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Race Relations in Hollywood: Is Biracial the New Normal?
Lisa Pecot-Hebert

Lisa Pecot-Hebert

Columnist, Multiracial Identities at the Parent Voice, Magazine
A former newspaper and broadcast journalist, Lisa is a multimedia professor at the University of Southern California and also the associate director for the undergraduate journalism program. Read more under 'Columnists".
Lisa Pecot-Hebert

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Hollywood is considered by some to be forward thinking when it comes to sexuality, race, and gender. The media centric city often normalizes interracial relationships and while our world is becoming more racially diverse and mixed race children are increasing in number every year, as demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia (situated approximately 2,226 miles from Hollywood), this country is far from eradicating racism forever.

Educate your children about their heritage and help them understand that the colorblind ethos they see portrayed in many of their favorite programs may be an accurate portrayal of some families, but our world is far from perfect.

America recently watched the first African American Bachelorette look for love and romantically interact with men of all ethnic backgrounds. For those that did not watch the hit ABC series, Rachel chose a man to “spend the rest of her life with” and he just happened to be of Colombian descent. This country has come a long way from 1930 when Hollywood adopted a Motion Picture Production Code, popularly known as the Hays Code, which prohibited the depiction of “sex relationships between the white and black races.”  In fact, it has only been sixty years since Hollywood’s first mixed-race kiss took place in the 1957 drama Island in the Sun. African American actress Dorothy Dandridge shared an on screen kiss with Caucasian actor John Justin, but Harry Belafonte’s kiss with Joan Fontaine, originally in the script, was removed from the film.

In 1930, Hollywood prohibited depiction of sex relationships between the white and black races. Click To Tweet

Admittedly, our country has come a long way since the first onscreen mixed-race kiss, however it is important to note how pop cultural representations of multiracial identities have informed the way we understand racial acceptance in America. The “Hollywoodization” of the multiracial family is often presented as evidence that we are living in a post-racial society. The birth of tennis champion Serena Williams and fiancé and Reddit co-founder Alexia Ohanian’s biracial daughter took the internet by storm. Prince William and Kate recently announced they were expecting a third child, and almost in the same breath, a television host mentioned Prince Harry and biracial girlfriend/actress Meghan Markle, stating they would have a beautiful child if they got married.    

Pop cultural representations of multi-racial identities inform how we understand racial acceptance. Click To Tweet

So what does all of this mean for parents raising children who think we are living in a post-racial society? Educate your children about their heritage and help them understand that the colorblind ethos they see portrayed in many of their favorite programs may be an accurate portrayal of some families, but our world is far from perfect. Maya Angelou said it best, “it is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Angelou also said, “prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.” Two quotes. Two divergent thoughts. Two truths.

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A former newspaper and broadcast journalist, Lisa is a multimedia professor at the University of Southern California and also the associate director for the undergraduate journalism program. Read more under ‘Columnists”.

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