Biracial Fetishization & the World of Racial Breeding— No, Mixed Kids Are Not the ‘Future of Diversity’
The fetishization of mixed-race people is an odd phenomenon seen in social media and beyond. Let me fill you in on the latest controversy: a TikTok featuring a white woman, who, after scrolling through pictures of (adorable) mixed white-Asian babies, flew to an East Asian country in search of an Asian partner who could fulfill her Pinterest-fueled, baby-fever dreams. And, that’s exactly what she did.
If the creepy, dehumanization, dog-like breeding factor isn’t too convincing, there are numerous social implications of this fetishization of mixed-race children.
As a biracial girl, being of both African American and Cambodian heritages, my experience with race is both unique yet shared with many other people who struggle with having more than one identity.
I generally pass as Black or simply mixed race, but when you reference someone as mixed race, most people already have an image of what that individual may look like. They envision a person with features that are associated with both races — a “soft” middle. But phenotype isn’t always 50/50, and it’s harmful to impose that expectation on biracial people. It furthers the idea that, when a mixed individual “passes” or expresses features associated with one race, they are “too much” of one thing and “too little” of another. This is not only demeaning to the biracial individual that these comments are directed at, but more importantly, to those of a single race, as well.
So, when somebody tells me, “You’re pretty, you must be mixed,” I recognize it as a backhanded compliment.
This is biracial fetishization, and buys into the notion that mono-racial Black, Asian, and other women of color are not enough — not soft or feminine enough, not “spicy” or interesting enough, too far strayed from “averageness”. It implies that there are women whose appearance and identity are considered extreme on account of their single race. As a result, they must be either “diluted” or “augmented” by the stereotypical features of other races. In summary, the mixed identity is treated much like a Build-a-Bear workshop.
Scrolling through the thousands of images posted under ridiculous hashtags like #BiracialBabies and #KardashianKids, it becomes apparent that having racially ambiguous babies is the ultimate goal for a number of people, to the point where some people will simply refuse to take a partner of their own race.
This desire for racial ambiguity is the intersection of exoticism (which, of course, is a form of racism) and privilege. For centuries, the “otherness” of non-European women has been depicted as seductive and alluring. These very concepts are the bridge connecting fetishization and desirability to hyper-sexualization and dehumanization. Most BIPOC have experienced this in some manner.
Yet, for people of biracial identity, our multiple backgrounds also creates disconnect. The feeling of disconnect is all too common among mixed people. But in the world of fetishization, this very issue manifests as privilege. When others are not able to identify us with a singular monolith, we are perceived as less extreme, and thus, more approachable, attainable, and “neutral”. This is especially true for those who are racially ambiguous, or mixed with white. At the same time, we experience the exoticism that comes with being non-white.
The truth is, this knowledge is not new to mixed people. Mixed people tend to indulge in this fetishization, knowing that it sets them apart from the mono-racial members of each of their identities. And though belonging to multiple ethnic groups is definitely something to be proud of, we must acknowledge the privilege that comes with neutrality, ambiguity, and in some cases, proximity to whiteness.
So when people describe multiracial children as “the future of diversity” or indicators of a post-racial society, it is harmful to the children belonging to a single race. They are being told that their fully non-white identity is one of extremism, that the future of diversity requires the “fragmentation” of race. And the opposite is true: the future of diversity looks like an embrace of ethnic identities in their entirety of features — recognized as simultaneously normal and beautiful.
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