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Monday, June 20, 2011

letters@ebony.comDear Editor,Thank you for your delightful and defining piece on race (May 2011 issue).  As a young Panamanian, I would often look to Ebony as an uplifting respite from what I saw as the proliferation of white supremacy depicted in local and international media.  I got the feeling that Ebony, while doing a tremendous job of profiling the positive accomplishments of Blacks, was a bit apologetic given the context of a predominantly white U.S. society which cared little about the important contributions of African-Americans.  With your discussion on Mixed-Race America, I am convinced that you have matured as a fearless leader of the Black voice.  Your well articulated article demonstrates that you understand the identity issues confronting Black folks in the world, including Latin American Blacks who are often mixed.  Please note that Halle Berry (interviewed in your earlier cover story which prompted your piece) had no choice but to employ the one-drop rule defense in speaking to a Black magazine/audience, for only in a more diverse environment would she be comfortable enough to elaborate on the racial/ethnic history of her bi-racial daughter Nahla, with less condemnation and guilt.  In fact, Nahla would be viewed as “white,” hands down, in much of Latin America—no explanation necessary, no questions asked given her light complexion, straight hair texture and Caucasian features.Indeed, Black folks have helped to stifle the discussion (and have been complicit) on race bias by forcing mixed-race individuals to cower and use this white-concocted one-drop (black blood, African ancestry=black) explanation.  Being a Black Latin American immigrant and now a U.S. citizen, I have had to grapple with this issue for decades in the United States of America.  I believe the “other” designation was provided on forms and documents because of people like me—I was incredulously classified as White at a U.S university when I first came to this country!?—the admissions application had only two racial categories then: Caucasian/White and Negro, I crossed-out Negro and wrote-in Black, the English translation for Negro, at a time when Black was used pejoratively.  Go figure.  Now with all the designations available on forms, I am apt to check-off as many as ten categories, including Latino, non-white Hispanic, West Indian, multicultural and European; despite my subjection to the “n” word, among others designed to assure me of how I am actually viewed in a racist society.I enjoyed reading this well overdue article on the real dynamics of race in America, an issue that continues to matter as long as we remain ignorant of the silent Mixed-Race majority in the U.S., a group, including my grown children, which helped to propel Barack Obama to the presidency. 6/20/11Horacio D. Lewis, PhD, ThD
11:31 am edt 

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