Those deeply-rooted, underlying tensions are part of what keeps us from unifying and truly joining forces, working together for the greater good. What I’ve experienced for the six-plus decades that I’ve been speaking up from my POV is that people in general and Black people in particular (because, truthfully, unless and until the topic bumps up on them in a personal way, few White people pay us much attention or care about how we self-identify), are accustomed to and therefore comfortable with being in charge of our identities. On the one hand, Black people like to cite the slavery-based “rule” that anybody with a single drop of Black blood is Black to demand our allegiance.
Why would Bow—an educated, wealthy, tolerant doctor—care that her son is dating a white girl?
But, in reality, the episode addresses some of the most guarded, internal secrets within the black community—colorism, interracial dating, the black man’s fear of white women, and everyone’s fear of black women.
So I’m scrolling through Facebook minding my own Biracial Black and Blewish bizness when a Black woman posts subtle snark about a contestant on Jermaine Dupri’s new rap competition show who calls herself The commenters weighed in with presumptuous slings of #Tragic Mulatto, along with virtual side-eyes, teeth-sucking and freely expressed contempt at the young rapper’s choice of label.
Which made me realize that it’s time to speak up and out against Black people identity policing us.
The second Junior introduced Megan, I found myself making the same face as Bow for the same reasons—she’s white.
This isn’t because Bow and I are racists, in fact, the episode does an amazing job of pointing out that Bow’s issue is an internal issue that stems from her own conflicting feelings and uncertainty around her blackness.
Yet, If you’re not familiar with colorism in the black community or tropes like the tragic mulatto, you might not understand how deeply these factors actually affect black women.
Bow lays the groundwork in a brief history lesson—mixed people were given preferential treatment in our white-privileged society, leading to a disconnect between dark and lightskinned blacks until the civil rights movement, but uncertainty still exists today.
"When I first came to America, people who had heard me sing on the radio would be surprised that I was white when they saw me.