Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mixed People Files: Black and Italian

When I was a kid I was OBSESSED with mixed people.  Mostly because I felt so invisible and odd.  Before the days of internet, it was hard to really find information about the topic.  I was always looking around, guessing, wondering, dreaming about who was what and what it all meant.  

Nothing irritated me more as a child than when I could tell someone was 'Black', be they mixed or just 'light', and my mother couldn't.  This happened all the time when flipping through a jet or Ebony magazine.  My mom would point to some model for makeup or hair care and say, She's not Black!--What are you talking about, mom--she's clearly Black! She's in a Black magazine!--Well she doesn't look Black to me, she looks Italian.---Italian?! She don't look nothing Italian. ---Not the Italians out here, the ones I grew up with in New York.  She looks New York Italian, straight up.  She does not look Black.--Whatever.

I'd walk away from these conversations shaking my head frustrated and confused.  Our Italians in San Francisco looked nothing like someone you'd mistake for Black, who were these New York Italians of my mother's youth?  What did this mean about race?  

To this day, anytime I hear that someone is mixed with Italian and Black is makes me smile and think of those conversations with my mother.  So I've compiled a list of this mixed people subgroup to be studied and ogled much like I'm sure they were as kids----Consider this a raised glass toast to all who were hounded as children with the demand from strangers to know: What Are You?????

**UPDATE: Apparently Tia and Tamera did one of those cheek swab research your ancestor type things and discovered that their Dad's people are British and not Italian after all. They totally look Italian to me though.  [see link below in comments section]

Black Mother/Italian Father:

{Faith, Tia & Tamera Mowry, Taimak Guarriello, DeBarge, Giancarlo Esposito, Keyshia Cole]

Italian Mother / Black Father:

[Alicia Keys, Claudia Jordan, Emily King, Mya, Bizzy Bone]


  1. cool, thats one of my favorite mixes,italian and black,its a beautiful mix

    1. I agree! Mixing the races dilutes least it would help.

  2. Hello. I came across your blog and thought I would I would introduce myself to you so that you can add me on that list. I am an emerging artist based in NYC. My name is Sandra Small and my mother is Italian and my poppa is Black. The best of both worlds. I would love to send u a copy of my latest CD, "Illusions".

    Sandra Small

  3. Thank you both for the feedback! I'm glad you liked the post!

    @sandra I'll definitely be checking out your website.

  4. one of my favorite mixes,italian and black

  5. I'm fifteen, my mother is black and father is Italian. My friend says I have striking Italian features but tan skin. I notice that Afro-Italian people look more of a Middle Eastern look, which people often mistake me as.

  6. Yes..I've been asked this question SO many times. I'm from Lousisana and have not only Black and french Creole in my background, but italian as well.

    I've always been "conditioned" to celebrate only the black part of me, but I disagree.

  7. Im blk/italian as well and actually have gotten darker with age. I look perhaps to some people all black but most people do ask what are you because of some feature such s my skin color hair texture/length and my "exotic eyes.

  8. Tia & Tamera's father is actually of British decent not Italian.

  9. Thanks for the update! Crazy that they went most of their lives thinking otherwise.!

  10. I am black,spanish,white,and indian :but i look mostly black because of the way i act and the way i look, my skin is a mixture of chocolate and caramel, my hair is wavy and medium length but thick and i have the accent of a spanish person .