Thursday, August 20, 2009
Are Prince & Paris Jackson Black?
Beware: In this article I will use the word 'mulatto'. I know that some people are sensitive about the use of this word due to its ethymology. The reason I use it is not because I like it but because I will tackle an issue about mixed race people and want to describe things clearly. If this shocks anyone please accept my appologies before starting to read this.
In the following days after Michael Jackson’s death we have heard a lot of speculation about MJ’s fatherhood. During the ceremony we saw his children for the first time and many people were surprised to see that MJ’s children looked so white/Caucasian. Tom Vandyck, US correspondent for the progressive newspaper De Morgen (Belgium) expressed his doubts about MJ being the real biological father of these children. His doubts were based on Paris’s appearance. For him, biologically, she couldn’t be part of the Jackson family.
I was shocked as it reflected the fact that race is still perceived as a hard evidence. But my experience among mixed race people is that whether the parents look black or not, once there is some racial mixing in your background, the racial features of your children is a lottery.
According to an article in The Observer two years ago, nearly all African Americans have some white ancestors. This is the reason many African Americans do actually look like mixed race people with an African and European parent. Look at Colin Powell, Jeremiah Wright, Beyoncé Knowles, … and many more. They all identify as black and have a black identified mother and father. Therefore they are black in the US American context. But these people have white ancestors too and could have children with blond straight hair and blue eyes, certainly if they would choose a white partner.
When you are 'real mulatto', that is first generation black African & white European mixture, your children will generally look white if your partner is white, and black if your partner is black.
Below is a picture of Victoria Rowell, an actrice who has one white and one black parent. on this picture you can see her with her two kids. The white girl's father is white, the black boy's father is black.
Although we can’t really make a rule out of this. Different exceptions are just as common as the rule. My sister, who is half white half black has two daughters with a white Belgian man. The first girl looks white: bleu eyes, light brown hair. The second girl looks mulatto, but still with blue eyes. A good friend of mine who is half white half black has two children with an African man. They both look mulatto. One of my best friends has a mulatto mother and white father, he looks mulatto although his brother is blond and has blue eyes. Still, if you see them together you can see they are brothers.
When you look mulatto Africans can see you are not black and Europeans can see you are not white. Africans in East-Africa will call any white person ‘muzungu’, also someone looking like Obama will be called ‘muzungu’. It’s the same thing to them.
Europeans call light skinned blacks and mulattos also black. To most Europeans whether you are mulatto are not, you are just black. This means that a mulatto is ‘white’ or ‘black’ depending on the place where he is. Race is a relative thing.
I once asked a black street boy in Kenia whether he thought Beyoncé was white or black. He said without hesitating he thought she was white. He had a point, don’t you think so?
The only places on earth I know where people perceive the difference between black, mulatto and white is in Cuba and South Africa. Two places where many people of mixed race of all shades live. I have never been to Brazil, but there too, I heard it’s not just black and white, there is a whole world in between and people are very much aware of it.
My point is that based on the racial appearance of MJ’s children we can’t see if MJ is their real biological father or not. It’s pure guess work and it is wrong to say ‘they look white so therefore they can’t be his children’. Maybe they aren’t but that’s not for certain because of their skin colour. You can look white and still resemble you black father a lot.
Michael Jackson (before getting vitiligo) was a brown skinned black man, with the features of a mulatto. If you look at him, the ‘real black man’ (because having 2 black American parents) and the 'real mulatto' Obama; honestly they are the same type of black man, aren’t they?
Paris and Prince, if mixed race, are not the only mixed race children who look like white people. There are actually many. I will list some famous American ones.
This however doesn't prove that 'mulatto' people look white, this just proves that mixed people have all colours and shapes, and that they prove that race is just an illusion.
Jennifer Beals, actress, father black, mother white
Wentworth Miller, actor, father black, mother white
Rashida Jones, (Quincy Jones's daughter), father black, mother white
Elisabeth Atkins Bowman, author of 'White Chocolate', father white, mother black
Amanda Marshall, singer, father white, mother black
Derek Jeter, baseball player, father black, mother white
Blu Cantrell, singer, father black, mother white
Mariah Carey, singer, father black (Afro-Venezuelan), mother white
Jason Kidd, basketball player, father black, mother white
And then last but not least: a little youtube video about biracial twins, one white, the other biracial as the world expects it (although called 'black' by the journalists). As twins this is rather special, but even then, brothers and sisters one white and one 'black' will become more and more common in interracial families.
Don't listen to what these journalists say nor the doctor they quote. The father might be 'black', he is certainly not a black African. He has clearly some white ancestors somewhere in his family tree. He looks mixed race.
The girls are not white or black, they are both mixed race. One looks white and is blond, the other looks dark and brown skinned.
If you keep on looking around you will find out that this phenomenon -maybe not twins but brothers and sisters having a totally different racial make up- is not a One in A Million case.