Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Me and Mariah....

So when I was in college my friend and I had an ongoing debate about Mariah Carey. She loved her. Me, not so much. I would always say "She is fine, but she ain't no Whitney."

Fast forward to the present and now we all know that our Whitney is well, lost and Mariah is well, still holding it down. And she is Mrs. Nick Canon, not the ex Mrs. Bobby Brown.

Which brings me to my point. There has been a lot of flack recently regarding Mariah, Nick and Eminem. Eminem called her names in a song “Bagpipes from Baghdad” and Nick Canon fired back by saying, in essence, "Don't call my Black Queen a whore, you white racist punk." For more see the link below:

So of course, the battle on the blogosphere was, in part, about Mariah's ethnicity. Is she really a Black Queen? Or is she not? It is horribly confusing and not being a mixed race person myself, I don't claim to understand all the dynamics at play. But I will say this, self identifying as mixed race or as a person of color is not the same as self identifying as Black. Mariah has never said "I am a Black woman who is also a mixed race woman." or "I am a mixed race Black woman." Mariah has said, "Ethnically, I'm a person of mixed race. My father's mother was African-American. His father was from Venezuela. My mother is Irish. I see myself as a person of color who happens to be mixed with a lot of things." That is distinct from saying "Ethnically, I am Black person of mixed race....I see myself as a Black person who happens to be mixed with a lot of things."

It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that Mariah didn't refer to herself as Black. When "Vision of Love" first hit the scene, I was at a young enough age that I was still deeply conflicted about my own looks and self image and still collecting sheroes that would help me construct my own self view. So when "Vision of Love" dropped, and MC hit the scene, I was instantly enamored. The fact that White people, more specifically, my White peers, found her beautiful and sexy and talented was like manna from heaven. I now realize that I thought that some of that would rub off on me.

So when Mariah was very specific about the fact that she was NOT Black, or rather didn't identity as Black, I was crushed. See, I have noticed that White people, at least White people in my generation, are very open in certain ways when it comes to race. Previous generations adhered to the one-drop rule a little more closely. My generation is very quick to accept someone as non-Black, however, they still look at Black people as less than. So while Mariah's choice was hers and hers alone, the ramification was that White people still got to indulge in her beauty and her music, while still being free to look at Black people as somehow less than. As though the other parts of her ethnicity made it okay to like this Black chick, or rather it was okay to like her because "Hey, she isn't really Black". Let me totally honest about what I mean, they (the White kids I went to school with) still got to look at me like I was less than they were because I was Black. And it is not fair to her, but I felt like Mariah somehow personally let me down.

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