Remember when the great Michael Jackson sang “It don't matter if you're black or white"?
Of course you do. And admit it — you know you were impressed by the epic video that included those super-futuristic transformations.
Man, music vids just aren't the same these days. But I digress.
Unless you happen to be someone who believes skin color is the one and only thing we should pay attention to, chances are you agree with MJ's lyrics.
But what if you're black and white? Or [insert any racial combination here]? What happens then?
Actor Taye Diggs, the author of "Mixed Me!" a children's book about a boy named Mike with parents of different races, recently had the opportunity to answer those questions.
The book is fictional, but it hits close to home for Diggs because of his own child's background. The mother of his 6-year-old son Walker, Idina Menzel, is white. (She's also the voice of Queen Elsa from "Frozen," but the parents who watched that movie on a seemingly endless loop, like me, already knew that.)
So, is Walker black or white?
It depends on who you ask.
During slavery, the one-drop rule defined individuals as either "colored" (aka black) or white. Simply put, if any traceable link of black ancestry could be found, that person was considered black.
Granted, back in the days of that idea's inception, people considered other fellow humans to be property, so we can take that for what it's worth.
But many people still subscribe to the one-drop rule today and believe that President Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry are black — regardless of how those people choose to identify.
That's not how Diggs sees it, however.
The Grio asked him how important it is for Walker to be raised in an environment where he doesn't have to choose between being black or white.
Here's what Diggs said:
"It's very important. When you do [choose], you risk disrespecting that one-half of who you are, and that's my fear. I don't want my son to be in a situation where he calls himself black and everyone thinks that he has a black mom and a black dad. And then when they see he has a white mother, they wonder what's going on."
The social media backlash was real.
When I reached an obviously frustrated Diggs for a quote, this is what he had to say:
"A person of mixed heritage should have the right to include his or her COMPLETE ethnic background when identifying themselves. Period."
In other words, Diggs doesn't feel that his little boy needs to align himself with one race — and he hopes that he will be just as proud of his African-American heritage as his Caucasian one.
Thankfully, many on social media came to his defense.
As a dad raising two mixed daughters, this hits very close to home for me as well — and I'm thankful Diggs started this important conversation.
Frankly, I'm less concerned with how outsiders (police, teachers, people on social media, etc.) view my kids and more concerned with how they choose to identify themselves.
In a perfect world, they'll be grateful for being black, white, and Japanese instead of choosing one "team" while ignoring the rest.
The racial narrative is in desperate need of a rewrite. Seriously, if you think about it, aren't we all mixed with something?
In many ways, checking color boxes only helps to further divide us by focusing on our differences instead of our similarities. Life shouldn't be a schoolyard where we have to pick between Team Black, Team White, or whatever. It's should be a school where we teach our kids (and ourselves) to embrace and celebrate everything that makes us unique.
Diggs gets it. The message of "Mixed Me" is on point, and I like the chances of Walker growing up into a solid young man because of his upbringing.
But hey, if you don't want to listen to me, maybe the King of Pop and a young Macaulay Culkin will convince you instead.