Why Mixed-Race Americans Will Not Save The Country

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Tanya Hernandez was quoted in NPR about the discrimination faced by mixed-race Americans.

Tanya Hernandez, professor of law at Fordham University and the author of the forthcoming book Multiracials and Civil Rights, points out that in legal cases covering a wide-range of contexts, including education, employment, public accommodations, and criminal justice, “people who identify as mixed-race … describe … strikingly binary, black/white or White/non-white forms of discrimination.” Hernandez adds that many mixed-race people find themselves discriminated against, not explicitly because of their mixed-ness, but because of their belonging to a non-white group. She explained that in most of these cases, “the individual…is lumped together in stark contrast to whites, so it’s a white/non-white racial hierarchy.”

Still, Hernandez, whose work often compares discrimination in the United States to parts of Latin America, is not particularly optimistic. She points out that the myth of racial mixture leading to societal harmony has long been a feature of many Latin American countries. She illustrates the point with the popular notion that Brazil has eluded racism through racial mixture, or the idea that Venezuela is a “café con leche” society in which everyone is racially mixed and free of prejudice. In these cases, Hernandez reiterated that the mere existence of multiracial communities “has not undermined the continuing racial hierarchy, in which the darker you are, the worse you are thought of … White supremacy is alive and well in Latin America.”

 

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