Do Mulattos Have Identity Issues?

Do Mulattos Have Identity Issues?

Short answer, yes.  Long answer, keep reading.

I would find it extremely hard to believe that there is a mulatto walking around who has never experienced some type of identity issue.  I guess that statement could be applied to anybody in general, but in regards to mulattos, I imagine trying to figure out exactly who you are has been a significant struggle especially in one’s early years.  I’m not speaking of identity issues in the context of lifestyle choices.  I’m speaking strictly in terms of a mulatto person identifying as black but knowing damn well you are not the same as a “regular” black person.  For the mulattos who do not identify as black because more than likely you were raised by non-black people and so you choose to identify as mixed or biracial, the identity issue is relatively the same.  For one, you know without a doubt you can’t identify as white & you also know that the white people who raised you more than likely do not see you as black as well. You are “special”.

**Understand something real quick, when I speak about mulattos, I’m mainly speaking about a mulatto who was raised by black people in the black culture because that is my life experience.  Those raised by white people may have a slightly different perspective that I might not be able to completely relate to, but nevertheless, we aren’t that much different.**

For those of you who have been following the Onyx Truth over the last 3 years should know that I’ve always identified as a black person, but it was not because I looked in the mirror and saw a “black” person.  This identity began at early age when my grandfather once told me that regardless of the fact that my biological dad is white, the world will still see me as black.  It was further reinforced by mother at early age when one day I brought some form home from school for my mother to sign and one of the items she had to fill out on the form was what my race was.  After she filled the form out I noticed that she had checked the “black” box.  I remember asking her why didn’t she check the “white” box as well, or the “other” box.  My lesson that day was, “no matter how light you are, you are still black.”  So as you can see, I’ve never really had much of a say in choosing how I wanted to identify myself.  Now am I mad at my mother?  No.  Obviously due to her being older than me & knowing the history of this country, mulatto people for the most part were automatically viewed as black & embraced by black society without any question.  But for me, the actual biracial child, growing up & fully understanding that I stick out like a sore thumb amongst all of my black relatives…I always knew & felt I was different no matter how “black” I tried to convince myself I was or how much I allowed society to convince me.  It is what it is.  Seriously, how can a person as light bright as me who knows he is the child of 2 different races honestly go through life and pretend like I’m not biracial and that I’m just as “black” as every non-mixed black person?  It’s absolutely ridiculous & damn near psychotic to think that way.  Sure, one can identify with black society all day long because that is the culture one was raised within, but a mulatto person still cannot pretend like he/she is exactly the same.  We are not.  We know it & everybody else knows it.

One of the most famous historical mulattos was a gentleman by the name of Booker T. Washington.  Booker T. Washington was the son of a slave & an unknown white man.  Booker T. Washington later became an extremely highly educated man who went on to start Tuskegee University.  Booker T. Washington wrote an autobiography titled, Up From Slavery which chronicled his trials & tribulations with getting Tuskegee University up & running in the heart of the deep South during the Reconstruction era of American history.  One of the most interesting aspects about this book is how Booker T. Washington was able to win favor with a lot of southern white people so easily in terms of them offering their financial support to help fund the development of Tuskegee University.  As I’m reading this book I kept pondering exactly how in the hell did a black man in the deep South manage to secure the necessary funding of a predominately black school from white people to educate a bunch of black people who were literally just a few years ago the property of these white people?  How in the hell was this possible?  The only logical conclusion that I could come up with is that Booker T. Washington was an educated mulatto that white people viewed differently from non-mixed black people.  Now, for those who don’t know, I actually went to Tuskegee University so I’m extremely familiar with the town of Tuskegee, Tuskegee University & Booker T. Washington.  But during my time at Tuskegee, I honestly never thought about how in the hell did this school come to existence during that era.  It just never crossed my mind for some reason until I decided to reread his book Up From Slavery to really begin to understand who this man was & possibly why he was able to come out victorious in establishing this highly praised institution.  Granted, Booker T. Washington identified as Negro, but even though he never mentions it in his book, I assume he had to have known that him being a biracial worked to his advantage in allowing him to become so successful in this endeavor along with gaining national fame to the point where black society at one point were trying to figure out if they should embrace the Booker T. Washington frame of thought or the W.E.B. DuBois (another mulatto who was Booker T. Washington’s arch nemesis) frame of thought.

Now understand I am in no way trying to come off as some type of “mulatto supremacist” or some shit like that (those people exist too).  I’m just trying to get people to understand that whether black people & biracial people want to admit to it or not, mulatto people are seen & often times treated differently.  This is a fact.  And the fact that we are seen and treated differently can lend to the possibility of having an identity issue.  We’re not white, but we aren’t black enough…yet black people have been telling us we are just black, but even still we see how a lot of white people react to us versus non-mixed black people and we also see how a lot of black people react to us for simply being biracial.  Shit can become a headache.

So do a lot of mulattos have identity issues?  I would say most have probably struggled with it at one point in our lives.  I know I have.  Do I run around trying to promote being a mulatto over that of being black?  Not really, but I do embrace the mulatto identity much more than I ever did in the past.  Do I know some mulattos that promote mulatto over black?  Yes.  Do I still go hard for black society?  Yes.  Should I finally just come to terms in accepting that I am not truly “black” like every other black person & learn to embrace my unique position in American society as far as racial constructs are concerned?  Maybe.  Who knows.  Should mulattos petition to be legally classified as our own race?  I don’t know.  That’s a future article in the making I suppose.

Your favorite mulatto.


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