Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tragic Mulatto: Cadillac Records Edition

During a recent viewing of "Cadillac Records" I learned that the legendary Etta James considers herself biracial, citing a claim from her mother that her father was the well-known white pool player Minnesota Fats. Perhaps I'm reading a bit much into this, but the pride I initially felt was tempered by what seemed like the film's emphasis on the racial background of the purported father who denied her, thus implying that not only was this a key reason for Etta's later substance abuse, but also that being mulatto causes such strong emotional turmoil. First of all, this portrayal dismissed the other painful life circumstances that may have led her to self-destructive habits, and secondly, the-age old stereotype that mulattos are eternally conflicted belittles the experience of the many joyful mixed-race families and diminishes the legacy we've created within the larger fabric of society.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The "Good Hair" Blues

My hair is a major issue with me. Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours and dollars I don’t actually have trying to shape the thick, tangled mass on my head into the “good hair” that is a fabled characteristic of having mixed blood. Many perms, flat irons and hair gels later, I’ve come to appreciate the solidarity this brings with monoracial women of color who may at times perceive mulatto women as immune to their particular struggles. In the end, my hair is good no matter what state it’s in because it’s mine and it represents who I am and my place in the world. That’s something I can be proud of.

The American Dream

It is a beautiful thing we have a mulatto President, for we now have a leader, who, by his very existence, represents the epitome of the American Dream of racial harmony. In addition, having a black First Lady and children represents the culmination of the unimaginable struggle of those who’ve fought for centuries to have a real voice in the United States. Finally, I am thrilled to have someone in charge who will use common sense, utilize consensus and proper judgement, and will govern the entire country, not just those segments he finds politically expedient. Thank God for this moment, it’s about time.