You’re Black? How Boring

by Janelle Harris

About once a month, I have a conversation that—after the initial introductions are made and small talk is in full swing—goes something along these lines:

“So where you from?”

“I live in D.C. In southeast.”

“No. I mean, where are you originally from? Are you Dominican?”



“Still no.”

And so on and so forth as we play Name That Nationality through a few more countries and implied ethnicities until at last I reveal that I’m just Black. Plain ol’, regular ol’, everyday ol’, grade A basic African-American. No frills, no spices, no extra ingredients added.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, that’s exactly what I look like. There ain’t a thing on this face or body that would indicate that I’m anything other than your average Black chick. I got a head full of Black hair and a nondescript complexion and a set of big lips sent straight from my African ancestors. But there’s something in my personhood that tips dudes off that I’m supposed to be checking the “other” box on the Census form.

So when they find out that’s not the case, the disappointment is almost palpable. And that particular conversation is usually over. I find that folks who spend their time digging to find out what someone “is” tend to grow quickly disinterested when they find out that they “isn’t.”

We’re a people who loves to one up ourselves. It was good to have a Benz, then a Jag, then a Maybach. In the same vein, light-skinned girls were the must-have arm candy. Then all of this “We Are the World” racial utopia-chasing cleared the coast for brothers to date white girls. Now being a quarter-this and half-that makes a woman just the right blend of exotic and desirable.

It’s the math equation of our ages: what do you get when you mix some Venezuelan with a touch of Scottish, a bit of Black and just a twist of Japanese? As far as I can tell, you get a gal who won’t stay single long or, at the very least, won’t want for dates and doting male attention.

It’s a win-win for the brothers because they get to stay on the right side of the white girl debate without getting their chops busted by disgruntled Black chicks, but they get the racial ambiguity and sexy 31-flavored blend that produces light skin, fine hair and—maybe, just maybe, if the benevolent gods who hand out genetic traits are feeling generous—those voluptuous sista girl body parts of love that bring all the boys to the yard. Memphis Bleek (remember him?) said it, and plenty of dudes are willing to co-sign on their desire for a chick with Chinese eyes, Indian hair, and a Black girl ass.

I’m not a fan of King magazine, for what I think are obvious reasons. Aside from 1,001 ways to masterfully execute the illustrious T&A shot, they don’t stand out in my mind as a pillar of journalistic excellence. I hate everything Playboy stands for too, but despite my aversion I have actually read some good articles in between the nudie spreads. King? Not so much.

Still, I try to be a girl about pop culture, so I flipped through the pages of a special issue a few months ago when my favorite Borders was sadly closing its doors. I don’t know if it’s impressive or bewildering that King editors never seem to have a problem finding a new lineup of models willing to spread ‘em for the visual enjoyment of their readers. But hey, if you believe your calling is to be the reason why dudes keep a jar of Vaseline and a roll of tissue by their beds, more power to ya.

In between all the posing and pouting going on on those pages, I also noticed an odd cultural phenomenon. Not a single one of those women was just Black. Plain ol’ regular, everyday Black, four or five generations removed from their last white relative. Instead, those girls got real creative with their heritage—which, for some reason, was listed along with the rest of their stats like hometown and body measurements. A quick look at one model’s beautiful chocolatey complexion and ample lips, and I naturally knew she was a sista. But when I skimmed the details about her, she listed her heritage as Irish, Native American, Jamaican and oh yeah, African-American.

If ever you could slap a magazine page and have the person on the other side feel it, that’s what I wanted to do. I shouted her a mental holler: Girl, you are Black. B-l-a-c-k. You needed one line to sum up that information. Get real.

Everybody else followed suit. For the rest of the pages, they were Black and Welsh. Black and all kinds of Latino. And everybody got Indian in their family, ‘cause Cherokee was shouted out more times than a few. I mean, as many folks who’ve traced back to their Cherokee roots you would think that tribe started out 30 million deep. Can somebody please at least get creative and say they’re Sioux? Or Choctaw? Ease up on all the Cherokee-ing and surprise me a little bit.

It’s a real pity when what you are isn’t what you think is good enough. If we all shake down our family trees, we’re guaranteed to find a surprise or two hidden there, especially since most of our families survived the dark days of enslavement. But when being Black in and of itself isn’t the one thing a woman can hold up and be proud of, it makes me wish Black Cards were real. Because I’d be rolling on folks and ripping them suckas up, having them revoked and stomping them bad boys out. Being Black isn’t an accessory to a glamorous concoction and it’s bigger than being touted to add a touch of street cred. It’s a full experience. So experience it, already.

  • Guest

    Should be many posts on this article.

  • Guest

    Not to mention the many posts that should follow from people who are “immediately biracial/multiracial” who will come in here and complain about “Why can’t people be free to acknowledge their many races blah blah” when this article is NOT referring to them!

  • trace21

    um what exactly is regular ol black?….The title of this article needs to be : You’re African American?How boring”

    I say this because in the article the author says : “A quick look at one model’s beautiful chocolatey complexion and ample lips, and I naturally knew she was a sista. But when I skimmed the details about her, she listed her heritage as Irish, Native American, Jamaican and oh yeah, African-American.”

    I see Jamaican in there….guess what many Jamaicans and people from the West Indies such as myself see themselves as black. However when someone asks me what I am I will proudly say Trinidadian. Why? Because that is my country, that is where I was born .

    So it seems the author really needs to stay on track with proper wording here, it can be a bit confusing for people reading this who are not American. Seriously because there are people outside and even inside America who identify as black but they are NOT African American. So they will never say to someone, oh I’m just black. They will proudly rep the country they come from, since there is no shame to tell someone who asks what you are.

    ….But then again maybe this article was only written for African Americans?

  • Quell

    I’ve been asked “what you mixed with?” most of my life, and like the author when I say I’m just Black I can see the disappointment on people’s faces.I have to be honest and say that I’ve only encountered this within the Black community and usually with dealing with Black men. I think many women lie about their backgrounds just so Black men will find them interesting, not realizing that if they don’t have the complexion and the hair texture to match those backgrounds they’re still going to be passed over for someone who does.

    Personally I think lying about your background and race is pathetic, and you shouldn’t feel the need to lie. People are either going to accept you for who you are or they won’t, but who wants to be in a relationship or even friends with someone who has a problem with you being just “regular black?”

  • Ms. Terious

    I slightly agree with the author but I only say that because no one is fully black. Sure, if your mom and dad was black…you’ll check African American on your SAT/GRE but is that really what we are? My mother is black and so is my dad but I know my ancestral history is not fully that. If you ask me, I will say that I’m african american and I’m not going to claim Native American (Waccamaw Sioux, to be exact). We must also consider the possibilities of racial mixing during slavery. It could have occurred but through the years…it could have been forgotten. I think there’s a very little chance that anyone is fully “black” but to avoid the complications and arguments I think most people say “African American.”

  • Rakel

    I’m assuming the author meant Blacks from the African Diaspora? At least that’s how I took it. Being Haitian American I proudly say I’m Black. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard ” ohh I knew you was from the islands cause of your hair and skin?” It’s crazy how there are so many people who aren’t Black and proud. I mentor two 3rd graders at an at risk school. The little boy is Nigerian and the little girl is Black. But if you ask her mixed. How is she mixed? Her dad and mom are Black but her mom has a half white sister making her mixed too. Her logic broke my heart. I tried to gently tell her that just because her aunt is mixed it doesn’t make her mixed. I told her I’m all Black and that’s great, just like if you’re all Asian, or White, Hispanic, etc. She wasn’t hearing me though as soon as I mentioned Hispanic she started telling me about her mixed bf. He’s Black and Hispanic. I dropped it after that, I figured if she had a mother who was cool w/ her 9 year old having a bf she had bigger problems.

  • Clnmike

    When people ask me if I am mixed I tell them the truth….I am 25% black, 25% African, 25%Haitian, 15% negro, and 10% nigga. The 10% part increases when I come across dumb ass questions like the Hulk.

  • Clnmike

    When people ask me if I am mixed I tell them the truth….Yes…yes I am 25% black, 25% African, 25%Haitian, 15% negro, and 10% nigga. The 10% part increases when I come across dumb ass questions like the Hulk.

  • Gail Sidney

    Its all fun and games… until the cops come a knocking. Suddenly things are put into perspective.

  • niesha s

    I thought it was only me. I’ve had men approach me wanting to know if I was half asian, because I have small eyes, or if I were jamaican or from from Africa some where. They(black men) do seem to be disappointed by learning that I’m just African-American. Unfortunately, it comes down to us hating ourselves til this day. It’s sad honestly.

  • CaliDreaming86

    I’ve dealt with “What are you?” questions my whole life. I am a light skin Black woman who apparently can pass as being Hispanic, biracial Black/White, or even biracial Black/Asian. I only get these questions from Black people, who debate with me on whether or not I am “mixed”.

  • Timcampi

    “Not a single one of those women was just Black. Plain ol’ regular, everyday Black, four or five generations removed from their last white relative. Instead, those girls got real creative with their heritage…”

    Are you saying it’s wrong to acknowledge the other parts of your heritage…? And what the hell is a regular black anyway? You’re all mixed to some degree. What’s wrong with a person being able to identify what regions create their features? Yes, I am African-American, but I am Nigerian first and above all. I’m really curious as to why this bothers you so much… Why are some so insecure about race.

  • Guest

    I like your response…except for the “nigga” part…

  • KC

    “But when I skimmed the details about her, she listed her heritage as Irish, Native American, Jamaican and oh yeah, African-American.”

    Ever notice that when these “multi-racial” people go down the list of their heritages the black ones (in this case Jamaican and African American) are always the last to be mentioned? Its indicative of the racial hierarchy that we’ve all internalized. Black is always last. Its like the further away you are from being “just” black the better you are. Sad.

  • thereluctantsocialite

    Good point!

  • Guest

    I agree! I recall watching an interview on youtube with some black Playboy (I think) model. She was like, “I’m German, Cherokee, [something else, maybe Irish], and Black”. And the way she said, “And Black” it was like “you guessed it” (since she looks Black). I find it REALLY interesting since I HIGHLY doubt she was mixed (I know appearances can be deceiving but still). Also, I find that Black people (who are not “immediately” mixed) ALWAYS claim Irish blood (or Cherokee, of course). I thought it was very disturbing that she claimed German blood first. She was dark-skinned (like chocolate brown) and I thought to myself do you REALLY think that if you went to Germany that you would be accepted as even part German?? REALLY?? SAD.

  • Liz

    I do not like this article at all. I was born in this country from a African American mother and a father from Jamaica which makes me of African american and Jamaican decent and will be damned if someone tells me I can’t acknowledge my two heritages. Yes my family comes from a mixed bag of nationalities like most of all Americans but because I was raised with another culture I have the right to say so. As a child my father showed me and told me to be proud of my Jamaican roots. From as far as I can remember my father has also told me I am a Jamerican and I have come to know many other proud Jamericans In my life. If I want to acknowledge that my paternal grandmother is a Scottish Jamaican I also have the right to. After all her father is Scottish. I can also acknowledge any other race or nationality my mother’s mother was and my grandfather is. That is my right. I’m do not agree saying this to try and say that I am better than
    anyone because no one is. Who’s right is it to tell my little sister who’s mother is from
    Trinidad and Jamaican father that she can not be proud of her roots?? How dare you or
    anyone else who stands in the way of that!! And yes I am also proud to be an American
    too! And I know I am who I am a strong Jamerican woman because of being all that I am!!

  • thereluctantsocialite

    Lol… I liked this article alot. I can most definately relate.

    I have the same problem. Everybody always asks me what I’m “mixed” with or ask me where I’m from… I guess because I have curly hair. Which I don’t really think makes me all that “exotic” looking… but apparently so. So I get that I look like I’m from the islands alot… or that I’m Ethiopian. Who knows? I think I just look like me…lol.

    When I tell people I’m from America… a lot of times people don’t believe me.However, I have noticed that some men are super impressed by my so called “exotic” features.
    I think the whole thing is hilarious. Apparently, having big eyes and curly hair makes me look like something other than a “regular” black girl.

    Anyway, my grandfather on my mothers side was supposed to be half Dakota Indian… but when people ask me what I am, I never reference that…I just say I’m black.

  • Timcampi

    Wow… I don’t think gene diversity is based on looks. More like, alleles and dominant traits. The fact that her skin is chocolate does not negate the fact that she could be German? Look at Tyson Beckford. Does he LOOK Chinese? No, but it’s there. Anyway, this is just a thought… but maybe black is the MOST OBVIOUS which is why it’s listed last. Although if that’s the case, there’s something wrong with people who have to defend the miscegenation of their backgrounds to others. It’s really not anyone’s business how you celebrate or vocalize your multi-hued lineage. And it really shouldn’t matter what kind of black you are.

  • OSHH

    I don’t tthink this articll was about denying your mixed cultural heritage at all.
    I think you read it wrong. it’s more about people assuming mostly black men that if you have an exotic beauty that you are something other than just black. Which has happened to me on a number of occasions, guys asking if I directly mixed, half asian, dominican, cambodian etc.,

  • yanni

    Wow this is such a good article.
    I’ve been asked the “What are you?” question a lot. I’m half Bahamian and God knows what else. And I really don’t know what else is in there because no ones seems to know who my grandfather is, and he seems to be the one where i get the long hair, and slight chinky eyes from. So i usually say half Bahamian and Idk, and people automatically say “I knew it, i knew you were an island girl!!” ummm last time i checked Bahamians are just as black as they come.

    But what’s even more interesting is this also sheds some light as to why as blacks we are the number one sponsors of the weave industry. Not that white girls don’t wear it(because all the females on Jersey Shore wear weave) but you don’t see non-black girls walking around here with hawaiian-silky in their hair knowing good and damn well their natural hair doesn’t compare. The self-hate someone mentioned above is still very apparent, and real.

  • thereluctantsocialite

    But I don’t think the point of the article was to say that you someone like yourself shouldn’t acknowledge your heritage.

    She’s speaking about people who, like she said, are “plain ol’ regular, everyday Black, four or five generations removed from their last white relative” but still claiming that they are part white, like somehow that makes them more unique.

    There’s nothing wrong with you claming your heritage and being proud of it…but I don’t think the author is talking to someone like you. I think she’s talking about people who MISREPRESENT their heritage.

  • LemonNLime

    Interesting article. I will say I am glad I’m not the only one who thought the same thing about those girls in King magazine. I get more so annoyed at the fact that they’re are being asked their nationality NOT race or ethnicity and they come out with array of different adjectives for different countries. I’m gonna need people to know the difference between race, nationality, and ethnicity.

    Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state. Since I have an American passport, my nationality is American.

    Ethnicity is your identity with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology that stresses common ancestry. I say my ethnicity is other. I hate the term African-American bc I am not from Africa, I was born in Ohio, and I have no connection or relationship to Africa and the term African- American implies, to me, that I am not from here so I refuse to identify as such. I choose other because Henry Louis Gates has yet to ask me if I would like my genome mapped so other than some people from western Africa, I don’t know my ethnicity.

    Race is classification of humans into large and distinct populations or groups by factors such as heritable phenotypic characteristics or geographic ancestry, but also often influenced by and correlated with traits such as appearance, culture, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. My race is black and while I still think it makes more sense to be called brown, no one else seems to thinks so.

    Then I think to myself, this is King magazine not Anthropology section of the Smithsonian. Expecting some form of intelligence out of any of these women is like expecting the sky to rain gold and diamonds…

  • bosslady

    Shahida Muhammad done a similar article on here a few months ago, “What Kind of Black are you?”

  • Shannon

    I think the problem with the subject at hand is that people often confuse race & ethnicity. They’re completely different. Race is simply the color of your skin: black, white (and back in the day what they used to call yellow & red). Instead of people identifying by race they should be questioned their ethnicity or culture. An African-American woman from the south and a panamanian or puerto rican woman could both be considered black based on their skin color, but surely their experiences are different. Each is black yes, but they are from different parts of the world which makes them completely different. This is why I believe if classifying people (which is not even necessary in itself) should be done by ethnicity/ culture i done at all. At the end of the day there’s only one race (the human race) but of course labeling is something that will be done until the end of time. So I agree with the author on if you are chocolate, “girl you black!” But black can mean so many different things, so if one feels the need to describe their self beyond that hey that’s their prerogative. This all coming from a “plain ol black girl” lol

  • 4real

    Those or you who are Haitian, Bahamian, etc. I don’t think the article was meant to imply that you can’t be proud of your heritage. I think the point is the desperation some of us have to be exotic or something “more than” black. You should be proud of your heritage, but as the writer mentioned the models who list Irish or German first when they are clearly black, it makes you wonder why they feel the need to do that. How many of these people do you think grew up with a strong sense of their Irish or German heritage? My guess is not many.

  • La Diva Negra, J

    Funny Story: Even though I am technically mixed by American standards, I essentially tell people since both of my parents are brown, I’m black on both sides.

    Hell, my relatives, no matter where they were born, or what ethnic or cultural group they were born within, are still considered black. Black is a phenotype.

    African-American I am not, because my family is Caribbean, Latino, and Native American. But we are all still Black.

    Why don’t people understand the difference between race and culture/heritage?

  • Guest

    @Timcampi: You said, “The fact that her skin is chocolate does not negate the fact that she could be German?”. In my post, didn’t I say, “I find it REALLY interesting since I HIGHLY doubt she was mixed (I know appearances can be deceiving but still).” Where did I say that chocolate skin negates the fact that she could be German? I admitted I made an ASSUMPTION based on her appearance. READING IS FUNDAMENTAL.

  • Timcampi

    Race is a phenotype. What makes someone a part of a race are the genes expressed and shared based on geographical makeup, which is not limited to, but INCLUDES skin color. It’s like what separates a pigeon you find in New York City and one that’s from let’s say… Calcutta. They’ve evolved differently to match their environments, but all belong to the same genus.

    There are three races. Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. Everything in between is a variation of those three. For example: Caucasoid + Mongoloid = Indian and Middle Eastern Heritage, or a combination of the three would give you most of Brazil and account for Native American and Hispanic ancestries. That is what ethnicity is. Nationality is the country of origin as you stated.

    Abigorinees are considered black by most of Australia, but they are not black race wise. Same goes with darker skinned Chinese people. Please do not use color as a marker haha… Race is NOT (just) the color of your skin.

  • Guest

    “How many of these people do you think grew up with a strong sense of their Irish or German heritage?”

    THANK YOU! Again, it is one’s prerogative to identify as he/she wants to BUT this is a good question. I think if most people were asked about Ireland or Irish customs they might say: Guinness, the color green, Leprechauns, St. Patrick, Ireland is near the UK…and perhaps that’s it.

    I also find it interesting that Black people (again, not “immediately” mixed) are SO quick to claim people who aren’t claiming Black people! This is VERY strange to me.

  • Guest

    “It always amuses me when African-Americans start listing their heritage. They’ll name everything other than the black. They get down to the 1/16 level. It always goes something like this: “1/16 Irish, 1/16 Scottish, 1/16 French, 1/16 Cherokee”. The 75% never gets mentioned. XD. Please what is it with the Scottish and Irish claims?!?”

    THIS. All I can say is that if I’m ever around someone who at random feels the need to prove to me that they are mixed, I’m just going to keep my mouth shut and smile/nod politely. After all, if I say anything to them then I’m just a) A black militant, b) Hating??, c) Trying to force them into a box, or d) All of the above. SIGH.

  • La Diva Negra, J

    I told this guy I was black once, and he was like “What? No white with the curly hair?”. I was peeved.

  • Timcampi

    “I find it REALLY interesting since I HIGHLY doubt she was mixed (I know appearances can be deceiving but still).”

    You implied it right there. With your high doubt. And you used her appearance as a reason for her claim to be less than probable? Though I do admit I jumped the gun and ignored the very small sliver you left just in case her German heritage is possible. And for that I do apologize.

  • Melinda

    The only people who inquire about my ethnicity are Black men and mixed race women.
    Black men ask because they’ve clearly got issues and the mixed race chicks ask because they want to throw it in my face that their actually mixed and I am not.
    It’s pretty pathetic.

  • Guest

    @Timcampi: You know what? I would like to apologize for the “reading is fundamental” line in my previous comment. However, I admitted that I made an assumption based on the woman’s appearance so I don’t appreciate you purposely misinterpreting what I said just to prove me wrong.

  • Liz

    The bottom line is you can not tell if a person is mixed or not based on skin color. I personally know mixed black people half white or half Japanese that are dark skinned. So to tell someone “youre plain ole black” just because the are dark skinned is unfair. And it always someone who is “plain ole black” that has something negative to say. Did these people say “I’m better than the average black chick cause I’m holding on to some distant white” no. Who cares what they claim because you don’t know their family tree. I am so sick of people who have issues with people who may know a little bit more about where their family comes from. Move on there is so much going on in this country and world than how someone chooses to identify themselves. Oh my god!

  • Guest

    I’ll admit that I do tend to doubt someone who says he/she is mixed based on skin color (depending on what mix they are claiming) just because I think there is definitely a mixed archetype (at least where some black ancestry is concerned. Light-skinned, curly hair, “finer” features).

    And (even though I’ve commented several times on this post) I agree that how people choose to identify doesn’t really affect anyone else (doesn’t affect me at all).

    The issue, however, is that some people will lie (or embellish) and say that they are mixed to give themselves extra points in the eyes of others. They clearly have issues with being “just black” or at the very least they acknowledge that OTHERS will think less of them for being “just black” like “just black” is a bad thing (just read some of the experiences of the other posters who’ve disappointed some BM in particular by being “just black”).

  • Melinda

    Yes,I have noticed that.It’s obvious that some of them are lying just to get the spread in the magazine.

  • Demi

    I think you left out the originator of this painful and divisive system: white people or people who are of European ancestry-namely, racial creators & subsequent oppressors. Unfortunately, men of African decent (nationality) and mixed-race women (inconsequentially, mindset due to miscegenation) are the main forces in perpetuating this social disease into infinity with African decendant women as the most harshly judged since women, not men, are valued solely on their appearance.

    This right herrrre is why I identify as American. Then of African decent. Culturally identify as Trinidadian. We need to recognize how this is dividing and conquering us and eschew any and all attempts at chopping and depreciating ourselves and stop allowing them to tell us who and what we are. Slavery might have technically ended, but it is far from over.
    That is all.

  • KC

    Guest @ AUGUST 5, 2011 AT 9:38 AM said: “She was dark-skinned (like chocolate brown) and I thought to myself do you REALLY think that if you went to Germany that you would be accepted as even part German?? REALLY??:

    This is exactly my thinking as well. The truth is, the only place a black person’s mixed heritage has any real leverage is within the black community itself. It allows them to distinguish themselves as “different” (i.e. “better”) because black is still seen as the worse thing you can be and the further away from black you can get, the better. That’s cool – I happen think a person has a right to identify themselves as they choose. BUT in the larger society, how does this really help them? If others perceive you to be “black” just by looking at you they are going to treat you the way they normally would treat black people (IF they are apt to treating blacks in a particular way). You can’t use your mixed ancestry to mitigate racism and discrimination. A white Irish person (for example) who hates blacks is going to give a damn that your great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was Irish. It’s not going to make them suddenly embrace you or exclude you from their disdain. It may even make them hate you a little bit more (racists are usually not keen on miscegenation). Whether you’re 1/2 white or 1/24th white, in a racist society if you “look black” you’re going to be treated like it. Look at president Obama – his mixed heritage has not shielded him from people calling him ‘nigger’ or ‘tar baby’ or having cartoons depicting him as an ape.

  • Kat007

    I’m the “Guest” from 9:38 a.m. (and all other “Guest” posts for this article for anyone who was curious).

    “The only place a black person’s mixed heritage has any real leverage is within the black community itself. It allows them to distinguish themselves as “different” (i.e. “better”)…”

    I agree with this however I think it can also give leverage among other racial groups if certain people from those groups are hesitant to interact with black people (thinking: Well you’re only part black so you’re “safer”). I know you said “real leverage” but I wanted to add my thoughts.

  • FattieSoSlim

    Another article well done.

  • Jes

    Co-sign. Why is it that in my own county I can’t just be plain old American? I suppose that I could be called Haitian-American as both of my parents were born and raised there. I, however, was not and I’ve always felt uneasy about claiming a country that I’ve never been to and of which I can barely speak the language.

  • Karen

    Thanks for the article. I too am tired of people talking about mixed with this and that. When they are evidently black. Like black is not good enough. I am a Jamaican national living in North America. When people ask me what I am I tell them I am African. They usually wince and try to get another ethnicity out of me. Sometimes they become angry and tell me flat out that I am not African, or they become disinterested immideiately. There has been people who have asked me my last name just to prove that I was not African. I feel pleased when this happens because I am able to weed out the ignorant as potential friend or lover.

  • http://www.white Meadow

    thanks for posting. my feelings while reading went from strong agreement to hot-in-the-face disagreement. but now i am too tired to write a comment. maybe i will later. it really bothers me when people want to emphatically TELL other people what they should or should not claim about their own heritage. i think the blame should have been kept strictly focused on the magazine, not the models. clearly, it’s the editorial staff at King who chose to highlight race/ethnicity as part of the spread.

  • Sarita

    I think some posters are missing the point of the article. Be proud of who you are. Don’t try to embellish it. Why is being black not good enough for some of these people? I’m light skinned and my name is Sarita, people constantly think i’m dominican. I correct them. I’m Black. period. Sure there’s been mixtures in my fam, but at the end of the day, I’m black. And I’ve def experienced the guy who are disappointed, or the people that are no longer so friendly once I tell them that I’m just plain ol’ virginia/south carolina black. And I agree with the author, I WISH I could pull a black card from all these ppl who do this nonsense.

  • LainaLain

    If I am mixed with anything, I don’t know it. And even if I did, I am too verbally lazy to sit there and list my different roots and heritages everytime I meet someone new. Just saying I’m black is simple, quick, convenient, and true.

  • Meadow

    my feelings while reading this were all over the place – from wanting to high five the author to wanting a bag to hyperventilate into. the piece is well written and i have also noticed that people (especially straight men in the dating world) would like to get their hands on a mixed chick like she’s a show pony. and yes, magazines and other media outlets feed into this by highlighting women that titillate this particular fantasy. but let’s not then scold the women themselves for sharing whatever conglomerate of races and ethnicities make up their identity. doubting that someone is really irish is like saying you don’t taste the salt in a cupcake. you might not taste it, but it’s there and the cupcake has every right to list it under ingredients. ok, maybe cupcakes aren’t the best analogy.

    but there is a sense of blame here – a sense of how dare you – which i think is unwarranted. as time goes on, we will only be less and less able to pinpoint a person’s heritage by looking at them. this should be celebrated, not denounced. the one drop rule is over. claiming mixed ancestry doesn’t mean you are not proud of who you are or you think that black isn’t good enough – it’s exactly the opposite! it’s about being honest. being real. being yourself.

  • Meadow

    the above was posted by mistake. i’m having some trouble with the comment interface and i can’t see how to delete it.

  • R

    Ugh! I get asked this question more than I would like, which is never! It annoys me to no end! I always joke with my friends that “Being just a Black girl is not in” and sadly it turns out not to be a joke…I wish I could record the disappointment on these people’s faces when I answer both my parents are Black and our origins are from the South…Or when I’m really annoyed I say “I’m Black and Black” Yes I understand that being Black, African-American that we don’t have pure African heritage due to slavery but come on…It’s one thing to be curious, but another when the question is asked with the hopes of there being an “exotic” answer…To be honest and sadly a large percentage of who ask me this question are Black men…Once I even had a dude ask me if I was sure! *blank stare*

  • not good enough

    i’m dark. i have ‘bad hair’. over thej course of the last 5 years the way that people treat me and the oportunities that i am offered has worsened. nobody wants to be black, nor do hey want black people like me around.

    and that includes ‘just plain black’ folks.

    sometimes i wish i were dead, the stress of dodging EVERYONE’S hatred is so strong. i have ben physicaly attacked by african-americans 4 times in the past year, called ‘celie’, black dog, etc.

    i hate myself. i didn’t before, i always felt some pride in my culture and heritage, but what for?

  • OSHH

    Honey I hope you are kidding, if not know that black is beautiful all by itself but the world is full of ignorance.
    You don’t see men going thru this with women, asking if their mixed, disappointed if not, because alot of black women favor darker men SMH.

  • not good enough

    no, i’m NOT kidding. do you have any clue how hard it is not just to face instant rejection when trying to rent apartments or apply for jobs, but then to be ridiculed and physically attacked by the same people who complain about racism?

    it hurts. not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. and who do i complain to? how do i get justice against these people? it’s like living in a jail being dark. and where can i go? i stick out like a sore thumb, and as i have been told numerous times- i will never be able to ‘assimilate’.

    i am at the end of my rope. seriously.

  • Kris

    I do feel you on some aspects of this article and I can imagine how it might feel to assume that you may not be looked upon as “good enough” based on other ppls perceptions or expectations of your heritage. I am mixed! Didn’t asked to be mixed, but “baby I was born this way”! I’m Puerto Rican and African American and f**n proud of it. If I was just AA I would be proud of that as well. I loved being mixed, not because o f my skin complexion or because I think I’m more exotic. I just love experiencing both cultures. I love me.. regardless of what anyone perception of me is.. I think everyone regardless of complexion or nationality should do that same. I have plenty of AA girlfriends that have no problem pulling men. *Kanye Shrug*

  • Kris

    “not good enough”- Please read the Four Agreements. Sounds as if you have let a lot of other peoples judgment of you, alter your own judgment of yourself. Please seek some counsel from family members, the church or a professional. If you think you have it bad, someone out there always has it worse. It’s not about what others think of you, it’s about what you think of yourself. There are beautiful woman out here in all complexions and with all different textures of hair. Your skin and your hair does not make YOU. Beauty is skin deep,

  • OSHH

    You have to start with loving yourself, like any and everyone else cause if you let the world tell it, we should all hate ourselves esp black women here lately regardless of complexion, self love and knowledge of self trumps that tho hon!
    As for the discrimination and phsyical altercations I’d seek legal advice and/or representation to ascertain the legal channels available to you.

  • Jocelyn Duncan

    Never should you say that! Black (dark skin, natural hair, thick lips) are the truth never doubt that. They may not love us in America because the system is like that but they whole world isn’t full of uncle toms (All of America isn’t but those are harder to come by). Trust me on that one the all black issue of Italia Vouge with dark skinned Toccara Jones sold in record breaking numbers. Your african features are the most unique and coveted in the world (tanning salons, curling irons, lip plumpers, booty pops etc). Stop seeking acceptance from people who can’t accept themselves. I say any so-called “black person” light or dark that can’t appreciate a dark sister is not worth a damn.

    BTW I have nothing against bi-racial or light skinned black women

  • Joy

    I find this article interesting…and it initially caught my attention because the author lives in Southeast D.C. just like I do.

    I am the same shade as the girl in the photo (aka “lightskinned”), and although I rarely get asked “Are you mixed?,” I ALWAYS answer “No, I’m Black.” Usually the question is asked by another person from the Diaspora, but not born in America. So when they dig deeper and say “Really?,” I might add … “Well, my paternal great-grandfather is white, and my mother’s side of the family from Georgia has strong Cherokee roots,” which is visible in old family pictures. However, this is RACIAL, and not ethnic.

    I have never felt less than for “just being black,” and I don’t think others should be upset because some people are mixed. You can’t help that your parents are two or more different races. However, I can totally understand the author’s point of view that people are searching their family tree for races other than black to add a little “flavor” in hopes of acceptance — and that’s sad. We should be proud of our ethnic heritage, because that is what makes us, not our racial heritage.

    That being said, we are who God made us. More love for ourselves and others, and no self-hate or hate for others.

  • LemonNLime

    I find this funny!

    If just being black is boring, imagine just being white…that must be like watching paint dry.

  • Simone

    This needed to be said. My dad is mixed beyond our wildest dreams but if you ask me, I’ll tell you I’m black. Because how stupid do I sound trying to make myself sound more European. Why..just to be accepted? So when it comes down to it, my family is Trinidadian. Otherwise..history says our family roots are in Corsica. People need to be proud of who they are.If you have 2 black parents, you’re black. I hate when women play the Indian game..its like yeah right. Have them tell it, Cherokee is the only tribe. Get the hell out of here.

  • Usagi

    News flash, NOT ALL BLACK RELATE TO AA CULTURE. Why do you feel that people should feel that they you do. As, long as they not using it to put down others, I don’t feel it’s any of your businees. Not only you want every single person of vaguely African descent identify with your blackness, you want to take away their black card when they don’t like/agree with the “community.You make like being black is a cult. Why is it so important to see yourself in someone else ? If all blacks are veiwed the same by everyone, then way are their 80 billion posts a month talking about how lightskin/mixed black people are idealized in the media ? If we all the same, there why does it matter which type gets veiwed more ?

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    I identify as an American. That’s all. I don’t bother adding the “African-” to it.

    My ancestors have been here longer than most and I think my people earned that right to be just Americans. If that’s boring to some, oh well that’s on them. But I am proud to be an American.

  • Pingback: UPTOWN Magazine » Links of the Day: Johnny Gill is Back + Is Being Black Boring?

  • Usagi

    It makes no sense. If you’re black no matter what you do or how mixed you are, then why have a black card? They’re too many stupid, self-serving rules about AA and American culture. One-drop rule is only for racist whites and black folks with really low self esteem. You can’t have your cake and eat it,too.

  • OSHH

    I think you missed the author’s point, I may be wrong but I think author was distincly referring to black folk who are american, feeling as though being black was not enough. Not folk of other nationalities/ethniciites/cultures/heritages etc

  • Miss White

    You are beautiful. No one can take that from you unless you let them. If you really feel you are at the end of the rope, seek help through family and friends and maybe some therapy. God made you as you are for a reason and he makes no mistakes. If other people can’t see that…that’s on them. You continue to be strong, hold your head up, and be proud of yourself…and your beauty.

  • Miss White

    Great article! I actually looooove telling people I’m plain ol’ Black. I’m not Ethiopian, Caribbean…none of that. And proud of it!

  • Ingrid

    Cherokees were known slaveholders of African Americans. In fact, Chief John Ross of the Cherokee nation was one of the largest slaveholders in the state of Virginia. That is why so many African Americans can claim Cherokee ancestry. As well, while Cherokees were later marched on the Trail of Tears to be “relocated” to Oklahoma they marched along side African Americans, who were either their slaves at one point, or their progeny. Just recently, however, the Cherokee nation decided to vote their Black Cherokees off the dole. Just because someone claims Cherokee ancestry doesn’t mean they are trying to displace their African American identity. Moreover, indicating “Sioux” (the french term for enemy) wouldn’t really be “more creative.” Lakota would be more accurate.

  • binks

    Love this article and couldn’t agree more. LOL…at easing up on the Cherokee bit. I don’t see the need to deluge everything you are mix with when a simple I’ am black should suffice in most cases. And they really do it heavily with black models and celebrities which is sad because it is like to make it we have to stress your racial/ethnic makeup…*thinking of one megastar in particularly*. It seems is only okay to be black when its photo shopped with something else. I don’t get why saying “I’ am black” make some people so uncomfortable. Personally, I always felt that a person region or where they are from made them WAY more interesting than their heritage makeup.

  • guest

    no one wants to be black
    tell me something i don’t know.
    i mean, some do(judging from the proud people in the comments), but the majority shows us more and more they rather be any and everything but black.
    i’m not surprised

  • Alexandra

    I feel like a similar article was posted earlier this year. But regardless, yes I do agree that something is always brought up when you say you’re ‘just Black’. And the typical argument that “we’re all mixed anyway”. I’m not a believer in that, and I believe you can be mixed race and non-mixed. I’m not mixed. I’m Black, with 2 Black parents, 4 Black grandparents, 8 Black grandparents and so on. I’m Haitian also, so people usually shut their mouths after I state it. Haiti is considered a very black country, & that’s why arguments stop there.

    I guess it’s a social thing for some, reading some of these comments. There was never anything wrong with being ‘Black’, where I grew up. Only to the ignorant people it was wrong if you were Black and not from the Caribbean or West Africa.

  • African Mami

    I identify as African. The whole of it, apart from Libya for obvious reasons.

  • Helga Mendes daFonseca

    I’m mixed, and whenever asked i always list all of my backgrounds, mainly cause i’m proud of all of them! However i must point out that i get resentment and ill feeling from the black community (including one instance where i actually got slapped “cause your mum slept with a white man”) as much as i get from white people.

    It’s something that has plagued and me for most of my life and confused me until very recently. I can’t quite fathom why all the resentment to be honest.

    The article is well written indeed but i’m with Meadow in the “argument” that there seems to be a certain “How dare you” feeling about the article.

  • Isis

    Great article though it went over a lot of people’s heads.

  • Kat007

    I came to check back on the posts for this article…and as someone mentioned previously…I think many of you are STILL missing the point. This is not about racial policing (even though I suppose the article and some of the comments – mine included – come off that way). It is your right to identify however you see fit. Obviously, there are some of us (myself included) who are inclined to doubt someone who doesn’t fit what we see as a mixed race but black person (I mentioned the “archetype” before – light-skinned, curly hair, “finer” features). So if someone identifies as mixed to me but I read black and only black and call BS, obviously I have a prejudice. Obviously, the author of this article made an assumption based on her ideas of what a “sista” looks like and what a mixed yet black person looks like.

    IMO, the real issue, however, is that some people (and let’s not act like this doesn’t happen) feel the need to embellish their racial/ethnic heritage with things that aren’t black. I’m black (but not AA) and my understanding is that for the most part, most AAs have some European and/or Native American ancestry in addition to African of course. So this is a given for most (I assume most) yet most of you say “I’m black” or “I’m African American”. But even with already being partly “other”, some people feel the need to “add more” or even to reach back and bring a slaveowner’s ethnicity to the forefront all to appear more mixed? Again, this is that person’s right but TO ME it comes off as trying to make yourself seem more different (read: more exotic) than the next AA person.

    I’m secure with myself and so if someone wants to tell me about how mixed they are, like I said previously, I will just smile and nod whether I believe them or not (and it is my right to NOT believe them just as it’s their right to identify how they see fit).

    Another thing is, for those who strongly identify with those non-black ethnic groups, do you know anything about those other groups in terms of culture and traditions (not from an American POV, for instance Irish-American, but rather traditions in Ireland for instance). You don’t have to prove this to anyone else but be honest with yourself!

    And another thing, in defense of black people who like to “embellish”, my understanding is that White Americans do this too (falsely claim non-white ancestry esp. Cherokee?). The difference is (IMO) is that they stand to benefit much less since they are the dominant group and seen by many as the end-all and be-all.

    Just my two cents!

  • lotus

    I always say, everybody wants to be black but don’t nobody want to be black!!!

  • whilome

    But are you black?

  • fuchsia

    I don’t care what someone says about their race anymore. I’ve seen white girls claim AA and I’ve seen black girls claim mixed. I’m Carribean yet I’m as American as they come. I always say black when asked despite being mixed with many things. My father is Black and my mother is mixed. He made it clear growing up that when people looked at me they saw a black girl. The end. I don’t have time to care what race someone is anymore. You are either American or not these days regardless of race. Even many white people are mixed with so many different things yet remain as racist as can be or claim some heritage they know absolutely nothing about. I just laugh when someone tries to get serious about a racial breakdown. It’s not “exotic” to me, it’s just the latest trend.

  • Ingrid

    “Tho doth protest too much….” Typically, those who appear more racially ambiguous may have either the obsession to prove his or her blackness, or the obsession to run away from it. If you’re getting the “what are you question” a lot, you are carrying some privilege that you might not be aware of. There’s usually not a lot of explanation necessary. When you’re black you know it, love it, and claim it.

  • Bisous

    I’ve always had the same feeling. My parents raised me to know that I was black all of my family members from what I could see were black so I didn’t question it. However throughout grade school I was always asked “What are you?” or “You must be mixed” possibly because I had almost two feet of hair which, thankfully, has not been touched by a chemical up to now. When I told them I was only Black, as both of my parents clearly were, they looked at me in disbelief. We should embrace our inhereted features, from our hair to our complexion to our figures. Heritage and personal identity is one of the things which distinguishes our nation and makes it great. I only hope people see the value in themselves as they truely are and hopefully others learn to embrace it.

  • Kat007

    I agree with everything you said.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    Of course I am…lol.

  • B

    Yeah, that’s the same for me. I’m maybe half a shade or so darker than the girl in the pic with very nappy (I love reclaiming and using that word to describe my hair) hair – I mean it packs down to my head completely – big lips and a face full of freckles that look like little pen dots. Anyway, I frequently get asked this question from African and/or Caribbean men: are you African, or Caribbean (or they name a specific African country – everything from Nigeria to Ethiopia, and I never thought I looked like people from either country, honestly). But I don’t take offense to it, and I always just say, “Nope, I’m from Arkansas,” and they are usually still interested. The only time I’ve been rejected for being “plain black” has been from “plain black” AA men, who on occasion will ask, “Are you mixed or biracial,” and I immediately say, “Not that I know of.” And they almost immediately follow up with, “Really,” which is when I get annoyed and they lose interest. That’s happened to me a couple of times (all outside the South, and here in the Midwest, btw, don’t know what that means), and it really leaves me feeling very disappointed with my AA men, until I remind myself that they are not all like that.

  • taylor

    I’m African American and proud of it. And I never claim Cherokee. Or any other slave owning people. (Yes, I know Blacks owned other Blacks, but you know what I mean) And people ask me everyday if I am Ethiopian because I ______ (insert something that ppl don’t identify with AfAm). But hey, I love being Black. I come from some wonderful, beautifully made people-lucky me.

  • Chica

    idk how many times people have to state it, but this article is NOT aimed at people like you. clearly you are mixed and should take pride in all of the different heritages that have produced you. this article is talking about black folks who are 4 or 5 generations removed from their last non-black ancestor, but try dearly to hold on to that ancestry even though they know nothing about it.

  • Taj

    I`m multi-ethnic, but I don`t go through all of that. I`m black. My existential experience is bound to my dark skin. I`m black and that`s always enough.

    I wish black cards were real, too.

  • LMarie

    I get this all the time! I feel your pain sis! I’m a chocolate brown lady with long hair (worn either flat-ironed or in it’s naturally curly state), I get everything from Ethopian or Latina, to mixed with Chinese. NO NO NO! Im gonna get some shirts that say “Yes I’m black, just black and I love myself” lol

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    Isn’t it sad that people have to repeatedly emphasize that this article is NOT aimed at genuinely mixed people, but rather black American people who lie about their racial make-up to appear more exotic? People are dense!

  • Taja

    Great article. I can definitely relate. I’m Black, and that’s what I am. Nothing more, nothing less. Contrary to public opinion, there’s nothing wrong with being black. As it was mentioned earlier, it’s funny how some people want to be anything but black. They choose to associate themselves as countless other nationalities that stretches on for miles and miles. Or some would say that I’m black, but I’m also [Insert generically exotic ethnicity here]. It’s in a sense really problematic because it implies that just being black isn’t good enough. People should just be proud with whatever heritage they have and be honest with themselves.

  • JB

    It’s funny. I never really got the ‘where are you from’ question growing up. As a kid and in my tween years I had people assume that I was Haitian. I’ve gotten this question more and more as I’ve grown into adulthood. Interestingly the majority of people who pose this question to me are Black/African women and non-black foreigners (male and female). I never get offended by it. If an African woman asks me this question I assume she’s trying to figure out if I’m from where she’s from/a native of her country. My mother is American (Black) and my father is African (Nigerian). So I am literally African-American. I identify myself as AA or Black interchangeably. I’ve never considered myself exotic looking and I guess it doesn’t always occur to me what someone else may see. One time I was shopping in NY and the cashier who was European asked me where I was from. I told her I was from Jersey. I didn’t realize until later when I replayed the look on her face in my head that that wasn’t what she meant.

    I find some of the experiences of several of you here surprising/eye-opening. I have yet to have an exchange with anyone when asked this question that wasn’t just out of curiosity/general human interest. I have never been made to feel annoyed or angry. All I can say is that I love being Black. I love my milk chocolate brown skin. I love my nose. I love my hair just the way it grows out of my head. I love the blood my mom and dad gave me and I have no desire to be anything else but Black. I love my people our culture all the colors we come in and how different we all look. I think what the article despite its ability to spark debate is trying to get us to embrace is that Black is beautiful. I think we can all agree on that. End of argument.

  • Blahsquared

    Yeah I really hope this is a joke. I don’t wanna believe anyone gets treated this way in this day and age. Not that it’s impossible for something like that to happen cause the human character is currently on a slow bus ride to hell!

    If this is for real I’m sorry this is happening to you/us (this is an attack on the black race, not just you) If u do look like Celie, so what, there was nothing wrong with Celie. All her issues were not on the outside, they were on the inside. Tell the haters to kick rocks and go plank in oncoming traffic.

  • Mina

    Wow! I am Eritrean, I’m black too! I love my black sisters and brothers regardless of where in the world they hail from. Can’t we, people of African ancestry (in essence that means everyone, but I digress) just get along? Light skin, dark skin, all kinds of hair types. I am sick and tired of not looking black enough *cue Billy Paul’s “Am I Black Enough For Ya?”*, and I’m sick of the “blacker than thou” attitude, namely from people who possess “blacker” features (I’m being sarcastic here, y’all). We come in all shades and shapes and we’re all beautiful. I totally understand the reasoning behind this article, but just because the mix of ethnicities in your lineage isn’t as apparent as the next person, doesn’t mean that you can’t be proud of being multiracial etc. AND you can be mixed and at the same time, be proud of being black. Peace and love to all.

  • Timcampi


    THANK YOU. Why is it such a BIG DEAL what these women identify as? If anything, shouldn’t we be sideeying the MEN who perpetuate this notion of what is beautiful and what is not? Instead we’re calling out women saying they can’t be this, or there’s no way they’d pass at that. For real? Why does it matter so much. Why does it offend you so much?! Just do YOU.

  • chic noir

    Can somebody please at least get creative and say they’re Sioux? Or Choctaw? Ease up on all the Cherokee-ing and surprise me a little bit.

    HaHa, I love this!

  • chic noir

    I’m part Ethopian but I usually tell people I’m African-American because I hate this sort of garbage.

  • chanela

    clutch did do an article on this already. they’ve been recycling articles a lot lately. hmmm

  • Demi

    Hey. Mixed (immediate) does NOT = black. For the umpteenth!!! time.

    That. Is. All.

  • C in Cleveland

    We do need to hold each other accountable for mentality, whether it’s hatred of bm or bw across hues. I know the .com usage is old, but it still makes me chuckle.

    Anyway, I’m curious that we haven’t discussed multi-ethnic privilege. It exists just like white privilege. There’s an obvious advantage experienced by multi-racial women in black culture that has not been mentioned. This advantage, when perpetually ignored, breeds resentment amongst women. By no way are mixed women responsible for the resulting fallout of their heritage, but it’s seems trite to omit the implications of belonging to a favored category, while advising the “lesser” group to live and let live.

  • Demi

    Easy for you to say when you enjoy priviledges with the black race as a mixed person. This article is NOT about you nor your “proud to be mixed” mantra.

    Read if you must, but this is, as so many have told you all, NOT about nor for you!!!!!

    Thank you.

  • feri

    I’m West African… both my parents were born within a few miles of each other in villages it takes you hours to get to from the nearest city. I am basically as “Black” as it gets…no admixture whatsoever. Yet my sister and I get this mixed question all the time. Interestingly, my brothers say they’re rarely ever asked this… Apparently only ladies “must be mixed with something…”.
    This topic used to get me so angry, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that people are ignorant and it probably isn’t their fault. Save your money, buy a plane ticket, and visit the continent and actually meet some African people before you tell someone that they don’t look African. If you’ve never visited the country someone is from you have no right to tell them that they don’t appear to be from that country and better yet to assume that they should take that as a compliment. Some people are truly sick and confused.
    (sorry for the mini rant)

  • Jess

    “I mean, as many folks who’ve traced back to their Cherokee roots you would think that tribe started out 30 million deep. Can somebody please at least get creative and say they’re Sioux? Or Choctaw? Ease up on all the Cherokee-ing and surprise me a little bit.”


  • Jess

    Oh Ingrid please. Get off the “those evil Cherokees enslaved you Black people”. Just as the Buffalo Soldiers killed some Native people, the Cherokees enslaved some Black people. But in both cases, the incidents were extremely small, especially if compared to what both group were enduring under the U.S government and the white majority at the time.

    Were there some wrongs towards each other on the part of Native and Black people? Yes – and towards their own groups, as well – Sitting Bull was betrayed and killed by his own, as was Malcolm X years later in history.

    But that does not mean that these wrongs marked the majority of the relations between Black and Native Indians. In fact, the reality is just the opposite and their is a long history of cooperation, cohabitation, interracial and intergroup marriage, and acceptance into each others cultures.

    Also please remember that many Native Americans (and Black Americans) “bought” slaves in order to free them from the government-sanctioned slave system, and as the only way to get their spouses, relatives, and friends back.

  • Jess

    what are those obvious reasons? Libya was one of the most Pan-African nations in Africa. Nelson Mandela is a huge supporter of Liby and Qaddaffi because of Libya’s social and political policies towards all of Africa, including itself. Don’t believe the hype. If it’s about their complexion, they’re just light-skinned Africans, just like we have plenty of light-skinned Black sin America.

  • Jess

    @Demi – Uhhhh..obviously you’re confused, or maybe just dense? Mixed does and always has equaled Black for many people in America. Our experience has made it so. I mean immediately mixed people – Black. Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t identify with being multiracial. If you prefer to not call yourself Black anymore, so be it. But just know that it is not odd or abnormal to be immediately mixed AND Black. And proudly so.

    You obviously know nothing about the U.S. or Black Americans.

  • Jess

    Exactly, La Diva! Alfonso Ribiero (“Carlton” from the Fresh Prince) is Cuban, but is still Black of African descent.

    I’m sorry, but there are a lot of stupid and ignorant people in America who have decided to play dumb, and thus are now so.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    Alfonso Ribiero’s parent’s are from Trinidad and Tobago. I thought he was Dominican myself, but nope.

  • Nina

    I’m tired of black women, especially dark skinned women’s jealousy of me. I don’t need to apologize just because men don’t find you attractive. I look good and I’m not all black, oh well. This is more crying about bs.

  • Witchsistah

    And I’m tired of how many light and mixed women vomit out their anti-Black racist misogyny all over dark-skinned Black women.

  • jk

    Too funny. I chat with a particular girlfriend about the need for soo many others, to find out what we are exactly mixed with. It can’t JUST be black. We MUST be something else, but I love to blithely say, black and black (black on both sides). Although my Grandma is West Indian (Guyanese), she never pointed it out to someone although her clear features implied something else.

    Maybe it is the assumption that black women are the same; same personality, attitude and brashness. Therefore, someone that doesn’t look quite black enough, haha, must be mixed with someone else. You know, black-light. It is too funny.

  • Ash

    I love this article! I’m multi-racial (black, Latina, and white) and I get annoyed when men suddenly become more interested when I mention I’m part cuban. SMH

    In elementary school, obviously (mostly) black kids would mention “I’m part Indian” and “my grandma is mixed/light-skinned” while the multiracial and mixed kids would brag about their whiteness. I always thought it was off!!

  • Laina

    To most people I say, you are Black, get over it and keep it moving. One way or another, whether in slavery or recent times, a large percentage of Blacks are probably mixed with another race. However, you were brought up as a Black person in this society and so you are black. If anyone starts telling me about their white great great grandmother or their Indian blood, I immediately form opinions about them. Why aren’t you telling me about your Black great great grandmother that survived the segregated South or the uncle in your family that was in the segregated army but still was proud of his time in the military. Why is being Black not enough and why aren’t you proud of being simply African American? As far as recent immigrants or first or second generation blacks from the West Indies of Africa, you are Black also. You don’t get extra points for being from another country\continent. You are not better than African American Blacks from the South. In the beginning everyone came from Africa.

  • JaeBee

    @Nina. Based on your comment, I’m sure it’s more than jealousy over your so-called good looks for why you have problems with black women. An ugly attitude ALWAYS makes for an uglier person.

  • Nina

    Actually, I have a pretty good attitude, but my patience has worn thin with other women rolling their eyes at me, wanting to know why my hair is long and why I have light eyes. I can’t go out with a man without a black woman throwing darts. What am I supposed to do about how she looks. This mess has been happening since grade school and I’m tired of it.

  • Guest

    Chick please

  • sandrine

    I don’t think there’s only one, two or three ways to be a “strong, proud, keeping-it-real black woman.” I think many black women/people have harbored some baggage, insecurity, victim mentality or hypocrisy connected with being black despite what image they try to present. Beating your chest and simply shouting “I’m black”…what is the point of that?

  • Guest

    The article is not about dark-skinned black women hating on mixed race women or light women. It’s about people not being satisfied with black people just being Black or African America. RE-READ THE ARTICLE SWEETIE!!! Whether your Jamaican, Hatian, Trini your RACE IS BLACK PERIOD! By way of Africa. Some latino’s are Black..but I’m not going to get into that history lesson!
    I understand you don’t like these women you talk about staring at you them tell THEM (when you see them doing it). That’s their issue. But your probably too scared to tell them to their face.

  • 31 Flavors

    Yeeeaaah. Nina I understand your pain. I’m a “racially ambiguous” chick myself and have dealt with hate all my life from other girls. However C in Cleveland has a good point. There is a mixed girl privilege…but that’s a topic for another day. As Guest said, this article is about black people who do not want to own up to there blackness. So please, save your frustration for another day and another article

  • Melinda

    Don’t give this loser anymore attention.She just wants to toot her own horn.

  • Jay Glow

    I always answer the question of “what are you?” with “I am just plain on light skinnedded and dark skin.” I never understood why people would interrupt a perfectly good conversation to ask such a menial question. But whatever, I thought, aint for me to understand and I keep it moving.
    I am a product of two proud black people, especially my father. I think people should be more proud of the fact that they are “just black” and stop LYING about mixtures way way down family lines.
    As a wardrobe stylist, Ive traveled many places in the world and wherever I go BLACK IS THE COOLEST THING! Our hosh posh culture, our style, the way we talk and communicate, our mannerisms. Thats all us (African-Americans-eck hate that word).
    In American media, music, sports, the influence is clear. Black people will always be kool. Im proud of us although we got a long way to go with our unity issues.
    No shade, no offense I love everyone. It just is what it is. Im proud to hold my black card high!

  • Kiya

    @ mina
    totally agree!!!!!!!!! you can be mixed and be proud of being black!! i am :) oh and totally get the ‘not black enough’ part…

    @ Demi
    yup also agree!!!!

    @ Jess
    wooooooow…… Americans are officially brainwashed!!!!! OMG!!!!!! do you know how backwards and ignorant you sound???(please say not all black americans hold these views??) mixed will never equal black….. poor poor Americans (those who think like you)… *sigh*…. only the U.S………sticking up for ‘your’ tradition when it prevents people acknowledging their identity… sad…… land of the free aye???…*sigh*

  • Chick please

    Nina missed the memo and I bet she thanks her lucky stars for those light eyes and long hair. I already know her type.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    Nina is a moron. Why waste your time with someone who is unintelligent, inarticulate and obviously not raised properly? Her mother should be ashamed.

  • ljf67

    True dat!

  • Ingrid

    The author of this original article is actually a great writer – we may all agree or disagree to some extent with her points; however, where this has gone is sad. Nevertheless, congratulations, Janelle, for writing a very provocative article.

  • Usagi

    I sense a superiority complex. I would throw that card back at your face. I’m Ambiguously Brown(Eastern African Black/Native/European) and I’m not into AA culture at all.I don’t let people define who I am. Just don’t be a prick about it. It’s okay to be different. Most people can’t make up what to consider what I am. I don’t give three s***s about how white people feel, why would care what blacks feels. It isn’t my job to make them feel better about themselves.

  • au napptural

    I’m as dark as they come, with thick 4b natural hair (tight coils) and straight up African features. I’m also as baddddd as they come (b/c of those things, NOT in spite of them) and I know it. Not a day goes by that some guy doesn’t ask me out or tell me I’m pretty, not that worth should be measured that way. I’m 22 now, but when I was 15 or so my life was the polar opposite. I was down in the dumps, felt ugly, thought the world was out to get me. What changed? My attitude.

    I think black people are the most gorgeous on the planet, so if you are in the number you must look good! Those features are the most coveted like the others said. Highlight your natural beauty and appreciate your own style. When I fell in love with the person in the mirror, began to dress for my attributes, and enhance my natural looks it was like the world shifted.

    I’m not saying you haven’t had bad experiences, I know I’ve had some of the same. And after you embrace yourself there are still going to be haters. But trust me, negativity attracts more negativity. As long as you go around feeling marked for sorrow, you will be. But when you project positivity and refuse to believe in anything that won’t make you feel valued then the negative situations you encounter will dissipate.

    Be blessed girl. And go natural! I find that has helped so many women to further see their unique beauty. Hard to feel great about your African features when they are covered up or clashing with that god awful Indian remi.

  • R

    Pure meaning being 100% African…Being African-American there is going to other races mixed in our bloodlines for the most part…Be it Native Americans, Caucasians, Spanish and whoever else was here by the time the slaves were brought to America

  • C in Cleveland

    I won’t bother with Nina. She’s a lost cause. Anyway, since we’re talking about ethnicity preference, men and women both benefit from non-AA ethnicity. I’ve heard enough West Indian people discourage their children from losing their accent or assimilating too much. For them the distinction helps to secure increased social standing. American mainstream views ethnic blacks very differently than plain ole AAs. It’s in vogue to be anything but AA. Look at Rihanna and Nikki Minaj’s soaring popularity. They both have accents and unique looks that add to their exotic status. I wouldn’t be surprised if more island girls surface in entertainment.

  • Drie

    I will never understand this, I will never get why people who are black, and appear to be just that, start to look way down the family lines to find something different or “more interesting” to be mixed with their own black blood. Rarely have I gotten this question and it usually occurs after seeing my mom (she is a light skinned Jamaican who is BLACK regardless of her hair texture, skin colour whatever)… and whenever they ask this question the answer is “black” and they i get “well ur mom looks_____ (half-white, latina, etc)” and I say “well.. she’s black”. I have chocolate brown skin with 4a hair i don’t look anything but black therefore i’m not going to dig through my family tree and tell people i’m this and that when I know that my parents are black, i’m black, and thats how I look, black. Ain’t no additives round these parts. Black and Proud :D

  • MoonGirl

    Being of multi-raced myself I’ve heard different friends say that they wish they were mixed with something, which is crazy to me. Last time I checked your ethnicity is not something you wish for, it’s something you have no control over. I had a friend that is beautiful but was always lying about her race to seem exotic. It’s also crazy that all these basic ass black men want multi-raced women. News flash- your mother’s black so why is that not good enough for you.

    I see nothing wrong with stating that you are of mixed heritage IF in fact you actually are. The sad thing is when someone makes up a list of this race and that race just so they can seem exotic. I’m not ashamed to state what I’m mixed with because I love my family and heritage. Not because I’m trying you appear exotic to turn on a shallow man or because I feel being Black American is not good enough.

    It’s all about self-love and acceptance.

  • Penny

    LOL @ Nina. SMH.

  • Kat007

    @Usagi: I don’t sense a superiority complex in Taj’s statement…just because he/she chooses to ID as black even though he/she admits to being multi-ethnic??

  • Terra nadir

    I’ll a grand ( not) to the person who can come up with a definition of “black” (or “white”) that everyone agrees upon. LoL! It can’t be done because we are trying to ascribe absolute, static qualities to powerful, but also somewhat illusory, racial constructs that are experienced in very personal subjective ways and that evolve overtime. Unfortunately, (and frighteningly to me) the dominant definition of “black” is becoming ” very, dark-skinned and unattractive people who are the ancestors of slaves, with coarse hair, who are amoral and poverty stricken. ” of course, this definition is nonsense but it is amazing how when a person has beauty, power or wealth, the dominant culture is less and less able to process them as “black”. Tyson Beckford and Naomi Campbell are attractive models with some Chinese phenotypic heritage but do would that heritage be discussed or identified if they weren’t held up as objects of beauty. I mean really–their dominant phenotypic heritage is quite African. Or, to use a personal example, I dated an Indian-American man for several years. One day we went to a Persian restaurant and the Persian waitress who served us spent a good five minutes trying to ascertain my background. Now, I am a pecan colored woman with thick hair that falls to my mid back (when straightened and not in an Afro or twists) and I normally don’t consider myself racially ambiguous. Apparently however, I was rocking this woman’s paradigm. She asked me if I were Persian, Pakistani, Latina and Indian. ANYTHING but the obvious because she could not process, I guess, that an Indian man could be dating a pecan colored black woman. Some folks have this weird mental block and everything they find attractive is non-black. Hence, if they find you attractive, or, some other than another black person finds you attractive you cannot be ( in their minds) “plain black.” It’s twisted.

  • commodity futures

    When will black owened blogs and magazine, be accountable for their editorial policies?

    I assume that Kings is black owned and I ask why do Rappers speak with diisdain for dark skinned women?

    I think that these debates have taken black people 40 years , the 70s were about black beauty and black empowerement.

    There has been an almighty erosion of that and the embrace of the ridiculous.

    Kings is a business, they will claim they are appealing to the needs of their readers and may they are but what is the cost of the self hatred?

  • ms.d

    I agree with the other HAVE to accept yourself before others will. Both my parents are from west africa and i am a 1st generation american with a fully african name. I’ve been discriminated against too and i thought it would be harder to find a job, apt, etc. b/c even before people see me they know my name isnt common. but i NEVER let that stop me and i’m doing well now. yes, it may take longer & you’ll have to work harder but you must be confident and love yourself and KNOW that you have every right to same opportunities as everyone else. i too was made fun of when i was younger but i stood up for myself and thats how i got respect.
    i hope this helps b/c from my experience…people treat you the way you treat yourself so start loving & accepting yourself as you are!

  • Jamila

    Excellent article. I’ve noticed the same phenomenon.
    I think that men–of all races, colors, and creeds–have a taste for the exotic; it’s just become more fashionable for them to admit it. Perhaps it’s because men, thinking of their children( but unconsciously thinking) are looking for “hybrid vigor” in their kids.

  • Leanee Beanie

    Yeah, I don’t like it when people feel the need to point out how much better their genes are because they have a white/Indian/Asian great-great-great grandparent.

  • Leanee Beanie

    I have wanted to say that for so long but couldn’t find the right words to say it, but you said it perfectly. Why is it that so many people think that very attractive black people are only attractive because of some “mixed” (white/Asian/so on genes). It’s like they’re thinking “Oh, that person is too attractive, so they must be “something else”…and this person can be as dark as a candy bar with African features.

  • S.Riche

    ha ha! this made me smile

  • Clnmike

    ‘Perhaps it’s because men, thinking of their children( but unconsciously thinking) are looking for “hybrid vigor” in their kids.” Men are most definitely NOT thinking about kids when it comes to this…….

  • Demi


    Itch, do not call me names because you are an octaroon, mulatto, etc and subscribe, conveniently, to the American one drop rule. Newsflash: bi-racial people in the USA have begun stating their statuses as mixed for some time now.

    Get a clue and get the *ck outta here.

  • Demi


    My comment above was not meant for you…my apologies.


    This venom’s for you.

  • Demi

    She and that insulting jess character are obviously hurt children who are looking for any woman who looks like a part of the African diaspora to target with their ignorant, sad and very personal attacks. Sucks for them. But this isn’t nor will it ever be about them.

    Just looking for attention. I ignore this kind of filth unless they come at me directly. Moving right along past the obvious distractors…

    As you were.

  • Taylor

    Haha, I had to laugh out loud at this too cause I wish I had a dollar for every time some one has said that around me, I would be rich! But then everyone always rolls their eyes at me when I tell them I’m half Cherokee (Chicamauga, specifically, part of my family lives on the Reserves in Arkansas). For me, it’s always interesting how every time I go out on a date one of the first questions I’m asked is if I’m mixed and/or is it my dad or my mom who is white? I’ve never understood why this matters; like knowing my ethnic heritage will suddenly change my personality…smh…

  • ChoCho75

    I thought that was funny as hell, too! I don’t read King much either, not since me and my hubby had gotten hitched years ago (his suitemate would have them in their kitchen), but even then, I’d see the chicks claiming ‘BlackIrish’, Cherokee, or West Indian heritage…pul-eeze!
    If these silly chicks would read, they’d realized that there’s a lot more Indian nations besides Cherokee! For example, where I’m from in MS, it’s more common to say Choctaw ran in one’s family, or Leflore (which in some cases is not too far from the truth!) They way they front now is a hundred times worse, and just as sad!

  • Rachel

    Thank you! It has been the same for me traveling across the world. If African Americans realized how much our our ancestors and families during the Civil Rights Movement influenced other cultures around the world to stand up for their rights against racism and colonialism I think we would be proud to claim I am African American or Black American with pride.

    Also look at more than half the world trying to mimic hip hop culture. I guarantee you they aren’t mimicking the half anything, but full Black everything.

  • Cheree

    For some reason, I’ve been getting the ‘mixed’ question a lot lately, twice from co-workers because my hair is (as they described) ‘curly’ not ‘kinky’ and because I have a “small nose”. I don’t think people realize the amount of genetic diversity within our community; there are a variety of colors, nose shapes, and hair textures, just like there are in Africa! Most recently, this guy approached me on the train yesterday and in an attempt to be flattering, asked me if I was ‘mixed’. After telling him that I’m black, he refused to believe me and replied by saying, “No, you’re not just black, I’m not attracted to ‘just black’ girls. It’s just so boring.” INFURIATING!

    After angrily asking him if he was ‘just black’, (he replied yes) I then asked him if he thought of himself as boring. I then told him that it is rare for African-Americans to be ‘just black’, because of colonialism! On both sides of my family I have a native grandparent. My grandma has a partially french creole lineage; that’s what it means to be African-American! We are genetically different from Africans. Being African-American is anything but boring: my African ancestors were strong enough to survive the triangle trade; sounds pretty interesting to me!

  • Cheree

    THANK YOU for pointing this out.

  • chinaza

    Black men especially feed this mentality that “black” is inferior because they lack self-esteem.
    This,in turn, creates insecurity and petty jealousy amongst black women who are subject to “shade” grading.
    Because we have allowed other people to define our worth and we focus on how we look instead of how we live.

  • positive songs

    LOL at ripping up the black cards and stompin’ those suckas out. That behavior is a separation point for me, I can’t talk to certain cousins because of it. Because of my area, I don’t deal with much of that. And, honestly, I ignore anyone who seems to travel with that mentality. Ignorance travels in all circles and all colors. But, it feels great to escape that type of ignorance for others. And, sometimes, you don’t face either kind…that’s the best place to be. All types of people exist and you can find a better circle. I guarantee it. Now, it may take moving…lol, but, you can get there.

  • lele

    I’m multi-racial and when people ask me what I am, I always list African-American first. I feel that even though I do have a rich heritage comprised of different races/nationalities, I was raised in a Black household and that’s what I identify with the most.

  • Denise A.

    No you’re Nigerian American. I am African No offense but I’m not breaking off my pieces of heritage and passing it around for people to use at their convenience. So unless one of your parents is African American aka at least 300 centuries of ancestry buried with our borders, you are not African American.

  • Denise A.

    Now for the holders of many flags I just want to say that in this country when they say “black” they are talking about the majority of the black population and that offends some of you, especially when the stats roll out you feel the need to distance yourselves. However when its time to collect benefits you’ve got your hands out. Curiouser and curiouser.

    I will say this though. We African Americans can only blame ourselves for putting premiums on other nationalities. We have one of the most detailed histories in the Diaspora with just as much language, tradition, and cuisine as any formally enslaved black population. Hell we have our own anthem. Stop kissing their butts.

  • African Mami

    @ LemonNLime

    You are soooooooooo like my new best friend (Said with a very white suburbia girl accent). Your comment was BOMB!

  • lesismore

    I LOVE THIS POST!!!!- I been screaming the sentiments of this post forEVER!! I hate within the first 3-5 questions, a dude asks me “what you mixed with?” after the excited once over glance of my hair waves. It’s like…thanks dude, you just sent me a flaming red flag which lets me know I should NOT be talking to you beyond this point. You’re telling me you have some serious insecurity issues with yourself and your people right off bat. #cantdoit.

  • Ravi

    kind of divisive, Denise.

    There are plenty of African-Americans that are also Nigerian. In fact, that’s where more than a few slaves were taken from. No one was over here 300 centuries ago and slaves were still being brought over the century before last.

    In any case, given that Nigeria is actually in Africa, Nigerian Americans probably have more claim to the term African American than those of us that don’t know our roots.

  • Timcampi


    Good on you! But reading this again, I realize the fact that many women feel the need to define their blackness/lack of it/miscegenation is very very f*cked up. But I’m sure it’s something all races deal with. Nationalism and Ethnic-Pride is a very powerful thing. To actually identify what sort of culture you come from speaks volumes (allegedly) about your ties to your roots. I don’t think most American Blacks can do that, which can make some feel insecure.


    Given that Nigeria is actually in Africa… I would think I would be more qualified for the term African-American. No offense but I’m not breaking off my pieces of heritage and passing it around for people to use at their convenience. So unless one of your parents legit from Africa, and I mean thousands of years dwelling within the motherland, there’s no way you can call yourself an AFRICAN.

    (It works both ways).


    Thank you, haha. I’ve changed my nickname again~

  • Ravi


    race isn’t just phenotype. characteristics such as blood group frequencies are also in most race classification schemes. An individuals ancestry is also a large factor. it has a basis in phenotype and that’s one reason why its use is so problematic. phenotype is difficult to generalize for very large populations and it’s not static. There is too much variation within such large populations.

    The use of the three race system is quite dated. There are many systems of categorizing people into races, but all of them are problematic. The three race system went out of style decades ago and more popular systems such as the 9 geographic races (from the 1960′s) were employed. In this system, australian natives are a completely distinct group from africans. The 9 geographic races supposedly categorize based on the area where each of the groups developed their respective characteristics — African, Asiatic, Amerindian, Australian, Micronesian, Melanesian, Polynesian, European, and Indian.

    All of these attempts to categorize humans into very large monolithic populations by biological characteristics are ultimately obsolete. I haven’t heard of many anthropologists that don’t freely admit that race is a social construct. In most contemporary literature, you see very small, narrowly defined populations that are studied when it has anything to do with biology and genetics.

  • Timcampi

    Oh hmm, thanks for the info! Sorry for my outdated info. I’ve long believed race is a social construct anyway. Same with gender (not sex)… but that’s another topic entirely haha!

  • kemy

    1st- i think people generally understand black- african american, vs black latin etc. America culture has branded “black” to generally mean black, african decent, usually america. So when we hear the term “black”, although we know ther are other ethnicitys of black, we still associate it with u.s., african decendents. Lets not let this infraction deter the topic. I soooo agree with this article. I noticed it for years, and even know men who blatently admit to this simple way of thinking. It disgust me, and makes me sad for our community. Then people wonder why black women do these european “fixes”. Im so done with this topic

  • Alicia

    I work with teenagers who constantly ask me “What are you? What are you mixed with?” It’s rude and exhausting, but they have that whole teenage brain thing as an excuse so I largely ignore it–I had no idea adults lacked similar social graces.
    I am from a multi-racial background, but I don’t see it as a perk to dating me. There are many far more interesting facts about my personality and life thus far. This line of questioning would be a major turn-off.

  • Lola

    Try being an African American who grew up in Scotland! Think of how the line of questioning must go for me in America!!!

  • lola289

    LOL!@Nina! Are you serious?
    Do urself a favor, and get ova urself!

  • Ravi

    No problem. I’m glad to be of service :)

  • Dash

    I still don’t understand what this means:” Plain ol’, regular ol’, everyday ol’, grade A basic African-American.”
    No matter the nationality, Black is a race, I fail to see what puts one nationality above another especially since we are ALL products of the Diaspora (for the sake of this topic) and yes consequently ‘mixed.’ That ‘what are you mixed with’ question is beyond stupid. I feel Black Americans should celebrate their culture more, because there is definitely a defined Black American culture, I just don’t see why it’s always degraded into “just, regular ol’ Black.” Boggles my mind actually. Jazz, hip-hop, the Civil Rights Movement, just to name a few—the history is immense and amazing. I don’t see anything ‘plain, regular and basic in that.

  • AJ

    This was dumb…..
    First why do people assume that full lips and larger nose is a marker of African Heritage. Africa is a huge continent and there are not a lot of groups that have said characteristic.

  • JN

    I’m responding to the posts and not necessarily to the article, just to be clear.

    First off, modern science has identified (only) 3 races: Caucasoid, Negroid and Mongoloid. Native Americans are assumed to be a subset of Asians. Not that I agree with modern science. My point is that “Latino” is not a race, it is a cultural heritage. Race, cultural heritage and national origin are very specific and different terms. Therefore, a person can be a black Costa Rican who does or maybe does not identify with Latino culture; or a white second-generation South African living in Georgia who is technically an African- American.

    Second, like terms should accompany like terms, in my opinion. So, “black” belongs in the same conversation as “yellow,” “red,” and “white.” Therefore, if your 2 neighbors are Japanese and Nigerian, the following sentence is correct: “One of my neighbors is black the other is yellow.”

    Third – It is self-hatred to require people of African descent to disregard their ancestors, be them white or red, just because we were not allowed to know or keep track of their ancestors or because those ancestors may have been oppresors. In other words, many black people will tell you that they are part red (Indian) even though they may not know the details. So what. The only reason they DON’T have the details is that that information was considered irrelevant.

    There’s no end to the number of whites who claim to be part Irish, Scottish, Italian, whatever. Even if they don’t know the details. Please understand how inhumane it is and how much it is a perpetuation of the evils of slavery to mock black people who don’t know the details of their heritage. There’s a reason they don’t know the details and that is because their African ancestors were considered non-humans and no paper lineage trail was kept.

    My ancestors are mine, regardless of whether I know their first and last names and birth dates or where precisely they fall on my family tree. I refuse to let anyone take this away from me. I am one of the most Afrocentric people I know. And yet, I don’t hesitate to claim my Choctaw and British ancestors when appropriate, as in when John and Suzy are droning on and on about their Sicilian, Welsh and Polish ancestors. Knowing who you are is a civil right that has been taken from Africans in the diaspora. Make no mistake about that. Even if you go to African, as I have, people are happy to tell you which tribe/nation they are mixed with. It’s a part of human nature.

    And yet, purposefully DELETING part of your heritage is pathetic. I briefly worked among a group of people who randomly and gleefully offered up SOME elements of their heritage, ad nauseum, like they were get out of jail free cards. As in, “yeah, my dad is Columbian and my mother is Cuban but her father was Chinese.” (Said as if that imbued some sort of magical powers on the speaker.) What I noticed was that not one of my co-workers, who all had African blood flowing through their veins, ever mentioned the word “Africa” or any African country. Self-hatred.

    Lastly, what is “plain black” besides a hopelessly ignorant term? Should a Korean person refer to herself as “plain yellow”? Food for thought.

  • Ravi

    I feel you on the absurdity of disregarding your ancestry. Most of us are mixed to some degree and just because we don’t always know the details doesn’t mean we should disregard that fact.

    But the three race model isn’t used so much in “modern” science. I mentioned the 9 geographical races model in an earlier post, but even that model is obsolete. Much of science doesn’t even use biologically categorized “race” that splits humans into a few groups. There is simply too much variation to generalize. Race is usually understood to be a social construct, so the number and characteristics of the different races varies depending on where you are and who you ask. google race in Brazil and you will see what I mean.

  • T

    Isn’t the correct term for Cherokee “Native American” since the were found in South Eastern America not India…?

  • MissRae

    Omg, me too, It use to bother me when men get excited when I mentioned what I’m mixed with, smh besides being “plain ol black “is not boring.

  • SX

    Yes, yes..that is EXACTLY how orientals should describe themselves.

  • IgboAmerican

    I get what this article is saying but I have a few problems with it. As a Nigerian-American (born and raised in NY, parents immigrated here in the 80s) I can identify with the “what are you” question. The reality is that black-skinned people, which ever shade they may be, DO represent vastly diverse backgrounds and origins. That’s just a product of our movement across the world throughout history and the creation of our diaspora. I don’t see what the issue is with asking if someone is Jamaican/Ghanian/Dominican — it’s a simple yes or no question. It’s like asking someone if they’re from Brooklyn! I often ask Nigerian-looking people if they are in fact Nigerian, and it’s just to start a conversation. I do understand, though, the issue with putting non-North American identities on a pedestal and I think that has to do with a bunch of deeper things…

    My point is, we shouldn’t be getting mad at people who are proud of their heritage. And if that does upset us, we need to ask ourselves why. What about being “just black” isn’t enough for us? Why does someone ‘s Peruvian-ness, for example, bother us so much?

    Not to ramble but just wanted to mention that the vast majority of modern social scientists actually agree that there is no such thing as ‘race’. There is no scientific backing or genetic proof that connects black-skinned people, or white-skinned people, to one another besides skin color. Skin color is merely a product of the environment one’s people came from, specifically the amount of UV light radiating from the sun (Africa is hot, so Africans are darker! But so are Southeast Asians, Native Australians, etc. Are Indians black??) There is no known connection between the gene that produces skin color to ANY OTHER GENE in the human genome. Meaning that basing race off of skin color is exactly the same as basing it off of hair or eye color. As if brunettes are a different “race” than blonds, etc. Check out this website for more about this:

  • Lola

    this is me! no one ever believes im black. i told someone im african slave-white master and that was the end of the conversation. try that out.

  • Be On It

    I completely agree with your overall point, but it is not an anomaly for most black americans to have scottish or irish heritage:

    Because back in the day, scots and irish weren’t considered white.

    before they were granted the full privilege of being white, they were poor working class people barely better off than enslaved blacks and free blacks. When the Irish were ‘admitted’ to whiteness, the intermarriage decreased. My own family is an example of this. There are quite a few Irish people on my maternal family tree (who are unacknowledged to anyone except those willing to go diggin through old records), and quite a few black identified people who were in reality biracial or mixed race. But, due to historical and social realities, no one in my family claims to be anything other than black. Even those of my grandmother’s generation who could (or do) pass for white.

    But, to comment on the tone of the article. I am black. Not just black, because just can be used in so many hurtful ways. I’m black, and if that is not enough for a man looking for some hybrid vigor wet dream, then he can kick rocks. My looks don’t magically become more appealing because some non black people are on my family tree.

  • Merci

    I have to echo some of the comments I have seen thus far (haven’t read them all.) I think it is incredibly important and your RIGHT to identify yourself and have pride in every part of your ancestry. It is – by force or will – what made you exactly who you are today. It bothers me immensely that we still call ourselves and allow ourselves to be called “Black”. There is no such thing. Race is and always will be a social construct. If we allow it to persist we are allowing people to further group us and denigrate us as one class of people. And we are not. From the newly arrived to those whose families (again, by will or force) have been here for generations, no two histories are the same. There is nothing wrong with being of pure African descent and there is nothing wrong with NOT being of pure African descent, which the majority of African-American’s in this country must come to terms with. People with full or partial African lineage are a minority in this country and we must realize this does not make us special. There are minorities in every country, with sordid histories, oppression, enslavement, rape, torture, and genocide. We are not special. I want our young people to travel, learn something, be aware we are not banner bearers for oppression. The only way we can push forward is to realize that this slave history that we share is not the essence of who we are. We are and were more than that. The fact that someone would scoff at another for being happy and proud to identify as ALL that they are makes it clear to the those who would choose to have our history just be about slavery that they have won. They have kept us ‘Black’ and still fighting among ourselves

  • angela

    The title of the article should have been ‘You’re African American? How Boring’ to be more accurate. Good read though.

  • Merci

    I wonder if the same people who believe in this “you’re just black” ideology are the same ones who made it hard on those of us without the stereotypical kinks, curves, and smooth dark skin even though we were indeed “just black”. I can think of many times being rejected by the ‘black’ girls in my schools and being called ‘white girl’ and it was never a compliment. It is hard wanting to be a part of a group and being rejected, then suddenly when you have breasts and boys like you, you’re suddenly “one of them” and shouldn’t think too highly of yourself. So which is it? Am I in or am I out?

    This is why I don’t really care to be a part of the majority or the minority. Everyone will try to pull you to the side THEY are comfortable with, never mind what you feel about yourself. This is why it is important to never let anyone else create your identity for you – race is just noise and a vehicle for prejudice (on both sides.)

  • Lee Lee

    Admittedly, I choose to wear extensions in the summer for convenience purposes. What humors and saddens me is to observe BLACK men gawk over my hair and comment how beautiful I am every summer. Of course, I’ve seen the disappointment when I either admit all the length is not natural or that I am “black” w/o enough mixtures of “other” in me to really feel the need to go into further detail. However, when fall comes and I’m “all me”, it’s as if those same men do not see me. So I guess unfortunately today, exotic-or the appearance thereof-is “beautiful”, while black is common. Smh.

  • Kat007

    I believe in the “just black” ideology (you know, for the ones who like to “embellish” their ancestry) and yet I am “without the stereotypical kinks, curves, and smooth dark skin”. (Well, I consider myself mid-range in skintone – not what is considered a lightskinned or darkskinned black person.) I’ve already acknowledged that most AA are probably mixed ANYWAY (mostly due to slavery a few generations back within their families).

    Again, I (and many others) were commenting on the fact that people like to LIE (I said lie/embellish in another post) about their ancestry to appear less black and more “exotic”. I personally think this is a trend since there are more interracial couples and more mixed raced kids being born (and more mixed race teens/young adults around from what I’ve noticed. Obvi, there have ALWAYS been mixed race people but I personally think there are more now due to changing norms). Anyway, my point is It’s like people want to try and compete. 5 years ago you (not YOU specifically and not 5 years exactly) were black (and let’s say that you – again not YOU Merci – already knew the bulk of your ancestry and no new info within the last 5 years) and SUDDENLY you’re “black/japanese/mexican”??? GTFOH.

  • Stephanie

    Honestly, Nothing is wrong with being “plain ol’ black… But what is black exactly? Besides from what people like to call “African-American”, which would usually mean that they are American-born Africans, due to slavery. But that is not the case. Most “black” people are not African. And we all know that. Just look at the first person that willingly calls theirself “black” and you know what you will see? Certainly NOT someone that resembles in any way an African. Please dont hate when some people are able to identify an ethnicity in their bloodline, because African is not an ethnicity, it is a RACE. I hate when it says choose one and then you have to pick… last time I checked I have 2 grandparents that are UNMIXED and FULLBLOODED racial and ethnic backgrounds and NO, they are not Mauritanian Africans. They are Scottish Caucasian and Cherokee American Indian. So please. Dont hate because some people would rather identify with the identifiable part of their heritage also. That is just lame. How about you do some research or ask your grandparents and great-grandparents if they can identify what background your racial ethnicity is composed of before you knock the next person for knowing theirs.

  • Guy

    I don’t understand why people let their race define them at all. It’s like letting the fact that you happen to be born with fingernails define your existence.

  • taylor


    Can I report you for being stupid?

  • Kat007

    People are STILL missing the point. You have comments from people who ARE in fact biracial/multiracial who are saying, “Why are you mad that I’m claiming something non-black?” and comments from other people who, of course, resort to the “stop hating on me for having non-black ancestors”. WHAT?? THIS IS NOT ABOUT THAT. It’s about people who specifically try to make themselves seem less black and more exotic. Honestly, it’s like there are some vain and desperate attempts to present oneself as mixed race (not necessarily based on any particular comments in this article but in real life. Let’s not act like this doesn’t happen). I may have non-black ancestors who make me what I am but I don’t have to start tacking on their ethnicities/races to increase my appeal to others or increase my sense of self-worth. Whatever. I’m not “hating”. I’m not policing (well maybe?? If calling it how I see it is policing, then fine.). I’m black. And it’s okay. :)

  • Kat007

    When I say, “people who ARE in fact biracial/multiracial”, I mean immediately biracial/multiracial (parents or grandparents, maybe, maybe great-grandparents. All of this is IMO).

  • Domino

    Panamanian is spelled wrong.

  • Domino

    LOL, thank you!

  • Domino

    LMAO! You have to see this video on YT by Reckless Tortuga. I think its called like Racism at work. Hilarious.

  • jasmin

    You know, it doesn’t matter what you ARE. In this culture, all that matters is what you LOOK LIKE. Many intergenerationally mixed African Americans look more mixed than many bi-racial people with one african american and one caucasian parent. I have friends who are not technically “bi-racial” who look absolutely WHITE. Genes are funny things.

    Being mixed race is all the rage now. But…this is nothing new. When I was a kid in the 60′s just before the civil rights movement, I remember black kids at my school who would go on and on about their Scottish and Native American ancestry. They wanted to be ANYTHING but black. The difference is that I only knew ONE interracial couple. As this becomes more accepted, mark my word– we will see even more division in the African American community. In fact, it will eventually lead to the destruction of African American people as we have known ourselves in the past.

  • JC

    Correction: Modern science has identified ZERO races. There is no biological foundation for race. When science try to categorize races according to genetics, they come up with over 5000 races.


    @ Jasmin ^25 for this right chere and this is the beauty and awesomeness of being black.

    “You know, it doesn’t matter what you ARE. In this culture, all that matters is what you LOOK LIKE. Many intergenerationally mixed African Americans look more mixed than many bi-racial people with one african american and one caucasian parent. I have friends who are not technically “bi-racial” who look absolutely WHITE. Genes are funny things.”


    ya know, reading comprehension is great thing!

  • Mr_Right

    Who is the girl in the photo? Lol.

  • Lady J

    The problem is American Blacks do not know who they are. We are American. Our ancestors were equal creators in American culture. Racism has stolen our ethnicity! When people ask me what I am I say American. They reply “No really where is your family from.” I reply “My family lived in the Thirteen Colonies.” They go “Oh.” Because they cannot say the same. There is American ethnicity. It’s too bad Americans do not know they are no different than any other nation in this part of the world. Friday, October 14, 1492 began an era of new cultures in the Western Hemisphere. Cultures built on a cacophony of Native, African, and Western European cultures. The first slaves arrived in in Jamestown a year before the Pilgrims landed. We know this because John Rolfe, Pocahontas’ husband, wrote of the account. When you know who you are and how you came to be the pride is ever flowing-at least for me! I’m proud that no matter how hard things became my ancestors slaves, native, and white didn’t leave but made it work. Millions of people cannot say the same. If not for slavery where would this nation be socially and economically?

  • Ramon A.


  • Ramon A.


  • JChance

    Miss Harris, you put your foot in this article! Hilarious and on point. Well done, sis. Keep up the excellent work!

  • GFP

    Black tells you how you look, but it doesn’t tell you who you are” -John Henrik Clarke.

  • Pseudonym

    No. Cherokee is a group of Native Americans. (Analogous to Yoruba and Ebos who are Nigerian)

  • CJ

    Love this!! If I get asked one more time what I’m mixed with, I may just go on a murderous rampage!! I really just don’t get it.

  • Adisa Banjoko

    As the father of 2 Black girls and a wonderful Black son- I feel this article so much. The sad truth is that for a majority of mainstream America, Black was NEVER enough. Under the “purple haze” of a “race free America” is never will be. But I love Black women to the core and always will. MY granny was maaaad light. People used to ask her “Are you Italian? Mexican? Puerto Rican? She always proudly said she was BLACK and I plan to carry on that tradition. I’m giving this article to my daughter and my son . Thank you.

  • em

    Love this article. I am Black but born in East Africa with mixed hertiage. I get the where are you from comment daily and most of the time I say Brooklyn just because I know what they are digging for and I want no part of it. Culturally we are all a blend of all the cultures that have migrated and merged here. I am more American (African, Carribean, Chinese, Spanish, Jewish, French) than East African, from the food I eat, the moves I dance to the art I absorb. There is no doubt a global expansion of consciousness happening that we all want in on but some are only able to embrace this from a superficial level. Having a global chick on your arm doesn’t make you worldly or expanded.
    - Proud to be African American

  • pettiho

    I’m black. That is usually what I say when ppl ask. But I’m prompted by others to say what I am mixed with. Besides, why would I deny half of me (my mother is pacific islander). Anyway, I guess this article is not about a mixed woman? If so, then where do I stand in all of this? Are you going to tell me, “Girl, you are b-l-a-c-k!!” and am I just supposed to accept that?

    OR are you speaking to the brothers and others who are so wrapped up in knowing the specifics?

    I think I missed the point.

  • pettiho

    so basically the women talked about in this article are women who love to break down what they’re mixed with but should just be considered black? It still doesn’t make sense to me on why this is such a problem?

    Maybe this article isn’t about the women who break down their race but the women who are mad they can’t just say they’re black.


  • Lula

    I love your reply!

  • http://aol voxverity

    Cherokee figures prominently in Black families because that was the predominant tribe in the Carolinas. Slavery had strong roots in the Carolinas.

  • http://aol voxverity

    When the boats from Ireland reached Ellis Island, they weren’t allowed to get off if there was illness aboard. They were sent to the next port South, and the next one after that. A lot of them eventually ended up in the Carolinas. Remeber the Sullivan plantation in “Gone With the Wind”?

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