When a child is born of a mixed union between a black and a white person, white
Yes, inthe United States, the child of a blackand white couple is typically labeled black. Unfortunately, many do not recognize the historical relationship betweenracial categorization and white privilege. In short, whiteness was conceived in the 18th Century as a mark of privilege.Racial categorization was aboutmaintaining the dignity, the citizenship, the rights of white people. It was also about the denying non-whites these same privilegesand rights.
It is worth noting that these racial classifications are socialconstructions that have changed throughout history. For instance, people of Irish, Italian, andSlavic heritage were not always considered white in the United States. I strongly suggest the documentary film Race: The Power of An Illusion (http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm).
Nevertheless,I would seriously challenge (i) the idea that mixed black and white children‘just look more like black people than white people’ and (ii) the idea that ‘peoplewill assume he or she is black until informed that there was a white parent.’ Mixed-race children turn out in variousheights and builds, shapes of face, texture of hair, and skin of amazingly diversehues. Some mixed-race children are aspitting image of their white parent, just one shade darker. It is not that people do not detect thatthere is a white parent involved, it is that when we run into ambiguity, traditionwould have us assign the mixed-race child to the non-white race. Such isthe racial categorization that is assigned to a personfrom the outside.
But what about the identitywe claim for ourselves? Racial identityfor a mixed-race person can be quite confusing, considering that he or she is oftenbeset with competing cultures, traditions, and allegiances. Linda Martín Alcoff captures it well when shewrites: "I am not simply whitenor simply Latina, and the gap that exists between my two identities – indeed,my two families – a gap that is cultural, racial, linguistic, and national,feels too wide and deep for me to span. I cannot bridge the gap, so I negotiateit, standing at one point here, and then there, moving between locations asevents or other people’s responses propel me. I never reach shore: I neverwholly occupy either the Angla or the Latina identity. Paradoxically, in whitesociety I feel my Latinness, in Latin society I feel my whiteness, as thatwhich is left out, an invisible present…" (“Mestizo Identity”).