Is ‘transracial’ new?

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

We have defined races and ethnicities for different groups of people based on their physical appearances, culture, and historic birthplace and sometimes their religious affiliation to their ancestors. Your racial identity is part of who you are regardless of how you feel personally. Race and ethnicity is naturally recognized by the masses regardless how you want to be viewed. The truth is, historically, some races have manifested a horrendous and unsavory view of how they are perceived from past practices of discrimination and inhuman treatment toward others.

While it is easy to distance yourself from your ancestors or forefathers, the privileges and entitlements of some (especially Caucasians) persist. Many attempts have been made to dilute or hide the extent of the cruelty and inequality that was commonplace in the history of the United States subjected on Blacks by Whites. White supremacy was the rule of the day, and its ugly remnants still persist today.

It should not be surprising that some Whites seek to make amends for their ancestors’ injustices and accumulation of wealth based on the backs of free labor from Black slaves. The treatment of the native Indians by Whites leading into aggravated submission into reservations only serves to add to the disgrace felt by many Whites for their forefathers’ treatment to people of color. Many people do not find it surprising how Rachel Dolezal, the president of Spokane, Washington NAACP chapter chose to deceive the public by denying her White roots. Rachel had a propensity to identify with being Black to the point of passing for Black.

I truly believe in her heart, Rachel could relate to the Black experience and could serve other Blacks as a Black woman. Rachel’s greatest sin is deception, but some find it flattering that she could relate to the struggle and perseverance of people of color. While transracial is a new word, it resonates with the word ‘passing,’ a term many Blacks are familiar with. Remember in the ‘50s how light skinned Blacks passed as Whites hoping to attain a better way of life with opportunities unavailable to darker skinned Blacks?

One’s reality often differs from others, often propelling them to do things contrary to what the majority of the public may think proper or acceptable. One day the playing field may be made more equal and races and ethnicities won’t be as important. But the history of races and ethnicities only enhances the human experience, showing the resilient and perseverance of beautiful people overcoming obstacles. Perhaps this episode with Rachel will promote much needed dialogue as well as encourage true novices to undercover the true history of Blacks in America as well as the world.

Ironic as it may sound, sometimes the cruelty, dehumanization and inequality subjected on African Americans by Whites are given more validity coming from compassionate Whites who are seeking justice and equality for all. Because of slavery, Jim Crow laws and blatant segregationists, Blacks in America have suffered economically, socially, educationally, and emotionally, taking a backseat to their White counterparts. Every day is a reminder that in society, Black lives don’t matter. This can’t be downplayed. Identifying with the Black experience is formidable, but Whites can be effective in promoting change without denying their race. Good or bad you are a part of your ancestor’s past. We can only work to learn from the past to correct injustices and make sure we do not make the same mistakes.