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Pet Sins September 2004

Double standard in media focus on the non-black ancestry of black celebrities

I was reading about Foxy Brown's mixed Asian/black heritage, In an interview on http://onlytrina.com/foxybrown/mtv2001.html, she says "my family is Trinidadian and Asian". I do not know if that is accurate. Is one of her parents of a different race? An Essence magazine August 1999 article says her father is "part Asian".

The reason why I ask this is because I am from the Carribean where a lot of people have Asian and black ancestry but not from an immediate parent, For most of the blacks, it is way back. Unless hers is recent, which I do not believe, should she be considered mixed? The country I am from is 50% East Indian and 50% black. Many of the blacks have past Asian bloodlines but are not considered mixed unless a recent parent or grandparent is of a different race. Many, many black Carribeans have great great grandparents and beyond who are East Indian or other Asian, but are not considered "mixed",

Just saying in an interview she has an Asian and black family is not enough. Half of my family consists of East Indian Asians, and my great great grandmother is a South American Asian, I have slanted eyes, but I am still not mixed,. I do not know if that is an accurate interpretation of what she said, I know in Trinidad there are many Asians. I think when people become celebrities they adopt these "exotic" identitites all of a sudden , when they were just black before. I have seen it done with Naomi Campbell who is also Carribean and basically black, but then they pull up her remote Chinese ancestry, as if that matters. I recall Naomi Campbell said in Vogue Magazine (which I read religiously) that her great-great grandmother was Chinese, which makes her 1/16th Chinese. (Editor's note: A BBC Entertainment article says she has a grandmother who was half-Jamaican and half-Chinese, which makes her 1/8th Chinese, so which one is right?)

Was it Naomi Campbell or Tyra Banks who stated that unfortunately when you are black and beautiful, the media or non-minority public always seems to try and dig distant non-black ancestry from the past, as if to say one cannot be all black and beautiful, and that they do not do this for Caucasian models and actors? If you look far back enough many people, both black and white, have an ancestor of a different race. Why are black celebrities probingly questioned more about their non-black roots than non-black celebrities? YOU NEVER HEAR OF A WHITE CELEBRITY SAYING YEAH I HAVE A BLACK GREAT GRANDMOTHER OR INDIAN GREAT GRANDMOTHER FOR THAT MATTER, IT IS OFTEN HIDDEN. I have heard that Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Linda Rondstat, Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen, all have one black great grandparent or great-great grandparent, but you have to research on your own to find out, the media will never tell you.

S.
2/2004