The term “biracial” implies that an individual is an immediate interracial relationship offspring.
When we see certain celebrities or African-American or African people who are of a slightly lighter skin tone, the assumption is ‘S/he is bi/multiracial’. However, a lot of people of African descent, are not an offsprings of interracial relationships and neither are their parents and/or grandparents.
What does the term multi-generational multiracially-mixed (MGM-Mixed) mean?
Take the case of celebrities like Beyoncé, Nicole Ari-Parker, rapper T.I. Vanessa Williams for instance are not offsprings of an interracial relationship and neither are their parents and/or grandparents. In other words, these individuals do not have a “white” parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent. Therefore, they are not labeled “biracial” by the technical definition of what that infers.
Case Study: Vanessa Williams
In the case of Vanessa Williams, the actress does come from a family that has became mixed-race and continually remained mixed-race throughout the family’s many generations leading up to Vanessa’s very own generation.
Thus, Vanessa is a multi-generational multiracially-mixed (MGM-Mixed) individual, because she comes from a family that has became and continually remained mixed-race throughout its multiple generations.
Vanessa Williams can be classified as “multiracial” because she has additional racial ancestries other than just one, but she self-identifies as “Black,” nonetheless; and Vanessa is “black” in a socio-political sense. Although there are many erroneous sources that claim that Vanessa Williams is “biracial” or “half-white and half-black,” she actually is not because she is not an interracial relationship offspring and neither are any of her parents.
Vanessa Williams’ father, Milton Williams, Jr. is an African-American who was born to two African-American parents–Iris Carll and Milton Williams, Sr.
Wilton Williams, Sr. was born to two African-American parents as well–John Hill Williams and Mary Fields. Mary Fields was the daughter of William A. Fields–a teacher who was classified as “mulatto,” and who also served on the Tennessee state legislature.
Iris Carll, Vanessa’s paternal grandmother, was the daughter of Frank Carll. Frank Carll was “biracial” because his mother, Mary Louisa Appleford, was white, and Frank Carll’s father, David Carll, a pioneering free negro who served in the Union Army, was African-American. That means that Vanessa Williams great-great-grandmother was a white woman named Mary Louisa Appleford.
Vanessa Williams is far more than one-sixteenth white, because, prior to the 1930 census, the majority of her ancestors on her father’s side were all listed as “mulatto,” which was a person of black and white ancestry to whichever degree. Now, the designation “mulatto” did NOT mean that a person was necessarily the immediate child of one white parent and one black parent, it just meant that this individual had a physical appearance that suggested both white and black ancestry.
Vanessa Williams’ mother, Helen Williams (née Finch) is also a non-biracial African American. However, she is similar to her late husband, a multi-racial individual who comes from a racially diverse, albeit complex, racial background–consisting of white, black, and Native American ancestors.
Case Study: Beyoncé Knowles
Let’s take a look at Beyoncé’s ancestry. While Beyoncé’s father Matthew Knowles is African-American, her mother, a Louisiana Creole, that is of African, French, Native American, and Irish ancestry.
Beyoncé’s mother is related to Acadian leader Joseph Broussard who is of Caucasian French ancestry. But even Tina Knowles, Beyoncé’s mother, isn’t a descendant of an interracial relationship.
Both her parents, Lumis Albert Beyincé and Agnez Dereon, were French-speaking Louisiana Creoles. French or Spanish Caribbean and Latin American colonies in the Louisiana territory developed a mixed-race class, of whom there were numerous free people of color in the early days.
The majority of Creoles descended mostly from European men and enslaved or free black or mixed-race women. French men took African women as mistresses or common-law wives, and sometimes married them creating a new generation (breed) of mulatto people.
This means our current generation consists of a group of Multi-generational Multi-racially Mixed (MGM-Mixed) lineage that don’t identify as biracial and in a lot of cases multiracial!
Do you belong to the multi-generational multi-racially mixed generation or do you know anyone who is?
- The contrast between the multigenerational and first-generation (mixedracestudies.com)
- Half-and-Half: It’s the Obama age, but my biracial child still makes some people uncomfortable. Babble.com. | Babble (babble.com)
- Racial Identity and the Multiracial Child (babyzone.com)
- Californication: Race, Ethnicity, and Unity in Twentieth Century California (tropicsofmeta.wordpress.com)
- Census Bureau Rethinks the Best Way to Measure Race (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
- Beyond the One Drop Rule (or: Between Black and White) (translucence.wordpress.com)
- on diversity of cultural experience & ganesha’s sweet tooth (chookooloonks.com)
- President Barack Hussein Obama – America’s 1st Biracial President! (kolorblindmag.com)
- Multiracial Entertainers: The Female Edition 1 (kolorblindmag.com)
- Multiracial Entertainers: The Female Edition 2 (kolorblindmag.com)
- Multiracial Entertainers: The Male Edition 2 (kolorblindmag.com)
References: Yahoo Group, Wiki Answers
Pingback: Multiracial Parenting Advice: My Biracial Granddaughter Looks Like A White Girl! | KolorBlind Mag
Wow…This speaks for so many households in the United States and in countries where slavery was part of its history! I’ll have to read it again later. Right now, I need to get back to work.
Yes you’re absolutely right with this article. This particularly true of Louisiana. It is part of the American history. It’s the reason Puerto Ricans looks the way they do. It’s the reason a lot of South and Central Americans are so racially diverse. We actually live in a world that has become more Multi-generational Multi-racially Mixed (MGM-Mixed) over the last 200 years years.
This is very interesting. So can Multi-generational Multi-racially Mixed (MGM-Mixed) people refer to themselves as being multiracial? Because if they can, they will start to confuse things for people who are actually multiracial like Jhene Aiko. Jhene’s mother is of half Japanese, one quarter Spanish, and one quarter Afro-Dominican descent, while her father is of African American, Yaqui, Choctaw, Cherokee, Navajo, and German Jewish descent. She also has French ancestry but has not stated which of her parents is part French – per Wikipedia.
I think MGM-mixed is slightly shorter and should be what people like Vanessa Williams, Beyonce, etc use.
Great article. But I think people referring to themselves as MGM mixed sounds kind of odd. I too don’t think they should refer to themselves as multiracial out of respect for people whose parents are actually descents of different races therefore making them multiracial. A lot of celebrities belong in the MGM-mixed category.
Sooo…no matter how mixed you are, if you look black, then you’re not REALLY mixed because that’s not what others see when they look at you?…that’s so racist.
This is an educative article. Genetics is crazy. So all it takes is 2-3 people of another race in a particular lineage and it automatically changes their entire generation.
Reblogged this on Craig Eisele on …...
I’m from a Multi-generational Multi-racially Mixed (MGM-Mixed) lineage. I have hazel eyes, my brother has blue eyes like Michael Ealy and people always ask if I’m biracial. When I tell them both of my parents are black, they’re always surprised. Both of my parents are very light-skinned and pretty much everyone in my family is. Great article.
Pingback: 30 Hottest Multiracial Mommas 2012 | KolorBlind Mag
This is such a great article. I’m German and didn’t know about this. We only have mischlings where I’m from so no generationally mixed people.
Most African Americans are multi generationally mixed. On both sides of my family, we have people who could have passed for White, and those that look like typical AAS. My family has never made an issue of skin color and have always been proud to be Black. It seems that when we start using terms like MGM, it seems to further dismiss our African ancestors and slavery, where most of the racial mixing took place.
I do not want to be disrespectful but, I must ask a question that puzzles me.
I understand that there are mixed families that do not make an issue of skin color. So, why do they want to be identified as black? Why is it that many blacks want to still be associated with their African ancestors and slavery? I’m just puzzled and don’t understand. I have a mixed cultural family. My ancestors also have suffered as did the Jews in the holocaust. I feel that by saying you are proud to be black, IS looking at the color of your skin. Am I proud to be my background…not really. I don’t think about it that much. I am a 21st century second generation American woman. I don’t look back to where my ancestors came from…I look to where I am going, and therefore my children and the generations to come. Sometimes, looking back keeps us back. I just want to understand because I keep getting mixed messages and it really is baffling me. I just want to be educated in this.
Forgive me if I have upset you. That isn’t my intention.
some african americans are mixed. all light skin african americans are mixed. you have to be at least 25% of another race to be mixed. anything less, you are not mixed.
I know that it’s wrong to dismiss who you are but, i feel snobby when i say mgm. Even if it’s what i am, i feel like most black people are dismissive of anyone who doesn’t consider themselves 100% black…like we’re the MOST IMPORTANT RACE IN THE WORLD and we’re not.
i am Nordic and extra-terrestrial
Talking about Vanessa Williams as multi-generationally mixed-race because she had one or two white ancestors in the age of the Civil War (and thus the subsequent descendants purportedly count as “mixed race,” despite all of them being treated comprehensively by the American racial system as “black” — i.e. “mulattos” may have been categorized differently but they still received the same brutal treatment under Jim Crow segregation and the “one drop rule”) seems to be a distinction without a difference. It creates the illusion that there are some white people who are totally white and some black people who are totally black, when most people whose families have been in America for a while do have mixed ancestry of one kind or another (a lot of white Americans have some Cherokee or African ancestors mixed in there, and the same is true for African Americans). Are we all MGM-mixed?
Then again, the term has some utility, because the word “biracial” does seem to be inadequate for describing the experience of so many people in an increasingly diverse America. I’m the kid of a Arab immigrant and a white woman from West Virginia — my experience is definitely that of a “biracial” person. (Though under America’s weird system of racial ideology Arabs may be classified as Caucasian despite being brown-skinned and being read by others as being Latino, South Asian, foreign, etc.; see http://tropicsofmeta.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/american-arab-kitsch-from-ahab-to-abed-and-back-again/) My kids will likely be 1/4 white, 1/4 Arab, and 1/2 South Asian, and their experience will be different and more complex than my own, being aware of multiple heritages — truly MGM-mixed.
It’s an interesting debate, and I would strongly recommend the work of the historian Barbara Fields, particularly her book Racecraft about the ways we think about race in America: http://www.amazon.com/Racecraft-Soul-Inequality-American-ebook/dp/B007LCYZCE
Thank you for your intellect on the subject. I will take a look at the book you mentioned. I do find this very interesting. I didn’t even know that this is the way people of African descent felt. Call it ignorance but, I just find it very interesting.
i’m not fully nigerian but i still have nigerian portuguese and british ancestry, so therefore i’m multiracial & black
some african americans are mixed. all light skin african americans are mixed. you have to be at least 25% of another race to be mixed. anything less, you are not mixed. you don’t have to be fully black to be black but here’s where you draw the line. you have to be at least 50% black to be black. if you your less that 50% black you are not black. i’m 75% nigerian & 25% portuguese. Even though i’m not 100% nigerian & i’m still have nigerian & portuguese ancestry. i’m proud to be multiracial (mgm) !
My GG Grandparents were all biracial couples. My paternal grandparents were both the darker skinned offspring of their parents creating straight and wavy haired, hazel eyed, caramel colored children. My maternal grandparents were both similar to Louisiana Creole in that they are Irish, English, German, Indian and African. The maternal side only seemed to have lighter skin to passing for white. My brother and I get mistaken for biracial although both parents consider themselves black. It’s weird, because black people don’t consider me black but white people do. Mixed people I have come in contact with don’t care either way. I wish more people were like this.
In countries like Trinidad and Guyana, colonialism mainly from two ethnic groups (african and east indian decent) has created a large multi generational group of people. This topic interests me because both of my parents are MGM.
Both of my grandfathers were black with Native American and White ancestry mixtures. One grandmother was mostly black with a small degree of white ancestry. The other grandmom was more Native American with some black and white ancestry. I am of medium skin color, dark eyes/hair. facial freckles with high cheekbones. Wide almond eyes and broad African nose and mouth. My aunts, uncles, cousons all vary from high yellow to very dark brown. I identify with my black/native American ancestry. Although I know there is Irish, French and English on both sides.
Both of my parents are Louisiana Creoles born and raised in New Orleans. They brought their culture with them to California and found other Creole families in the state. I find it interesting after being raised in a multi-generational mixed family that many people know little history of the original Americans from Louisiana. Even after explaining that both of my parents, both sets of grandparents and great-grandparents are Creole that many will still ask which parent is white or black. When I finally suggest why don’t you search out what is Louisiana Creole people and they do, then they finally get it. I feel that I truly understand what it is to be multi-generational multi-racial regardless of what labels most Americans use to describe Louisiana Creoles.
why is it that American blacks always want to be something other?
my daughter, 2 sons children are biracial..no matter how light they are black..i have grandchildren by my other daughter who’s children are lighter with green eyes (black) because both parents are black. I am glad that being black does not bother them, or their skin color..it is funny when I hear people who are mixed race having problems when they were children. Sometimes you bring troubles to your own self. Light bright almost white my kids, grands and great grand’s don’t carry that type of baggage. another pet peeve most Americans
always want to claim American Indians heritage..when there is none.what is the deal with that..
I don’t think that Black Americans in general are always looking to be something other.
Many don’t and unfortunately never will know their ancestry but are still hoping to find the missing pieces of their family history simply to know the truth.
There are however those of us who know something of our history and get rather upset when others try to tell us what they expect us to be or not be.
In my own case I am a multi-generational multi-racial person of Native American, African American and Euro-American descent. I know many of my Native American ancestors by their name, Tribe, place of birth and occupation going back to the 1700’s and I was born and presently live in the same area that was historically their tribal land. I am also fortunate enough to know many of my African -American ancestors by their names, place of birth and occupation going back to the mid 1700’s and my Euro-American (English) colonist ancestors by name and so forth going back to 1536. All of these ancestries are very well documented (including legal records, court cases and some very old photographs and books). So although some physical African traits are clearly recognizable in me, It is very difficult for me to “pretend “ that I am simply “African-American” when each morning I step out my door onto ground that my Native American ancestors (who I know by name remember) have been walking on since the ice sheet left North America. It would also be a great lie, injustice and disrespectful to think that my life experience is not part of the greater African-American experience and Euro experience because it is and no amount of pretending is going to change the truth of that.
These stories need to be told and many people need to find out the truth. To many people I say; “ Yes, I am your cousin, yes, really, really and no I’m not going to hide it for the next 200 years just to make people feel comfortable”. We’re all Americans and in certain cases more related than some want to admit. Those of us who come from families that have long been part of the “real American” melting pot should not have to pretend that we are not.
See you at all the different family reunions, it’ll be fun and folks might learn something!
I really like this article. FINALLY! I HAVE SOMEWHERE I FIT!
Both my parents are Caribbean but my mum is 1/4 white Scottish and my dad is 1/4 Indian. So my paternal granddad is black and Indian (biracial) and my maternal grandmother is black and white (biracial), my other two grandparents are Caribbean which also includes Indian/Chinese ec. So my siblings and I are 3/4 Caribbean and 1/4 Scottish and Indian. I think this therefore makes us MGM?
I am from the Caribbean. I often wonder why both African-Americans and Afro-Caribbean persons are willing to own the label
label of “black” or “negro” which was given to them by slave-masters. In Christianity the colour white is often used to describe purity and goodness whilst darkness (black) describes evil or sin.
Slave-masters who claimed to be Christian but did not practice the teachings of Christ claimed that Africans were not even human but related to animals. Emancipate your mind from mental slavery , there is no power in “Black Power” if you keep the label given to you by slave-masters. Asians find the term yellow disrespectful and rightly so. Why should we be labeled by a colour especially since many of us are varying shades of brown.
Besides, what truly matters is your character. The rap culture of violence and treating women as possessions is damaging to our communities since this is portrayed as our culture. Often we are labelled by others as a race of persons who are violent and immoral.
I consider myself of African descent but MGM since three of my grandparents are bi-racial. I am a mix of African, Chinese, East Indian and Caucasian. I am married to a man who also has a mixed heritage of African, Caucasian and Amerindian.
Why should I “blackwash” our family’s heritage which is disrespectful to the memory of all our ancestors by choosing to identify with only the “black” category . Why do the terms biracial and MGM make some uncomfortable. Biracial children have historically been treated differently or “disowned” by their non Afro relatives and persons who are not mixed often feel threatened by bi-racials and MGMs who chose to identify with all of their racial heritage. Let us move away from the past and embrace a diverse future.
Interesting article. I am multiracial. People always had asked if I’m biracial, (natural green eyes and reddish hair, olive skin) but both my parents were mixed (My Mother Irish and black and my father Black and Indian). I believe over half of African-Americans in this country, if they research their ancestry will find they are multiracial too.
You’re so cool! I do not think I have read a single
thing like this before. So great to find somebody with a few
unique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously..
many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the web, someone
with some originality!
I am a descendent of American slavery who is a GM raced person . Dad’s Great Grandparents were both bi-racial by their half French, half English masters and, we recently found out, were also cousins. That made their son mixed race. He in turn married a bi-racial woman. Their first son, my grandfather married a bi-racial woman whose father was Irish. In turn, her grandmother was bi-racial by her Irish father who was her master.
My dad married my mixed raced mother whose grandfather was pure black African and grandmother was native Indian.
I love my heritage. It’s fun to be so genetically diverse and to inherit so much cultural history. I just wish all Americans would quit supporting the ignorant and erroneous one drop rule that robs people of the truth about themselves and forces only one heritage to be acknowledged, which is also very disrespectful. Not to mention it is also the path of least resistance since it is more difficult to challenge an accepted way of thinking than to alter your own language and thought processes to encourage change in our collective mindset.