President Obama was supposed to be the first post-racial president.
But as you know, the post-racial era was over before it began.
It’s been left to a generation of multiracial students to pick up the torch. And they’re putting the president to shame.
Via the NYTimes:
Many young adults of mixed backgrounds are rejecting the color lines that have defined Americans for generations in favor of a much more fluid sense of identity. Ask Michelle López-Mullins, a 20-year-old junior and the president of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association, how she marks her race on forms like the census, and she says, “It depends on the day, and it depends on the options.”
They are also using the strength in their growing numbers to affirm roots that were once portrayed as tragic or pitiable.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that,” said Ms. [Laura] Wood, the 19-year-old vice president of the group. “If someone tries to call me black I say, ‘yes — and white.’ People have the right not to acknowledge everything, but don’t do it because society tells you that you can’t.”
…Over dinner with Ms. López-Mullins one night, she wondered: “What if Obama had checked white? There would have been an uproar because he’s the first ‘black president,’ even though he’s mixed. I would like to have a conversation with him about why he did that.”
Absent that opportunity, Ms. Wood took her concerns about what Mr. Obama checked to a meeting of the campus chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. last year. Vicky Key, a past president of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association, who is Greek and black, joined her. The question for discussion was whether Mr. Obama is the first black president or the first multiracial president.
Ms. Key, a senior, remembered someone answering the question without much discussion: “One-drop rule, he’s black.”
“But we were like, ‘Wait!’ ” she said. “That’s offensive to us. We sat there and tried to advocate, but they said, ‘No, he’s black and that’s it.’ Then someone said, ‘Stop taking away our black president.’ I didn’t understand where they were coming from, and they didn’t understand me.”
Whether Mr. Obama is considered black or multiracial, there is a wider debate among mixed-race people about what the long-term goals of their advocacy should be, both on campus and off.
“I don’t want a color-blind society at all,” Ms. Wood said. “I just want both my races to be acknowledged.”
Ms. López-Mullins countered, “I want mine not to matter.”
And the boxes.
This is the real “No Labels” movement. For the sake of my
Filipino-Spanish-Russian-Hungarian all-American children, may it flourish.
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