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Historically used to describe the child of a black person and a white person, Mulatto reportedly originates from the Spanish word Mulato which, in turn, originates from the word “mula,” or mule—the offspring of a horse and a donkey. Clearly, this term is offensive, as it compares the union of human beings to that of animals.

Although the word is outdated and offensive, people still use it from time to time. Due to the word’s troublesome origins, refrain from using this term in any situation. The term “mulatto” should never be used in casual conversation to describe a Biracial person. Terms such as biracial, Multiracial, or Multiethnic are usually deemed non-offensive. If somebody chooses to define themselves as Mixed Race, then it is appropriate, but it is inappropriate to expect that anybody owes an explanation for their identity or heritage. So, as always, ask people what they wish to be called or listen to what they call themselves.

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