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2013 S&A Highlights: Dwayne Johnson – ‘Race Shifter’ In A Post Racial World?

2013 S&A Highlights: Dwayne Johnson - 'Race Shifter' In A Post Racial World?

Editor’s note: As 2013 ends, and 2014 begins, I’ll be reposting some of our highlights published during the last year. Those who’ve already read each one can obviously skip them, or revisit if you’d like. For those who joined us later in the year, missing many of these posts from earlier in the year, they will probably be new items. Here’s the 14th of many to come, originally posted in late March 2013. Happy New Year to you all! 

We all know that there’s been a lot of talk about how we
are all now living in a “post-racial”
society. Though I think, most of us will respond to that with a “Yeah

But things are changing, albeit
slowly, but they are changing. And it dawned on me last night, during  an advance screening of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, that the one person who could be an example of this post racial utopia we’re supposed to be living in, is Dwayne Johnson.

It should be very obvious by now the Johnson has been positioning
himself to be a major A–list movie star. He easily could have just gone on to
be a B-movie actor, content with doing supporting roles in action/exploitation films, and starring in direct-to-video movies, like some of his former WWE cohorts. But Johnson has much
higher aspirations.

And it’s not just the film projects that he’s attached
himself to, but also, either by design or by happenstance, how he’s been perceived racially by the public.
He has become a “race shifter” for lack
of a better word.

Through his obviously ethnic, but not clearly defined
looks (he’s black Canadian/Samoan), he
has managed to become “identified” as it were, by different audiences, as
different things, and has used that to his advantage.

I should say that, of course, we identify him as black on
S & A, or else we wouldn’t always be reporting
news about his various film projects.
And Johnson has neither ever obscured, or refused to acknowledge his bi-racial
heritage, unlike Vin Diesel, who has
gone out of his way to not publicly acknowledge his mixed heritage, preferring to instead let people think he’s, perhaps, Italian.

For example, in Johnson’s recent film Snitch, he was clearly identified as “white” helping to save his white son in
trouble with the law. However in G.I. Joe, he’s clearly identified as being “black”. His character in the film has
two young black daughters who he dearly loves.

Yet, interestingly, the mother is never seen in the film, and there’s
no explanation or even a reference about her. Is he a widower, or did she happen
to be in the kitchen in those scenes when he’s with his girls? And perhaps one can argue that she’s purposely
not seen in the film to keep Johnson from appearing “too black”.

However, later in
the film, Johnson, on the run from enemies out to kill him, goes back to his old black urban ghetto neighborhood,
where his old homies still live, as a hiding place. So he is definitely clearly
identified or “coded “ as a black man
in G.I. Joe.

Yet the fact that Johnson can smoothly switch from “white” to “black” to
even “other,” without any comment or seemingly any notice
from audiences, is intriguing.

Possibly a major factor
for that is simply because Johnson has an incredibly charismatic and likable persona. Like any genuine movie star, he pulls you into the screen, not pushes you away. As the old saying goes, when Johnson is on the screen, Johnson is on the screen. 

has slightly comic self-awareness of his
whole physicality and effectively uses it to even mock and send up the whole macho
man image, which makes him instantly likable. It’s almost as if he’s saying: “Look ,I don’t take myself seriously, so why should you?”

And that fact may have crossed over to the audiences’ perceptions of his own racial identity. Johnson can be whatever he wants to be
because he’s somehow bigger than life, a 
fantasy creation as it were, and, therefore, transcends any labels that can be put on him. 

He’s human Teflon.

But is this racial shifting a good thing? Is it a genuine
sign of progress, or is it just an easy way to avoid dealing with the serious issues
of racism and intolerance that still linger? 

It could be easy for people to easy: “Look
at Dwayne Johnson. He doesn’t make race
an issue, so why do you people still have to?”

What do you say?

This Article is related to: Features and tagged


Chad Cavendish

I think Jessica Szohr is so HOT!

Betty O'Leary

The term "race" has caused so much misery to so many people for millennia, because it’s significance is not understood, or is chronically misinterpreted. There is only ONE race that refers exclusively to species Homo Sapiens, which means the person who thinks.
The varying skin tones, hair textures, facial and body features among humans result from climate and environmental features, gene pool possibilities among groups who, in their travels from Africa, have settled in remote, and/or remote parts of the world, thus removing themselves from genes from other groups of humans.
My one big concern about the topic of "race" is, where in heck are the Biologists, geneticists, anthropologists, and anatomical specialists who might shed light on the insanity of dividing humans into groups which rate each as being good, better, best, and worst of the human family?
All humans, regardless of color, hair texture, facial features, religion, ethnic origin, or gender have 46 chromosomes. All humans can procreate living, fertile young with members of other evolutionary developed human beings. Unlike species cannot create living and fertile offspring.
Our history of racial, religious, ethnic, and gender bigotry has resulted from widespread ignorance of what constitutes a real, live human being. If we don’t stop our habit of "racial" egocentricity, I fear that, with the progress of our war machines, we’ll soon wipe all of ourselves right out of existence

Betty O'Leary

About "race!"


In 1967 The U.S. Supreme Court abolished the Anti- Miscegenation laws which included the "one drop rule". These had been slave laws and were then considered to be unconstitutional. Therefore, by law, these celebrities are not legally bound to identify themselves as Black or African American. Americans who believe in the "one drop rule" are following a defunct law.

Revillea Mcintire

Dwayne Johnson nationality is? I have seen so many names. Wht is corrected? Now as for as him, he could play many many roles. but it the Black or African stigma the bigot subjecs he or she withh and sometimes, as Black or African those who must live with it.

He is one beautiful and handson male but in a woman's perspective he is too muscular bad on the heart. I see that he is skendering down and it looks gret on him. Or, is he working too hard with little to little rest. I enjoy watching him on any screen.

Hey! Dwayne I don't see you dating sisters. She is always of carmel hue or brighter. I will be prejudice if thast it te way Dwayne see it but I am just fighting for te sisters. They want some of that wealth.

It;s called Culture Genocide!! If you do not continue it becomes diluted DNA and one day that child, like Tiger Woods, will deny part of him. He have bsbies only by an Albino American. And, deney his children to visit his black percentage.


Yes, dwayne us playing it safe by not fully establishing himself in a fully developed black character roll. Nor does he play lead male opposite any black female leads….AT ALL….with the slight cameo appearance in Tyler Perry's "Why did I get married, too" as a possible love interest for Janet Jackson's character. …But it's Tyler Perry and Janet Jackson, who'd say no to that resume boost. I won't downplay his efforts or deligents on creation a name for himself in Hollywood or cleverly marketing his ethic diversity….but just how propelled would his career be if, in fact, he did go for roles or use his now famous star, to portray a black family man with a female costar and mostly ethnic cast?


Samoans always find humour in everything, over analysing something (which you western people do) is missing the point. Ask any Samoan if they have mocked relatives 99.9% of them will say they have been. We even like to mock ourselves not to mask issues that people dissect and turn into something that its not but we do it because we love to laugh. The issue of racism in any Pacific Islander doesn't come the the people themselves it comes from white man over thinking complex issues I mean really? Your remaining lingering questions about racism made me LOL as they say Samoa " Chillax Man be cool " LOL

Bucky O'hare

no, he's not a "race shifter", he's "ethnically ambiguous". and considering that largest portion of the media pie, film & television especially, is dominated in front of and behind the camera by people of European descent, that's even better for him, considering his heritage.

think about it: if you're writing or producing a television show, for instance, and you're ethnicity is [fill in the blank], who are the major players on that show gonna look like?


Many people who claim the one-drop rule are wearing rose-colored glasses. Most of them do not look white (see a photo of Princess Diana if you need a clue about what traditional white people look like). As for the Hispanic populations that refuse to acknowledge their African ancestry–especially Dominicans–took a look in the mirror; the same for Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Brazilians and every other Hispanic country in the western hemisphere. That's not to say there are not isolated pockets of indigenous people that did not mix with Africans or mixed Africans–I'm not talking about them. And for those who have lived in fairytale communities of mixed people that are blind to their African ancestry either intentionally or because of the brainwashing done to them by their parents and their culture, look around you and you'll realize you are not the definition of white nor would you be accepted as white by true white people–they will still see you as something other than white even if they are your best friends. Just like that woman on the jury of the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin trial who was listed as Hispanic. Phenotypically she is clearly of African descent regardless of her Hispanic cultural upbringing and some amount of mixture–hair, facial features, etc., present a woman of African descent first and foremost. So yes, you may have been raised in a Hispanic culture and have some other racial mixing in conjunction with your African ancestry, but most are clearly visibly phenotypically African regardless of how fair their skin may be. In fact, a number of the fairer skinned mixtures look more African in their facial features and their hair texture than their darker skinned relatives. And yes, Derek Jeter's African ancestry is clearly present just looking at his face. You can claim all the mixture you want, but don't forget to include your African ancestry.

Evie Hanlon

Well there you go, I always had him pegged as a Kiwi Maori… :)
I'm a white woman, I'd go see him anywhere, and I think if you canvassed white women in Aus, you'd find a surprising amount would go see him in a romantic anything. He's just got the personality for it… As we speak, I've just had three friends post pics of him as he's looking at buying property on the Gold Coast on FB. They'd all go see him anywhere, they're all white women. :)
I'd like to see more mixed race everything at the movies, because from where I sit, that's where we're at…


It does not matter if you are black mixed with black we all have red blood regardless what our skin color one want to be black because to claim black means you will be treated differently look at the people from India a lot of them are darker than some blacks but do not call them black.I think being black is great even if you go through hell being black. I thought samoans were mixed with black also what other race of people have kinky hair except africans people need to get over it if you have black decendants be proud and stop lying.


Its not the case that reader must be completely agreed with author's views about article. So this is what happened with me, anyways its a good effort, I appreciate it. Thanks
how can i make my ex love me again


First let's start with Vin Diesel. I knew what he was. I know a lot of black guys that look like him. I never thought he was nothing other than black. He will never grow his hair out because it is very kinky. Italian? Really? Italian is considered white; this is just another way of not admitting you have black in you. Now Dewayne Johnson. Yeah, he is considered ambiguous until he commits a crime to someone white. Then he will be a negro like the rest of us. I have heard him speak on his father and mother. Both parents have the same pheno type if you ask me; color, hair texture and so on. But, the key is the hair; he is not going to let his grow out either, no longer than what it is now. If he did he would definitely look more black.


Folks, one of the many things Mr. Johnson and his " Team Bring It" has is "Star" power! When you can Executive Produce, Produce, Manage a movie or television show, you can pretty much dictate who you would like to cast in certain roles. It's all about the MONEY! If you pretty much have the Director in you pocket or payroll, then you can have placements of products, people's pictures-may it be your real family, ect., on the set. Remember ,Mr. Johnson's "Handlers" are pretty much dictating what and how they want him to be perceived. His former wife, still his manager and probably head of the whole "Team" is white skinned Cuban therefore, I believe his wives are cast in images of herself. I can't count, and don't really want to, how many pretty Spanish appearing wives and children were cast to be with him. (Kristin Davis, what- really?!)You won't see a beautiful Black woman as his wife. If anything, you may see an unattractive Black woman so they can say, " we gave you One-why are you still complaining?" I have always sensed a certain attitude in their selections-he goes along with it-Pg. 72 "The Rock Says…" personally, I like to look at him;] I prefer his action films-Remember, he has "Star Power 1.3 billion worth!" Our beloved Megarexic Action Hero can call the shots and so can his Management, Executive production Team. Nepotism is alive and well with "Team Bring It!" :/


Johnson is an anomaly who is able to succeed because he's got great charisma and an everyman factor that draws audiences in. Much like Denzel, men want to be him and women want to be with him. He's quickly replaced Will Smith as the black action star able to transcend global audiences and bring in the green to Hollywood. But I would advise against viewing him as a "race shifter," and looking to him (or the business model of his career) as some indicator that white audiences and executives are, somehow, ready to embrace a less myoptic view of race.

I agree it's interesting how audiences seem to view him and how he's been cast in movies with racial identities of being a black man and a white man, and, seemingly, audiences simply accept his roles as such. But, again, I think that has more to do with the stories themselves. Again, action-themed vehicles, with a few comedies sprinkled in, in which there's not a lot of self-reflection of a situation, like a relationship, say, between a man and a woman.

I think the real test of his brand, if you will, would be to have him in a romantic comedy or drama — something that he's really not been cast in yet — in which their is tension in a relationship with a woman. I know I've read that Johnson would like to play a romantic lead.

However, I have to believe that studio executives are smart enough to know that they have to
tread carefully in casting if they were to embark on such a project with him. Johnson could garner a HUGE female audience if he were cast in a romantic comedy, but only if he were cast with the "right" actress (i.e. Sanaa Lathan, Anika Noni Rose, …even, perhaps, Maya Rudolph). NOT a WHITE actress. I believe he has a tremendous black fanbase of women, even if they don't flock to his action movies, but they like "The Rock." … And as an aside to a black fanbase of women would be other women of color who, likely, find him incredibly appealing as well. … With all the choices that white women have, yearly, to choose from, in terms of romantic comedies, I'm not so sure their demo is an automatic buy-in to go see him in a movie. Period.

On the flip side of the coin, depending on how one chooses to measure success, the Racial Ambiguity coin isn't, necessarily, working for the few actors who don't fit into a neat box. … I think Maya Rudolph has enjoyed a healthy career in Hollywood and, like Johnson, hasn't really been pegged to a box. Rudolph is clearly comfortable with her blackness and knows who she is. She has created many funny characters – black and white — that were comedic genius to watch when she was on SNL. She's been cast in movies as the love interest/wife of black men and white men. And I think it's fair to say that, at her level, both black and white audiences enjoy her work and support her. (Her backstory alone makes her endearing to many blacks).

I suppose the real test — consider it her next level of stardom — will be when her new variety show airs on NBC, to see how audiences take to her being out front, for the first time, alone. I certainly believe she will fair much better than Rashida Jones. As an aside, did anyone else see Rashida honoring Carol Burnett on the Mark Twain Awards on PBS and say to themselves, huh? …Since when is Rashida a comedic actress and why is Carol B. hanging out with her? That through me for a loop ('cause I LOVE Carol Burnett).

But, I digress. And now I'm stepping down.


If you want properly analyse how Dwayne Johnson is racially portrayed you should look at all his pictures, and not just a couple, and you will find a lot more interesting facts. Having a white son or black kids, doesn't make his character white or black, on the contrary, it highlights his bi-racial identity. If he is playing a black+white mixed race character, regardless being black/ Samoan in reality, that means he might have both dark as fair skinned children. It is undoubtedly, progress, since there is no "races" (just the human kind), and we have been mixing since the beginning. But if we don't want to look at our past, we can observe that there is more and more mixed race couples and children, seldom portrayed on movies.


Food for thought, but I don't understand this passage:

"Johnson has neither ever obscured, or refused to acknowledge his bi-racial heritage, unlike Vin Diesel, who has gone out of his way to not publicly acknowledge his mixed heritage, preferring to instead let people think he’s, perhaps, Italian."

Vin Diesel broke out with Multi-Facial – a short he wrote, directed, produced and starred in – which dealt directly with his relationship to his multiracial heritage and identity and put him on Steven Spielberg's radar. I think it's insanely unfair to say that someone who made their way into the film industry with that project (which everyone should watch, it's on YouTube) "goes out of their way" to not publicly ignore their heritage is extremely unfair.


Wtf Derik. how did you find this. Quit stalking me ya damn creeper


I am 50% Tongan(which is similar to Samoan ,basically Polynesian) and 50% White and a lot of people mistake me for other races. My black friend said at first he thought I was an Italian who liked to go tanning a lot. Some racist dude thought I was Mexican and called my a beaner and I beat the turd out of him since one of my friends is Mexican. Some of my white friends say I look like a true Tongan and wouldn't mistake me for anything else. I've done my share of race shifting.


I am 50% Tongan(which is similar to Samoan ,basically Polynesian) and 50% White and a lot of people mistake me for other races. My black friend said at first he thought I was an Italian who liked to go tanning a lot. Some racist dude thought I was Mexican and called my a beaner and I beat the shit out of him since one of my friends is Mexican. Some of my white friends say I look like a true Tongan and wouldn't mistake me for anything else. I've done my share of race shifting.

Miss Ess

Good article! Cracked up when I read "was she in the kitchen….?" Another commenter said it is progress, and avoidance of the issues. I agree it is progress, but for whom? When the "girl who might be in kitchen" is allowed to come out and be an integral part of the story—in ALL of her varieties, and just not the ambiguous and naturally curly-haired kin-folk, then I might agree we can say progress for all. It's good for Dwayne, and Vin Diesel and others that have never been cast in leading roles, but what does it really mean? It's like "passing" back in the day, except that everybody knows. If the girl in the kitchen gets to come out, it was through the door to the reality show studio—but hey it's gotten pretty ambiguous there too hasn't it?

Kojak's Wig

Sergio, once again you have said it plain and simple. Much love for D"The Rock"J, but it is both progress AND avoidance of the issues. Either way, I'll happily support Rock's movies first weekend, while Vin's flicks I'll wait to catch on bootleg for free from my Uncle Frank's 125 St collection.


Great more Ni##ers to pollute television.


LOL, and I thought we had discourse in good old South Africa. Wake up USA we are all human. Live, love and get over your hang ups. Keep well.

frank conner

every race is special and should be preserved… thing is, this media is Anti-white and every race is allowed to speak up for their interests except white people. Think about that for a second. You have BET, Telemundo, Shalom TV, but there are no "white" chanels that talk about white interets or culture. There are no political interests groups like NAACP for blacks, La Raza for mexicans, Jew World Congress for Jews but if whites have a group its "racist"…. enough of this hypocrisy… white people need to wake up savewhitepeople. com

Ms. Dai

We're all different! Racial division has nothing to do with acknowledging the racial differences; ignorance and bigotry are the culprits!

Leslie Trefethen

Since we're trying so hard to get past being racially divided, then it doesn't really matter what race Dwayne is, does it? Maybe if we would stop pointing out these differences every chance we get, then we might finally move on to what's important. Getting along.


(((WHY ask why?)))
I'm Nicole…
I'm Black
I'm not ashamed to say so
I refer to myself as AFRICAN-American…
…which acknowledges MY PAST and celebrates my PRESENT…
(((my choice. Deal with it)))
…but make no mistake, there is only ONE race that cultivates my FUTURE
"the HUMAN race!"


I can race-shift from White to Hispanic like George Zimmerman and fool the world!


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But is this racial shifting a good thing? Is it a genuine sign of progress, or is it just an easy way to avoid dealing with the serious issues of racism and intolerance that still linger?
It's AWESOME in every way, trust me ;-) every time it's completely ignored as a plot point.
If we like the story and believe the character, we the audience will take your ride and come back for more. Reading down through these comments is an eye opening experience.
There is nothing more beautiful and strong in this world than the mutt and no ride more fascinating than the study of the just how it got to be that mutt, but as long as people equate race with culture–well. Like any other prejudice, it's a choice. And for those of you out there
who don't think one drop of another race makes you that race at all, let me tell you a story. A very expensive little story.
I went through severe trauma in late teens to twenties; severe acne was one result, head trauma another, and both left deep scarring. Raised, pocks, ropy, you name it, it's a continuous process to remove it 20 years later. The first two surgeries I had to remove scarring had results that disappeared within six months. The next surgeon asked if they had taken my race into account.
I was floored. I am extremely fair skinned, straight brown/black hair, eye color is green hazel with brown. Skin only oily in t-zone. He explained the reason he asked was because the scarring was raised and so far outside the wound perimeter, and while people with mixed ancestry may not appear dark skinned, their still D.N.A. instructs the immune system to over-produce collagen at the wound site. African and Asiatic skin cells behave differently, and wound healing/scarring poses different issues for non-Caucasoid and mixed race patients.
This doctor's surgeries have been far more successful, and now the skin on my jaws is scar free. What a beautiful start. What a wonderful
thing has happened because a doctor recognized race as an important factor–recognizing a
difference let me open my mouth all the way. Someday I'd like to do genetic testing, but that's an expense that will follow these surgeries, and of interest, but it's not my highest priority. And maybe, just maybe Dwayne Johnson is a similar reflection–his race is certainly important.
But when we watch him, it's not our–or his–highest priority.


I don't understand first of all, why Black people think they're African? Africans are from Africa. Black people are a mixed race people us usually of African, Native American & European as in the case of Creole, Latino & or Hispanic people, so if the one drop negro blood rule applied to Creole & Hispanic people they'd all be Blacks. Lets make that very clear. If your family some how stood the test of x from the slavery days till now without mixing in with Europeans & or Native Americans then which is highly doubted, then you are a African American, if your family is presently from Africa & you are now a US citizen you're a African American, but if not you're Black which is indeed a mixed race. For the the record, most so-called Blacks are already mulattos as are Hispanics, so if your Black & or Hispanic (same thing, different heritage & or culture, Hispanic or Latino is not a race) & you have a kid with a white person as in the case of Derek Jeters parents it really doesn't make sense to call him mulatto, because his Black (mixed race) is already mixed.

Richard Buckner

I don't know blacks that hate being black, and I know and am friends with many. I say be proud of who you are regardless of race, I am attracted to women of different races strongly, why? Just am. Wish Asian women would stop doing so much facial plastic surgery, you're beautiful stop it! And goes to say not all people of all races are attractive, just sad that most of these people develop a bad attitude like "Don't F with me" about everything. And there are people so perfect that think, "Why are you even talking to me" type personality. The ones in the middle most of the time have by-far the best personalities overall. Black women, I have seen some damn good looking black women as well white women.



I never knew until now that Black people hated being Black so much. So many of these posts are full of vitriol for being "forced" to claim themselves as Black… Do they even know what Black is? Do they have an understanding of the African Diaspora? One commentor mentioned how Jews have embraced and overcome some of their shame issues, yet in the same breath seems to suggest that "mixed race" Blacks are somehow an entirely different racial makeup… "huh?" Ok. Maybe it's cause I'm not Black… but.. why do so many of the "Blacks" posting replies here seem to hate themselves so much? You got African blood…. That makes you Black… get over it.. or freakin redefine Black so it's palatable to you…but denying it is just.. well.. Dumb.

I'll acknowledge my Irish heritage… yes there's shame there… but I'm Irish. I deal with it cause there's a a lot of good too. Gotta ask.. what's wrong here?


1. Many posts here refer to the "one drop rule" as if it were some scientifically-based formula for determining race. Please know that it was actually made up in the antebellum South when
nervous lawmakers saw fit to pass new laws further dehumanizing Blacks and needed to make sure that everyone knew to whom they applied. 2. People are what they are racially, although e ethnic/cultural identity may be more subjective and relative. I one taught a light-skinned Black student who stated that his mother told him that his family had always been light, but is 100% Black. He grew quite angry at the suggestion that most African Americans are mixed with White, and that accounts for those whose eyes/skin/hair might be lighter. In a later discussion, other students claimed to be "100% Puerto Rican." When I gave them a brief history lesson on why some of them had many of the same characteristics as or appeared as Black as their African American peers they referred to with the "n-word," that most are descended also from Spaniards who brought slaves from Africa plus the indigenous native population that interbred/died out, most became livid. As Hispanics, they "knew" that the Spanish were not slavers, they themselves were certainly were not Black, and, bottom line, they were the original people of PR, just as they are. I was told by administration that this was not an appropriate topic for school. What? IMO, lack of education feeds the type of ignorance that results in needless social discord.

alissa richardson what about Derek Jeter? He's half Black and half White, but his features came out Caucasian. I would classify him as "Mixed". That is even a category that is on applications now. Sigh….I wonder why we still have to discuss this anyway? Take a look at a picture of planet Earth, look around the whole universe, then we will all see how insignificant we All are. We're here temporarily then thats it. There are so many other things to worry about than color and DNA. I'm trying to figure out what the remark someone posted about "Whites are becoming the minority in the US" (myth) and to "Take advantage"…hmmm….that sounds hostile. Put anyone on the operating table and see whats inside and we are all the same.

dennie boykavich

The pro-wrestler was born to a Samoan
Mother and an African Canadian father….so clearly is black coz his dad was black get ur facts ryt….:-)

Haywood Jablome

If you have "one drop" of urine in your coffee, do you still drink it or pour it down the sink?


O.K. Tommy Sotomayer makes it clear why mixed raced people should NOT identify as Black because it HURTS the Black community….
Youtube vid: "Why Mixed People Should not be called Black"

thomas finn

so Imean if an africa american goes around beating up people we the general public should shrug our shoulders and o well thats just how there kind behaves and go on our way… with out giving a second thought so the question is … is the law the law or is person have their own set of rules & regulations even though the constitution says all men are created equall.!


Same old dumbass conversation. As a mixed race creole myself with an Asian eyed Cherokee grandmother I still get dumbass racial questions from other ( yes I said other) blacks. Yes I am black AND more. The rudeness I sometimes get from AA dark skinned women sometimes saddens me. As if I did something wrong by being me. of course growing up with sisters who looked like me and cousins who were light and some white and some euro Latin at times makes it easier to relate to mixed race lighter folks of AA decent. Duh! That's normal and if you can't accept that then that's YOU'RE being a moron. Shared experiences right? Same as shared experiences I have with my black brethren growing up together as young men in hoods and playing ball. Brothers for life. My (insert that word)s!! But I am still mixed still black and still have a German grandmother on one side and a couple of native ones on the other. And all light skinned family including both mixed race parents who both are whiter that me. Yet I need to explain my blackness to anyone? Like prove it by dating black? And then getting ranted on if my views don't conform to the majority. Bullshit! Be what you want and whites or blacks that don't like it eff em!


I writing in response to those who have anger towards unambiguous black people. The issue isn't cut and dry and goes beyond your feelings and how you want to see yourself. For those of your who are multiracial and don't understand let me try to clear it up. The are some facts you can't deny that play in to how and why "real" black people react to you. 1. In most parts of the world people have negative feelings or views of black people. Black is not a race that if given a choice most nonblack people would choose. Be real about this. You have people in Sudan and Kenya who have one drop of Arab blood and a curl to their hair but look unambiguously Black and call themselves Arab and hate blacks. 2. Yes the one drop rule is out dated, but for people born in Civil Rights era that was their reality. And it wasn't that long ago. So light skinned and/or mix raced blacks shared the black experience. There wasn't a choice. You lived with other black people, when to church with other black people, school, college, used the bathroom with other black people etc. So for a dark-skinned person to assume a light skinned person didn't share a common experience would be absurd. Everyone was in the same boat. The one drop rule created a shared experience that is not easily shaken off by a 3 or so decades. So for some blacks especially older ones, to perceive a mixed race person as denying or belittling their black side is insulting. Especially since most black people on some level know we are considered the mules of the earth.
3. People go by what you look like. Mixed race people need to get that in their heads and stop being insulted when some one sees you as black. Why are you insulted in the first place? I don't think half if you all would be insulted if people were always calling your white. I know of mixed race people who look more black or as black as other black people who have two black parents. So that is where the confusion comes in sometimes. The white blood from slavery hasn't been erased from everyone's features that has 2 black parents. I know people who have no immediate white ancestors but look mixed race. i.e. Vanessa Williams, Tom Joyner, Henry Gates Jr, and any other light skinned famous person. So in theory you really can't limit mixed race to immediate nonwhite ancestors. It boils down to what you look like. THat is how people perceive you. If you looking like Beyonce and telling people you aren't not Black, yes the average black person will give you look. Get you heads out of the clouds. And when black people call a mixed race person out for having African ancestry they are not ignoring your other side. They are just letting you know you have something in common. 4. The reason you may be feeling love from white people is that they aren't as interested or as perceptive in noticing racial clues in people's features as black people. Tell them you have black in your dna and see if the love will be still there. Why do you think on those family tree shows some people don't disclose their total racial make up. There is a price to pay in this country and in others when you are perceived white later to be found tainted with chocolate.
5. The poster who said mixed race experiences aren't the same is right. It does depend on where you were born and raised.


dont see a black in this picture, not even close
i see an asian…
could be thai or phillipino


How in the blue hell is johnson black? i know he has a "black" father but not even his dad looks like a "real full black" and his mother is asian (samoan, pacific islander) the rock doesnt even look black, he looks samoan! just that beard makes him look "black" but when u watch other pictures of him. u can almost guess that he has asian decent. i mean look at his eyes. or his grandfather. or yokuzuna (who played a japanese character, but was samoan) back in wwf days.

Monique English

Its pretty sad that even today we are still going through this racial identity here in America. I am an African American woman with a multicultural background. My mother is bi cultural and so is my dad. However my dad was darker skinned and my mother is slightly lighter. My maternal grandmother was native american and hindi indian and her husband was black. My grandparents. However I look black but my hair was always an issue. I have what they called mixed race hair. My daughter on the other hand inherited her great grandmothers hair and she is often mistaken for Puerto Rican or Hindi Indian with black ancestry. Both her dad and I are multi cultural black people but only identify as black because thats what you see. However my daughter's great great great grandmother was from dublin ireland on her father's side. Her sister is puerto rican and black with fair skin and kinkier hair and when they are together peolpe actually think my daughter is puerto rican.It just irritates me with all of this racial feautures .. I always related to bicultural people more so than black people because I always get that where you get that hair fom you ust be mixed with something. Its painful and disgusting. I'm clearly a black woman but my hair was always and issue with other black women. Now my daughter is going through the same bull crap. Enough is enough already!

Childrens Art Classes

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Shelvie brown

I wonder why Dwayne the rock Johnson never plays a black man roll in movies or ever have black love interests? Is he ashamed or denying his ethnicity?or is it strictley



Love the skin you were born in, love you. Because if you don't love you. How can you expect some one else to? And to those who feeling more supreme, lucifer fell hard and so will you.. it is written for and to all of those with that supreme Lucifer mentality. Ijs.
Good for Dwayne Johnson God blessed him to be able to play what ever race, and took him from being poor to rich.


Imo sense the fall of man in the garden of Eden, mankind has put way to much emphysis on their outter appearance just like Adam and Eve when they sinned and knew they was naked. African Americans/Black Americans race still need to be healed and delivered from the slave mentality and so do other races. Because not only black people were slaves, but those who enslaved us were to. The white man was a slave to sin and the devil to be used by him to cause so much pain and suffering. And just like Lucifer who thought he could be a more supreme god, the whites and those of lighter skin thought they were better, while the blacks just like Adam and Eve became self contous of the color of their skin because of the lies Satan was telling through his slaves (white people). God asked Adam and Eve who told you, you naked? Black people who told you, your inferior, not beautiful ? Answer: the devil. Think… if the white man hated and really thought black people were ugly, then why did they rape them ? Lawd if you black. Or have darker skin and feel. Inferior to those of lighter skin, your a modern day slave and are programmed by the lies of the devil! And to those of you who think your more any thing because of the lighter skin you may have your a slave to, living a lie. Who told you, you were better? There's only one race in the eyes of God, the human race. And God seperate the human race by their sin, are they forgiven or not. The whole human race need to repent and ask God for forgiveness and be healed and delivered! Because our number one problem in our world today is sin, and not hearing and knowing the voice of God. So folks is listening to every other voice but the right voice, the voice of our creator.

Mixed Girl Who is "REALLY MIXED" and not "JUST BLACK"

@PasseBlanc ….It breaks my heart to know that's how they feel about us. What are we to do about that? We can't change the way we look anymore than they can change the way they look. This is why there needs to be more black pride….If they aren't comparing themselves to whites, they will be secure in feeling superior in their own right. There is beauty in all races. Whites are slowly becoming the minority in this country….Now is the time for non-whites to take advantage of this time…It's only the beginning. Maybe the next generation will realize their new found power….at least I hope so.

Mixed Girl Who is "REALLY MIXED" and not "JUST BLACK"

@Lynnie WTF!!??? ….You are actually going to sit there and lie to everyone by saying that ALL African Americans are mixed??!!! You all lie about that crap so much, you even believe it yourselves!!! …I'm so tired of hearing that hogwash….There may be some truth to a MAJORITY of AAs being mixed–and that would be MULTI-GENERATIONALLY….going back several generations to slavery days! …Don't begin to insult people's intelligence and true mixed race people and try to diminish our true mixed race heritage by saying such absurd crap! I've heard this said so many times–clearly by self-hating blacks who don't seem to be proud of their own African heritage and want to feel exotic or special in some way!!! You're black….African American…not mixed!!!! DO YOU HAVE PARENTS OR FIRST GRANDPARENTS OF DIFFERENT RACES???? (I emphasize 1st grandparents because I don't want to hear–"Well my great great great great great great grandmother was Cherokee Indian", or some crap like that!) …If not, then your just plain black….accept that!! ….Be proud of that and be happy!!! Why is that so wrong???!!! You all need to check yourselves!! …So I guess this is the new plan??? If you can't make us black like you, you figure you'll join us by saying that you're mixed like us???!!!! C'mon!!! There was a time that we were treated like shit!!! ….Us mixed folks were some shameful dirty secret that people wanted to hide–or just call "Black". …Now we are getting some respect and recognition and you can't deal with that or something???

…And as for Beyonce…If you don't believe she's Creole, than explain why she looks the way she does—Of course she wears wigs, hear pieces, etc.!!! …Her and just about every other female performer in the entertainment business—WHITE or BLACK!!!! …What does that prove???? …Did you forget about her own mother????!!!! …Yeah….Beyonce's mother looks like every other black woman in America!!! lol :) …You believe that crap, I got some swamp land to sell you in Louisiana!!!

Self-hating black folks get on my nerves. Why can't you all just be proud of who you are????!!!! I'm more proud than you and I'm only PARTLY Black!!! I'm proud to be mixed!!! I'm glad that I'm allowed to be today…FINALLY!!! I don't have to be ashamed anymore!

Sad…Sad…Sad… Why is it only black folks that do this??? …Even the Jews went through their shameful stage in history, but now….look at them! There seems to be more successful Jews than any other group of people in this country!!! ….Somebody figured it out there!!!


African Americans never try to claim Black Latinos by using the "one drop rule". This is because the United States Census has LEGALLY created a separate racial box for Black Latinos. They can tell African Americans that they don't have the right to try to claim them with the "one drop rule" because the law says they are a different ethnic/racial group.

The reason there is still soooo much controversy over Biracial/Mixed raced people of African American descent is because there has yet to be an actual racial box to be created by The United States Census. Once the racial box called "Mulatto" (or some other term) is created then Black people with have no more use for arguing about this subject. The LAW would have classified "Mulattos" as a separate racial group. "Mulattos" could tell Blacks that they do not have the right to claim them according to the law.


I say what is wrong with Vin Diesel being Italian, he is half Italian and you make it sound like it's something wrong! I also knew he was half African American because I read it on the web so it's not like he's ashamed or trying to keep that a secret. And to be totally honest with you I didn't know he was half Italian either until I read the same article, so it's not like he parades around saying he's Italian. Yes, I am Italian American, and my name is Vin, but I have had African American friends with the same name so it's not like "Vin" Diesel is a dead give away that he is half Italian. I may have just misunderstood the way you expressed yourself, but I don't think Vin Diesel has gone out of his way to NOT recognize his mixed heritage. Like I said, it's there on the web for anyone to read, and until I did just that I didn't know he was half "paisano" either!!


Your articles are very interesting. There are more independent films and companies and, Actors of all cultures will be able to make films in their creative choice and capacity. Therefore, it gives leverage to countless movie choices which may be a great escape to relax and provide entertainment on an achievable budget. One may get a dvd at the library, internet, dollar rental, traditional movie theatre, on cable/satelite. Movies are still the least expensive entertainment. I hope there will continue to be room for every Actor to get roles in movies. Independent movie companies can allow themselves to be libearal to give all Actors a role.

Also, may I ask if you would be able to provide a list of Agents for my child. My child is ambitious to become an Actor. I am seeking an Agent for my child. My child loves to entertain and has an honest passion for the stage, screen, and performing. Your response and all advice/information will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you very much.


I have nothing to say except I wanted to see another post of mine reach 100 comments

Thank you


I think black Americans on this site are really racist they want mixed race people to choose the black category when many of them DON'T WANT TO. Black people need to realize the one drop rule days are OVER! Biracial and mixed race people have a right to self identity they SEE THEMSELVES. Vin Diesel doesn't call himself black because he doesn't see himself as a black man he is a mixed race man who looks almost white. The Rock isn't even African American so I don't know why people use that racist language. The Rock is a BLACK CANADIAN his father Rocky is from Nova Scotia Canada which has a rich black Canadian heritage and his mother is Samoan. There is nothing white in The Rock's racial lineage.

Why would someone like Wentworth Miller or Vin Diesel call themselves just black that's stupid, those guys clearly look more white than black. Wentworth Miller both his parents are mixed and the man looks almost white so of course when he gets cast in films he's most likely is going be cast as white because that's how he looks. Biracial actors and I'm also including Beyonce they use their mixed heritage to their advantage. Blacks get all upset when Beyonce proclaims she isn't just black and she's correct she's part French and Native American. Beyonce with her light skin, and blonde hair is not just an African American.

Now, with Tiger Woods the black American community turned their backs on him because he refused to deny his Asian heritage since his mother is from Thailand.

Mixed Girl Who is "REALLY MIXED" and not "JUST BLACK"

I think celebrities like the ROCK are a refreshing breath of common sense…FINALLY! Why is it wrong to embrace all of your identities?! I'm mixed and I feel fortunate to be as unique as I am. I hate it when a black person accuses me of "Wanting to be White" just because I don't loudly proclaim that "I'm black, and only Black!" Why should I do that? I feel equally foolish saying "I'm White, and only White!" …Just as if I were to say "I'm Asian, and only Asian", in spite of the fact that this small percentage of my DNA seems to supersede my overall appearance. …And why is it that I'm confronted by blacks with such a claim, when people of other races accept who I am???? This has always been an anomaly to me.

I know that I appear racially ambiguous to everyone who meets me, so I don't feel the need to lean on one side of my tri-racial heritgage more than the other. I'm Mixed, that's what I am, and I am proud of who I am!!! …Just like mixed-race celebrities who choose to stay ambiguous as well. We're no longer living in a Jim Crow era where you're pressured to choose a side and I say THANK GOD that is over!!!! I'm free to be who I am, What I REALLY AM!!! :)




The Rock and Vin diesel are good looking????


I say fair play to him. I'm mixed and I see it as an advantage, given the obsession the worldstill has with 'race'. DJ never hides away from who he is.


Gosh, there really are some wholly indoctrinated idiots out there. Stop swallowing the racist One-drop Rule and actually recognise Critical Race Theory and more importantly, Intersectionality so that Post-racial becomes the status quo.

What am I talking about? Well, DJ is neither black nor white. He is mixed race. That does not equate to black. It 'is' other.


BlackYB, if you really believe any of that crap you said then you are a ignorant individual. It was a time when it was understandable why someone like you had no knowledge of African history. It's foolish to say that Africans where all uncivilized. Do you know that your precious whites stole learned most of their knowledge of religeon, astronomy, science and math from the first man? As for blacks wanting to be around whites. It's a two way street, but let me poi t out that I see white women darkening their skin, making their lips and butts bigge. Which are things that you have persecuted blacks for having. The truth of whites jealousy of blacks is coming to light more and more. I pitty you.


Christian blacks and Christian whites get along. The rest of the blacks and whites either way who want to cause trouble are the ones no one can stand. If you think you are going to take and make white people less than who they are, you better think again. If it was not for white people blacks would still be in the stone ages. Blacks just like to be around white people. They always have and always will. Whites like blacks alright, but anymore we just do not trust many of them.
Even black people know what is pretty and most of them try to be like lighter skinned girls and the ones who cannot get jealous even with their own lighter skinned race. Just be who you are. God made you that way. God does not make mistakes. Know this, and know it well. Those who are leading the black people to hate will end up in a bad way for it was not meant to be that you try to take over this country and make yourselves who you are not. Some of you have earned your places in society, just as have white people, but those of you who think you are going to "take" what does not belong to you are going to reap what you sew because you are despicable and are too lazy to do it the right way. Just know, as it has been, it will be and that being you leave us alone and we will you. Do not cause yourselves more grief by trying to follow people who will cause you to think you will take anything from anyone that you do not deserve or have not worked for.


The problem is, everyone is complaining hes black no hes white, or complain that he/she is trying to hide their ethnicity BOOHOO! The reality is if anyone has notice is America is mainly a black and white thing even though black Americans are like 13% of the U.S. population. Example TV radio sports music and so on even though there are many different ethnicities in the U.S., it will always be black or white. No Native Americans, Asians,Hispanics of many different ethnicities or other nope just mainly white or black. Then we hear people complain ah it racist man or they be ashamed or trying to hide they ethnicity blah blah blah get over it people GEEZ complain about unimportant things. OK just my 10 cents haha.


The problem is, everyone is complaining hes black no hes white, or complain that he/she is trying to hide their ethnicity BOOHOO! The reality is if anyone has notice is America is mainly a black and white thing even though black Americans are like 13% of the U.S. population. Example TV radio sports music and so on even though there are many different ethnicities in the U.S., it will always be black or white. No Native Americans, Asians,Hispanics of many different ethnicities or other nope just mainly white or black. Then we hear people complain ah it racist man or they be ashamed or trying to hide they ethnicity blah blah blah get over it people GEEZ complain about unimportant things. OK just my 10 cents haha.


People always get facts wrong! In snitch he play a black man who marry a white woman and they had a kid together! And he did had movies to go straight to DVD! He is a good actor but better wrestling


I am also mixed and have been mistaken for several different nationalities. But I must say that it really bothers me that the Rock has never had an African American love interest in any of his movies. I am a fan of his and value his work but why are we supposed to ever buy into his character as a "white" man. He does not in any way shape or form look like a "white" man. Hollywood needs to wake the f@*k up and stop with this segregation they are truly holding us back from looking at people for who they are instead of what race they are. There are so many African American actors who are amazing at there craft but they cannot get a good part because of the color of there skin. It truly sickens me to see a commercial with 8 white people and 1 African American and maybe 1 Asian. WTF………..


A wise elder once said that "The root of all jealousy is self hatred"
When we deal with those who are jealous of us we are dealing with those who have self hatred, low self esteem and insecurity.
Talking about "The Rock" and many other "race shifting" celebrities it is important to understand that people will be JEALOUS of them because of their good looks, success and the fact that they are embraced by many different kinds of people. This is an advantage for them.
Mixed raced people do not "owe" anybody anything. Inter racial dating and marriage is not decreasing in America. It is increasing. This means the future of our country will have a much larger population of mixed raced Americans.
The Mixed child will be the future face of America. Deal with it.


I come from a biracial background and I must say the "biracial experience" is not just one experience. It is where you live – the state, the neighborhood, the kind of school you went to etc etc.
I have met biracials who have had the worst experiences with whites and blacks because of the way they were raised and the part of the U.S. they were raised in. Therefore they are basing their experiences with racism on what they know. No one should judge them for this if you have not walked in their shoes.

I have met other biracials who grew up in open minded families and neighborhoods and went to multiracial schools where the racial issues were low. They never seem to understand other biracial people who have had bad experiences and they can be very judgmental.
If you are biracial or mixed and have never had any problems than kudos to you! Maybe you grew up in a bubble or something. But please do not dismiss the experiences of other biracials and mixed folks who have been abused and are angry because of it. Try living where they have lived and see how you like it.


I read the comments on this article and there are great comments on this subject. I think the Rock is seeing so much success not so much based on racial ambiguity as it is in him filling a void. He is filling the void left by Arnold Swartzeneggar. He has the physicality to be a veritable action star and the chops and comedic timing to do family comedy. If it wasn't the Rock, it would be another Swartzeneggar-type. I used to feel very disappointed with the lack of the classic action star types we had in the 80s and 90s. Jason Statham is cool, but not exactly what we were thirsting for. I love the Rock and Snitch was a good movie that helped him push past solely action and more into drama. And he's great looking! He's sooooooo HOT!!!


I am of mixed raced heritage because both my parents were mixed raced and therefore my family is all different shades and skin colors. As for me, I am a Nicole Ritchie look a like in that I look more white than I do black.
Black Americans have a long history of HATING and WANTING Biracial, Mixed Raced, and very fair skinned African Americans.
On one hand Black folks tell us that we are not 'black enough' to call ourselves black .We are told that we are mixed raced mutts and tragic mulattoes. We are not accepted and outcast.
ON THE OTHER HAND, if we don't call ourselves just Black or African American then we are called sell outs and traitors? Blacks get angry at us if we don't date or marry to Black people. Blacks get intimidated if we are able to fit in with different ethnic groups or "pass" ourselves off as other races.
So which is it???
If we call ourselves Black then Blacks get angry at us.
If we don't call ourselves Black then Blacks get angry at us.
What do you want us to do!!??

Sam Smith

He's simply in the same category as Will smith.. Meaning white audiences see them both as 'Safe Niggas'. (Non threatening and non militant). Cause we all know once white folk get or feel threatened by a non white actor.. That actor's career is going nowhere.


He's lucky. I think every actor's dream is not to be bogged down by one race, culture, or language. And he gets to be anything. If you want him as a black guy he'll be it. If you want him as a white guy he'll be it. He can also be American, Canadian, Samoan. It doesn't matter. And I think that's awesome. That's what it means to be racially ambiguous. You're not limited to one thing. You can be anything. Even things you aren't.


This perspective was very base, monotonous and uninteresting. The highlight of this article – the source of racial shifting – was an appeal to charisma and persona, as if those qualities have any bearing on racial boundaries or one's ability to move through them. Worse than that was the prevalence of racially coded (against black) language. You reinforce common (problematic) stereotypes and introduce no new or original thought. I will try to forget that I stumbled on this page. Your insights are highly irrelevant.


He is also racially ambiguous, which works in his favor as far as race shifting. If he was not biracial or looked like a non-mixed black man, I am not certain he could be running around trying to save his white son without some sort of explanation or more over that white son would have probably been a black son if it was Taye Diggs or Djimon Hounsou. Race shifting seems seems to be more of a reality for actors of African descent who are biracial or generationally mixed and possess the look to match the mixture.


This is easily one of the most disappointing comments sections in the history of S&A.
Unfounded, uninformed replies left and right. Think before you write.


In the movie The Game plan the actress who played his daughter was mixed( black and white).

And Jen Beals is claimnig her black side all of a sudden? Because she's always taking on roles where's she's passing as a white woman including her recently pilot where her family is played by a bunch of blonde white actors


i think people's understanding to race is much too narrow. there is more genetic attention given to a person being left or right handed than how much pigment will show in their skin. we're classifying people as black only if they have enough African-ethnic features enough to appear so, then we expect them to make a declaration accentuating one part of their ethnic make-up over another. why? i understand wanting to see quality representation of ourselves in entertainment, but at what point are we adhering to a one drop rule mentality? the one drop rule was establish by slave-holding capitalists in order to maximize their property (people designated as black) regardless of their appearance or lineage. is that progressive? in my humble opinion, no, it is not.


I think the problem here is the way Americans in general feel they have to put everything into two boxes: black or white. Here in the UK the term MIXED-RACE is used everyday and is the correct way to describe someone like the Rock imo, he's not JUST black and he's not JUST somaon, he is a mixture of both. The mixed-race "race" is becoming more and more prominent throughout the county. I read a lot of american articles and it's clear to me that the one drop rule is focused on too much and there is always a need to claim any actor who has an ounce of black blood in them for the black community. Why should an actor like Vin Diesel have to "come out" black as it were? Why the need to constantly focus on race? I admit my mother does it: everytime she see's a person on screen who looks white but has a specific racial ambiguity about them she feels the need to comment on it. Why is this?
It seems unfair to me to criticise someone like Rashida Jones for not identifying as black or not pairing herself with black men in her films as someone below has complained, when it is clear for us all to see she is not black! She is definitely mixed-race and her "whiteness" is even more pronounced due to Quincy being very light-skinned.
I would really like to know if the African-American's here could shed some light on this issue, because coming from the UK I am confused by your system. Do you think articles like this would happen if mixed-race people were allowed to be just that? Instead of being forced to choose one or the other by society and the industry?


When I see Dwayne Johnson on screen I think, Look family! There we are! That's why I'm going to write a romantic, Christmas, wedding comedy vehicle for him and Queen Latifah. It's gonna make us rich, bitches!

Brandon P.

I've always thought of the Rock as more Polynesian than anything else, as his "black" component doesn't really stick out to me.


Vin actually made a short film about his experience as a biracial man early in his career, so I don't think your criticism is fair.

t renee

it is very hopeful he has managed to have a very successful and lucrative acting career through securing roles which were probably written for white men. what is more important to me is how he identifies himself in the real. interesting enough on kimmel, he made a comment about his relationship with channing tatum, referring to them as "ebony and ivory." when you are true to yourself, fans cannot help but be true to you. does he believe we live in a "post racial" society, probably not; but, is he being true to himself and his craft, seemingly so. that is all we can ask.


I have to give kudos to Dwayne because he could have easily shied away from being cast in any Black roles period. I also remember he played a Black coach in the movie Gridiron Gang and played a mixed race individual in the Walking Tall remake. Often his characters are racially ambiguous which is fine by me. Dwayne is a former WWE wrestler and action star and has no need to make social statements through his films or the characters he plays. I think he is confident in who he is as a person and that in turns makes people accept what he portrays…a$$ kickers.

back of the Rock

I for one think that his success has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with how freaking huge and charismatic he is. Whats the point of all the negativity here. Maybe the Rock doesn't get cast in stereotypical African-American roles because he is a unique and easily recognizable actor who is only partly of African descent and not African American. The focus on the tone of his skin in this article and in the comments is misplaced. Besides, Black actors in Hollywood are getting better roles than ever and being cast in roles not written as "black roles." Will Smith (highest paid movie star in the world btw), Idris Elba, Lawrence Fishburne, Anthony Mackie and tons of other great actors are earning roles in movies and tv not written and typecast as black, or urban, or "hood" roles. The Hollywood and cultural revolution everyone is looking for is happening now. The answer to is this racial shifting a good thing? It has to be a yes. Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson is frequently cast as a macho American everyman. Why? Because audiences of all ethnic backgrounds like his characters and movies. What more do you want from him? A deeply personal interview on what being black means to him?


Rashida Jones is another "shifter" but I think she has completely shifted to white. I never seen her portrayed as a black woman or even paired with a black man. Even when she made her own movie, she was paired with a white man. I think that is especially interesting because when she was in college, she was upset that black women did not accept her as black.


Glad that you pointed out the difference in hollywood identifying him as white in 'Snitch', which was not a good movie and Black in "G.I. Joe", which was a better movie depending on your taste. And although they did give him clearly Black daughters in 'Joe', what they didn't give him was a visible wife. Hmmmmmm. In regards to him, Diesel, or anyone else self-identifying as Black, I really look to whatever their work and personal lifestyles do to advance us as a people. If it's not good for Us, it doesn't matter.


to: audiodramatist. re: "passing" comment. white supremacy being challenged is a far-cry from equality of opportunity. whites, like myself, must remind ourselves that our change of thinking does not equate to a mass societal revolution of the mind and eqaulity. When we do so, we're speaking from an extremely euro-centric view of our lives and ourselves.

In sum, vocabulary evolving to be more honorable and respectful is not a great victory and not an indicator that America as a whole is some post-racial utopia, because its not. Its unfair who succeeds, and in large part, your destiny depends on your skin color. People's lives matter. White people not saying "colored" (which many still do), does not truly matter when talking about equality of opportunity in a land that ha always promised it. It's good, but God would've wanted us to have realized that looooong ago, correct? let's be better than good enough

I completely agree with Daryl:


Rock becoming a big star means nothing to prove that we are in a post racial society. It has the opposite effect that proves we are not in one. A black actor or actress in a big studio movie always has to say their character is universal as to say black people are not universal just being ourselves, this thinking and acceptance is the problem of why we are not in a post racial society.

Let's let all people be universal – by just being themselves in anyway they please.


Isn't it sort of post racial when we don't dwell on people "passing" or not. I remember when it was so very important to see any hint of color on someone on the screen. In fact my grandmother would always ask me whether a person was "colored" when she saw someone on our black and white set. She would always ask and i would always ask in return, "…can't tell, what color do you want (him) to be?" This was in the late 50's early 60's.
At least now the question would be more specific, like: "Exactly what culture(s) do you think is in their mix?"


Obviously people know The Rock isn't white but he doesn't look as though he is black either. People like The Rock, Wentworth Miller, Jennifer Beals, ect. they got a huge advantage in Hollywood where they can be placed into different roles not based on just one race.

I am not sure people know he is part black and Samoan. Someone like The Rock or Vin Diesel I think actually has an advantage in Hollywood by being mixed race because he can shift in his roles and not be put into a box. If The Rock was just black I am not sure he would be as successful as he is or it would probably be harder for him to reach the A list. Since The Rock is biracial he has more lattitude in Hollywood and he can take on different roles. I also was surprised in Snitch that he had a white son because The Rock isn't part white as Sergio pointed out.


I completely agree with Darryl and Courtney.

Mr. Johnson's ability to move freely between world only works for him, and others like him, whom white people have decided are anything but black. And Mr. Johnson is not alone in this phenomenon, he's simply the only actor who has truly "transcended" racial categories, become a household name and made billions while doing so. Others who fall into this category include: Rashida Jones, Jennifer Beals, and Daniel Sunjata.

All have played what casting directors refer to as "ambiguous" characters in which they're surrounded by whites or blacks whose characters are extreme stereotypes that white audiences conclude that they — the "transcendent" actors — are white.

It is interesting and Mr. Johnson, unlike Tiger, has never denied his Black / Samoan parentage.

And while it is troublesome, I think it would become any more deeply troublesome when/ if he's ever cast as a romantic lead in a comedy or drama because it begs the question of whether his love interest would be cast as black or white. Because he's, primarily, carved out a career as an action hero, the racial ambiguity isn't a total deal breaker with audiences of any stripe. And let's face it, those movies are aimed at boys 12 – 34.

But a couple of years ago, it was announced that he and TP had a romantic comedy in development. And that's the last genre that Johnson has yet to conquer. …And I'm sure a lot of women, regardless of race, would flock to the theater to see that, if the story were good; and the cast were good. But, you know Black women (and I am one) would be up-in-arms if his leading lady were white.

And Sergio, please stop hating on Soledad. What's up with that?!
She's NEVER denied who she is.

Oh, and PS — the question of "where's the mother" in the film is not all that interesting. If you know your history, as you're always claiming in your posts, you will find a lot of movies, TV shows, throughout Hollywood, in which whites are the focus have storylines in which the mother is never accounted for. Much has been written about that as it pertains to Walt Disney. I could go down the list of his films in which a mother figure is absent, but I'll let you do your own homework. … Likewise, "The Patty Duke Show," "Gidget" and "Andy Griffin" are all popular shows in which a mother figure is never mentioned or accounted for, and the father is never described as a "widower."


so the morale of the story is every black person needs to marry a white person and racism will go away because there will be no more white people.


The Rock has stated his racial heritage numerous times, but many non-Blacks still think he's every race but Black. I don't quite agree with the assessment about Vin Diesel. He makes no secret that he adores his step-father, who appears to be a great influence in his life. If you've ever seen Multi-Facial (it's on Youtube), it gives insight on what Vin's ideas are of race and identity. I will note that both men, did present at the 37th annual NAACP awards and although they haven't been back in a while, a lot of other Black actors have been MIA from NAACP awards, so they're in good company.


I don't care what color he is. He's a TEApublican, and THAT I cannot get with.


Maybe the Rock doesn't see color barriers, so why are we still seeing color on the Rock?

Existential Locomotion

Apart from other actors named below, Ben Kingsley is the only other actor that comes to mind who has played racially varied characters.

Interesting article.


The Rock s being considered one of those honorary whites.


He truly is able to move through film while portraying a variety of ethnicities. I am particular thinking of his role in "Be Cool" in which he wore an afro.

I really like him, but his casting in roles of varied ethnicities does not mean that the U.S. film industry has reached a post racial point.


The Rock becoming a big star means nothing to prove that we are in a post racial society. It has the opposite effect that proves we are not in one. A black actor or actress in a big studio movie always has to say their character is universal as to say black people are not universal just being ourselves, this thinking and acceptance is the problem of why we are not in a post racial society. When we start having films with a majority of black stars that don't have to change who they are and they are sucessful, meaning big box office films, then we can say we are moving toward a post racial society. As of right now black people can't appear to be too black in entertainment,business, sports, or politics for so call mainstream success, which is a racial term when you look at it, black people are not part of the mainstream. I'm happy to see a brother doing his thing, but in the big picture these type of success stories don't mean that much for change unless we are able to be successful on our own terms of who we are, then we can talk about post racial.


Sort of disturbing that our worth/value as a people is often measured by our tone of skin. That many of us play the game and allow ourselves to be valued in such a way to win acceptance or employment of anykind without challenging underlying prejudices against us and "among ourselves" does nothing but reinforce ignoranc and self-hate. This isn't post racial. This is simply sad!!


Dwayne Johnson has never identified himself as "White." He's spoken aloud on many occasions of the pride he takes in Samoan and African-American heritage. He honors both his mother and father and has never denied either that I've ever seen. This article is loathsome.


Anthony Quinn is the only other example I can think of .

He's played characters of a wide range of ethnic/racial backgrounds to the extent that I couldn't tell you what his background actually is.

Quinn doing it back then didn't signal any shift in Hollywood. Rock doing it now doesn't signal any shift either.



"Johnson can be whatever he wants to be because he’s somehow bigger than life, a fantasy creation as it were, and, therefore, transcends any labels that can be put on him. "


Johnson can be whatever he wants to be because he's ambiguously light-skinned and has never been in cast or allowed himself to be cast in a role where his character is fully submersed in total positive Black experience, such that audiences or industry persons would permanently affix bBlack identy to him. Case in point, your mention of the absence of the black mother his character's black kids in GI Joe. Whereas the definition of cool across the board often includes the having or the approval of black homies (or absorption of black homie culture), but being inserted in a legitimate functional black family structure is an puzzlement and unshakeable distraction since the presence of a legitimate functional black family structure itself is rare and unknown in mainstream Hollywood.


Was Johnson really coded as "white" in 'Snitch'? Or, was the fact that he had a "white"-looking son reflective of the possibility that Johnson and a "white"-looking woman would have a some with that appearance? I can't think of anyone who would look at Johnson and see "white."


"But is this racial shifting a good thing? Is it a genuine sign of progress, or is it just an easy way to avoid dealing with the serious issues of racism and intolerance that still linger?"

Hmmmm, when I see the words "avoid dealing with serious issues" I am immediately reminded of a very large Big Book. Specifically a passage that reads:

" There are men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. Thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely."

So yes, in my opinion, AVOIDANCE is the optimum word… which to some degree speaks to what Sergio said about Mrs. O'Brien:


CNN's Soledad O'Brien is going all black and cultural again, which means it's yet again, time for another of her patented Black In America specials for CNN. [She] only seems to "come out" as a black person when she has one of those specials to hype."

Now I see what Sergio was implying, but I'll let that rest (we've beat that issue to smithereens). However, in the context of this discussion, he made a valid point. So today, I am riding with CHEZCERISE, who said, "Ethnically Amibiguous"… really means you can be black BUT you just can't look black cause we [some] don't want to offend anyone."

Yes-yes-yes… I agree, and again I say, some rely on an easier, softer way.


I liked the Rock character in wrestling

his character was a clear combination of some classic old school wrestlers

I gave Rocky respect based on an interview he did on a mainstream media outlet

He, in font of his wife, brought up the fact that her Cuban parents discouraged her from dating him at first because his father is Black .

Always got the sense from him that he is very comfortable in his own skin.
When you project that…you tend to make people of all races comfortable around you.

I thought he was Afro-Latino when I first saw him wrestle

Character going to the hood to hide out from bad guys?

hey, didn't Wesley Snipes' character do that in "Rising Sun"

Japanese mobsters were following him so he lead them to the hood and some street dudes chased the Yakuza away…

I posed this question about Snitch on the movie board..

Black/Samoan father + Greek mother = Irish Son?

someone replied….well, they were divorced in the film….maybe the mailman was the father


Dwayne's dad, Rocky Johnson is from Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada. Here most black people are racially mixed. Being descendants of slaves from the southern US. Obviously, you can see he is black…. I never hear he say he wasn't. We know who we are so we don't have to make a big deal about it.

Gigi Young

Dwayne Johnson's ethnic shifts are interesting when compared to his female counterparts (so to speak), Maya Rudolph and Rashida Jones. Perhaps he's more "down" because he wasn't raised in wealth (around white people)? What do you think about Jessica Szohr? She's mostly coded as "white," especially with straightened hair, yet Gina Torres portrayed her character's mother on Gossip Girl.


I find this whole idea offensive because it's entirely dependent upon the individual's features and skin tone. Basically, certain white Americans will accept The Rock, Vin Diesel, Maya Rudolph et al in both black, white and mixed race roles because their appearances have elements of both black and white yet favor neither. So we haven't entered a post-racial era in any way whatsoever. Actors who don't have thick lip, broad noses and dark brown skin are embraced by Hollywood and are seen as "universal." Once an actor's appearance starts to stray from the "neutrality" of white, they become an "other" and therefore less palatable to the powers-that-be in Hollywood. I'd like to emphasize that my comment reflects the thinking of the handful of white men (and a few women) in Hollywood who control the casting choices. I personally believe that those people are more prejudiced than the average white moviegoer who is more welcoming of film heroes who don't necessarily look like them.


    I agree with you Marie. I definitely think White Hollywood producers are stuck in their prejudice. I mean there’s some out there that believe people of color (Black,Asian,etc) won’t do well on screen because America doesn’t want to see that. I think that’s just horrible though because we live in a time where we’re told that racism is in the past. It’s not though because it’s only been 52 years since the Civil Rights Act.


"Ethnically Ambiguous"…I see these words everyday. Which really means you can be black but you just can't look black cause we don't want to offend anyone.


The closest thing I can think of is the movie Honey, in which Jessica Alba's race is not directly referenced, but she is shown to have two black parents. And that movie seems to be beloved amongst a wide swath of black viewers; I don't recall ever hearing much comment about the racial ambiguity of it all.

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