Actor Taye Diggs drew the ire of social media users on Wednesday for stating in a recent interview that he wants his son to identify as bi-racial, not black.
In an interview with the Grio this week, Diggs, who last month released a new children’s book, Mixed Me, said that he’d prefer his 6-year-old son Walker identify as bi-racial because the boy’s mother, actress Idina Menzel, is white.
“When you [call biracial kids black], you risk disrespecting that one half of who you are, and that’s my fear,” the actor told the Grio’s Chris Witherspoon. “I don’t want my son to be in a situation where he calls himself black and everyone thinks he has a black mom and black dad, and then they see a white mother, and they wonder, ‘Oh, what’s going on?'”
Diggs added that Mixed Me is similar to the first children’s book he authored in 2011, called Chocolate Me, which detailed his own experiences growing up black in a predominantly white neighborhood.
“[Mixed Me] is kind of along similar lines for my son, even though in this day and age he’s going to have less of an issue being mixed than I did,” Diggs said. “It’s a book of self-love and self-appreciation and knowing that you are special regardless of what people will say about you because people will always say stuff.”
The Private Practice star also said that Americans don’t generally identify President Obama as bi-racial, even though he is ostensibly the highest-profile bi-racial person in America.
“As African-Americans we were so quick to say, ‘Okay he’s black, he’s black,’ and then there were the white people who were afraid to say he was biracial, because who knows,” he explained. “Everybody refers to him as the first black president – I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying that it’s interesting. It would be great if it didn’t matter and that people could call him mixed. We’re still choosing to make that decision, and that’s when I think you get into some dangerous waters.”
The actor’s comments drew a firestorm of criticism on social media:
How is Taye Diggs blacker than 11:45 and in fear that his offspring will come out black, as well?
— Twinkle T. Twilight (@singerboi3890) November 18, 2015
A mixed person can embrace all sides of themselves, but there's a deeper issue with Taye Diggs being afraid we think his son is black
— Actually A Coconut (@_BasedMistress) November 18, 2015
It's a shame how Black guys like Taye Diggs are so ashamed of who they are. & He's passing his self hatred down to his own child.
— Chihiro Ogino (@WickedBeaute) November 18, 2015
However, the actor fired back at critics on Wednesday.
“I want [my son] to be proud of who he is, and I want him to be able to, on his own terms, include both parents,” Diggs told TMZ. “So if anybody has an issue with that, then they can go fly a kite… I want my son to be able to choose what he wants to be referred to. I don’t want him to have to disinclude his mother. His mother is white, his mother is a part of his make-up – and the buck stops there. It’s that simple.”