While promoting his book, Taye Diggs recently stated the following:
When you [call biracial kids black], you risk disrespecting that one half of who you are and that’s my fear,” I don’t want my son to be in a situation where he calls himself black and everyone thinks he has a black mom and a black dad, and then they see a white mother, they wonder, ‘Oh, what’s going on?’
The Black Community responded with a collective “Taye — you betta check yo’self!”
Some may wonder why some of us Black folks are having such a negative reaction to Taye’s assertion. Let me break it down:
It Feels Like Rejection – And Rejection Hurts (Especially From One of Our Own)
Let me say what no one is saying: Black folks feel rejected all of the time. We look at TV and at magazines and feel as if America’s standard of beauty rejects us; we are not employed or promoted at the same rates as white employees regardless of our educational attainment so we feel as if corporate America rejects us; we get rejected from entry into certain nightclubs and followed in stores; we get rejected by some potential friends and romantic interests based upon race. We feel the rejection, the mistrust and disdain of police officers, the lady we sit next to on the bus, teachers who don’t call on us, the pedestrian who crosses to the other side of the street or clutches her purse. Being Black equals having to feel a constant undercurrent of hostility and rejection.
It hurts, but we almost become numb to it—until—the rejection comes from one of our own. Black women aren’t angry at White women (though they sometimes receive the heat of our anger) for dating Black men. We are angry at the Black men for rejecting us when we’ve stuck with them (when the majority of society has not just turned their backs on them, but oftentimes seems to be in an all out war against them). A Black woman will take a one-legged, three-tooth Black man over a White man; so it stings when a Black man doesn’t show us the same love and loyalty.
The same feelings are at play with Taye and his statement. To see a Black man seemingly doing his very best to distance and disassociate himself from us frankly hurts. Sure, we mask the hurt with anger because that’s what all people do (if Black folks allowed for vulnerability and sadness with every piece of rejection, we fear we may be shattered). Anger feels stronger and safer. So, we first strike out with anger and logic and scream out:
Taye Hasn’t EVER wanted to Be Black
- He said on a talk show that even his mother said years ago that he would probably marry a White girl.
- He married a White Girl
His Kid Looks Straight-up Black (Ain’t nobody Confused Taye)
- Taye said that people would see his kid and the white mother and be confused. Does he think that his kid is the first biracial kid we’ve seen? It ain’t new Taye. Ever heard of our President?
- Your kid looks Black. Perhaps we could understand if you had child who looked like Mariah Carey or Maya Rudolph where there may be some public confusion. In your case, boo boo, eeeeerbody knows that he’s Black (but you). I even have a feeling that your former wife if saying, “WTF is he talking about? That’s why I divorced his dumb ass. It’s obvious my son is Black.”
- Wrong or Right: the kid is what the world sees him as. When the police are following your son in the new car you buy him with some of that Hollywood money, guess what—they are going to call into the station that they are following a Black man. They will not say they are following a bi-racial man. Your son will not get White points so the police will only give him half a ticket. Ask James Blake (the tennis player that got body slammed outside of his hotel. He’s biracial too, but identifies as a Black man).
- And baby, thanks to slavery and the raping of our people, most of us are mixed to one degree or another.
He will Face Racism—just Like the Rest of Us
- Perhaps you can talk to Tiger Woods and O.J. Simpson. They too thought they could elevate above their blackness, but when fortunes turned both received strong reminders that they are indeed Black.
- You should prepare your child honestly and candidly for the racism he is going to face. Just like every other Black boy out there, you need to talk with him now about how to respond to the kids in kindergarten asking about his skin color or wanting to touch his hair; how to handle when he gets called a nigger; how to respond to the police; and Black barber shop etiquette (or did you think he was going to pop into the Hair-Cuttery with white folks. Trust that they won’t know WHAT to do with that child’s hair).
Calling Your Child Black does Not mean You are Denying His Mother or Her Culture.
Your son should love his mother and can honor her family, traditions and culture to the fullest degree. That is a separate issue – and a bit of straw man argument . Almost all Americans are an amalgam of different ethnicities and origins. Ancestry.com has made a fortune letting people know that they are 1/3 Irish, 2/9ths Native American, 4/9ths Danish, and 1/9th Japanese – yet most people (and again, certainly society) identify less diversely. It is no disrespect to these constituent parts to embrace your blackness.
BUT – Back to the bottom line
But, the real bottom line is that you hurt us. You rejected us. You made us feel that having a child that was half white somehow made him better. You, a dark chocolate brother, chose a White woman over a Black woman, had a child by her and then paraded this child around as something “better.” Now you are hawking a book about his “otherness”, his “biracial-ness” as if it’s a special and elevated status above and beyond what he is, and what the world sees him as — Black. And it’s sad because we think that Black is so incredibly beautiful—even when the world tries to convince us of otherwise. Taye — we wish that you, our brother, saw that too.