I read the article "What is Race, Anyway?" It talked about how interracial marriages have quadrupled in the last 20 years. The article was written in 1994, so there probably has been an even greater increase since then. It is because of this that many people have a hard time deciding which race to select on surveys.
This would definitely hold true for Birdie. She started out as a child, and did not really notice a difference between her and Cole. Throughout interactions with other people, she gradually realizes people view her and Cole differently. An example of this would be when they went to school. The other students made fun of Birdie for having lighter skin, while they accepted Cole because she was more black. Only after Cole sticks up for her does Birdie start getting any respect. After Cole and her father leave for Brazil, and Birdie and her mom flee, Birdie gradually starts becoming more white. She goes back and forth between being black or white, often questioning her past. She gradually decides that she is black. They settle in New Hampshire in a mostly white town. Birdie begins to drift away from her mother when she meets Jim. She becomes friends with Mona, and tries to become more of a white girl, even laughing at jokes degrading black people. When she sees Samantha, she thinks of Cole, and it kind of opened her eyes again. The family then goes to New York, where Birdie starts dancing along to rap music and defends the black teenagers who threw a rock at the car. She feels like an outsider to the white people around her, wants to get away, and eventually runs away.
Clearly, race is not just as simple as skin color. Many people would have considered Birdie "white," but she felt black. This brings up the question why do we even need these categories? The article suggested two ideas for the categories. First, they are there to protect groups harmed in the past. Once the groups are more even, the categories can be removed. Another idea is that the categories will disappear overtime when interracial marriage becomes as common as same-race marriages.
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