May 23, 2007

American Idol and the Rise of the Mulatto Elite

For about ten weeks, my wife has been predicting that the winner of the TV singing contest will be 17-year-old Jordin Sparks, the cheerful daughter of a black retired NFL player and a redhead, because she can sing both black and white. In contrast, 29-year-old Melinda Doolittle, who conducted a master class each week in how to sing like the great black women of the past -- Aretha, Tina, etc. -- finished only third.

We'll find out Wednesday night when the show drags out the announcement of the winner for two hours. (In contrast, the shorter Tuesday night shows when the actual competition singing is done are a lot snappier. The very 1950s thing about this show that's key to its success is that the contestants never ever get to lip-sync, so it combines entertainment with the tension of sports.)

If, as expected, Jordin does win, it will be another data point for my theory of the Rise of the Mulatto Elite -- white people like minority entertainers and politicians, but they don't like them too minority, and minority cultures in the U.S. tend to be somewhat dysfunctional environments for raising children, so the best combination for becoming famous these days is to have a minority dad and a white mom.

Rage Against the Machine, the most important left wing rock band since the Clash, is a classic example with both the guitarist and singer being of mixed race. Prodigious guitarist Tom Morello is the great-nephew of Jomo Kenyatta (!), founder of modern Kenya. His father was a Mau-Mau rebel and then Kenya's first ambassador to the UN. His mom was an Irish-Italian girl from Illinois who traveled the world and married his father in Kenya. She left her husband before the baby was born. Morello was raised in Libertyville, IL, a nice all-white suburb 40 miles north of Chicago, near the Pine Meadow Golf Course, which I used to drive out from the city to play.

Similarly, the band's annoying lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, has a Latino father, who went nuts when he was 13, and so he was raised by his white mother in posh Irvine, CA. Like a certain Presidential candidate's adolescence, this pleasant white upbringing led de la Rocha to identify more strongly with his minority side.

If Blake wins American Idol, however, well never mind ...

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

33 comments:

Floccina said...

This all reminds me of the apocryphal Einstein quote replying to Marilyn Monroe: “Yes but they could get your brains and my looks.”

BTW I think that we should adopt the idea that you are what your father is. When one is allowed to select for themselves what race they are, they feel compelled to select the race they believe is the more down trodden.

And also BTW Somebody needs to tell Elton John that he is no Little Richard but that he made it big because many people prefer the sound of a white voice to a black voice.

jody said...

morello is a lot "whiter" than de la rocha. he talks white and acts white. as far as i know he doesn't engage in the identity politics that consume de la rocha.

morello is an outspoken guitar fanatic, even relating anecdotes to MTV and rolling stone about hearing that "guitar is dead" and responding by going into his room and practicing for hours, and making a personal vow to keep hard rock guitar alive, single handedly if he must.

i don't know what kind of politics commerford and wilk are into, but there is nothing unusual about young white guys getting into identity politics on the side of the minorities. i would not be surprised of morello was the least interested of the 4 in identity politics. his primary interest seems to be playing his instrument.

jody said...

also, i don't think there is much evidence for steve's idea. i'm pretty knowledgeable about popular music, as i used to work in the radio industry, and doing a quick review of the major musicians today, there are very few mulattos. i'm confident there is no statistical evidence to suggest that they have a huge sales advantage over white or black musicians. in fact, the exact opposite is probably true.

tommy said...

Zach de la Rocha is a good example of an ugly biracial person.

And yes, his faux black (yes black, not Mexican) style of rapping and intentional mispronunciation of English words is unbelievably annoying and goofy.

Rage Against the Machine: Wannabe Marxist anti-globalist revolutionaries brought to you by you Sony!

Peter said...

Jordin's racial appearance changes significantly depending on the way she wears her hair. When her hair is straight, as it was last night, she looks largely Caucasian, while when it's curly she's clearly of mixed background.

Jordin also shows that a young woman who's clearly much larger than normal can still be very attractive. It's amusing to see her next to Ryan Seacrest, she looks practically twice his size.

JoshMan said...

Blacks have long recognized a leadership group within their people,that they call"The Talented Tenth". I suppose this represents the mixed race segment,but also the occasional highly succesful blacks like your Oprah.They are supposed to lead the Race from within,as well as being the ones who can "deal" with the white world on a more equal footing. They get the goodies,Im guessing;I imagine the blacks studying in Harvard are not quite as black as the thugs grunting on the practice fiels of Miami U! One factor that may be of interest is that the old time mulatto big shots seemed to have white dads(Dubois,Ellison,Cullen),while the current mulattoes are of the white mom variety. These types of relationships are,to be charitable,less than ideal! Unless you consider beatings,poverty,cheatin' and abandonment(or running for the hills) to be good family values! :D And,charitably again,the white women who "marry" black males are usually not the best of the breed. I think Steve is rightn that the mulattoes are far more palatable than the real deal,except in sports! Its history repeating itself,to a ceratin degree!

Steve Sailer said...

Tom Morello, the great guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and of Audioslave, looks a lot like Vin Diesel -- it's not at all obvious that he's half black (assuming his father is indeed 100% Kenyan).

It would be interesting to speculate on how Barack Obama's personality would have developed if he'd hadn't been so conventionally African-American looking as a child. (Obama's Kenyan tribe, the Luo, according to his book is much more black-skinned than some other Kenyan tribes - they are elongated Nilotics.)

Steve Sailer said...

Two other prominent mulatto electric guitarists -- Slash of Guns & Roses and Lenny Kravitz -- have Jewish fathers and black mothers.

The number of famous mulatto electric guitarists in rock music might exceed the number of famous black electric guitarists over the last 20 years!

On the other hand, electric guitarist Prince (who showed during his Super Bowl halftime show that he's far from washed up), is not the product of a black and Italian interracial marriage, unlike his character in "Purple Rain." In reality, both his parents were of black and Italian descent.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty surprised there aren't more half Hispanic half White public figures.

The media is constantly trying to encourage white women to have kids with black men, but the statistics show that they over half of interracial marriages are white-hispanic couples.

Black-White marriages are the least numerous, yet I rarely see the media portray Hispanics dating Whites.

Perhaps this is because whites tend to marry the whiter looking Hispanics, and thus have whiter looking kids like Freddie Prinze Jr who looks pretty white despite his father being half Puerto Rican.

I never see whites dating the more Amerindian looking Hispanics, it is always with the taller lighter skinned Hispanics/mestizos.

This is probably because the whiter looking a Hispanic is, the more Spanish blood they have - and we all know how amorous Southern Europeans are -, whereas the purer Amerindians are shorter and often pretty shy and less aggressive than blacks are.

Old Right

Anonymous said...

I know of about 15 mulatto children right now, born to usually intelligent and talented non-black mothers. With two exceptions, the dads are all absent.

Most of the moms seem to have made the decision to do this due to politics they learned in college.

I also know of a few Japanese moms raising half black kids by themselves. I think it is or was fashionable.

Anyway, I expect that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we should see many more folks like this in the public sphere in ten years or so.

tommy said...

Half-white, half-Hispanic: Christina Aguilera.

Aguilera's father is Ecuadorian. I believe her mother is Irish or mostly Irish. Judging by appearances, daddy was a member of the rather small full-blooded (or nearly full-blooded) Spanish minority in Ecuador. His daughter is as white as they come.

Anonymous said...

"I know of about 15 mulatto children right now, born to usually intelligent and talented non-black mothers."

You know, I read race realists of various stripes rant and rave about black men dating white women, yet the statistics show that white-black marriage is pretty rare.

I SEE white's dating blacks more often than other ethnicities, but I guess it never leads to children, because let's face it, on average black men aren't marriage material.

Old Right

Anonymous said...

I don't see enough empirical evidence to suggest a Mulatto elite.

If anything, AI shows the total lack of innovation as cultural separatism has stifled African-American creativity, channeling talented musicians into thug-rapping and leaving few able to play instruments, while White Musicians struggle to innovate against a huge background of existing popular music genres.

If anything I would argue that America likes "affable" black guys. Dennis Haysbert as the tough but smart and patriotic black sergeant on "the Unit." Donovan McNab or Charles Barkley in commercials. Former NWA hard-core rapper Ice-T plays the conservative and patriotic cop on Law and Order: SVU. Ludacris seems to want to follow that path. All present an aura of manly-man toughness mixed with compassion, mining the lode that Kiefer Sutherland plays on 24 or Mark Harmon on NCIS or even the laughable David Caruso on CSI-Shades-of-Justice.

Black women, by contrast, seem totally absent from TV and movies. They don't seem to be able to have wide cross-over appeal. For whatever reason.

Taylor Hicks won American Idol? What does that tell you? IMHO the total lack of musical innovation. If we had something akin to say even the early 80's where musical groups were constantly experimenting with new instruments, sounds, rhythms, etc. no one would care about AI. But with recycled 80's stuff like emo bands, thug-rapping, and pop-tarts on tap on the radio, Steve's right people want the spectacle.

After all AI is nothing new, Major Bowes Amateur Hour and Ed Sullivan preceded it on radio and TV respectively.

I would be more concerned about White musicians being unable to innovate. Black musicians are in a bind, not allowed to borrow other elements by separatist ideology (and obvious fears of assimilation). But White artists are under no such constraint, rather it seems to me cultural exhaustion and lack of confidence would be the explanations for AI being a success and radio being so bad.

I mean at a time when synthesized music has never been cheaper to make, we have ... what that's new exactly.

Anonymous said...

Inter-racial impregnation and inter-racial marriage are two seperate but overlapping phenomena. When it comes to black men and white women, the former is far more common.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5/23/2007 4:14 PM,
I agree, and furthermore 'marriage' these days means very little in practice, since illegitamate children are granted full citezenship and adultery is not legally punishable. Marriage is just a cultural artefact if it doesn't act as a social control on who sleeps with whom.

Denying citizenship to bastard children may seem cruel, but such laws would impel people not to have bastard children in the first place. It's similar to defending borders with force. Some people would indeed get shot at the first but gradually the invaders will learn and they'll stop trying to cross in the first place. Modern western society is in an advanced state of decay and is only capapble of seeing the world through the narrow lens of extended phenotypes like individual rights. These things cannot exist absent people that are genetically inclinded to want them, hence making individual rights a good trumping all others is ultimately self-contradictory.

Anonymous said...

I SEE white's dating blacks more often than other ethnicities, but I guess it never leads to children, because let's face it, on average black men aren't marriage material.

I'm not quite sure how you could guess that. There are loads of half black kids out there without their black dads.

Unless you are joking.

Anonymous said...

The contest format of idol suggests the value of head-to-head comparisons of recorded music. I love Joe Henderson, for example, but when you put it up against 50s era Sonny Rollins, well, Rollins is better. Here's a puzzler: is Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why" actually better than its model, Carol King's "So Far Away", in the radio hits category?

also, does a mulatto child qualify you as mulatto elite or are you never quite accepted?

Peter said...

Tom Morello, the great guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and of Audioslave, looks a lot like Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel is an interesting case because he appears to be racially mixed but refuses to discuss his ancestry. It's been speculated that he keeps his head shaved to eliminate one clue to his racial background.

Anonymous said...

Jody:

You are wrong in guessing Morello is the least interested in identity politics - he may be the most...
He is an absolutely phenomenal guitarist (in full disclosure, I'm a huge RATM fan, politics aside and have been to a great many of their concerts) - However, he is a huge leftist, mentions Chomsky and Zinn, big into ethnic grievances, America = racist and all that stuff...

The politics of RATM are ridiculous, but I just like the music - Their anti-capitalism rhetoric can't be taken seriously when their signed to Sony and sold their CDs in SamGoody like every other artist. But, in short, Morello is into all the lefty BS.

Anonymous said...

Vin Diesel is half Italian and half black. I didn't think that was a big secret.

Anonymous said...

"There are loads of half black kids out there without their black dads."

I'm talking percentages, If less than 1% of whites are married to blacks it is probably a good bet that less than 1% of births to white women are to mulatto children.

Yes there are SOME mulatto kids out there, but it is statistically small, much less than white-hispanic offspring.

If few whites don't even bother to get married to blacks much, it is doubtful many more are actually having kids out of wedlock, especially with better educated whites.

Old Right

tommy said...

Even Jimi Hendrix wasn't above playing the race card:

Hendrix had completed middle school with little trouble but failed to graduate from Garfield High School; he would later be awarded an honorary diploma. When his fame struck in the late 1960s, Hendrix would punch up his own past by telling reporters that he was expelled from Garfield by racist faculty for holding hands with a white girlfriend in study hall, but Principal Frank Hanawalt insisted that it was simply due to poor grades and attendance problems.

From what I understand Jimi had a fair amount of white and Indian ancestry, though I don't know the particulars.

jody said...

steve - i think saul hudson is not jewish. he said he's not jewish in a few interviews. he doesn't know why his parents named him saul though. i see wikipedia is saying he's jewish, but the reference admits they have no hard evidence. i've been aware of this debate for a few years.

anonymous - "I would be more concerned about White musicians being unable to innovate."

i'm not worried about that. they innovate well and have done half the innovation in all of music. i'm more worried that white teenagers are more interested in putting their time into things other than music these days.

and their birth rates are down, so many white musicians are not getting born. this was one of the effects of the baby boom. lots of good music for a few decades. the current decline in musical output is real, and somewhat follows demographic trends. you'll notice that country music output has not declined much, as birth rates for rural, conservative whites has remained steady.

anonymous - i guess i was wrong about morello.

folks, don't forget that music is worldwide. blacks, whites, and others are doing music outside of america. american trends are not always universal trends.

Dave said...

"Vin Diesel is half Italian and half black. I didn't think that was a big secret."

What's clear is that Diesel (and his agents) cleverly avoided getting pigeon-holed into minority roles: e.g., he played an Italian-American in Saving Private Ryan; same in Boiler Room; plus other roles where his ethnicity was unexplored or left blank.

floccina said...

'Marriage is just a cultural artefact if it doesn't act as a social control on who sleeps with whom.

Denying citizenship to bastard children may seem cruel, but such laws would impel people not to have bastard children in the first place. '

Instead how about we just end al forms of welfare.

And BTW the discussion of Vin Diesel makes me ask. I think that black white mixed race peaple generally look much more white than black do you others agree?

DYork said...

Let's not forget Bob Marley. White, Jewish?, father and "pure" negroid black Jamaican mother.

There's also the late Vicki Sue Robinson, black father/White mother. Also Irene Cara of "Fame".

There's a young girl singer in England who is popular, forget the name, who was born in California to a 15 year old blond White girl and a 40 something black street musician father. She was adopted by a White couple at birth.

Also a high percentage of white girl singers in Europe have black boyfriends.

I'm around a lot of younger White females in small town/rural USA and the number of out of wedlock mulato births is probably HIGHER than the White ones.

It's really amazing.

Before Steve wrote this article I thought it would be a good idea because it is clear that to an increasing degree America prefers it's blacks to be born of White women.

Anonymous said...

Rage Against the Machine, the most important left wing rock band since the Clash

*cough* Dead Kennedys *cough* *choke* *die*

Anonymous said...

A few months back I met Vin Diesel's sister, a tall, elegant-looking lady who bears a strong family resemblance to her brother yet registers much more strongly to the eye as a light-skinned black woman. I don't know if it's because she's a couple shades darker or if it's the long, curly hair.

James Kabala said...

I had no idea Slash was part black.

DYork said...

"Inter-racial impregnation and inter-racial marriage are two seperate but overlapping phenomena. When it comes to black men and white women, the former is far more common."

Exactly. Why is that so difficult for some to understand. Forget about the meaningless interracial MARRIAGE numbers.

"Charles Barkley in commercials. Former NWA hard-core rapper Ice-T"

Both married to blond White women.

What do these four non-White reality TV stars - Sanjaya, Apollo Ono, Jordin Sparks and Barack Obama - all have in common?

...White mothers.

DYork said...

Forgot to mention singers Alicia Keys and Mariah Carey.

Both have black fathers and White mothers.

Old Right said - "I'm talking percentages, If less than 1% of whites are married to blacks it is probably a good bet that less than 1% of births to white women are to mulatto children."

Guy, you are a very stupid person. The percentage of mulatto births to White women and girls is MUCH greater than the interracial marriage rate.

The comparison is probably 10 to 1.

Mulatto births to White girls under 20 is skyrocketing.

Anonymous said...

What about mixed children of Black men and Asian mothers:

Kimora Lee Simmons(Black absentee father, Korean/Japanese mother)

Tiger Woods (Thai/Chinese mother, Black father)

Amerie (Black father, Korean mother)

Tyson Beckford (Asian mother, Black father)

What do you guys make of these people?

Anonymous said...

Yes, what do people make of Blasians (African-Asians)? I think this would make for interesting discussion.