As I mentioned yesterday, I watched season 2 of The L Word on my blogging break. In all honesty I'm not sure if I would watch The L Word if it were not for Jennifer Beals being on the show and playing a Major role in the series. Jennifer Beals is my favorite actress. I have a bunch of her movies on DVD and even though she has been in more than a few bad movies I am always willing to watch her act.
Coincidentally yesterday I was looking through the archives over at the blog AngrygayblackCanadianman and found a post that mentioned The L Word. I left a comment to which Orville, the blogger, replied to. Basically he stated in the post that there were no Black actresses in The L Word until season 4. I left a comment that Jennifer was on the show and that she was Black. He replied that she's bi-racial.
That struck me because I just see Jennifer Beals as being a Black woman. Yes she is bi-racial, her dad was African American and her mom is Irish American. But for some reason I just don't make that distinction with her, to me she is simply a Black woman.
But it is not lost on me that others may view Jennifer as being bi-racial or even White.
I wonder why I don't identify her, Jennifer, as being bi-racial? I think of Halle Berry as being bi-racial but Alicia Keys as being Black. I don't really have an answer as to why I see Halle as being bi-racial and Jennifer and Alicia Keys as being Black. Could it be as simple as I am not a fan of Halle's and therefore I have no interest in claiming her as Black?
Is Race Fluid?
But as I think about it I may have come to think of Jennifer Beals as being Black over time. I don't really recall thinking of her as Black as I watched her in the film Flashdance although I was aware that she was bi-racial at the time. Also, interestingly I remember thinking of Tiger Woods as being Black when he first began making headlines as a golfer and now I think of Tiger Woods as being Asian.
The Irish were not considered White when they first began to immigrate to the U.S. in large numbers in the 1800's. Now Irish Americans are definitely considered White. Many people say that Asian Americans may one day be considered White as well.
I know that the concept of race is a social construct and as such maybe its definitions are fluid. Maybe race has to do more with perception and acceptance than skin color or origin?
Or does the fluidity of race have more to do with certain groups or even individuals seeking the privilege of another group? Does Tiger Woods want to be perceived as anything but Black to increase his social standing?
A lot of this of course has it's origins in Black - White relations in America. I'm sure that all of you are aware of the one drop rule. Which basically stated that if a person was 99% White and just 1% Black, they were to be considered Black. The thought being that Black blood polluted White blood.
So I wonder if who we identify with as being of our race has more complicated explanations than just skin tone and the usual race identifiers. Maybe since race is really a mass hallucination there is no sense to be made of how it plays out.
What do you think?
Do you think of Halle, Tiger, Alicia and Jennifer as being bi-racial (or multi-racial in Tiger's case) or Black?
Is race fluid; do your racial perceptions change over time?