As my egregious neglect of this blog reflects, I have leapt into the world of BigLaw with both feet--and it's as demanding as I was warned it would be, plus some. Luckily, (at least so far), I seem to have landed in a good group of talented people, so I expect to learn a lot as well as work a lot.
Of course, BigLaw means Manhattan--and I wasn't really looking forward to returning to work in NY. From the time I was child I've loved NY--it always seemed like some distant, fantastical planet full of unique and magical people and places. Now--it's full of Starbucks and people who work at BigLaw firms (and I-Banks). They all had so much fun at their Hamptons sharehouses over the summer, and they all got such great deals on their new places in the Financial District! (or Harlem! It's much safer now, you know!)
Okay, I'm not being entirely fair, since most of the people I've met have been perfectly pleasant. But this new experience has only made me think a little more about my occasional discomfort with other "communities" of which I am a part--including the "IR community," if there is such a thing.
This thought arose in particular in response to yet another article (this one in the latest Marie Claire) where Rebecca Walker (nee Leventhal) yet again disucsses how painful she found it to be considered black as a child and what a challenge it was for her to come to terms with her biracial identity. I don't say this to dismiss whatever Ms. Walker may or may not have had to contend with in her life, or to suggest that the distinct struggles that biracial people face generally are some less important are compelling than those faced by black people. Nor am I one of those black proponents of the modern one-drop rule, who insists that anyone with any black ancestry is required to identify exclusively as black or be labelled a "sell-out" or "self-hating." I'm sure her description of shame and self-loathing resonates with many people of African descent in a white supremacist world, not just biracials.
I guess my mild irritation arises from the consistency of this theme in Ms. Walker's work and public pronouncements, almost as if she has embraced the role of professional tragic mulatto. All too often, there's a thin line in such narratives between resentment of the racism that treats blackness as a taint that pollutes those otherwise humanized by straighter hair and lighter skin--and resentment of blackness itself, as an actual pollutant, an anchor that traps the Rebecca Walkers of the world in a dark abyss that they can't escape.
Equally irritating is that, all too often, this frustration and resentment seems to be aimed exclusively at black people. Certainly, you will rarely hear white people angrily complaining that Halle Berry is a black "sell out" for screwing Billy Bob Thornton on film or Gabriel Aubrey in real life. On the other hand, you will also rarely hear white people calling Halle Berry a white anything. While black people are generally active and explicit participants in the Contemporary Cult of One-Drop, it's continued existence is not solely or even primarily a product of black insistence.
While white parents, family members and friends may be more accepting than blacks of your identity as non-black, do they accept you as white? Do they view biracial identity as genuinely distinct from blackness, or simply another form of blackness? I am truly eager to learn, as I am sure many of the other visitors to this site are as well--who may themselves be biracial, or who may one day be parents of biracial children. Please share your perspective on this issue.