In response to a recent New York Times article entitled “Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above”, which suggests mixed race teens are “beginning to reject the “one-drop rule” and embrace their multiple racial heritages,” Tuesday, John McWhorter, conservative author of Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, wrote an article in The Root entitled “Let’s Stop Being Angry at Biracial People.” In typical McWhorter fashion, the author was very critical of Blacks arguing they are “adopting the racial-classification strategies of Strom Thurmond” and other white supremacist by encouraging biracials to identify as Black. McWhorter’s argument could not be further from the truth. Black animosity toward multiracials does not stem from internalizing white racist classification schemes. Blacks’ hostility toward multiracialism stems from biracials privileging their personal identities over the universal struggle of people of color against white supremacy. Supporting this claim, Natalie, a respondent in my current project looking at the multiracial movement, suggests:
They [the multiracial movement] need to become more aware of the politics of race in the United States rooted in equality concerns not cultural identity concerns. Cultural identity is fluid and highly personal, but racial justice is a need for the collective to embrace with an understanding of how nonwhites are viewed.
Natalie, as well as sociologists Rainier Spencerand Jared Sexton, suggests, the problems between biracials and Blacks are rooted in biracials placing a higher priority on personal identity recognition than on universal racial justice. McWhorter’s argument is based on a false assumption and only serves to frame Blacks as racist and pathological–as much of his work does. Arguing Blacks are the party championing racism, it is McWhorter who has embraced the colorblind lie and denial of the systemic nature of race in America.
In McWhorter’s argument, Black anger toward the multiracial project stems not just from accepting the white racist classification system, but also from deep feelings of self-hate. According to McWhorter:
That anger comes from insult — specifically, a sense that Troy must think he’s better than they are. After all, why couldn’t they just allow that Troy has had a different life from theirs? Or, more simply, open up to the obvious fact that some people are genetically (and culturally) more black than others? Those would be perfectly natural responses. Thinking that Troy looks down on you is just one alternative. And that alternative can feel natural only to someone who deep down does feel that being black is somehow lowly. [Emphasis added]
This excerpt reveals McWhorter’s assumptions about Blacks. In this statement it is clear McWhorter believes Blacks feel themselves to be a “lowly” and inferior race and thus perceive expressions of multiraciality to be offensive. However, as evidenced in their rich counter-frames, Blacks have historically maintained a positive self-image despite whites’ assault on their personhood.
It is whites who view blackness as a lowly status, not Blacks. The historical record shows McWhorter’s assumption of Black self-loathing to be clearly incorrect. After this assumption is shown to be false, McWhorter’s argument collapses. Once it is shown Blacks love themselves, McWhorter doesn’t have an argument because Black self-hate is the core of why he believes Blacks oppose multiracialism.. Therefore, biracials being encouraged to identify as Black is not an act of anger for “looking down on Blackness” or “letting racism win.” The frustration Blacks feel toward the multiracial project is a result of Blacks commitment to racial justice, not self-hate or internalizing racist classification schemes as McWhorter suggests.