For my 6 decades of life, I have been subjected to the “Biracial Beauty” propaganda pretty much nonstop. And I am here to publicly testify that it has continued without pause from the 1950s until today. Unless we do something to stop it, its going to continue to disable and damage any true progress in the movement for equality.
It’s such a popular, knee-jerk trope that if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “Mixed kids are so cute/pretty/beautiful,” I would be in the economic 1%. Even as a tot, I suspected that there was something wrong about that message.
Even in pre-school, this foolishness made me weary.
See, I grew up in a community with many Mixed kids. Some of us (like my brother) were very-good looking. Most of us were average. A couple of us weren’t all that physically attractive. JUST like other group of people, right?
Except we were all subjected to the “Mixed kids are cuter” propaganda that threatened to skew our sense of reality and feed the widespread delusion that our non-Black Ancestry bestowed a superior level of attractiveness that basically became our brand, whether we wanted it or not.
As I grew older, countless people—White and Black alike—shared with me that they “want to have Mixed babies because they’re so pretty.” I think they were surprised and disappointed when I didn’t encourage the pursuit of that goal
I would roll my eyes, shake my head and sometimes hope that those particular people would not procreate interracially because they did not seem to possess the appropriate mindset and attitude to rear a Mixed kid with a strong, healthy sense of identity.
Check out cultural commentator Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey, a Black woman married to a White man, who has a decent level of clarity on the topic. She challenges the popular notion of Biracial Beauty in its proper context. Click on her name above to watch the video.
Let Us Be Clear: I love being Mixed. I love being Black. I love being #BLEWISH. I love being me. None of which has a damn thing to do with anyone reflexively deeming me attractive because of those things. I’m a’ight looking. As in AVERAGE and completely good with it.
And you wonder why I had attitude at such an early age?
I don’t need to feel better than ANYONE to be happy with myself and my complex complexion and identity. I don’t need to be or think that I represent some form of superior physical species to have a healthy and realistic sense of self.
It is never flattering.
It is never comfortable.
It is never positive.
And it is never welcomed or appreciated. Ever.
What NOT to do. How about we let the child be as gloriously imperfect as every other living being? Nobody needs this kind of pressure!
Because this fetishizing is simply another way of denying our humanity.
The way the humanity of ALL people of color is routinely denied.
It is a way of fishing for something “positive” to say about us to cover up the fact that our very existence makes folks so very uncomfortable.
Because they can’t see us without thinking about what it took to create us.
And that’s just too hard to contemplate, so they try to cover it up with the whole “Mixed = beautiful” propaganda.
Stop Disabling Mixed Kids
Here’s the thing: When anyone–especially the parents/grandparents, family members and other influential adults heap that notion onto Biracial children, they are actually creating a psychological disability in that child–even if their intentions are innocent and well-meaning. AND even if the child is legitimately gorgeous.
Because if the main or only message a Biracial child receives from adults about their identity is linked to their over-hyped physical desirability, the child is at risk of buying into this madness and having it dominate their budding sense of self.
And then–because this propaganda is also spread widely in Black spaces as “Mixed people think they’re so cute,” and variations on that mutually-destructive theme–the child unknowingly steps into an existing hostility that they neither created nor fully understand. But they will feel the full brunt of the obsession.
I suspect this also makes many Mixed-race people feel confused and like they have to struggle with defining and interpreting their own identities, because the foundation they are given to work with is so very shaky and problematic.
Guess what? When we’re set up as somebody’s oppressive standard of “beauty,” lightness is prioritized over darkness, thin or “keen” features over rounder ones, and hair with the least amount of visible kink is famously referred to as “good.”
And that’s nothing but good old-fashioned racism.
And this is the result.
Some of us fall for this popular propaganda because, frankly, this world doesn’t often give us much to work with. If nobody in your environment is saying anything else positive about you, then you’re at risk of internalizing the few crumbs they do throw your way, and mistaking those crumbs for substance and sustenance.
Few of us understand the game and how insidious it is, and the need that some folks have to pit us against that part of ourselves that moves us away from “the light.”
Maybe the “Biracial Beauty” proponents are hoping that we’ll be so enamored of our alleged physical superiority that we’ll forget about all of the mind-bending nuances, complexities and traumas of racism. Or that we’ll somehow believe it doesn’t impact us, at least not as deeply.
But deep down, most of us know better.
We know that we are NOT cuter/prettier/handsomer or more beautiful.
We have no desire to be defined by our looks.
We are well aware that being Mixed does not make us special.
We get that this whole thing is based on the notion that White(r) is better and Black(er) is worse.
So please stop acting/thinking/believing and saying that we’re:
Beautiful. Gorgeous. Cute. Repping some “special” form of beauty.
The answer/antidote to or cure for racism.
“Mixed kids are so pretty” is NOT a compliment. It’s unhealthy and divisive and an impediment to the evolution of the human species. It also sets up People of Color to continue perpetuating a no-win dynamic.
If you THOUGHT you were performing this act of kindness on my/our behalf, I am not just requesting, but IMPLORING you to cease and desist immediately.
Let us be regular.
Let us be average.
Hell, let us be ugly.
Stop making us out to be “more” or “less” ANYTHING.
We’re only human.
Let’s work together to get to the point where we’re seeing and acknowledging each other’s fully-blown, multi-faceted, gloriously flawed humanity.
Stop consigning us to a pedestal that is of no assistance.
We need mirrors that reflect everyone’s truth.
From the soul to the bone to the flesh that covers us all.