Who Am I? (I Was Not Confused?)
Just the other day, I was digging through the content on Paramount+, while writing, and saw that I added Storytellers to My List. The episode that I saw was on Lenny Kravitz, whose song, “ Are You Gonna Go My Way,” (YouTube) I love and he happened to, also, perform.
Just past 4:00 (4 minutes) into the episode, an audience member asked Kravitz if he felt that having a biracial background affected either his personal or musical development. As he spoke, I couldn’t help but pay attention to his response.
“It was incredible. It is incredible because… I know a lot of people that come from biracial situations and a lot of ’em are confused. And a lot of us are not. I was not confused.”
I thought about how it might seem “incredible” to some that Kravitz or people like him aren’t “confused” about their “racial” identity.
“Let me tell you why some-the people I know were confused. There were light-skinned and their parents-this isn’t all cases, but this is the stuff I saw- their parents wanted their child to pass for white, right? Because they’re light-skinned and, you know, we’re better or whatever nonsense that has to do with.
And the child would, then, think, okay, well, I’m gonna run around… And, then, they go to school and they’d play that with the black kids and they’d be like ‘Uh-uh.’ Right? Then, they go over to the white kids and they’d be like, “You’re black.” So, they’d end up being in this middle like ‘ Who am I? ‘What’ am I?’”
When I read this, this part made sense to me. I know that “passing” is a complicated topic that I can’t discuss here for reasons not limited to there being others better qualified than I to discuss. However, I do know that, sometimes, well-intentioned parents try to protect their kids from that moment, when someone else will tell/show their child how others see them. When it comes, I can see how their parents’ protection seems like a painful lie.
What About The Children?
Kravitz spoke further and explained one of society’s big concerns in similar situations.
“…You know, I hear people that get married…a white person and a black person. They’d always say, ‘ What about the children? They’re gonna be…