Mixed race, mixed emotions

Mixed race, mixed emotions

The Arizona Republic

Janie Magruder

Multiracial children face challenges of identity, community

Aaron Foster was 3 years old the first time the question came.

“What are you?” asked the barber, out of earshot of his mother.

“I’m a boy,” Aaron replied, bewildered.

“No, what are you? Black? Chinese?”

“I do gymnastics.”

That exchange, in 1997, made Christina Cooper-Foster, the preschooler’s Taiwanian-born mom, realize that issues of race haven’t changed much. Cooper-Foster was raised by White adoptive parents in rural Florida in the 1970s, and the same hurtful queries and curious stares she got were now plaguing her son, who is mixed race…

…They also are more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, sleep problems and various illnesses, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Their 2003 study of 90,000 U.S. adolescents found students who called themselves biracial were more likely to have sex at younger ages, access to guns and poorer experiences at school.

“It did not matter what races the students identified with,” said J. Richard Udry, a professor of maternal and child health and lead researcher. “The risks were higher for all of them if they did not identify with a single race.”

Udry concluded that multiracial children live with stress that their single-race peers do not…

…Who are they?

They’re people like Nathalie Conte, a past president of SIMBA—Students Identifying Multiracial and Biracial at Arizona State University—who helped host a mixed-race event last month on campus. Tempe was among 15 cities on the Generation MIX tour, aimed at focusing attention on the challenges of multiracial people. It ended Tuesday in Seattle.

Conte, a 22-year-old ASU senior, has a Black mother and a Caucasian father.

“The biggest issue is we have to choose our race on application forms, and it’s kind of frustrating when you have to pick ‘other,’ because you don’t think of yourself as ‘other,’ ” she said…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,