway between black and white.

  35. why does such an outmoded rule still have such currency?"

    I would speculate that it does, because the white supremacist ideology behind the one-drop rule remains deeply ingrained in society.

  36. Intersting re: one drop

  37. Well I am a 'white' person who has a 'black' mother. My mum is actually half Ghanaian(black) and half Welsh(white) and my father is british and Irish. I have blue eyes, fair skin, dark blonde hair and I can assure you nobody calls me 'black' people often think I'm lying when they discover that my grandmother is black. I describe myself as mixed, because I am. However I'm from the UK and I don't know how things would be different if I was from the U.S.

  38. Diana Barry BlytheMay 31, 2009 at 8:32 PM

    It's not that difficult to understand why a white woman can have a black baby but a black woman cannot have a white baby - the One Drop Rule still holds.

    People of Color took lemons and made lemonade with the slave era induced One Drop Rule, a rule which separated the "tainted" from the "pure" while simultaneously increasing slave stock.

    But it also, unwittingly increased the number of people who would likely be against social injustice.

    The thought was "we we have a common oppressor, let's work together." And so the One Drop Rule still stands, not just out of tradition, but out of the observation that social injustice by skin tone/features still exists.

    If you get rid of the One Drop Rule, then black women will have what would be considered white (or non-black) babies.

  39. "Looks black"
    That is also a social construct. There are people who see Obama as a white man not a black man, it depends on your definition of "black". The ODR means Vanessa Williams and Lisa Bonet "look black" to people in the US, where other people see them as dark haired white women.
    We dont call Obama black because he looks black, he looks black because that is how we have defined black.

  40. Keanu Reeves' was born in Beirut. His father is Chinese and Hawaiian and his mother is English (white British) so he is definitely bi-racial. Perhaps because Keanu Reeves isn't bi-racial by way of a black mother or father his bi-racial status has never been a hindrance to his acceptance by his white female fans, who actually would seemingly balk at the even the idea that Keanu would have a female relationship outside of anyone who wasn't Caucasian or a mix of Caucasian and Asian like himself.

  41. It has nothing to do with color, and everything to do with genes. The genes that make a person "black" are dominant, so a child will be more likely to be born looking more black than white. The "white" gene is recessive so it is less likely to surface.

    If someone looks black they will probably be considered black, even if both their parents were white but they still had a black ancestor, if they look black that's what they will be called. Why does it even matter anyways? Same thing applies to hair color, right? If you have black hair your hair is considered black, even if both your parents were blonde, you're still a black haired person, right?
    Anyways, I absolutely loved reading the Color of Water. James McBride came to my University to speak about it, he's funny and an amazing guy. Who cares about skin color? It's just as unimportant as hair color.

  42. Has anyone seen "Skin" yet? It's out in Oz, but I don't think it's being shown in mainstream cinemas. I saw the trailer today, it looked good.

    SKIN is one of the most moving stories to emerge from apartheid South Africa: Sandra Laing is a black child born in the 1950s to white Afrikaners, unaware of their black ancestry. Her parents are rural shopkeepers serving the local black community, who lovingly bring her up as their ‘white’ little girl. But at the age of ten, Sandra is driven out of white society. The film follows Sandra’s thirty-year journey from rejection to acceptance, betrayal to reconciliation, as she struggles to define her place in a changing world - and triumphs against all odds.

  43. A black female CAN give birth to kids that look WHITE. Go to Frances Cress Welsing's website. Some genes are dormant. Civilization started in AFRICA. Learn your history.

  44. gapalmar,

    This post isn't about biology; it's about the social construction of race, and in particular, a resulting and bizarre double-standard that still lingers. As the post says,

    If a white woman gives birth to a baby that looks more or less black because the father was black, most people today still say the baby is black. But if a black woman gives birth to a baby whose father was white, that baby also becomes a black person, whether the baby looks black or could pass for white.

    That may not always be true anymore, but it probably still is more often than not.

  45. I would have to say that it depends on what the baby looks like. I know black women who have given birth to white children, in that their children could pass for white. I'm talking blond hair, blue eyed white children. I know that they have issues with being assumed to be the nannies and not the mothers of their children when they take them to the playground. So, there is the one-drop rule and then there are the surprising phenotypes that come out of the mix of 400 years of slavery. This is not a new phenomenon. It also makes me wonder how many white people there are walking around out there who if they followed the one-drop rule, would find that they are themselves not white, based on that rule. Still, having that white look comes with its advantages and this cannot be denied. Consider "mixed race" families where the siblings come in different shades. It is the skillful mother who can navigate a school system that sees the fairer siblings as smarter or better-behaved than the darker ones, when they don't know the relationship. It's mind-boggling. I try not to let this arbitrary system get inside my head but I see it. On the one hand, the one drop rule has created unity in the African American community, and that's a positive side, but on the other hand, it's still all really crazy. I completely agree with Moviegirl about black being a political choice for some people as opposed to "mix raced" and that we African Americans are pretty much all "mixed race". We have always known this. It's the white folks who have denied their black cousins.

  46. Black woman gives birth to a white, blue-eyed, blonde baby girl and no signs of white ancestry.


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