Is Mixed Race “really” better?
I came across this video by Dr Aarathi Prasad which claims to investigate the scientific advantage of being ‘mixed race’ and asks the question “It is better to be mixed race?” As a ‘mixed-race’ person I couldn’t help but feel a bit ‘special’ at the notion that I might in some way have an ‘advantage’ over the homozygous counterparts, but the whole argument of the video left me unsettled. Having a background in colonialism and Orientalism theory, it also made me feel guilty about being who I am.
Science has been used for many years to prove the dominant discourse of the time. We have been presented with “scientific evidence” attesting to the ostensible intellectual inferiority of Blacks and other ethnic minorities to whites (most recently, scientific racism has been noted the work of “world renowned” scientist and Nobel Prize winner Mr. James Watson). Although I believe that the creator of this video intended it to provide as a counter to racist and colonial theories such as “racial purity” and anti-miscegenation, I still think that in an inadvertent way, it reinforces the logic and ideals of scientific racism. For example, if we were to accept “scientific” validity of the presented argument of this video that mixed race people or people who are considered to be ‘heterozygous’ are afforded certain “advantages” over those who are “homozygous” or not mixed, then one will not necessarily be wrong in declaring non-mixed race people to be ‘inferior.’
I also have qualms with the augment presented in this video because in many non-white communities, particularly the Black community, “mixed-race” people (especially those of ‘Black” and white or European decent), are often regarded a “prettier” because of their “lighter skin” and “good hair”, while none-mixed people with darker complexions are often considered to be “less attractive.” As a mixed race person, after locking my hair, I was often bombarded with questions from family members and random strangers as to “why” I chose to ruin my “good hair.” In the media today, many of the Black main stream female artists have “lighter skins” and long straight hair (examples include Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Rihanna, Halle Berry ect). The fact is, colonial ideology and its embedded notions of European features (straight hair, lighter skin, straighter noses etc) as being “prettier” or “more attractive” or “desirable” still permeates the very fabric of Black and many non-white cultures and in many ways, videos like this help to reinforce this mentality.
Despite my noted “issues” with the above video, being a product of a bi-racial union I can attest to many of the “advantages” afforded mixed race people. For example, I am constantly being complimented on my ‘beautiful hair’ and ‘nice complexion.’ Growing up in the Caribbean where many still adhere to a colonial mentality, being mixed race with ‘lighter skin’ and curly hair often meant that I was the chosen one to ‘represent’ my school or classroom on various platforms. Despite these minor ‘perks’ there are also certain noted disadvantages of being ‘mixed race.’ We are often told that we are not ‘Black’ enough and since we are obviously not ‘white,’ we are often left to question our identities and our positions in the world, which inevitably leads to insecurity.
While I am not in support of the theory presented in the video, as it helps to reinforce many of the pseudo scientific theories about race and racial superiority it tries to debunk, I do believe that there are certain benefits to “racial mixing.” It blurs the demarcated lines imposed by racist ideology (it forces us to question the validity of binaries such as Black & White, inferior & superior), and allows us to see the faulty premise upon which racist colonialist theory has been established. While on one hand this video strikes a serious blow to the racist notion of the “superiority” of “racial purity,” on the other hand, it runs the risk of promoting the hierarchical categorization of people, which has long been the premise upon which scientific racism has been established.
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