Paris Jackson Explains Why She Identifies as a Black Woman

In a revealing interview, Paris Jackson, the daughter of the late Michael Jackson, openly discussed her identification as a black woman. While her father had been an iconic figure in the music industry and a global sensation, Paris has been navigating her own path, which includes embracing her racial identity. Her self-identifying as biracial and specifically saying that she is black, despite her completely white appearance, has been triggering for many.

Understanding Paris Jackson’s Identity Journey

During the interview, Paris opened up about her experiences and how she perceives herself racially. Given her mixed heritage, she acknowledged that many people may question her choice to identify as black. As many know, her father, Michael Jackson, is of African-American heritage despite his appearance as a white man in the last few decades of his career. In an interview with Oprah in the 90’s, he revealed his changed skin color was due to a condition called vitiligo. This caused his skin to change from darker to white. (1)

Paris discussed her upbringing and how her father had always encouraged her and her siblings to embrace their heritage. She reflected on the number of allegations made that Michael Jackson isn’t actually her biological father. None of these rumors have been proven to be true. However, they have also not proven to be false. Paris claims that her father regularly reminded her and her brother that they had African-American roots.

“He would look me in the eyes and he’d point his finger at me and he’d be like, ‘You’re black. Be proud of your roots,” she recalled. “And I’d be like, ‘OK, he’s my dad, why would he lie to me?’ So I just believe what he told me. ‘Cause, to my knowledge, he’s never lied to me.”

The Reaction from the Internet

As Paris Jackson’s interview gained widespread attention, the internet erupted with a mix of reactions. Some applauded her for acknowledging her black identity and embracing it wholeheartedly. They agreed that if Michael Jackson is her biological father, she is technically biracial despite her white appearance. Furthermore, many came forward with stories about friends or family members who had children in a mixed-race couple, and the baby came out white and blond like the white parent, with no appearance of darker skin or hair whatsoever.

However, others voiced skepticism and questioned her authenticity, mainly due to her white-presenting appearance and lighter skin tone. This reaction brought to light a broader discussion surrounding the challenges faced by white-presenting biracial individuals compared to those who present more visibly as black.

“paris jackson is not black, just like logic and halsey are not black. whether or not that man who was full black was her bio dad or just her dad dad.” Tweeted user @Janetscoop. (2)

Media personality Wendy Williams joined in the conversation. She spoke about that, while a white-passing person may have a black parent, the reality is that they won’t face the same struggles. It’s about visual skin color, not ethnic background.

“I get that she considers herself black and everything, but I’m just talking about the visual because you know… black is not what you call yourself, it’s what the cops see you when they got steel to your neck on the turnpike. It’s what they see. But that’s cute and good for her.” she said.

The Complexities Faced by White-Presenting Biracial Individuals

White-presenting biracial individuals, like Paris Jackson, often face unique challenges regarding their racial identity. While many biracial folks face challenges of identity and feeling like that “fit in” with one group or another, they do not always face the same level of systemic oppression and danger as black-presenting biracial individuals or fully black people.

The issue of colorism and racial passing is a complex one. In society, white-presenting individuals benefit from certain privileges and advantages due to their ability to navigate predominantly white spaces more effortlessly. At the same time, they may feel detached or struggle to connect fully with their black identity.

It is essential to acknowledge and respect that each individual’s experience is unique, recognizing the intersectionality of race and how it intersects with other aspects of an individual’s identity, such as gender, class, and culture. That being said, it is important for white-passing biracial people to understand and acknowledge that they will never experience systemic racism like people of color.

White People and White-Presenting People Need to Educate Themselves

Paris Jackson’s candid interview shed light on the complexities of racial identity and how personal experiences shape one’s self-perception. Her journey reminds us that identity is multifaceted, influenced by both ancestral heritage and personal experiences.

That said, it also highlighted the lack of understanding that white-skinned people have of the actual hardships faced by people of color every day. If your skin is white in color, no matter your heritage, you won’t have the same lived experiences as people of color do. You won’t experience racism, both overt and micro-transgressional. You won’t have the same innate fear of the police or pressures to dress in a specific way so as to not look “scary” to people around you. While white-passing biracial people are allowed to acknowledge their roots and ethnicities, it is important that they also acknowledge the privilege that they have over people of color. This acknowledgment will open up a path towards systemic change for a better future.

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