06 Dec The Dougla View: The Taye Diggs Mixed Son Controversy
In case you missed it, about a month ago, African-American actor, Taye Diggs caused an uproar all over cyberspace when during an interview he explained how he would hate for his son to be confused about his racial identity, since people would consider him black and not black and white. That omission would deny his son his mother’s racial identity, Diggs argued.
To which I say….
Even on my own Facebook newsfeed, people were up in arms about his comment. Persons were commenting that how dare he say that his son was bi-racial and not black. They were insinuating that not only was Diggs teaching his son to be ashamed of his ‘blackness’ but that society (and the police) would only see him as a black man and nothing else.
Usually on social media, I rarely ever comment on race issues. In this instance, I took up the mantle. I and another mixed race person decided to jump into the conversation trying to explain that mixed race kids don’t really like to choose sides. Instead, society tries to force us into picking one over the other. We applauded a parent who was vocal on the self-identity quandary that comes with being mixed-race.
Well, they were not having any of our mixed race input. They were too busy being offended that someone wants to acknowledge all of their heritage and pointed out how naive we are. As if sensing that we would never be able to gain an understanding from this group, we both opted not to respond.
I expect this level of narrow-mindedness from Americans, but I would think that Caribbean people given our cultural history would be more open-minded.
As someone who is mixed, let me say unequivocally I get offended when persons refer to me as Indian. Not because I am ashamed of my Indian heritage but because you are deliberately ignoring my mother and my maternal family. In return, people usually give me looks ranging from alarm, amusement or you-are-bat-shit-crazy. Please note that an Indian has never referred to me as an Indian. I guess it’s different in the Indian community. If you mixed, you mixed. There is no, “Oh you are looking Indian so you are one of us.” They are pretty clear cut from birth that you are not one of them.
I previously wrote about The 16 struggles of being Dougla (African/Indian mix) in the Caribbean but the truth is I’m not a real dougla by definition. I’m actually mixed with 6 races, however, feature wise, I have a classic dougla look.
One afternoon, I was explaining to a friend how mixed my family heritage is and she proclaimed, “You are a red woman masquerading as a dougla!” We both had a good laugh over it. I don’t consider myself to be a red woman at all. I’ve accepted the dougla label because that’s how society has branded me. As a result, my racial experiences or identity has been formed by this label.
So yes, I understand both sides of the argument. Diggs has every right to let his son identify as bi-racial and I understand that society brands you based on your physical features instead of your racial heritage. However, it doesn’t make it any easier when you do decide to self-identify.
Here is another way I have felt the ‘one drop of black’ rule.
You know when you are dating someone how random conversations about kids come up but you don’t really intend to have those kids? In the past whenever I have dated black men, we would speak about our hypothetical kids, they would adamantly state that the children would be labeled as black. To which I would respond, “Uhm no they wouldn’t. They would be mixed because of me.” Then I’d have to hear about how naive I was and that the hypothetical kids would never be perceived as mixed by anyone. So basically what I heard was that my genetic makeup was irrelevant in the procreation in any potential children.
It stung. It stung hard that men I was in a relationship with would so readily ignore my heritage and ultimately me.
Race is a social construct dictated by society and is not biological. My reoccurring argument on most social issues is that we (you and me) form society. Stop complaining about society and make the change yourself. If one by one we start honouring people’s heritage and racial identities then ‘society’ as we know it will eventually change. Don’t tell me that society will never agree. Stop acting as though there has been zero societal change in the history of the Earth. Admit to your own biases and understand why you perceive the world the way in which you do.