Racial/Ethnic Identity Question(s)

Why are people whose ethnicity is half white and half African American called simply African American or black?

This year’s Super Bowl will be the first featuring two “black” quarterbacks. But pat Mahommes is half black and half white.

Do people of mixed races get to pick? Or does the media pick for them?

And it seems as they almost universally pick the minority (at least minority in the USA) race.

Barack Obama: black (why not white?)
Kamala Harris: black (why not Indian?)
Lenny Kravitz: black (why not white?)

Is it if your skin is darker than usual you pick black?

And there are a ton of mixed Asian and whites that seem to identify as white. Or at least the press portrays them that why.

Why is that?

Because race is basically a color

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It has to do with this, I believe: One-drop rule - Wikipedia

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But why are people of half white/half black ethnicity almost universally called black?

because they have darker skin than white people without black ethnicity.

if they wind up with whiter skin which often they can, people would likely call them white.

I mainly agree, I think. Often someone seeing a person of half white/half black ethnicity will not know and will use a term based on which looks more likely, without intending to make any judgment that either term is better. OTOH, there is often no reason for a stranger to use either term. But if asked to describe someone, I would usually take a shot (assuming I am going to describe them). If I knew the parent’s races, might refer to that (again, depending on circumstance and assuming I choose to describe at all).

Why can’t I see this thread on the General page any more?

And sure, other people make that distinction.

But what about the mixed-race person themselves?

They don’t seem to be in a hurry to correct the narrative.

Anyone ever remember Obama referring to himself as white or half white even? Or saying not only was he the first black President, but also the 44th white one?


I dont keep tabs on everything obama says, but i doubt he denies his white heritage

If Obama chooses to describe himself a Black, I’m not going to worry about it. If he called himself White, I would find it strange.

For Elizabeth Warren to call herself Indian, considerably stranger.

For anyone except Santos to call Santos Jewish (or Jew-ish), considerably stranger still. For Santos to call himself that, not at all strange, from him. [/political]

Interesting question that seems to be interesting to several . . . so we’ll make it its own topic.

Look at this guy, called coincidentally walter white:

he looks, well, white to me. but evidently he was treated as black, and identified as black, because he had black ancestry.

it seems that today, it is easier for people who “look” white to be treated as white. but very recently how you looked seems to have little to do with it.

remember race is not ethnicity. you are the race society tells you that you are, or to some degree that you identify as. it is only loosely connected to biology.

I wasn’t home when a census person came to our place and Jaspess I (who is black) worked with that person. But I think that person assumed that I was black too, and recorded me as such. So according to the Census Bureau, I’m black until 2030. :upside_down_face:


because the term “Mulatto” has been deemed socially inappropriate. You can try to bring it back if you want… but I recommend against it.

:notes: im a soul man :musical_note:

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I have a half/half friend who identifies as black, but his skin is pretty white to me. And has white features. I think he even has blue eyes.

I think it’s just mostly due to his upbringing and he gravitates toward black people, as it seems like his parents are no longer together and he’s closer to his black parent.

Most of his friends are black, and he’s more in tune with black culture.

My son-in-law is black. Fully 25% African American. My daughter is white with maybe a teensy % of “indigenous North American” (likely from what is now Canada), the rest a mix of the blonder Europeans.

Their skin color is nearly the same as far as darkness or lightness.

The one drop rule is weird.

I think it has to do with dancing and basketball ability. I am black.


As one of my favorite-ever jobs, I was a professor for a few years at FAMU, a traditionally “black” college. FAMU publicized that they were not “black,” but multi-racial or multi-ethnic. There were a couple of pale faces in my classes, but anyone who saw them would have said they were black.

I wondered if FAMU’s public relations folks would’ve classified Obama as white or at least multi-ethnic.

As someone else noted, some states in the US have historically had laws decreeing that if you had more than some portion of sub-Saharan ancestry, you were “black”. In some cases, the minimum amount was “one drop of blood”.

I think a bigger piece of the puzzle is that, in the US at least, there is a certain culture and certain set of experiences common to people of certain groups. (Admittedly, that statement is overbroad and a generalization…but I’m ignoring that for the sake of making a point.) It is therefore logical that someone of mixed ancestry might identify with the portion(s) of their ancestry that they are most attached to.

My family tree and DNA are indicative of being a mutt. However, I tend to identify as Native American because the stories I remember being told as a small child and many family traditions are from that background…even though in blood-quantum terms, I’m more Scots than anything else.