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Mixed Messages On Race Increasing Polarization

Before I get to the meat of this column, let me offer a bit of context. 

No one who knows me would argue I have a problem with interracial dating, marriage or procreation. I am not a hypocrite. 

But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the highest-profile and irresponsible celebrity racial justice warriors are mixed race, half white and half black.

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace (white dad, black mom) just joined former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick (black dad, white mom, white adopted family), former Empire star Jussie Smollett (white dad, black mom), Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams (black dad, white mom) and Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (black dad, white mom) as a fiery outspoken leader on racial justice. 

According to the United States Census information I found for 2019, 2.7% of our population is mixed race and less than 1 percent of our population is half black, half white. 

The “black” point of view represented in the mainstream media is greatly over-indexing with the mixed-race perspective. 

I have no interest in diminishing the viewpoint of mixed-race people classified as black. But that worldview is oftentimes inconsistent with those of us not from a mixed heritage. 

Growing up mixed race can be difficult and confusing in America. A mixed-race child oftentimes faces awkwardness, scrutiny and bigotry from black and white family members, friends and strangers. Many feel they are caught in the middle of a culture war not of their creation. 

Because America categorizes them as black regardless of their upbringing, I believe many mixed-race people have feelings of rejection and betrayal toward generic white America. 

Let me clarify. Imagine being half black, half white and raised by the white side of your family. You’re immersed in white culture and sensibilities but society assigns you a black classification and you’re treated as the second coming of Nelson Mandela. You love your family. You know your family loves you. But society at large rejects the white half of you. 

That’s going to create some bitterness. That’s going to create a heightened level of sensitivity around race that’s difficult to manage and interpret in your teens, twenties and thirties. 

Young people of all ethnicities struggle with their identities. American cultural norms make these struggles even more acute for mixed-race individuals. 

We shouldn’t be surprised that Bubba, Kap, Jussie, Chuba, Jesse and others look for public opportunities to defiantly affirm their black identity by lashing out at the white society they might justifiably feel rejected them. 

Kap took a knee. Bubba leaned into a noose on a garage pull rope. Chuba called out his head coach over a T-shirt. Jussie claimed white bandits tried to lynch him in Chicago. With his white mom seated in the audience, Jesse excoriated white America over police brutality at the BET Awards. 

All of these acts were celebrated over social media and these men received a level of affirmation and respect from the black community that surely momentarily assuaged painful feelings of white rejection.

That’s why I call much of what we’ve seen as it relates to “social justice” over the past decade the Civil Feelings Movement. There’s no fight for rights. It’s a group of millennials publicly sorting out their feelings and looking for the approval of white society. 

White love is the cure for all that ails them.

Let me repeat. No sane person can argue that I have a problem with interractial dating, marriage or procreation. I am not a hypocrite. I’m honest.

Interracial relationhips are complicated. I have experience. When you’re in one, particularly when it’s black and white, you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about race, thinking about how you and the relationship are perceived by family, friends and outsiders. 

Without provocation or invitation, family, friends and outsiders will tell you their raw thoughts on the relationship. 

Today some of the most strident media voices on race fit one of two categories or both: 1) They’re mixed race; 2) They’re in a mixed-race relationship. 

I’m not sure either are the best voices for black America. CNN’s Van Jones was married to a white woman. Republican firebrand Candace Owens is married to a white man. CNN’s Don Lemon is married to a white man. I could go on and rattle off the names of prominent sports personalities using polarizing race talk and other black stereotypes as tools to mask decisions in their personal life.  I’ll save it for another column. 

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was in college, he fell in love with a white co-ed, Betty Moitz. Dr. King and his family recognized that the message he carried for black people and the world wouldn’t be heard as clearly if he were married to a white woman. 

All decisions — good and bad — have consequences. As a kid, I wanted to be a quarterback like James Harris of the Los Angeles Rams. I made the decision to eat like Nate Newton of the Dallas Cowboys. 

This is my complaint regarding Candace Owens. There’s substance to a lot of her points. I believe she’s well-intentioned. But when she made a video solely focused on denigrating George Floyd and his criminal record, I wondered whether she would do that if her husband was black. I wondered about her day-to-day social circle. Who’s in it? Who raises a hand in objection?

I thought of my cousin, Anton Butler, who was tasered to death by sheriffs in the rain. He had a felony rap sheet. The toxicology report said he had cocaine in his system. He didn’t deserve to die. I wouldn’t want anyone to make a 10-minute video recounting his worst moments. 

Race is a complicated, confusing and dangerous subject. We’ve turned leadership of the conversation over to athletes, celebrities and the conflicted. No wonder we can’t find common ground.

Written by Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is a longtime sports writer, TV personality, radio host, podcaster and the newest member of the Outkick family.
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9 Comments

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  1. Jason is on fire. He is loved by his constituents and feared by his detractors. Now that Jason is free of the shackles of corporate radio, he is becoming the most courageous, insightful, and articulate voice in sports media. The Travis/Whitlock tandem is totally disrupting their industry. Clay’s vision and confidence will drive Outkick to the top.

  2. I disagree on your point that we can’t find common ground. Common ground is the norm. Regular non-noteworthy people that are black & white live in neighborhoods together. We socialize, go to games, and dine together. The vast majority of people get along without conflict. All of that is dog bites man, no news. Conflict get the coverage. Most people are just trying to get through life with some enjoyment and peace.

  3. Jason had me in extreme laughter With several paragraphs. Dave Chapelle look ? out!!! Brilliant stuff.

    I don’t Necessarily disagree with Jason on Candice Owens in a general sense. But Keep in mind she may feel she has additional ‘perceived’ hurdles to overcome. She is super smart like a geek, she is amazingly beautiful and she is a woman in a man’s world (regardless of race). I think she over compensates for that, and what Jason’s point suggests is true.

    I’m of mixed heritage (Armenian father and Irish/Scottish grandparents) and I know what it’s like to not be owned by either side. Even today.

    I’ve had close friends ask me ‘what do your people think About the war in Iraq?’ Probably because I tan so well.
    My Irish grandma told be once, ‘well you’re not Irish’ (with love of course). But there’s nothing one can do about their biology, race, color and creed. Sorry Kaitlyn ‘Bruce’ Jenner

    Has to be tough for Candice.
    Jason is so right, but she can’t help who she loves.

  4. This is definitely a conversation that should be happening in an effort not just for the masses to understand what certain individuals are experiencing but more importantly, for those individuals to better understand themselves.
    And I was really disappointed in Candace Owens with that video. I shut it off probably just a minute in. For me, that was not the time to double-down on a rigid right winged approach nor the appropriate emotional tone.
    I am not a political person but from my perspective, as a white man from rural Indiana, the Democratic policies over the past 3 or 4 decades haven’t created the positive change that needs to happen for minorities in this country. There was a missed opportunity for Candace to build a bridge, not pandering to the other side, but utilizing the unfortunate death of George Floyd as the “common ground” for everyone to start a new healthy conversation around. For my hopes, she completely missed the mark.

  5. You are an amazing writer…. Even if I dis agree with you which is not much…. I know that it is a highly intelligent comment and beautifully written… That is why I signed on to Outkick vip…. No wonder why Mike Florio couldn’t afford you

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