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Mixed: Multiracial College Students Tell Their Life Stories

Andrew Garrod
Robert Kilkenny
Christina Gómez
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Mixedpresents engaging and incisive first-person experiences of what it is like to be multiracial in what is supposedly a postracial world. Bringing together twelve essays by college students who identify themselves as multiracial, this book considers what this identity means in a reality that occasionally resembles the post-racial dream of some and at other times recalls a familiar world of racial and ethnic prejudice.

    Exploring a wide range of concerns and anxieties, aspirations and ambitions, these young writers, who all attended Dartmouth College, come from a variety of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Unlike individuals who define themselves as having one racial identity, these students have lived the complexity of their identity from a very young age. InMixed, a book that will benefit educators, students, and their families, they eloquently and often passionately reveal how they experience their multiracial identity, how their parents' race or ethnicity shaped their childhoods, and how perceptions of their race have affected their relationships.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6916-9
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xx)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Esperanza Spalding, a young jazz musician, won the 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist, eclipsing the wildly popular teenage idol Justin Bieber. Information about Spalding exploded on the Internet. Who was this little-known artist? Where did she come from? Discussion of her music and her mixed-race heritage quickly filled the blogs. During an interview Spalding described her family background as reflecting “the racial balance of the future.” Her father is African American; her mother is Welsh, Native American, Hispanic, and African American. Like Esperanza Spalding, a growing number of Americans describe themselves as being mixed-race, multiracial, of mixed heritage, or...

  5. PART I. WHO AM I?

    • 1 Good Hair
      (pp. 19-29)
      Ana Sofia De Brito

      The issue of race has always been a problem in my Cape Verdean family—and in my life. We constantly argue whether we’re white or black. My dad says he stayed with my mom tomelhorar a raça,or better his race, by lightening the color of his children, and I’d better not mess up his plan by bringing a black boy home. In my home country, being lighter is equated with having money, which is a process calledbranqueamento,where money makes you whiter and marrying lighter helps your race. Needless to say, he is proud of his light...

    • 2 “So, What Are You?”
      (pp. 30-42)
      Chris Collado

      “Are you black?” “I thought you were Mexican because you speak Spanish, right?” “So, what are you?” These are the types of questions I have answered my entire life. I used to get annoyed when people would ask me “What are you?” in a tone similar to one you might use to ask about a homemade Halloween costume. I have been mistaken for being black, Mexican, Italian, and, on one occasion, Greek. I even had an older woman once ask me, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Pete Sampras?” I don’t think I look anything like Pete...

    • 3 In My World 1 + 1 = 3
      (pp. 43-52)
      Yuki Kondo-Shah

      A Bangladeshi engineer and a Japanese interpreter marry and move to a Republican congressional district in the middle of the Arizona desert . . . Sounds like the opening line of a joke, right? Well, if this were a joke, then I’d be the punch line.

      Whenever my parents and I walk together, be it on the busy sidewalks of London, in a chaotic market in Beijing, or along narrow pathways in Tokyo, the reaction from passing pedestrians is always the same. First, they scan my father, a lean man with dark skin, a mop of curly hair, and features...

    • 4 A Sort of Hybrid
      (pp. 53-66)
      Allison Bates

      I have always felt like an outsider. I have never once felt like I belonged to something or someone. Thinking of this has brought tears to my eyes many times. At every stage in my life so far, I have had to deal with my race and what it means to be both black and white. I have faced one test after another, and each time I have looked to my siblings and within myself to get through.

      We never talked about race in my family. When I look back now, that seems strange, because race played such a powerful...


    • 5 Seeking to Be Whole
      (pp. 69-85)
      Shannon Joyce Prince

      A particular memory from my teenage years stands out as one experience that shaped how I thought about race, racism, and responsibility. Ironically, it’s a memory of the extremes a white woman took to make my family feel welcome in a predominantly white space. We were at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, a centuries-old resort staffed by many black employees, where my family and our friends are usually the only nonwhite patrons. A docent was explaining some of the resort’s history to us, and she pointed to a lithograph of the resort from back in the 1700s....

    • 6 The Development of a Happa
      (pp. 86-93)
      Thomas Lane

      I was born to a Japanese mother and a white father. Although my parents had taken me to Japan many times, I never felt any connection with my Japanese heritage until I went to college. After studying the Japanese language and culture during my first year at Dartmouth, I spent a summer in Japan. On that trip I fell in love with the Japanese people. Now it seems that my life can be broken into two parts, before and after college. Before college I knew I was ethnically Asian, but I refused to accept the Asian culture. Since coming to...

    • 7 A Little Plot of No-Man’s-Land
      (pp. 94-108)
      Ki Mae Ponniah Heussner

      The first few minutes of the bus ride were uneventful, even pleasant. I had taken a seat on the bus across the aisle from a particularly talkative classmate of mine, and found her unending stream of conversation comfortably distracting. So while Whitney and I exchanged our first-grade pleasantries, the bus made its way to school, quietly bumping up and down the length of Bedford Road. It was not until the bus rounded the corner and stopped in front of Sterling Drive to pick up two older boys that our chattering came to a standstill. Like every younger child on that...

    • 8 Finding Blackness
      (pp. 109-122)
      Samiir Bolsten

      “When black people marry outside of the race, it waters us down, it is destroying our race,” my friend’s mother claimed while stopped at a red light. Her head slightly turned so that my girlfriend and I could hear her in the backseat. My friend’s mother, a black woman in her late thirties, was driving my black girlfriend and me home. Accelerating again as the light turned green, she continued, “That’s why it feels so good to see a young black couple. We start marrying their men and they start taking ours. It’s ruining our race.” At this point I...


    • 9 Chow Mein Kampf
      (pp. 125-138)
      Taica Hsu

      While attending my predominantly white elementary school, I did my best to fit in by acting white—speaking English without an accent, having white friends, and wearing “normal” clothing. Even though I looked different from most of my classmates, I never felt different, at least in terms of race. I always had friends, and my academic ability was never attributed to my race.

      My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Dali, gave us a quiz every week to test our knowledge of the times tables. Wayne, a white classmate, and I consistently finished first and second, making no errors. For some reason I...

    • 10 A Work in Progress
      (pp. 139-146)
      Anise Vance

      The small fictions I play with are often more plausible than my true history. When I am asked “Where are you from?” the conversation that ensues can last hours. I am poked and prodded as if I were a physical specimen of twentieth-century globalization. Sometimes it is just easier to say that I am from Santa Fe.

      My father is African American, born and bred in Hartford, Connecticut. He has the thick American accent of a Yankee broadcaster and speaks carefully, precisely, and authoritatively. He dons suits and ties now, but a college photo shows him sporting an Afro, a...

    • 11 We Aren’t That Different
      (pp. 147-157)
      Dean O’Brien

      Ni e le ma?” I ask my grandma. “Are you hungry?” She doesn’t respond. She can’t hear that well anymore. I ask again. She looks up from her knitting and shakes her head no. She isn’t hungry. My mom stepped out to get some groceries and has left me to keep an eye on my grandma. Her health hasn’t been the best of late, but she’s in all-right shape for her age.

      She goes back to her knitting, and after a few minutes she asks me, without looking up, “Ni juede Beijing hao haishi Shanghai hao?” I’ve just gotten back...

    • 12 Finding Zion
      (pp. 158-174)
      Lola Shannon

      I have never lived in a household with both my parents. The most obvious part of their relationship was that they were apart . . . far apart. My mother raised me by herself. Even when given the chance to care for me during visits, my father never struck me as a parent. To my mind, his presence during my childhood was blurred into a general sense of mystique about his position in our lives. There was a large contrast between everyday life with my mother and the times I spent with my father, when elegant meals out and shopping...

  8. About the Editors
    (pp. 175-176)