Saturday, January 30, 2010


A New American Tribe - racially mixed people abound in modern society - Brief Article
Commonweal, Sept 12, 1997 by Peter Feuerherd
123Next ..Intermarriage & the racial divide

President Bill Clinton has urged Americans to talk with their families and friends about race relations. I took him up on that offer one recent summer afternoon at a pizza restaurant in Queens, New York.

"We outnumber them," I told my wife and two children as I looked around the place. My voice suggested surprise. I think it was the first time it's happened in a public place. "We," in our case, means interracial families. "Them" is everyone else. I looked around that restaurant and saw a couple with a cute interracial baby, a European man gazing into the eyes of a beautiful woman who appeared to be from India, and other couples composed of mixed hues and shades.

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My pale visage, my wife's darker visage, and those of our two teen-age children, which fall somewhere in between, were just another part of the scene. We have become part of a quiet revolution that is no longer so quiet. Two decades ago when my wife and I married, the worried looks of some were apparent. "What about the children?" was a regular question we faced, forcing us to contemplate the specter of producing offspring who would never fit comfortably anywhere.

Now American society has produced a revolution with huge consequences about our age-old bugaboo of race relations. While the media are full of tales of bigotry and bickering, of Minister Farrakhan preaching race separatism, of radio talk-show hosts competing for the booby prize of who can be the most ethnically insensitive, of crosses burning and swastikas displayed on the lawns and houses of suburban neighborhoods, there is something else happening. Those of different races have proceeded to fall in love and produce what has become a new American tribe.
It's become almost chic. Interracial celebrities such as Tiger Woods, Halle Berry, and Mariah Carey are lionized for their talents and, important in this superficial culture, physical beauty. The meaning of Tiger Woods's ascendancy in golf has been well-documented, particularly his coining of the word "Cablinasian" to describe his Caucasian, African-American, Native American, and Asian heritage. But he's not the only sign in popular culture. New York Yankees' rookie-of-the-year shortstop Derek Jeter--who grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and is the son of a black man and white woman--is written about in glowing terms as a symbol that the 1996 world champs have shed their stuffy, nearly-all white image and have been truly embraced by all of their city's ethnic mosaic.