Whatisright's Blog

If all voices in a choir sing the same note, they would never create HARMONY

Jennifer Beals and race

 Jennifer Beals
I have read some Jennifer Beals hate mail and want to comment. I think it’s obsurred that black people accuse her of “running away from her blackness”. I would have to say that we are all a product of our environment, regardless of what race. Those who accuse a person of “running away from their blackness”, need be careful. Sure we are all aware of the story “Imitation of Life”. To this day, that behavior has not completely dissolved away, yet it is very inappropriate to make such strong accusations without being sure.

When you were born, the doctor smacked you on the bottom and I guarantee that your first words were NOT ,“say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud”. No, you were taught to be proud of that heritage. You were influenced by grandma ‘nem, and those who sat you down and shared with you the stories, the photos, the emotions, the feelings and the wisdom of our rich Black Heritage. You were shaped by your aunties, uncles, neighbors, teachers, black entertainment, black music, the weird guy on the corner, and so much more. Most of us were MAJORLY influenced by the Black Church. You speak ebonics and slang, or you enunciate your words and speak eloquently; because that is the way people around you spoke and you learned to speak that way. You like the rich foods you eat because that is what you were fed.

A person who has not experienced what you have, is not going to become the person you are. Yeah, we all have a little this and a little that in our blood, but we all identify mostly with the community that reared us. That’s why a person of African ancestry may be accused of acting like one of another culture. It’s likely the culture that had more influence on them. That does not mean the spirit and strength of their ancestors do not live within them.

My mix is Black, White and Native American. At least that is the story I was told. But I identify as black because that is the strongest heritage I was fed and I have brown skin.

I would love to discover my Native American heritage but I have no one around me to embrace me and give me that experience. Unfortunately, I find nothing to be proud of my White heritage. Sorry white people, no offense so don‘t take it personal.

Some can tell I am not all black by looking at some of my features and the way I talk. Sometimes I sound like I am Af-Eur-ican. I can tell you stories of my mother who was tied to a chair by her cousins and they cut her hair because her hair texture was fine, long, soft and wavy. Or my sister who was called names because she has light bright skin and long black wavy hair. Or my grandmother who had a car full of her children and told them to duck down in the back of the car so no one would see them. All, so she can go into the White gas station to pay for gas and get food. She could pass as a Native American woman but her children could not. She lived in a town where Native Americans were left well alone.

A person who was reared in an African American culture are not likely to just run from it. I’d like to say that I feel it’s important to have people of different races and celebrate the variety of this earth and the people herein. Heritage/race is a tie that connects people, uplifts people, gives something to be proud of, something to be remembered. While being human alone should cause us all to behave in a civilized manner toward one another and live in unity and harmony, I do not agree that we should just dismiss the conversation of race and heritage or stop asking people about their race/heritage. We should just stop letting that be a reason to be divided. The conversation of race and heritage should never end. However we should respect whatever a person chooses, or the simple fact if they choose not to choose. After all they are only saying what they know. Just because I identify as black does not mean I reject any other race on earth, or even my own mixed heritage. Because, just as stated above, I will gladly discuss all three. There used to be a common practice where the child identifies as the father’s race. So if mom is Indian and dad is Chinese, then child is Chinese. Times are not that simple anymore and that’s fine.

Regarding Jenn Beals, I don’t claim to know her but I do think the race of her parents have been communicated accurately. With her mother being Irish and father being Black/African American, she is not part White at all, by historical definition, as Irish were not considered White. Rather they were treated as minorities, the same as free slaves. SOME of the Irish chose to take advantage of their light skin and use it to get ahead. So they chose to oppress Blacks, the same as Whites did, in order to win the acceptance and privilege of Whites. See “How the Irish Became White”. (link below)

There are many races in this country who are accused of acting white and denying their own. There are even examples of people who have in fact done such thing, which is within their own right to do so. But I think mostly, anyone who has been truly accepted, taught and allowed to experience love and security within the heritage of their blood line, would not readily deny nor run away from it.

Now we have public information that says her father died when she was young and we have no information regarding any of his side of the family who could have remained an influence to her. So if you want Jennifer Beals to “act black” then maybe you should, throw a fish fry and invite her over. Or you can introduce her to black radio such as Tom Joyner morning show (www.tjms.com and http://www.blackamericaweb.com), Rev. Al Sharpton show (www.sharptontalk.net), Warren Ballentine (www.thetruthfighters.com), Steve Harvey (www.steveharvey.com), Michael Baisden (www.michaelbaisden.com). Or maybe you can invite her to come to church with you. Or maybe you can take her to your grandparents, aunts, uncles or elderly figure of your life and let them share their stories, experiences and pour their love into her. Maybe you should invite her along with you to see the latest Tyler Perry Movie. But if you don’t have enough guts to speak up for her when one ignent (no, I did not misspell ignorant, that‘s just how some black people say it) person says something out of the way to her, then don’t bother her at all. Because I’d bet good money that she has, in many ways, experienced more rejection from every direction than a human would like to know about.

I did not know much about Jenn Beals before LWord and it’s been only a few weeks since I discovered she is biracial. Now that I know that she is part black, I will keep my eye open for her work and go out of my way to support every movie, and TV show she’s in. No, not just because she is part black, but because she is part black, GOOD at what she does, and deserves more recognition for her work. That’s just what some of us do. I don’t think I need to explain why we feel the desire to support black,/mixed artists, we all know what world in which we live.

Every mixed person should be most privileged to have the honor of experiencing and representing the richness of more than one culture. A Jewish-Black-Scottish person should be able to have a Barmitsfa with pride, wear a Kilt with pride and sing the Black National Anthem with pride. Furthermore, they should be able to create a new heritage based on their experiences as those who share a story that no other race shares. Multi. However we have reduced them to a tug of war in which they were never willing participants, demanding they “pick one“. We try to take away their multi.

I personally choose to claim anyone who is any part black, who wants to be claimed. PERIOD. I know some people don’t want to hear that but I just believe that the African heritage, the triumph over the Slave experience, and the growing strength of the Black community is such that binds us all together and gives us all something to be very proud of. We are such a strong people and I want everyone even remotely associated with it to at least have an opportunity to embrace, know and love what is a part of us all. Now if there are other cultures in your gene pool, then by all means, we can love that too, and teach our children while we‘re at it.

Go Jennifer!

 Go President Obama!



January 23, 2009 Posted by | Race, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments