We all know those people. Some of us are those people: The ones who see an ethnically ambiguous child on the subway, or in line at Target, and get all doe-eyed at their caramel-colored skin, loose curls and light-colored eyes. "That baby's so cute!" we say, if we're not trying to be super obvious. Or, if we are indeed willing to go there: "I love mixed babies!"
"There" is the place where our unconscious racial bias resides, the place that finds tight curls, dark skin and brown eyes — traditional blackness — undesirable. It's what comedian Franchesca Ramsey articulated so well in a recent video titled, "The Many Problems With, 'I Want Mixed Babies.'"
In it, Ramsey, a black woman who is married to a white man, details how annoying it is when people imagine her yet-to-be-concieved children and imagine that they'll be so pretty precisely because they won't be completely one race.
"This idea that being partially white is somehow more attractive, or more desirable, basically says that blackness is not attractive or desirable," Ramsey says. "And that's messed up, because I'm not biracial. And I'm cute as hell."
People who say these things are usually coming from a good place, Ramsey adds, but intent doesn't change impact. A lack of intent in propagating racist beauty standards does not mean it doesn't happen. In fact, it's understandable given how deeply ingrained these ideas are in our culture, going all the way back to slavery and the formation of race itself when lighter-skinned slaves — often the products of rape of black women by white owners — were given preferential treatment over darker-skinned slaves. That legacy still haunts this country, and shows itself in the seemingly innocuous obsession with mixed babies.
That's not even to mention the obvious: that many black Americans have some form of mixed ancestry. Historian and columnist Jelani Cobb wrote about this in the New Yorker during the Rachel Dolezal controversy. "Nearly all of us who identify as African-American in this country, apart from some more recent immigrants, have at least some white ancestry," Cobb wrote. So let's celebrate blackness in all of its beauty.
h/t For Harriet