Monday Madness (March 31, 2008)

¡Hola! Everybody,
I spoke to the garden apartment person and we will be signing a contract this week. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I will have to wait until at least June and possibly even more (the current tenants have until September).

I will be in a strategic planning meeting all day.

* * *

In the interest of clarity, there is no biological foundation for race. Racial typing has its roots in, yes, racism and has no scientific grounding. Race is a myth, it is a social construct, meaning that the concept of race
exists mostly because the dominant culture makes it so and because there’s an economic investment in whiteness. I will be posting more on race and culture from a Latino (Afro-Caribbean) perspective soon enough and I will guarantee that I will manage to insult everyone and make a lot you ma’fuccas uncomfortable.

In the meantime, read the following. I came across it while reading Claudine Chiawei O’Hearn’s book on biculturalism Half and half: Writers growing up biracial and bicultural. I strongly recommend the book for anyone interested bicultural/ biracial issues.

Yeah, that’s right, imma “Post-latto.”

Variations on a Theme of a Mulatto
[Note: to be read aloud with tongue firmly in cheek]

Standard Mulatto: White mother, black father. Half nappy hair, skin that is described as “pasty yellow” in the winter, but turns a caramel tan in the summer. Germanic-Afro features. Often raised in isolation from others of its kind. Does not discover his or her “Black Identity” until college. At this point, there is usually some physical change in hair or clothing, and often speech, so much so that the parents don’t recognize their child when he or she arrives home for Christmas vacation. (E.g., “Honey, there’s a black kid at the door.”)

African-American: The most common form of mulatto in North America, this breed is not often described as mixed, but is nevertheless a combination of African, European, and Native American. May come in any skin tone, and of any cultural background. Often believe themselves to be “pure” due to historical distance from the original mixture, which was most often achieved through rape.

Jewlatto: The second most prevalent form of mulatto in the North American continent, this breed is made in the commingling of Jews and Blacks who met while registering votes down South during Freedom Summer or at a CORE meeting. Jewlattos will often, though not necessarily always, have a white father and a black mother (as opposed to the more common case, a black father and a white mother). Will also be more likely to be raised in a diverse setting, around others of his or her own kind, such as New York City (Greenwich Village) or Northern California (Berkley). Have strong pride in their mixed background. Will often feel that their dual cultures are not so dual at all, considering the shared history of oppression. Jewlattos are most easily spotted amid the flora and fauna of Brown University. Famous Jewlattos: Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet (and we can’t forget Zo, their love child).

Mestizo: A more complicated mixture, where either the black or white parent claims a third race in their background (e.g., Native American or Latino) and therefore confuses the child more. The mestizo is likely to be mistaken for some other, totally distinct ethnicity (Italian, Arab, Mexican, Jewish, East Indian, Native American, Puerto Rican) and in fact will be touted by strangers as a perfect representative of that totally new race. (“Your face brings me back to Calcutta.”) The mestizo mulatto is more prevalent than commonly believed, since they often “disappear” into the fabric of American society, wittingly or unwittingly passing as that third “pure,” totally distinct race. It takes an expert to spot one in a crowd.

Gelatto: A mixture of Italian-American and African-American, this breed often lives either in a strictly Italian neighborhood if the father is white (e.g., Bensonhurst) or in a black neighborhood if the father is black (e.g., Flatbush). Usually identifies strongly with one side of the family over the other, but sometimes with marked discomfort becomes aware of the similarities between the two sides of his cultures, and at this point, often “flies the coop” and begins to practice Asian religions.

Cultural Mulatto: Any American born post-1967 See Wiggers.

Blulatto: A highly rare breed of “blue-blood” mulatto who can trace their lineage back to the Mayflower [note: you will find many of these among the island-born Puerto Ricans – Eddie]. If female, is legally entitled to

membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Blulattos have been spotted in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Berkeley, California, but should not be confused with the Jewlatto. The Blulatto’s mother is almost always the white one, and is either a poet or a painter who disdains her Wasp heritage. The father of the Blulatto is almost always the black one, is highly educated, and disdains his black heritage. Unlike the Jewlattos, the parents of the Blulatto are most likely divorced or separated, although the black father almost always remarries another blue-blood woman much like the first. Beware: The Blulatto may seem calm and even civilized, but can be dangerous when angry. Show caution when approaching.

Negratto: May be any of the above mixtures, but is raised to identify as black. Negrattos often have a white mother who assimilated into black culture before they were born, and raised them to understand “the trouble with whitey.” They will tend to be removed from the white side of the family and to suppress the cultural aspects of themselves that are considered white. Will tend to be more militant than their darker brothers and sisters and to talk in a slang most resembling Ebonics circa 1974. Has great disgust for the “so-called mulatto movement” and grows acutely uncomfortable in the presence of other mulattos. Despite all of this posturing, there is a good chance they have a white lover hidden somewhere in their past, present, or future.

Cablinasian: A rare exotic breed found mostly in California. This is the mother of all mixtures, and when caught may be displayed for large sums of money. The Cablinasain is a mixture of Asian, American Indian, Black, and Caucasian (hence the strange name). A show mulatto, with great performance skills, the Cablinasasian will be whoever the crowd wants him to be, and can switch at the drop of a dime. Does not, however, answer to the name, Black. A cousin to other rare exotic mixes found only in California (Filipino and Black, Samoan and Irish; Mexican and Korean). Note: If you spot a Cablinasian, please contact the Benetton Promotions Bureau.

Tomatto: A mixed or black person who behaves in an “Uncle-Tom-ish” fashion. The Tomatto may be found in positions of power, being touted as a symbol of diversity in otherwise all-white settings. Even if the Tomatto has two black parents, his skin is light and his features are mixed. If we are ever to see a first black president, he will be a Tomatto [Note: this was written in the mid-90s!!!].

Fuaxlatto: A person impersonating a mulatto. Can be of white, black, or other heritage, but for inexplicable reasons claims to be of mixed heritage. See Jamiroqui.

Ho-latto: A female of mixed racial heritage who exploits and is exploited sexually. See any of Prince’s Girlfriends.

The categories go on and on, and perhaps, indeed, they will. And where do I fit into them? That’s the strange thing. I fit into none and all of the above. I have been each of the above, or at least mistaken for each of them, at different moments in my life. But somehow, none of them feel right. Maybe that makes me a Post-latto.

Love,

Eddie

Resources

Senna, D. (1998). The mulatto millennium. In C. C. O’Hearn (Ed.), Half and half: Writers growing up biracial and bicultural (pp. 12-27). New York: Random House.

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