Michelle & Barack Obama. Halle Berry & Gabriel Aubrey. Both of these couples are attractive and popular for various reasons. You know them on sight. Michelle and Barack are the political ‘power couple’. Between Halle and Gabriel’s genes, I’m sure we’re all waiting to see photos of the world’s most amazingly beautiful baby.
Both couples have something else in common. One of the partners is biracial, with black and white parents, while the other is of one race. Yet most people would refer to Halle and Gabriel as an interracial couple, while simply describing Michelle and Barack as a black couple. If you dwell on these things as much as I do, that doesn’t quite sound right. The racial balance is exactly the same within both the couples, but that balance is interpreted quite differently depending on whether the biracial person married someone who is white or black. That seems like arbitrary reasoning, to me.
Why do we do that? I include myself in that group because I have to admit, I have a tendency to look at biracial people and, if it seems like their appearance reflects one parent’s ancestry more than that of the other, then I describe that person accordingly. Sure, Barack Obama is mixed, but on sight, I describe him as a black man, and only secondarily as mixed or biracial. Maybe this is not exactly wrong, but it’s imprecise and I can understand how annoying it must be for biracial people, especially if they have a strong emotional connection with their white or Asian or Hispanic family members. I mean, it wouldn’t make sense for someone to call Barack Obama white, because his father was Kenyan.
Mental note: stop forgetting to call biracial people biracial. They are not black, in the sense that their ancestry is not completely or 90% African. Which brings me back to my original question: why call Michelle & Barack ‘black’ while sticking to ‘interacial’ for Halle & Gabriel? Maybe we should just call them attractive, happy or annoyingly cute?
One last note: being a news junkie, I cannot help but follow politicians. I wanted to include Adrian and Michelle Fenty on my biracial couple catwalk. The thing is, Michelle looks like she is of mixed heritage, too. All I’ve been able to find out is that she grew up in Wimbledon, England with her Jamaican parents. Actually, looking at a person with a lighter complexion and Jamaican parenthood, at least in my mind, suggests that someone in her lineage is or was biracial. You know that we Jamaicans are ‘good for that’.