The Tragic Mulatto Must Die

One of the old stereotypes about people who are biracial is the "tragic mulatto," a person who doesn't fit in because he or she isn't White but isn't really Black. Millions of people who claim to be mixed are living well-balanced lives. Isn't it time for us to declare the tragic mulatto dead?

And yet, the stereotype was recently perpetuated by someone I've called a friend. Ignoring all that she knows about me, this woman told a stranger that the reason why he didn't know me in college is because I'm half black and half white, so I didn't know which way to go.

In my book, being accused of being confused about who I am is just slightly better than being called a sellout and much worse than being mistaken for a race/ethnicity that I'm not. What made the accusation shockingly hateful is that she knows better AND is almost the same complexion as I. And did I mention that the man she said this too is also light skinned?

So, imagine, three very light-skinned Black people standing around and one of them basically points her finger at another and says, "You're different, you don't belong, you have to prove yourself to us." It's ridiculous. Would she challenge our President, who is boldly biracial and happens to be darker than she is, with a similarly cruel statement? What about Frederick Douglas?

I won't honor her comment by detailing how Black I was in college or am now. I will say that it's hard enough when non-Blacks make racist statements to or around me - they think it's ok because I'm light. It's not. But it really cut me to the quick to have a friend and fellow light-skinned African-American put me into that tired old, tragic mulatto box. It was tragically thoughtless in the eyes of this not-tragic (and never mulatto) chick.