Monday, July 27, 2009

Film: I’m Bi-Racial… Not Black Damn It!


For the film 'I’m Bi-Racial… Not Black Damn It!' see the interesting post and comments on the film blog Shadow And Act

Of course I've asked a bi-racial Dutch African-American woman about her opinion. She feels that the title, I’m Bi-Racial… Not Black Damn It!, is wrong. Being bi-racial means not black not white, but both. It's a combination.

People with a bi-racial background are a fast growing group in Europe. It's a consequence of the fact that Europe is less racially segregated then the US.


4 minute trailer


For more information go the website http://videoproduction.battlecatt.com

31 comments:

  1. Interesting clip. I just watched the 16 min preview, and I agree that being in a diverse setting is more comfortable for me (I'm mixed/biracial/black&white) than to be in a mono-cultural space. I guess that is opposite from what many people feel, since people who identify as multi-ethnic/racial don't always get to have that kind of environment and so are indoctrinated to believe that they are "only one or the other" and forced to choose a side. At least that is how it seems in the US where race infuses EVERYthing.. it's ridiculous and keeps everyone from moving forward.

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  2. And another comment..it's sad that the children in the 4 min. clip first of all never even had to think of "race" until OTHER people brought it to their attention. Like the first girl said, people ask her "what color she is" but she doesn't know why. It would be nice if she never had to explain her existence. Other people want to put her in a box at such an early age. I experienced the same 25-30 years ago and I see not much has changed.

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  3. Thanks for your comments. It's good you explained the US reality again. Being bi-racial in a country where black and white seem to have a standard set of reflexes and opinions towards each other, makes everything more complex then it is.
    And the diverse setting you mentioned. I've heard that very often from bi-racial people. Which of course seems natural if you’re raised by a white and a black parent.
    But maybe it’s not only a race issue, but also a cultural issue. If you are on vacation you seem to connect to everyone (black, blue or white) who speaks the same language. Maybe on these special occasions people feel more comfortable with people from the same cultural background, then with people who are of the same race, but with a different background. But the race mind program is always updated and online. Not only in US.

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  4. And you know, I grew up in Germany (Munich) and there race never seemed to be an issue for me even when there were far less visibly brown/black people there. Possibly I was not able to see it, or I was too young to notice. As a person of color (I'm assuming, but I don't know your racial/ethnic background) living in Europe, do you find that there is a distinct "Afro-European" culture that is very different from the dominant culture, or does the dominant culture infuse the Afro-Euro culture? Maybe it's a little of both..

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  5. That’s a though question.
    From my blogger’s point of view, I don't think there is a distinct Afro-European culture like there is an African-American culture. But it depends how you look at it. If you are raised in Europe you share an experience with other black/brown people in the different countries in Europe. And because Europe is less segregated then the US you also mix more easily with other cultures and nationalities. Therefore you could say that multiculturalism is a typical Afro-European element. But at the same time it’s also about trying to find a balance between integration and assimilation. Being an Afro-European, but not loosing your non-European heritage. The French called it Egalité, liberté, fraternité… et diversité. I think it has to do with the fact that we have strong immigrant culture. Every brown/black person has an aunt or uncle in the Caribbean, Africa or the US. Just like you of course.

    To answer your question about me. I am born and raised in the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and I am from Dutch Afro-Caribbean descent.

    P.s. Thanks for the question. It was fun thinking about it. Although I must admit that this is learning process. A few months ago I would have given you a different answer. But as I said this is just my personal opinion.

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  6. Thanks again for answering back..and I think you summed it up perfectly. :) Great answer and you said what I was feeling but couldn't exactly verbalize. The multiculturalistic attitude that I have as an Afro-European is still pretty strong with me today even though I've become more Americanized (i.e. 'racialized', or rather more conscious of overt racial overtones in social situations and due to US history) over time by living here so long. It's a relief when I do get the opportunity to leave the US and get some breathing room away from all the polarization that exists here.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work! I really appreciate what you do. Have a great weekend and take good care of yourself.

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  7. I'm a multi-ethnic person with Black, Cherokee father and a Swedish, English mother. When I was a child I never saw any other mixed people (that I knew of - now I know that all African American's are mixed) Myself and my siblings were always the only ones with a White mother and a Black father. I was born in the mid 50's and as a young child I was discriminated against a lot for being Black. In addition, my family faced many hardships and lots of pain due to the non acceptance of us by the larger culture. I have lived in a truely paradoxical world with many facets. Today, it's strange and yet good to see that there are now so many with my racial-ethnic make-up. I still remember being the odd little girl.

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  8. Anonymous, thanks for sharing your experience.

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  9. la question n'a point d'etre posee.c'est simple.qui a etabli cette loi sur les races se sont des occidentaux.pour bien semer le desordre dans les societes.a l'origine dans la societe kamit ancestrale pas des mot-race-dans leur vocabulaire.aujourd'hui on enttend des ineptie du genre metis et metissage culturelle qui ne sont que des pieges bien mise en place par les occidentaux.et tout ses questions posees par ses jeunes femmes n'est que le resultat de leur confusion mentales que les occidentaux ont bien gagne dans se sens.la societe econimique actuelle veut que le canon de beau soit occident.une chose est sur la roue est entrain de tourner.demain c'est l'asie quoi en plus sur la question bi-race?nous etions puisant dans le passe et nous le serions toujours.
    alors chere soeurs et freres kamites arreter des vous detruire psychologiquement avec cette question de bi-race.love a vous.

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  10. bi racial schmi racial....all beautiful people....mixed with beautiful black

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  11. The most profound statement came from the young boy at the end, "If people don't like you for who you are, find people who do."

    I'm African-American, Scots-Irish and Filipina and I called myself a mixed-race Black woman. I understand how race works in the U.S. in particular and while I proudly claim all facets of my identity, when asked about my racial make-up, I tell people that I'm mixed-race Black woman (and I provide elaboration when asked what I mean by "mixed race"). I was taunted by Black kids for being light-skinned and having long hair but none of that trumps my experiences with blatant racism from white people and even Filipinos.

    I think what helped me was that my mom was also a mixed race Black woman (1/4 Scots-Irish, 1/4 Black and 1/2 Filipino) which meant that she could prepare me for what might lie ahead and she stressed the importance of me defining who I was on my own terms which meant I needed to choose friends who would accept all facets of who I am.

    I definitely think that bi-racial people should be able to identify themselves as they so choose but sometimes I do feel like there is this "mixed race" persecution complex where folks who are mixed with Black and some other race(s) seem to lash out the most against other Black people. If Black folks won't accept you, find people who will because at the end of the day, you have the ability to select your own friends.

    The title of this movie is offensive to me in that it makes it seem like being Black is the worst thing ever but from my recollection of at least American history, it was whites who barred interracial marriage until 1967. Maybe if they went with "I'm Bi-Racial...Not an "Other" Damn It!", I could endorse it.

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  12. The title of the movie makes perfect sense, because if you are quote "a caucasian or white person" who has a child with a quote "african american or black person" the child is automatically labeled black by all sides of the coin, which I agree is ridiculous, because if you must describe a human being by a skin color, you could just as easily say the child is caucasian, although it is no more one then the other, yet you note that President Obama is termed as the first "black" president of the US? Which is silly, because he is no more black then white, however it is the culture that shapes the US and forces the beautiful children of these unions to view themselves as being one or the other. It shouldn't offend you, they are simply putting words to what is true. It's not a derogatory comment towards "black" as you yourself term it, it is what it is, and they are saying -"stop using any color to describe my humanity"just as Martin Luther wisely stated himself "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Even the term biracial is offensive, because we are of the human race, with different ethnic diversities. Sometimes I think God created different skin colors as a test to see how we would treat ALL of His children... we occasionally rise, but usually fall:)

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  13. It's a complicated issue in the United States because a majority of black Americans are of mixed-ancestry anyway. Many people who are considered black may be lighter than those who are biracial and in this country. If you look like you have black blood, you are considered black. It all goes back to our history of slavery. The lines are really starting to blur these days because "other" is the highest rising ethnic group. I personally identify as a black person because that is how I am seen and my parents suffered through segregation in the 50's and 60's. At the end of the day, when people look at me, they aren't wondering how much white or native american ancestry I have; they see a black person. I'm curious to see how things change in the next few decades.

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  14. Ash, very interesting comments. I know someone ho is one quarter black and tree quarter white, but still some Dutch white people still call him a negro. I know someone who is bi-racial but looks white, but doesn’t like it when people don’t see him as bi-racial. He carries a picture of his father with him to “proof” it.

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  15. I like the feedback on this post. We got some sensible people commenting here. :-)@Afro-Europe, are you serious? Does your friend truly carry his dad's picture as "proof"? Extend my warm regards to him/her. lol

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  16. Hi Zuzeeko. Yes I am serious. I also know people who are bi-racial Asian, but look completely white Dutch. They also claim their non-Dutch heritage.

    But maybe this is a typical Dutch thing. Ethnic minorities with a colonial past have a very strong group consciousness, which is typical Dutch by the way (at least in my opinion). Remember the Dutch invented the apartheid system in South Africa. So there is some pressure in the Dutch society to be connected to a certain group. So if you claim your heritage, you are considered a part of that group, whether you’re black, white, red or yellow. I am talking about ethnic minorities of course.

    I remember that a (white) Irish guy told me that in Ireland he could go into a pub and have a conversation with everyone, but he noticed that in The Netherlands that was not possible. He noticed that people here sit in groups, and don't “allow” people from the “outside” to be part of it.

    So maybe that’s the reason why the guy with the picture felt he had to “proof” something.

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  17. I really enjoyed this blog as well (intelligent folks), Anonymous hit the nail on the head at why the title is what it is...the frustration of being told over and over and over again that I was black "only"(when I was younger I identified as black because it was easier, but as I got older I felt it was a complete betrayal to my mother and who I am)

    I love all of me and that would include being black, the title is not intended to have a negative overture towards being black, what the title did do was open the conversation up, I had a title before that didn't interest anyone....same content. The point of this documentary series is to open up the conversation and give understanding, and to heal. Carolyn Battle Cochrane--filmmaker

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  18. Hi Carolyn, thanks very much for your explanation. It's interesting to find out that you gave the film that title to get the conversation going.

    Great film. I know the subject is also very relevant here in Europe.

    Thanks for the compliment!

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  19. "But maybe it’s not only a race issue, but also a cultural issue. If you are on vacation you seem to connect to everyone (black, blue or white) who speaks the same language."

    A year later again, this has come up in my thoughts. And this struck me as being significant.. it seems that while I may have a language in common with my American peers (English), when it comes to the conversation about race and bi-/multiraciality it doesn't feel like I'm actually communicating or getting my point across. If that is a willful misunderstanding or an unintentional one is up for debate. Words that feel comfortable to describe myself such as "mixed, biracial, AfroGerman" seem to be an alien language when I speak to people of my experience of life. Just because I live in the USA doesn't mean I think like the USA when it comes to race and what identification means.

    Furthermore, I am not threatened in the least if Obama, Mariah Carey, or Halle Berry wants to call themselves black, white, or other. If any other multi-racial person names their heritage, I simply have to accept them for what they say at face value. I only hope to be accorded the same.

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  20. Hi once upon a time. I can relate to what you're are saying. If I am correct you're saying that black and white cannot relate to the bi-racial experience, whether unintentional or intentional, although they speak the same language.

    From a perspective of a black person who is married to a bi-racial Dutch/African-American, I can agree.

    It sometime looks as if bi-racial people are in the middle of the battlefield of black and white, and are forced to dig they own trenches. There are sometimes waving the 'white" flag to both sides, and sometimes fighting back at both sides. No one seems be listing, we are only looking at skin colour and “good” hair, the rest seems to be irrelevant.

    I have seen a few black people who have bi-racial children, but still have the same old reflexes when they see an adult bi-racial person or a light skinned person. I doubt it if you can have meaningful conversation with such a person about this subject, although you speak the same language. Trying to understand the bi-racial experience would sometimes be the same as having a deep personal conversation about ones own deep frustrations. This of course also goes for white people.

    I think that Obama once said, that he is black person with a bi-racial background. But then again, he could also say he is a white person with a bi-racial background. I think it is a very good description, but very American. There seems to be no middle ground, just black versus white. He has to show to which community he wants to belong.

    But you’re right, it’s sometimes very difficult to explain the bi-racial identity to someone who is not bi-racial, although we speak the same language. Thanks for your comment!

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  21. As an African American (of mixed racial background) who has traveled to Europe quite a few times, I am a little dismayed by the comments from Afro Europeans. While I do agree that people from the US have a different view of race and racism, I can not understand why Afro Europeans say Europe is a little less segregated. Really?! In my travels to the from East to West, I have been exposed to the rudest and most hateful forms of racism and bigotry, more so than the US. The funny thing is most of what I experienced wasn't directed at me but towards Afro-Europeans and immigrants who resided there. The US passport made the other Europeans a little nicer.

    It's also astounding that this is the very same blog where I read about how often the violence and the racial discrimination is overlooked and ignored...sadly even by its targets.

    I think why there is such a wide difference in thought between Afro Europeans and African Americans is, we Americans know regardless of what your mother or father is, when the world sees you, they consider you Black (in most cases). Especially in Europe. However, our "Blackness" is our coat of arms, our protest, our comfort and our solidarity with those ancestors who struggled just so we can say we're Black (and STILL GET A JOB AT A BANK!)

    But seemingly, with the Afro Europeans, your belief in Europe being less segregated, in my eyes always includes you suppressing your "Blackness" or African heritage. One person commented
    "stop using any color to describe my humanity"just as Martin Luther wisely stated himself "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

    Yes, but I believe that meant being allowed to be Black and not be ashamed of, nor suppress self and still be valued as a human being. The problem with integration or being "color blind" seems to be the push to get rid of your ethnicity especially if you are dark. Most African Americans want to embrace their roots while seemingly Afro Europeans want to forget and assimilate in European society with out thought of heritage or ancestry.

    Last thing, while Americans have a notoriously racist society-we do not have celebrations where white people run around in Black face; nor have we had a reporter get up on television and say he would not take orders from a Black man, because Blacks aren't civilized, nor have we had advertisements that state the only reason to vote black with white hands on a black arse, nor have we had television shows where the host says, "it's getting dark in here" because a Black woman entered the stage, we haven't had any African American football players heckled with monkey noises or bananas, nor have we had a bank turn down a Black worker for fear of upsetting Bank customers (do not Afro Europeans use banks?) with out that bank being sued and every one fired.

    So while we in the US have our own racial problems, it is funny, that Afro Europeans don't turn and look at their own situation critically. Hopefully, there will come a time when Afro Europeans will be able to be "Black" and European, with out trying to desperately to integrate with a society that's obviously not ready to accept you as full fledged members. Sounds strikingly similar to the African American experience, wouldn't you agree?

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  22. Very interesting comment Mocha Mango! I see you have read our posts. But I think you shouldn't compare "Afro-Europeans" with African Americans. The experience of a black person in a Western European country with a large black community is very different from a newly arrived African immigrant from Senegal in Russia. You can’t throw all the experiences (of racism) in one bowl, label it Afro-European and compare with the African-American situation.

    I think I am going to respond to your and other comments in a post. So thanks for your comment and come back!

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  23. Mango Mocha hit the nail on the head. Id like to see euros try that racist routine here in the USA.

    From reading posts here by Africans in European countries, I sense no fire in the belly. Racist attitudes and behavior from public figures are accepted all in the name of assimilation. Pathetic.

    Sarkozy calling Africans in France "scum"? Not even George W. Bush would have said that.

    And like Mocha said, that US passport meant a lot in terms of treatment. The people knew I wasn't from one of "those" poor countries and that in fact I was coming from a rich country (the richest). They seemed to hate Africans and Arabs everywhere I went. I just can't but shake my head reading threads and posts on here from Africans trying to play up their European NATIONALITY.

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  24. Dear truth2011, you get a better treatment because you are a tourist, an American (black) tourist. I was planning to respond to Mocha comments, which I still have to do, but I still haven’t. When I am in the US I am also treated differently, but that’s because I am a tourist from a European country.

    But I see you are a little bit selective in your reading. Just like Mocha you’re comparing black Europeans with African-Americans. Which is non-sense. That would be same if I would compare all black Americans with African-Americans.

    If you read this blog you may get an impression about black Europeans, but it’s not the whole story. It’s like reading BET and claiming to be informed about African-Americans. Needless to say, I am not comparing this blog with BET.

    And who said black Europeans are claiming a European Nationality? Read their websites and blogs. Most black Europeans have close ties to their the countries where they are originated from. And if I say that Europe is less segregated then the US I don’t mean there is less racism here. So no one is 'selling out' if that's what you mean.

    I think you should read more stories about Europe and the black European communities. And if you think that racism in Europe is only reserved for black Europeans, read this
    http://www.urbanlife.se/sv/nyheter/3-latest/638-swedish-tv-show-calls-rapper-ice-cube-a-qcrack-negroq

    I don’t post this information, because it’s offensive.

    Black communities around the world have always been connected to each other, this blog wants to part of that tradition. There is no “us” and “ them”, just us.

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  25. It is an unfortunate characteristic of most human beings that they would judge every book by its cover. This is the nature of racism (although it goes much deeper). It is about judging people by their appearances and such stereotyping is not directed solely against "black people." And black people can be equally judgmental of others.

    The issue with stereotyping is that it can be either negative (which is what fuels racism) or negative (where the recipient is accorded virtues without demonstrating that such a virtue is actually deserved). Neither is a good thing (except in the eyes of the benefactors of undeserved positive judgement).

    Thus when it comes to "bi-racial" individuals, there can be great confusion of self-identity because one may be perceived either white or black and you have no control over how you are perceived. So there may be fear of being labeled in a way that is different than the way you see yourself. But interestingly, this is no different at all that the fears that a person who is labelled as "black" may have about being perceived in a negative way by the superficial judgement of others.

    Perhaps the difference between the US and Europe is that in the US, having a drop of black in your blood draws a label of "black." But I suspect it is no different in Europe ... it may very well be that such views of blackness are not outwardly expressed.

    But the bottom line is that people become "victims" when they care how they are perceived by others. I could care less what color (or other characteristic) people think I am if they do not know me. I'm a book. My cover tells you nothing about me. If you want to know me, read my pages. I know what's in my pages (content of my character) and that's how I judge myself. I don't give a hoot what people say about my cover. But I do care about my earned self-perceptions.

    If you care what others think about the cover of your book, you will be afraid to live. Ignore what others think about you and you will write great pages in the book of your life. Like the youngster said at the end of the clip, "if people don't like who you are, just find people who do." He is certainly poised to overcome the adversities that may be presented to him by the ignorant people who he may run into in his future.

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  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  27. Angelo, very interesting comment, especially the book metaphor.

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  28. "I know many black Americans"??!! I've read some of your comments and I think you are on the wrong blog. Since you are are using language we (black people) are not acustomed to, I have deleted your comment.

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  29. Who is that directed to? Wrong blog?

    I'm not from a military family which I why I said "black Americans." I can't speak for myself. So I'm speaking about my experiences dealing with black families stationed in Germany. And none have ever claimed German roots or being German themselves.

    I'm a black American. You just don't like the criticism I gave a contributor who was quick to ditch her African nationality for an Italian one.

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  30. Dear Truth21
    Many Europeans of African ancestry also have European ancestry. Many were born and raised here and do not speak the language of their African family members. Many urban Africans have European cultural, linguistic and historical references.

    Taking all these aspects into account, there is nothing wrong about considering yourself European or even choosing a European nationality as yours, even when you are black and/or of African ancestry. A nationality is first of all an access to legal documents that give you the opportunity to find a job or travel around the globe more easily.

    BUT

    In America virtually everybody is ‘non-native’. If you are black, you may be confronted with racism, but nobody is questioning your ‘Americaness’. This is not the case in Europe, third generation black youth in France, Holland, Germany, Belgium, … are often considered as ‘foreigners who should go back where they are from’. This is not fair because these people were born here, grew up here, know the local language as their own, have their best friends here, were educated here, have their family here and have their home here. But even on a broader scale: Europe and Africa have a common historical, social and political context that resulted in the presence of blacks all over Europe. Our presence in Europe is a logical consequence of European colonization and imperialism.

    Still blacks constantly have to argue why they are here. This is why it is so important for many black people in Europe to struggle for their recognition as members of European society. This doesn’t mean whitening yourself, it means lobbying within European nations to acknowledge their colonial past, accept the African contribution to the wealth of the country and accept that black people are part of European history, present and future.

    Black people who claim to be European are not ‘whitening’ themselves, they are ‘blackening’ Europe.

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  31. Sibo Kano:
    I said they were rushing to ditch their nationalities, NOT whitening themselves. Ask other black Americans on here if they've heard of black American military families claiming German or Japanese or Italian roots because they were born in those countries or pay taxes there. It's unheard of. It makes them looks silly.

    The most famous athlete in America, Kobe Bryant, lived in Japan but was raised in Italy. He speaks fluent accent-less Italian and has many Italian products that he endorses, yet he has NEVER EVER claimed to be Italian.

    And about people questioning your origins, sorry it's bound to happen. People put others in boxes to categorize them. In America, if you're not a white American, black American or native American, you have people assume you weren't born here. Sorry. That's what privilege us black Americans have, we were here since inception (and before). We black Americans still get first shot at scholarships for schools because of our history here. If the others don't like it, they can go back to their home countries.

    And finally, if you're a third generation African in Spain, who can question our origins? You know the truth right?

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