Many of us are ‘mixed-race’ — racism feeds on our failure to realize that

Thanks to RenÉe Graham for affirming Meghan Markle’s choice to call herself “mixed-race” instead of choosing “black” or “white” (“A people’s princess unbound by race,” Opinion, Dec. 3). It is a choice that others should consider.

The hidden reality is that a great many Americans are mixed-race, including those who think of themselves as white. Terms for mixed-race people — “mulatto,” “mustee,” “half-breed” — entered the American vocabulary and laws as early as the 17th century. These terms emerged because of the frequency of these mixtures in the early colonies. Such mixtures continued throughout American history, even after “mixed-race” marriages became illegal in most states. Numerous mixed-race people passed as white when they could manage it and hide their ancestry.

The heritage of these mixtures constitutes the America that has been hidden and denied so that, first, slavery and then segregation could endure. Recognizing the pervasive extent of these American mixtures would be a needed step toward affirming the genetic truth — that “races,” as our society defines them, are biological fictions.


Racism and white supremacy rest upon these fictions. We should not repeat and reinforce them.

John L. Hodge

Jamaica Plain