Bill Clinton got himself into a lot of trouble this week when he made the following statement:"Unless your ancestors, every one of you, are 100 percent, 100 percent from sub-Saharan Africa, we are all mixed-race people,"
That is a statement many mixed-race individuals hear often, it's often used as a way to make you feel better about your marginalisation. It almost disarms you. 'why are you making a fuss, you're not different? We are all the same really! But if that is the case why do have we different life chances because of the way we look or who are parents are?
It's quite simple. It does not matter if we all originally came from Africa or are all mixed-race, what matters is if we look different from others in our social environment, what are social status is and what kind of life chances if any we have. So whilst Bill Clinton's statement may be biologically true, in the social environment we can be very different from each other.
Remi Joseph Salisbury writing for the Independent this week has clearly given this some thought. He says Clinton's comment is 'an attempt to downplay the significance of race - represents a lack of respect towards, and disregard for, the lives of people of colour living in the United States.' After describing several examples of Bill Clinton's policies and some times lack of policy that negatively affects people of colour he goes on to say: To deny race – to state blithely that "we are all mixed race" and therefore seen as and treated as equals - is to be complicit in the maintenance of the racial hierarchies that operate at all levels of US society. These racial hierarchies provide immeasurable advantages to white Americans like Bill Clinton.'