Recently, there’s been numerous viral photos of white parents posting pictures of their mixed Black children with #AllLivesMatter political statements.
The picture to the left is of a Black, brown skin child holding a paper that reads, “Black lives only? I’M MIXED. So what about my white side? My mommy is white. My daddy is Black. They both matter to me. #AllLivesMatter.” This kind of manipulation of using your mixed Black child to denounce antiblack racism as a means to recenter your whiteness is violent. Any focus on trying to make #WhiteLivesMatter through the silencing of Black people — and manipulating your Black child to perpetuate that silence — is actually the same antiblack violence we’re fighting against. Also, mixed babies will never cure racism. EVER.
Slavery & white supremacist sexual violence already taught us that mixed children didn’t change shit.
This rhetoric that having mixed children is a step towards ending antiblackness is disgusting. The fact that hundreds of years of slavery, sexual violence, rape and forced reproduction against Black women and femmes did not prove to folks that mixed children didn’t change anything is disturbing. If anything, mixed Black children who are being read as “mixed” added numerous layers of violence into the context of white supremacist patriarchy. The physical and sexual violence against mixed children, or “mulattos,” only reaffirmed that Blackness will always separate you and therefore put you in a position to be harmed. Also, the one-drop rule as a sociopolitical principle of racial classification acknowledged any person with 1/32nd of Black blood is considered Black. This reminds us that Blackness is demonized even in the slightest because that’s how vile Blackness is in the construct of white supremacist patriarchy.
Being seen as Black was a death sentence, even if you looked white. The pervasive violence of antiblackness is centuries long. If having mixed children were to challenge that, we would’ve seen a shift in antiblackness hundreds of years ago. Also, how does this change the narrative if we stop assuming all mixed Black babies will come out light skin, with light eyes, straight hair, and Eurocentric features? There are millions of “mixed” Black folks who do not read as the white supremacist definition/presentation of a mixed person. Even in the show Underground, Pearly Mae was a child of rape by the plantation owner, but was not read as “mixed” in phenotype or in presentation. This matters in how we address what type of “mixed” Black children we’re expecting to supposedly end antiblack racism.
Fetishizing mixed-race children is always antiblack.
The fetishization around mixed/multiracial Black children challenges this narrative that we can be “saved” as well. The grotesque nature of seeking children that look a certain way — usually light skin, light eyes, straighter hair, Eurocentric features — often only exploits your own personal desire politics of who you find the most attractive. Folks are literally out here looking to create children with features they sexualize and look for in their partners.
This is also nuanced in how antiblackness operates as sexual violence in the constructs of white supremacy. Our bodies have always been seen as public property in navigating white supremacist violence, which means that when there are white people who are vying for mixed children like an accessory, obsess over our flesh as prize or a manifestation of owning our bodies (as your children) for performative and representative value is disgusting.
In addition, the features that are often fetishized and valued are the ones that resonate with Eurocentric features or “whiteness.” But here’s the gag — in the words of the great Marlon Riggs: Black is, Black ain’t. Humanity started in Africa … Which means Blackness manifests in all forms, even before slavery and whiteness began as a concept. Black folks with an array of skin tones, smaller features, different texture of hair, different colored eyes and different body types have always existed. We created the entire world. We look like everything. But that doesn’t mean the constructs of race, phenotype, and presentation, oppression and privilege do not matter in current context.
Mixed-race Black babies are still Black, y’all…
Are we just going to ignore the blatant erasure of Blackness when we talk about mixed Black babies? As if the quest for mixedness is often to distance a child/person from Blackness and achieve looks that aren’t inherently perceived as Black? As if folks aren’t positing that Blackness is so vile and disgusting that you have to mix it with white/whiteness in order to make it valuable?
Are we just going to ignore that mixed Black babies are often always still read as Black even if they are “other-ed” in their Blackness? Are we going to ignore that even if a Black child is white-passing, or very light skin, that Blackness is more than presentation of identity? That their Blackness is still valid?
Mixed Black babies are still Black. Black people can be mixed. Mixed Blackness is not a monolith.
White people will never experience racism, not even by proxy.
Before Kim Kardashian West came forward with that most recent blog post about #BlackLivesMatter (I have questions.), she made a blog post about North West’s birth back in May of 2014.
“To be honest, before I had North, I never really gave racism or discrimination a lot of thought. It is obviously a topic that Kanye is passionate about, but I guess it was easier for me to believe that it was someone else’s battle. But recently, I’ve read and personally experienced some incidents that have sickened me and made me take notice. I realize that racism and discrimination are still alive, and just as hateful and deadly as they ever have been.”
Look, we all come to our politicization of white supremacist violence in different ways. But when it comes to learning about racism through having Black children, it actually perpetuates the idea that Black folks need to have worth to a white or non-Black person before their experiences or livelihood is valued. This is violent. And so much of this is through a sexually violent lens as well. Many white and non-Black people only begin to value Black folks (or certain Black folks) when they date us, fuck us or have Black kids. Our value being tied to our relationship with you, or how we can provide labor to you is more antiblack violence.
But even when you’re acknowledging these systems that harm your Black children, just remember that white people are not victims of racism or antiblackness. What your child experiences, what your possible Black partner experiences, is not what you experience. The violence Black people experience is ongoing, with or without you next to us. When a white person calls your child a nigger, know that your sadness for your child is not the equivalent to experiencing racism. Your tears are a product of caring for a person you love being harmed. But you’re not experiencing racism.
Also, if you’re new to the definition of racism and how it operates as a system of interpersonal, institutional and ideological violence, read here.
White parents with Black kids are still capable of racist violence and antiblackness.
As hard as it is to believe, having Black kids don’t change the violence embedded within all white people. White people are products of a white supremacist, antiblack system in which their whiteness and white privilege affords them the ability to be ignorant of the violence happening to everyone non-white, while also being capable of wielding their power as violence against anyone non-white.
White people unknowingly are infected with antiblackness in ways that operate as interpersonal, ideological and institutional violence. White people are always capable of violence. Especially against those closest to them. You don’t automatically undo the inhabitation of white supremacist violence from your white personhood and mentality when you have Black children. If that were true, imagine how quickly slavery would’ve ended every time a white slave owner raped Black women and femmes. BOOP.
The best thing white folks can do as a parent of a Black child is to find ways to dismantle white supremacy internally and externally. That means saying #BlackLivesMatter, no matter if a “too” is attached to your non-Black life. Decolonizing your mind and your actions as a white person is the primary mission. Making sure your child has access to other Black people, while also checking your white privilege in any space you’re in with your Black child. Your life will never matter until Black lives do. Your liberation is contingent upon ours, and even then, your fight shouldn’t never be contingent upon the saving of white people. You will never be free until you unapologetically, without hesitation, support, defend and be willing to die for Black lives mattering. No exceptions.
Ashleigh Shackelford is a queer, nonbinary Black fat femme writer, artist, and cultural producer. Ashleigh is a contributing writer at Wear Your Voice Magazine and For Harriet. Read more at Facebook.com/AshleighShackelford. Support my emotional and intellectual labor by donating to: PayPal.me/AshleightheLion.