Mixed Race / Multiracial Erasure:
Multiracial people do not identify generally with one race over all others. We are not fractions of a race. We don't disregard any 'piece' of our identity. How we identify is up to us and our experiences. But that doesn't mean that people don't try to label, categorize, or erase parts of our identity when convenient.
What ways would it be convenient for a multiracial person to be erased?
- Voice & Opinion
When a multiracial individuals voice is taken away it is usually done because they are standing up for a minority group. Their voice or opinion may be silenced for standing up for an individual, a group, an ideology, a culture, a language, a movement, or just correcting a historical fact. Why? Because it activates white fragility and white supremacy.
Individuals who are white passing have a choice under white supremacy to either totally destroy parts of themselves, their culture, their identity, etc. in order to 'conform' and strengthen white supremacy within themselves and outside of themselves or fighting to have their voices heard and working within their communities to build a more equal and just world.
But that's not all white passing multiracial individuals have to contend with. They also have to work against being labelled and perpetuating white supremacy through unintentionally learned behaviors due to privilege. Human beings are constantly being labelled by society around them and assigned or removed privilege according to presentation, wealth, health, skin color, accent, orientation, etc. White passing multiracial individuals have to deal with the category of fluctuating privilege based on how they are perceived and the choices they make. We cannot control what labels we are given but we can choose how to leverage them (for equality or supremacy).
Below you can find an example of how someone's identity and voice was assigned privilege based on the color of their skin.
Ex. “Yeah, people shouldn't immediately discredit him because he's white, or assume that he is white, but you are going around says 'AKSHUALLY he's Asian and Pacific Islander!!' is also erasing his mixed heritage??? why are you implying that he's not more white than anything else, even though he literally is? Just because he's not 'just' white doesn't magically make him better than if he WAS a generic white guy.” This will take some time to unpack, but it's possible. Here's the issues with this comment.
- It doesn't ask how the person identifies.
- It uses blood quantum.
- It assigns the individual an overarching race.
- Then it disregards the individual completely.
There's a lot more that could be parsed from this comment, but we will leave it for now. What you can clearly see however, is that the person being talked about has had their voice and identity completely taken away, then they were systematically analyzed via blood quantum and skin tone to assign an overarching race.
This two fold analysis allows the person to not only categorize the individual based on the genocidal and supremacist notion of blood quantum or the 'one drop rule' that allowed for state justified subjugation, discrimination, genocide etc. but then asserts that so little of that 'quantum' is there that they aren't really anything but white. But what does that mean? What does 'generic white guy' mean in this context?
It's a tool. If the individual isn't who they claim to be via heritage, they're voice is meaningless on those issues. Their experiences as a multi-racial individual are nullified because they are perceived to not be a 'whole' individual of a singular race. This isn't how identity works. But it is how racism and supremacy work. This forces the individual into a box. They are never enough of a specific race to be able to talk about anything relating to those cultures or identities to other people who may allow them a semblance of privilege. But it's also two fold. This gives the white supremacist a specific weapon.
If the individual in turn wants to talk about issues of white supremacy or actively call out someone with supremacist views etc., by using what privilege they've been assigned, the white supremacist can always dismiss their concerns because 'they have privilege after all' or 'it's not affecting them personally, why should they care?'.
It's a catch-22.
Multiracial individuals within a supremacist society are condemned for embracing their identities and their concerns are dismissed in an attempt to force the individual into actively accepting their assigned privilege and enforce supremacy themselves. When that happens, the supremacist has won. They've taken your voice, your identity, your self, and formed something entirely different.
However, this is position of convenience for the supremacist. If the person revolts or actively seeks to dismantle racism, supremacy etc. then their privilege is revoked, the assigned 'blood quantum' and 'overarching race' may be reversed. You are no longer considered 'white' and depending on the depth of supremacy where you live. You may be in danger.
We live in a liminal space and our urge to belong must never give in to the simplicity of privilege. Keep your voice. Keep your roots. Actively work to remove learned supremacy from yourself and those around you. Help uplift the voices in your community.