Dialect Magazine

Biracial or Black – Which one is it?

press still –  Diandra

Back in the day, if someone was half Black – they were labeled Black…period.  As a Black person, I never questioned it much.  A few years ago, I stumbled across YouTube channel: TiffDJones, also known as Mulatto Diaries.  This young woman allowed me to explore a different perspective. She forced me to zero in on the ambiguity and struggle that can come when a person has biological parents of 2 different races, especially if one is Black.  There is a pull and push that can come with it, where they are being pulled in different directions but also, parts are being pushed away. 

Most of us can – if not all of us – relate to the feeling of trying to fit in or trying to find our identity on some level whether it is race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or other.  Despite the commonalities, each dishes out unique challenges.  The subject of racial identity is one that deserves to be heard in and of itself.

press still – chris_kayci


The one-drop rule is part of a painful part of American history.  This rule has, in general, been accepted by society.  Some might feel it is scientifically sound, others might feel it is socially sound.  On the flip side, others reject the entire notion and this is where native New Yorker, Carolyn Battle comes in.  Carolyn “Battlecatt” Cochrane is the brains behind her self-funded “Biracial… Not Black Damn It” documentary – a multi-part series consisting of all cultural mixes.  The documentary “addresses the struggle of duel identities and the invisibility of being biracial.”  Parts 1 and 2 include conversations with various people of all ages, with the U.S. and abroad, parents of biracial children and more.  

Part 3, the feature length “Biracial Damn it, covers the wider storyline and goes beyond the Black and White mix. It will delve into other mixes such as Asian & White, Philippine and Black, etc.  It will also explore related issues such as passing as one race and adoption.  In addition to these projects, she is working on a reality show for television and has a memoir, In This Skin: My Biracial Not Black Damnit Life.

Back to the question at hand – Biracial or Black (or another race) – Which one is it?  I feel that every biracial person has to come to that conclusion for themselves.  For example, President Barack Obama identifies himself as an African American person and chose this in the 2010 census.  In a 2007 CBS 60 Minutes interview, First Lady Michelle Obama explained their views on this by stating “the realities are that . . . as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station.”  

Morgan Freeman made news this past summer when he stated:

“America’s first black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first black president, he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”

All of us, biracial or not, must confront our own views on race, the good and the bad.  It is not cut and dry but whatever an individual’s choices are, the reasons behind them should, at the very least, be heard.  That’s why Carolyn Battle’s Biracial Damn it documentary series is long overdue and worth the watch plus the discussion it sparks.  What are your thoughts on this topic?

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Nadine is the founder of Dialect Magazine. She has written for various print and online publications.

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