Under the skin

Under the skin

Havard University Gazette

Aaron Lester, Harvard Correspondent

Deep experience informs panelists’ views on mixed-race life in U.S.

When Carmen Fields’ future husband asked her to meet his mother, Fields refused. “No way. I didn’t want to be the reason she opened up the front door and dropped the Easter ham,” she told a Harvard audience on Wednesday.
An African-American whose spouse is white, Fields knows from experience that life in the United States holds unique challenges for mixed-race couples and their children.
Fields and fellow panel members — among them College junior Eliza Nguyen —addressed some of those issues during a discussion called “American Masala: Race Mixing, the Spice of Life or Watering Down Cultures?” at the Student Organization Center at Hilles.

Nguyen, president of the Harvard Half Asian People’s Association (HAPA), distinctly remembers the moment it dawned on her that she was neither white, like her mother, nor Vietnamese, like her father. “I was in the fourth grade, taking a standardized test. And they had that box you were supposed to check off.” There was no box for biracial, and she was instructed to check only one. Nguyen, perplexed, asked her teacher which box to check. She was the only nonwhite student in her school. “Asian, of course,” her teacher told her. “I was confused,” said Nguyen. “Who am I?”…

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