One drop

Each time I heard the term 'coloured' I flinched. I thought the word had been retired with the Jim Crow policies in the 1960s. But I was in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe to be precise, and here, calling someone Coloured is neither derogatory nor politically incorrect. The term refers to a section of the Southern African population who are not considered Black, White or Indian because they are of mixed heritage.


They maybe biracial or their great, great, great, grandmother was White; they still cannot claim the ethnic lineage of the African parent or call them selves White. They are simply Coloured. The label has its roots in the colonial era where Blacks were segregated from Whites and interracial relations were frowned upon to the extent that mixed race children were not fully accepted in the homes of their White fathers. Think of it as the reverse of the American 'one drop' rule where one drop of Black makes you Black. In this case, one drop of White or Indian, no matter how far removed, makes you Coloured. I was completely taken aback by this because in Ghana, people of mixed heritage can claim the ethic group of their African parent. Infact you have full fledged Lebanese who will speak to you in the local dialect and dare you to challenge that they are from Accra.


In Zimbabwe Coloured people live in a designated community in Harare called Arcadia where they have their own schools, hospitals, shopping centres; even the voter registration card has a box for Coloureds. Since independence in 1980, relations between the different races have improved but Arcadia still exists in the same way that the Black township Mbare still exists. Don't flinch. In Zimbabwe this is as normal as eating pasta with tomato sauce. People in Arcadia are predominantly Coloured. They have their own twist to the English language and like you and I, They are proud of their cultural heritage.


In the video titled "Colored People" Diana engages me in an honest discussion on what it means to be coloured.

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  1. What do I make of this article?  Defending the indefensible!

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