The Evolution of My Mixed Race Identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-24 00:08Z by Steven

The Evolution of My Mixed Race Identity

NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
2016-07-11

Jeanette Snider, Assistant Director in the Undergraduate Program
Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland

I recently took an intergroup dialogue-training course for administrators and graduate students interested in leading a related course offered at my university. We were ushered through a number of activities to explore our own life experiences and interrogate any biases we might bring to our class as facilitators. One of the exercises that particularly stood out to me during the training was the “Racialized Life Map” worksheet. We were asked to record the first 5 experiences we can recall in which we encountered or recognized ourselves as racialized beings.

As a Black biracial (African American and German American) woman several moments came to mind. I can remember in kindergarten, being asked if I was adopted by my classmates after my father came in for career day. I recall getting strange stares from my father’s coworkers on take-your-daughter-to-work-day or even being called the “N word” by a white classmate in 6th grade after school.

The memories continue…my first recollection of being tokenized by my middle school history teacher occurred when she asked me to speak on behalf of African Americans in class when the topics of slavery and the Civil Rights movement arose. As a high school senior, I vividly recall my guidance counselor telling me I had a strong chance of getting admitted to my top college choice, an elite, small public university in southern Virginia, because I am black. I was constantly socialized and treated as an African American woman. You see, in my mind, I didn’t have a choice to be biracial. Based on the aforementioned interactions along with a lifetime of experiences, I have identified as Black for most of my life. This, often conscious decision is based on people’s perceptions of my racial identity…

Read the entire article here.

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A JewAsian July 4th

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-07-22 15:03Z by Steven

A JewAsian July 4th

The ProsenPeople: Exploring the world of Jewish Literature
Jewish Book Council
2016-07-22

Helen Kiyong Kim, Associate Professor of Sociology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Noah Samuel Leavitt, Associate Dean of Students
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Earlier this week, Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Leavitt determined the three takeaways on raising Jewish-Asian families worth sharing from their research for their coauthored book JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America’s Newest Jews. They are blogging for Jewish Book Council all week as part of the Visiting Scribe series here on The ProsenPeople.

The publication of JewAsian, coming just prior to the 4th of July holiday, provides a unique lens through which to observe the United States and try to learn about the state of our nation in 2016. Indeed, the way that young mixed-race Jews think about themselves allows us to make larger observations about our society.

On one hand, we are in the hot season of a mean-spirited presidential campaign in which race and diversity are focal points for voters’ anger and activism. On the other, on this final Independence Day during the administration of America’s first mixed-race President, the multicultural cast of Hamilton is on magazine covers and red carpet runways, challenging us to think in new ways about our nation’s founding story and current identity. Moreover, the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the University of Texas affirmative action admission plan reminds us that we cannot avoid taking race into consideration when we attempt to describe America.

Writing JewAsian helped us confront the central role that race plays for the young people at the center of our investigation. Like our nation, our mixed-race Jewish interviewees feel both the stress and the optimism of their complex identities…

Read the entire article here.

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How white parents talk with their black and biracial kids about race

Posted in Audio, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-21 18:54Z by Steven

How white parents talk with their black and biracial kids about race

The Brood
89.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio
Pasadena, California
2016-07-19

How does “the talk” about race and policing play out when a parent is white and their children are black or biracial?

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

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How parents oppress their mixed race children

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2016-07-21 15:22Z by Steven

How parents oppress their mixed race children

The F-Word Blog: Contemporary UK Feminism
2016-07-20

Nicola Codner
Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

As a mixed race woman, whenever I come across articles by monoracial parents about their mixed race children, I tend to get a cold feeling of dread of inside. These articles seem to be in abundance these days in mixed race online communities. It’s very rare that I read one that doesn’t bring up numerous red flags, regardless of the race of the parent who is writing. I do seem to come across more articles written by white mothers, interestingly; however, this only increases my discomfort because as white people don’t experience racial oppression the scope for mistakes automatically broadens in these articles.

Parents of mixed race children tend to write as though they are authorities on mixed race identity, when in most cases it’s obvious they haven’t done any research outside of their own personal (often biased) observations of their children…

Read the entire article here.

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An Interview with Danzy Senna

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2016-07-21 00:43Z by Steven

An Interview with Danzy Senna

Callaloo
Volume 25, Number 2 (Spring, 2002)
pages 447-452
DOI: 10.1353/cal.2002.0092

Claudia M. Milian Arias

More than a coming of age story, Danzy Senna’s first novel, Caucasia (Riverhead Books, 1998) addresses themes of coming into consciousness within the U.S. ethnoracial landscape. Clearly in dialogue with Nella Larsen’s Passing as well as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Caucasia is a first person narrative where anything that happens to the protagonist, Birdie Lee, relates to the rest of the nation. Caucasia interrogates, displaces, and transforms the normative meanings of whiteness, and by extension, Americanness. The multiracial protagonist disappears into America “without a name, without a record. With only the body I traveled in. And a memory of something lost.” As Birdie becomes a transient subject, she undoubtedly echoes a critical question posed by Meena Alexander in The Shock of Arrival. That is: “Does passing mean being granted free passage?”

Birdie’s painful, but transformative, realities thus shift our focus into her reconceptualization of the multiple Americas within America. The larger function of the narrative is to recover and remap America as racially mixed, where multiple memories, or an inventory of memories, are used to identify, catalogue, access, and interrelate thematic histories of displacement. Birdie’s multiraciality critiques the black and white binary not so much by going “beyond” it. Rather, she investigates these polar oppositions from within that binary—incisively demonstrating new identities and discourses that emerge from the continuous examination of not only being racially marked and ranked, but also of being positioned to live as a racialized subject.

Senna was born in Boston in 1970. She holds a B. A. from Stanford University and a M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine. In addition, Senna is the author of the anthologized essays, “The Color of Love,” in The Beacon Best of 2001: Great Writing by Women and Men of All Colors and Cultures (Beacon Press, 2001), and “The Mulatto Millennium,” in Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural (Pantheon, 1998).

MILIAN ARIAS: At the beginning of Caucasia, there is a scene where Deck tells Ronnie: “Welcome to the land of miscegenation.” Caucasia follows up on this theme, since the novel functions, to a certain extent, as both a testimony of the lived experiences of being multiracial and a critique of the rigidity of racial categories in the United States. At a time when race relations are constructed, if not understood, in binary and bipolar extremes of black and white, how do you see multiraciality fitting within these strict categories? What is your take on the proposed multiracial category for the U.S. Census?

SENNA: America has always been “the land of miscegenation.” The history of our country is one of disparate groups clashing and commingling. We’ve only recently begun to acknowledge this fact, and lately to celebrate rather than deny mixture. Of course, in many ways I think this recognition is a good thing, but I’m also wary of the way multiraciality has become fetishized in the media and in the popular discussion on race. In particular, I worry when multiracial pride is used to uphold an ahistorical and depoliticized vision of race in America. I’m suspicious of adding a new category to the Census for a lot of reasons. I think the idea of a separate multiracial category in many ways upholds a simplistic, scientific vision of race: If you mix a white and a black, you get a biracial. If you mix a Chicano and an Asian, you get a Chic-Asian, as if race were simply like mixing colors in a paint box. I’m not so much interested in categorizing further, or adding new groups, so much as I am interested in deconstructing the premise of race itself. My hope is that the addition of this new category will spur a debate on the idea of race. But I also wonder if we’re becoming more like Brazil, where complexion rather than race is the predominant system of identification. In Brazil, racism is able to function within a “land of miscegenation”—so we should see that as a warning, perhaps.

As an aside, I recently saw a poster on a wall in New York. It may have been an ad for Benetton—I can’t remember. It showed a very pretty light-skinned girl with brown curly hair who looked to be part black and part white. She held a sign that read: “I’m a mulatto. I can’t be racist.” The sign was bizarre for many reasons, not the least of which was the use of the word “mulatto.” (I thought I was the only one still using that outdated term!) But also, the idea that someone mixed cannot be racist due to their mixed heritage revealed an illusion people seem to have: The idea that race mixture somehow neutralizes the problem of racism. Furthermore, the sign implied that black and white were the only two races in existence. Isn’t it possible that this mulatto could be racist against groups outside of those she is a part of: for instance, Latinos or Asians? Couldn’t she be xenophobic? And isn’t it possible to be racist against your own group(s)?

The poster revealed to me the invisibility of groups who don’t fit into the black-white paradigm. Based on appearance, the girl in the poster could have easily been Puerto Rican, or Dominican, two racially mixed groups, but these identities aren’t as palatable in the American imagination, since they tend to signify “outsider, poverty, non-white, un-American” whereas the mulatto represents assimilation, the end of blackness, and the end of the discussion on racism. These other “mixed” groups, Latino, in particular, threaten the idea of American hegemony in a way that the blissful black-white mulatto in the picture doesn’t.

Mulatto pride can fit in neatly with the black-white paradigm. And mulattos can be racist. And race mixing can exist and has existed happily within a racist and racialized structure. I’m wary of sanctifying any group based on race, or romanticizing the so-called mulatto…

Read or purchase the interview here.

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PHOTOS: What It Means to Celebrate Afro-Latinidad in the Time of Black Lives Matter

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive on 2016-07-15 01:39Z by Steven

PHOTOS: What It Means to Celebrate Afro-Latinidad in the Time of Black Lives Matter

Remezcla
2016-07-12

Isabelia Herrera, Music Editor

Photography by: Itzel Alejandra Martinez, Photo Editor


Itzel Alejandra Martinez

When Remezcla headed to the fourth edition of New York City’s Afro-Latino Festival this weekend, surrounded by colorful dashikis and bold #BlackLivesMatter t-shirts, we were reminded that the political utility of the Afro-Latino label is more urgent than ever. Speaking with festival attendees, families, and musicians, it became clear that celebrating Afro-Latinidad in times of black trauma isn’t about diverting the focus of anti-racist movements, but about highlighting the diversity of black experiences. As the nation reels from the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and as police violence continues to rattle black and brown communities, Afro-Latinos are uniquely positioned to combat anti-blackness in Latino communities. To that end, we spoke to a group of festival attendees about their Afro-Latinidad in the context of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Here’s what they had to say…

Red the entire photo-essay here.

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My mixed-race sons look white, but that doesn’t mean racism stays away

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-07-10 20:05Z by Steven

My mixed-race sons look white, but that doesn’t mean racism stays away

She Knows
2016-07-09

Fahmida Rashid

My mixed-race sons can ‘pass’ for white, and that creates its own pile of issues

The first time was when Jake was in kindergarten. He was showing off the drawing of our family: father, mother, baby brother and himself. He’d even drawn the cat. I was perplexed that he’d colored three of the stick figures brown and one pink. I pointed to one, ignoring the names he’d written over each, and asked, “Who is that?”

“That’s me!” he said, with that mix of exasperation and long-suffering that only 6-year-olds can pull off and still be adorable.

“But why are you brown?” I pressed, ignoring his father’s “don’t go there” look.

Jake and his brother Sam are light-skinned. Not as pale as their father, who hails from the South and can his trace ancestry back to Colonial America, but still light enough that they get asked if they are Greek or Italian. Nothing close to my brown, the one who hails from the subcontinent, the land of spice and tropical sun. Yet he’d colored all three of us the same brown and couldn’t figure out why his mother was asking dumb questions…

Read the entire article here.

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Picking Sides: An Exploratory Documentary on Multiraciality

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-08 02:44Z by Steven

Picking Sides: An Exploratory Documentary on Multiraciality

Arizona State University
December 2015

Amanda Catherine Cavazos

Multiracial individuals are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States. In order to explore and gain insight into how mixed-race individuals understand and negotiate their identity, this project includes a documentary of compiled interviews with multiracial individuals. These interviews seek to address both positive and problematic notions associated with identifying as mixed race/multi-ethnic, including issues that these individuals encounter if, and when, the dominant culture rejects their blended racial heritage. The video format allows individuals to convey the complicated nature of belonging to different groups of people that are hierarchically divided in the United States.

For more information, click here.

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An Undocumented, Unofficial Indian

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-06-30 00:00Z by Steven

An Undocumented, Unofficial Indian

Indian Country Today Media Network
2014-09-06

Chris Bethmann

I remember a friend saying to me once, “Chris, you’re not a real Indian. And if you are, you’re the whitest Indian I know.”

At the time, I shrugged it off, thinking to myself that he just didn’t understand the complex world of Native American identity. Hell, I didn’t even understand it myself then, and I still don’t. It’s a topic that keeps coming up again and again throughout my life in conversations with random people, with friends, and with myself. I know that I’m not alone among Native people in feeling like I have one foot in each canoe—the “red” and the “white”—but at points in my life, the feeling has been undeniable.

Ever since I can remember I have been an Indian. I was raised in a normal American suburban community outside of Rochester, New York, a city that lies in the heart of Indian country even though most people who live there don’t know it. New York State is home to the Haudenosaunee, the great People of the Longhouse who played an essential role in 18th Century diplomacy and are even said to have inspired American democracy just as much as the Greeks, Romans, and the Enlightenment thinkers—at least, that’s what my grandparents told me…

… My grandmother and her siblings weren’t raised as Indians. They were raised as normal American children who were baptized, went to school, and grew up during the heyday of post-war America. They knew very little about being Mohawk, but were still on the receiving end of racial slurs every now and then. They were all “half-breed” children who were taught to never acknowledge the Indian half. My grandmother went on to marry into a German family and had six of her own children who were baptized, went to school, and grew up as typical American children. The boarding school had accomplished its goal for two generations…

Read the entire article here.

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Merle Dandridge on “Blasian” Identity and Oprah Winfrey Network’s new summer original series “Greenleaf”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-06-21 19:57Z by Steven

Merle Dandridge on “Blasian” Identity and Oprah Winfrey Network’s new summer original series “Greenleaf”

CAAM: Center of Asian American Media
2016-06-20

Mitzi Uehara Carter

Merle Dandridge started her career on Broadway with leading roles in Spamalot, Aida, Rent, Tarzan, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Not only does she have singing chops, she shines on screen. Dandridge has been cast in recurring roles on television shows including The Night Shift, CSI: Miami and Stalker.

Dandridge has also broken into a field that is gaining more serious attention from actors — video games. Female actors can often find well developed, complex characters in narrative-led gaming roles. This year, she won BAFTA’ best performer for her role in the popular post-apocalyptic Playstation game, “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.”

I spoke with Dandridge about her starring role in the upcoming original drama series, Greenleaf, on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which debuts June 21, 2016. This is her first lead role on a television series. Dandridge talked to me via phone from Los Angeles about this new summer drama that is chock-full of award-winning actors and writers. We also squealed about being Black and Asian and she hinted at a possible “Kimchi and Collards” project…

Ok, Merle. I’m Black and Asian and I have to tell you I did a little happy dance when I learned your mother is Asian and your dad is Black American right? And you were born in Okinawa where my mom is from. Seriously now. I’m so psyched you’re Black Asian. Can you tell me a little about growing up with this very particular mixed background?

Your kidding me? I don’t know others of that mix. How interesting! My mother is half Japanese and Korean. And I have older siblings who are mostly Korean, 1/4 Japanese, because of my mom’s first marriage to a Korean man. I was born in Okinawa but most of my time in Asia was in Seoul. My mother belongs to two cultures that didn’t really accept her 100 percent. So she had this understanding of rejection based on her own experiences. She would look at me and say, “You are of different ethnicities and you might not always be accepted so go into the world knowing that and know that you are more than that. You are beautiful.” And in many ways she instilled a sense of who I was and gave me ways to encounter fears of not being fully accepted. And in Nebraska as one of the only ones [mixed Asians], I think it was a good exercise in becoming a good person because I think I had to be above the confusion, the potential rejections…

Read the entire interview here.

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