Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Multiracial Issues in Black or White

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Multiracial Issues in Black or White

Article excerpt

LAST YEAR, I attended a relative's wedding, where a person I had not seen in years told me that he'd been reading my articles in the Indianapolis News.

"I noticed that you seem to be obsessed with one particular subject," he said.

"And what would that be?" I answered coyly, knowing exactly the topic that disturbed him.

Over the past two years I have written about 10 articles on issues regarding multiracial people -- especially those of black and white parentage.

Why, I asked, did he consider my interest to be an obsession? As a police reporter, I've never been accused of being a ghoul because of the articles I churn out daily that deal with murder and mayhem. And those articles number in the hundreds.

In my nearly six years at the News, I have written about 2,000 articles, so the number I had written on mixed parentage was negligible.

This attitude -- which I suspect is shared not only by readers but also by editors nationwide -- may be one reason the coverage of biracial issues in the mainstream press nationwide is sorely lacking.

While reporters and editors have grown into the task of covering minorities, they have failed to include biracial people and issues in their regular coverage.

The reactions of people such as this reader make editors so nervous that they may feel the need to distance themselves from reporters -- as an editor of mine did when I was an intern in 1987 at the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen-Patriot.

That editor was so concerned about the potential uproar against a package of stories on mulattoes and interracial couples that she took it upon herself to "out" me by adding to the articles a trailer explaining that I was a mulatto.

Such unusual measures are not implemented in the coverage of other controversial issues. Reporters covering abortion-related events, for instance, don't have to declare whether they are pro-choice or pro-life. True, times have changed -- but only a little.

In the past, mainstream publications wrote an article about multiracial people on an average of once every decade, if they wrote anything about them at all.

Because a larger number of biracial people have come of age over the past decade, the past two years have seen more coverage of multiracial people than ever in most major publications from the Chicago Tribune to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This plethora of stories, however, does not mean a greater awareness of issues, only that there is more cursory coverage. Unless coverage of biracial people and their issues continues year-round, this recent interest can be labeled only a fad. …

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