Lonnae O’Neal Parker, Cousin Kim and the “One Drop Rule”

Thoughts on Lonnae O’Neal Parker’s article “White Girl?”

(Originally published in “Interracial Voice”)

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Thoughts on Lonnae O’Neal Parker’s article “White Girl?”

By Beth Gray

 

My initial reaction to this article was disappointment. Instead of reading a story told from the point of view of its subject, it was about the writer’s thoughts and feelings about her cousin’s choice. Why was I surprised? Haven’t the reactions of monoracials (especially the “black” identified) to mixed race issues most often been about their agendas, opinions, and judgments rather than about our experience?

 

After a second reading, however, I decided that the article did indeed have a certain value. Primarily that an obvious “mulatta” who self-identifies as “black” states for the public record that she realizes that she cannot dictate or demand a certain identity from her cousin because her cousin has had a different experience. What a concept! Since mulattoes who are annexed to “black” identity are some of the worst “one drop” offenders, her admission amounts to treason. She “gets it” that her cousin looks “white” because she mostly is “white” and has been “raised white”. Has Ms. Parker now attained enlightenment about the multiracial experience or will she remain a dedicated member of the ‘Soul Patrol’ “gifted with The Sight” and with a self-ordained mission to “out” people?

 

Much of the article centers on the writer’s own conflicts about race, color, identity, and reasons for justifying the espousal of the “one drop rule”. Despite equal name calling by “whites” and “blacks” she allowed both groups to determine her identity for her. She surrendered her right to self-determination. She makes excuses for the cruel remarks of blacks but deems it “unhealthy to surrender to white sensibilities”. Is it really less racist or less hurtful to be called a “half-white bitch” by a black person than it is to be called a “nigger” by a white one?

 

The article is also an exposé of the contradictions inherent in the psychology of black annexed mulattos. On the one hand they police themselves with “one droppism” (and police others with “racial kidnapping”), while on the other hand they maintain a family tradition of preserving “white genes” (see articles by A.D. Powell).

 

Like most thought provoking journalism, this article raises far more questions than it answers. A lot of these questions are ones that I would hope the writer, and those like her who read it, will begin asking themselves. Is “one drop” “dropping science” or is it really dropping science fiction? Is “one drop” truly a valid or desirable premise for forming “a common cultural identity”? Why interpret another person’s self-identification as a personal rejection? When will some serious inner work begin on separating “black” from “ugly”? Hasn’t her inability to separate those two words also been a “surrender to white sensibilities”?

 

One of the worst aspects of the legacy of slavery and racism is this internalization of “white antipathy” (see article by W.J. Nelson) that has made self-hate and self-denigration such a large and destructive part of “black identity” in the U.S.A. It is this that Ms. Parker wants and needs her cousin to suffer along with her. She is against “dilution and division” and fears being “Swallowed up…in the mainstream”. Why? What is it exactly that she wants to preserve?

‘Amalgamation’ is what would have and should have continued to occur if it hadn’t been for the Walter Pleckers of world and the self-appointed “race police” who enforced and who continue to enforce his specious doctrine. There can be no undoing of U.S. history. There can be no reparation for slavery. There could, however, come a day when the descendants of former slaves and of former masters are indistinguishable.

 

 

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