As we move into the second half of the 19th century, they begin to count mulattoes. In 1850 the census takers counted mulattoes for the first time. 146 years ago, they acknowledged the need to recognized a person of mixed ancestry. With the Jim Crow laws gone and slavery dead, why can't we acknowledge this ancestry? Although not perfect, for once there was an accurate count. In 1850, there were 406,000 mixed-race people making up 11.2% of the Negro population and 1.8% of the national total. Of these mulattoes lived in Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. This is known as the Mulatto Belt. The mulattoes in Louisiana, mainly living in New Orleans, supported the balance of this population. The census continued to count until the year 1910 with a tally of 2,051,000 mulattoes, 20% of the Negro population and only mulattoes that were "visibly" mulatto to the eye of the census taker. Again we see the imporance of the critical "Eyeball Test."
But at the turn of the century, something happened that would stop this nation from counting its mixed-race people. As we entered the 20th century, the City Council of Jacksonville, Florida, on November 6, 1901, voted unanimously for separate but equal facilities. The separate but equal doctrine legalized segregation laws for well over half a century, but facilities did not become equal. Statutes were passed in record numbers making racial intermarriage illegal. Pressure was put on the state legislatures to define "Negro" and never left the minds of both black and white people alike.
Finally, today as we enter the 21st century, I would like to bring you the voice of BJ Winchester, the mother of two multiracial children. There are four significant reasons for the OMB to count multiracial people. 1) To date, the last known count was in the year 1910. We have no way of measuring the growth of this population without these counts. 2) Without the ability to check all the boxes that apply, multiracial people will continue to feel as if they don't exist because we cannot truly self-identify. If a multiracial person wants to self-identify as multiracial and the inclusive box or boxes are not there to check, he/she has the feeling of being considered "nonexistent." 3) The medical community needs these numbers to track the inherited immunities of genetic diseases and the diseases themselves in multiracial people and, 4) These numbers are an indicator of the state of race relations as it relates to the American Family.
If America is truly interested in the "State of Race Relations," then look to this issue of "self-identity of a multiracial person" first and foremost.
If Americans, any American who wants to be equal to one another, it is to say that all of our blood is equal. And if all of our blood is equal, and our children have the right to our blood, then our children have equal rights to the blood of both sides of their family. This is called "Jus Sanguinis," Latin for the "right of blood." This right is given to our children and is shown most appropriately in an example of an Olympic candidate. Let's say a person's parents immigrated to America from Spain and have become American citizens. Their child is born in the United States and has dual citizenship in both countries. their child may participate in the Olympics representing America because he/she was born in the United States or for Spain because of their "right of blood." So why is that we can understand dual-citizenship but not dual-heritage? Dual-heritage is based upon "Jus Sanguinis," right of blood. Are sports more respected than human life itself? I think not. sports are a reflection of society. Coming together for the healthy competition highlighting the diverse strengths of each competitor, yet keeping the one thing we all have in common, we ALL belong to the human race.
America's Multiracial athletes are in Atlanta where Booker T. Washington gave his most famous speech, The Atlanta Compromise. Although multiracial, he didn't identify as such at the time because he could not. He was not given the choice. But I feel as though his words spoken then are as appropriate to repeat today: "In all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all the things essential to mutual progress."
This issue is purely a social one. As individual of many diversities, we must respect our differences in choice. We must fight to maintain our freedom of these choices for individual self-identity. Let's show the dexterity of each finger as it specializes in its own fucntion Let's celebrate as our fingers type the letters to our legislature. Let's rejoice as the pointer finger dials the telephone number to join a multiracial group, or dials the number to an adoption agency to adopt a biracial child. Let our fingers be the support for our young children to hold while they learn to walk on their own. And lastly, let our hands come together to clap for the words of encouragement for their first steps of mutual progress. Let's clap for our first essential steps as multiracial community, towards mutual progress. Let's clap for the acceptance of falling down the first few times we decide to try, so that we may be encouraged to do it again. Bring your hands together in unison! Please join hands with your brother or sister at your side. Raise them in the air, as a sign of unity. We will not back down from this issue. We will continue to be vocal for what's right. Racial harmony is right. And to the people who continually ask, "What about the children?" we answer: If you would stop forcing them to choose between their parents, our children will be all right! Thank you very much!
Today, fifteen years later, I consider this to be one of the reasons why I was put on this earth and was a part of something bigger than myself that day. I was honored to be walking with my brothers and sisters and representing my father, God, for the sake of my children.