Being a ‘mixed’ today… inspired by past readings

In Native Son, we see how the self-identification of Bigger affected him and his whole life, how the self-hatred form inside of oneself can turn into something sinister. This relays a different perspective from the Moon & Mars. This book is about a little girl who just sees her family. She is the first to be born out of slavery and the center of attention. The book (at least the parts I read) shows the importance of family and honoring differences, not just similarities. That being said, It is not to be said that it is easy. After meeting with the author of the book I felt a lot of things. I felt a relation to her. Being mixed, in a time like that could not have been easy. Being mixed in today’s world is not the easiest thing.

In a society where labeling has become the most important thing, being mixed is not easy. I feel it almost every day. I am currently filling out job descriptions and every time I do, I check the box that says ‘two or more races’. That box, makes me think about what it truly means to be mixed in a world that for so long wanted to keep things separated. It makes me think about the earlier article we read in which, we talked about choosing to be white when people first moved to the U.S. They did not do this for no reason at all, they did it to survive. The U.S. was a place in which being white was the main factor of survival. It was a way to be able to survive in a place where people who ‘different’ were outcasted.

For me, growing up mixed has been an interesting thing. From high school, I have been going PWIs without a second thought. I have been told I am too white and I have been told that I am too black. Yet, for some reason, I have always just felt like I am me. There are fronts I put up of course, for reasons that are not just due to race, but in a world where everyone has to be labeled as something, where does that leave the people who are more than just one identity? For me personally, it has left me in a place of slowly, but surely making my own identity that has always excluded race. I am an athlete, granddaughter, sister, daughter, friend… Yet, in a world where it is so hard to include yourself when you are born in a place where you never quite fit in, how do you find your identity any other way?

Identity through ‘Fate’

Throughout book three of Native Son, all I could think about was identity. So often in the world, identity is found through other people. In this story, we see Bigger identified through a white lens. Bigger was called a ‘Negro Rapist’, ‘jungle beast’, and a ‘grinning southern darky’. Throughout Native Son, we have seen Bigger be labeled as something that is bad by not just others, but himself as well. The news, which is run by white people, is using their voice to dehumanize Bigger, as well as the rest of the black community. Warning them that they are not meant to be there, with all of their ‘freedom’.

In today’s society, black people are still identified by others. The news tends to cast a shadow of doubt over black people no matter the reason they are on. During the peak of the BLM movement, I can recall when there would be a black person who passed away or did something good for the community and a mug shot would be shown instead of a normal photo of them. This is a real and current example of how black people can be portrayed for not themselves, but the community as a whole. In 2014 there was a song released called Don’t Shoot by The Game and featuring many other black artists. The song came out directly after the Trayvon and Mike Brown shooting. There is a lyric that describes the situation that happens in not only Native Son but also in the real world. The lyric reads ‘News say we’re looting, paint pictures like we some animals’. This was undoubtedly true. During the BLM movements, protests, and demonstrations, the news would show the bad parts of those events, not the peaceful aspect.

The point I am trying to make is the importance of how we view ourselves. From the time we are born, people put identities on each other. Be it girl or boy, or by race, people will always put a label on something to make their understanding of things simple and easy. That being said, I believe that this is all tying back to how Bigger’s mother told him she never wanted to have him. Since childhood, he has had the identity in his head of being useless and unwanted. So, in a way, I do wonder if his committing such an awful crime was simply due to an underlying cause of wanting attention.

Response to ‘On Being White and Other Lies’

Being white in America, to me has never been a choice. Coming from a mixed-race background, there was never truly a place for me to fit in. I was neither black enough nor white enough. I was always stuck in the middle, with no true place to fit in. I had never thought about how people came to America and chose to be white. Yet, I understand that choice. In the past and currently, people have been biased toward anyone who is not considered white. There are many people who wish they were white. Yet, one thing I do not think Baldwin had considered is the happenings in today’s world where people claim it is easier to be a minority. The amount of times I have been told it is easier to be a minority than to be white today is obnoxious honestly. People do not see the past anymore, as much as they claim. Everyone focuses on today. People choose to not see the way that people have been put down in the past, so these ‘equality’ rights were put into place. With the recent change in affirmative action, I wonder if this will change people’s minds. I do not believe that it has ever been easier to be a minority anywhere, including America.

Baldwin wrote ‘This moral erosion has made it quite impossible for those who
think of themselves as white in this country to have any moral authority at all—privately, or publicly.’ Yet, I do not believe that people view it this way. People take in the non-white form in ways they wish to view them, be it an athlete or a fighter, but do not always wish to accept them as a regular person. They do not want to view them as a neighbor, or a doctor. ‘White’ people will look up to non-whites for abilities they view they do not-have, the athleticism, the quick thinking. This is not to say that white people do not have those abilities, but will white people ever be able to take the moral high ground again? Or will they continue on with the notion that all is right in the world in which they claim?