I’m always seeking to accurately communicate a sense of otherness, duality and multiplicity when I try to explain my racial identity. It’s a kind of insider knowledge that members of the multiracial community understand by experience, even mere existence. A question I never get from another multiracial individual is “how much?” That’s because race and ethnicity should be defined qualitatively and not quantitatively. I am not 50% anything, my mom is not just “completely” Chinese, and my experience cannot be dismissed just because “we’re all mixed somehow.” In general, multiethnic does not mean monoracial except in situations where cultural, religious, and historical pressures work against it (think Chinese-Japanese). Sure, any randomly selected African American probably has some white man mixed into the ancestry just as a White American has some Native American woman back there somewhere. But, that is not my experience. That’s not the multiracial experience.
These are the first three people that come to mind in trying to explain the multiracial experience.
Maria PP Root, PhD psychologist and author of The Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People and The Multiracial Child Resource Book, available for purchase along with past issues of Mavin Foundation’s magazine.
Kip Fulbeck, Professor of Art at UCSB, writer, flimmaker and artist. His Hapa Project was recently part of the race exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History here in D.C. Bonus points, if you recognize John Lennon’s son in the photographs.
Maya Lilly, performer and activist. I viewed and discussed her MIXED performances with unit on performance art with my 10th grade speech class and a unit on identity with my (very multiracial) 7th grade writing class.
I discuss my own multiracial experience both in this performance art piece, No Cheese, as well as my undergraduate thesis on Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s performance of border identity.