About those light skinned girls…
I recently finished the Real Housewives of Potomac reunion show and whew, that was some drama.
Real Housewives of Potomac was appointment viewing for us this spring.
Like every show in the Real Housewives franchise, there are mansions, one-line zingers, the Andy Cohen-hosted reunion, and shade.
This is the second installment (after Atlanta) to feature an all-black cast, and race was constant source of drama.Two of the women on the show are biracial (black and white) and these women felt constantly hounded and judged about their race by two other cast members with “lighter” features.
There was one particularly annoying moment where the “lighter” women took offense to being called “biracial.”
“I’m not biracial, I’m black,” they said.
This understandably irritated the biracial women. Whereas the lighter “black” women were annoyed because they felt that the biracial women were “ashamed of their blackness.”
This is a conversation I’ve had several times since moving to Dallas – particularly given our large population of recent arrivals from all over the country, including Louisiana.
Why Mixed People Don’t Want to Be Called “Black”
Many mixed people (like myself) prefer to be called “mixed” or “biracial” instead of simply black or white.
Why? It is not because we are ashamed of our African ancestry, but rather we reject hypodescent classifications.
“In societies that regard some races of people as dominant or superior and others as subordinate or inferior, hypodescent is the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union or mating between members of different socioeconomic groups or ethnic groups to the subordinate group.”
This is why we commonly refer to Mariah Carey, Prince, Drake, Obama, etc. as black, instead of “biracial,” “mixed,” or even white.
So it is not the case that these mixed women are ashamed of their blackness – quite to the contrary – they insist on the “mixed” or “biracial” classification out of a deep respect for all parts of their background.
But What About The Light (Non-mixed?) Girls?
The racial fights between the Potomac cast members were primarily due to poorly defined terminology.
The vast majority of African Americans have some European ancestry, with huge variations between individuals (here’s a study).
However, our society still employs the hypodescent “one-drop rule” in which anyone with any African ancestry is considered “black” regardless of how they were raised or what they look like.
Many younger biracial people (like the mixed Potomac women) view this as a silly anachronism – you can be black and white. These aren’t mutually exclusive.
Whereas many others view blackness as a fixed social identity that is either embraced or rejected.
Maybe this show will help people move beyond this?
Bonus: The situation is far more complicated in Brazil.