Monday, August 31, 2015

New Day, New Blog

Hi All!

I decided to leave Blogspot. Check out my new blog here. I'll still keep this one up in cyberspace.

~Shannon Luders-Manuel

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My Response to Critics Regarding My For Harriet Article about Mixed Race Identity

On Wednesday, For Harriet published my article "What it Means to be Mixed Race During the Fight for Black Lives." It quickly took off and has received over 23,000 Facebook shares/likes by the time of this blog post. I'm extremely humbled and honored to be sharing the experiences and viewpoints of so many mixed race people. Today I took the time to read what some of the critics had to say about my article. Here is a general response to the ones that seemed the most common.

"Why is she using police brutality as a platform to discuss being mixed race?"

Response: When I wrote the article, I knew that many of my black and mixed friends were very personally upset by everything we have been witnessing on what is sometimes a daily basis. I felt that if I addressed my feelings about police brutality and racial aggression without discussing my mixed identity, some would say that my feelings weren't valid because I'm not a "real black person." I wanted to be honest about my mixed race vantage point while also doing the cleansing work of writing down my thoughts and feelings about what is weighing us all down right now.

"She thinks she's better than us by saying she has good hair."

Response: I don't personally subscribe to the notion of "good hair," which is why I put it in quotation marks. I think that when we elevate people based on Western definitions of beauty, it harms the beauty that lies within the black community. That includes black people who see mixed race people as desirable because of their Western features, and white people who see mixed race people as desirable because of their black features.

"So she only wants to claim blackness when black people are brutalized?"

Response: I claim blackness on a daily basis. If someone identifies as mixed race, it doesn't negate them also identifying as black. As simple as it may sound, a person cannot be a mix of things without being those things. I perhaps simplified it for the article as a way to express my sense of alignment with the black community in the wake of police brutality; however, I am proud to be black every day. That was something that was instilled in me both by my black father and my white mother.

"You're not mixed, you're black." / "You're not black."

Response: These were the two most common types of criticisms that I saw in the comments, and it reinforces the notion that mixed race people have to make their own identifiers. Many think that those who claim a mixed race identity are turning their back on black people, but what they don't understand is that many black people don't want to claim us because we don't look like they do. Often comments about how we "should" define is only argued after we "do" define, no matter what that definition is. I see it not as understanding or of wanting to claim this mixed race person, but rather as stating that the person doesn't have the right to claim themselves.

"Why is this important?"

Response: There's really no great way to explain this to someone who isn't biracial. The bottom line is, it isn't important at all. The only reason it becomes such a deep seeded and heated topic is because other people think it so important. If mixed race people were accepted for who they are, there wouldn't be a need to assert our identities. And like I said above, it's not a matter of what we assert but that we assert in the first place, which seems to get so many people upset.

I opened blogger to upload my video but ended up writing these responses instead! I guess I had a lot to say! For more information regarding my article and my stance, check it out below. And thanks for listening!

~Shannon Luders-Manuel