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Friday, August 22, 2008

Multiracial Decathlete

One more example that we are living in an age where racial mixture is breaking down the old rigid categories: American Olympic decathlete Bryan Clay. On the verge of winning gold, Clay is described as "part African American and also a third-generation Japanese American" born in Austin, Texas and raised in Hawaii (like one of the most famous multiracial persons of our age).
He is part African American and also a third-generation Japanese American.

Of course, people of mixed racial heritage have always been with us, but we didn't label them that way. Those of both African and European blood were always labeled "black" for various nefarious reasons, while Mexicans of mixed Indian and white background became a label unto themselves, recognizing neither race of origin.

It might be noteworthy that the rejection of rigid labels seems more prominent among folks like Clay and Tiger Woods of an "exotic" mixture of Asian and African blood; white-black mixtures like Obama, Derek Jeter, Halle Berry, etc. still tend to maintain more of a black identity, again for complex reasons. It's a generation thing, too, with younger folk tending to reject the "either-or" dichotomy accepted by their parents.

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