Let Voices Ring

Image from: http://www.portset.uk.co

So I talk a lot about my own opinions on what race is or why it’s relevant, and usually from the personal perspective of someone who lives in between worlds. Well, I’m going to keep that up in today’s entry, but the only thing I’ll tweak is whose perspective it is.


A little bit ago I interviewed some friends of mine who are also multiracial and had them answer some questions about how it factors into both the daily life and their lives as a whole. One of these friends is also a Dickinson student, but a couple years younger than me. The other is a good buddy from home and happens to the person who helped me to come up with #mixedkidproblems as  a twitter hashtag back in high school.

Both are guys whose outward appearance may not give away their ethnic recipes as much as others’ might.

White father and Black Mother, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA

What is your oldest memory of being aware of the racial divide in your family history?

 “I would have to say that my oldest memory(ies) of racial divide is the celebration of holidays, which normally only contain one side of either family.”

Do you identify with one ethnic/cultural background more than the other(s)?

“I identify even with both races, however there are instances where I choose/select a particular ethnicity in order to blend and empathize with others.”

What do strangers assume your race to be? 

“Most strangers would probably think I’m mixed. But I hardly ever get a correct answer of black and white. It’s always some other mixes.”

Have you ever felt prejudiced against?


“There are times that I have felt prejudiced against, but my reasoning/understanding doesn’t necessarily point towards race.”
I also mixed it up a bit (get it?) and threw in some miscellaneous questions as well…
What’s your favorite cuisine?
“Favorite cuisine is either Asian, Southern, or Mediterranean.”
Biggest fear in college?
“Biggest fear is graduating without a job.”
If someone was going to buy you a store gift card, which store would you prefer?
 “Store gift card to some food place that I can’t normally afford.”
Father is also mixed: half Chinese, half white, and mother is white. Born in Seattle, grew up in Maryland.

What is your oldest memory of being aware of the racial divide in your family history?

“Probably in elementary school when I had back to back family trips to Louisiana and Chicago.”

Do you identify with one ethnic/cultural background more than the other(s)?

“Definitely identify more as Asian than white.”

What do strangers assume your race to be?

“People think I’m Hawaiian or Mexican.”

Have you ever felt prejudiced against?

What’s your favorite cuisine?
“Mexican food.”
Biggest fear in college?
“Becoming a slave to the Establishment.”
If someone was going to buy you a store gift card, which store would you prefer?
 “Total Hockey.”

I mention ‘white’ a couple of times in my descriptions. This is not because I believe there is a single ‘white race’, however in the United States ‘white’ has become its own classification, and in the case of racial stereotypes and stigmas [besides maybe some fresh off the boat Europeans and Australians], the white population shares an overlapping identity.
These interviews also helped me to hear new opinions and experiences that differ or align with my own, thereby educating myself while I do my bit to create conversation with my peers.

Don’t die tonight

Though he makes some larger-than-life statements, I think young, passionate voices like that of Vince Staples bring an edgy and necessary slice of commentary to the discussion of prejudiced institutions at home.

His words don’t cover all the details, so don’t watch this thinking they do. (aka how you should watch the news)

Instead, take this song as one [loud] voice of many with something to say.


Racism: A term that’s proper definition has been up for debate between scholars of sociology, politics, history, and a number of other research disciplines since its traditional definition was thrown out in the kindling of heat of the pre-civil rights era. Acclaimed sociologist and expert on race, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism Without Racists (a book I read freshman year that really opened my eyes to the functions of post-Civil Rights era racism), borrows Ruth Benedict’s definitions of racism from her own book Race and Racism.

“the dogma that one ethnic group is condemned by nature to congenital inferiority and another group is destined to congenital superiority”

So racism occurs when a group with power abuses those without, based on the former’s belief that the latter is naturally substandard; the abuse is lashed out by way of utilizing existing disparities between the empowered and everyone else.

So I want to speak my mind on what I think causes racism. I myself am not well-versed in the many theories of where racism’s roots are buried. I have heard answers ranging from “divine right” to “a mental illness”. What I believe and, to be honest, end up preaching [through discussion], is that racism is the product of miseducation and natural human bias, with a dash of social pressure. Most of the people that I’ve talked with who hold their ground on racial prejudice and preference are people who are stubborn to begin with. They often are just as stubborn on other issues like politics, class, gender, and so forth. People aren’t naturally racist any more than one race is superior to another. Though, historically, many have disagreed with this kind of thinking.

In my own experience, education has given me the opportunity and tools necessary to understand different cultures and people. That doesn’t mean that I know ALL about people in other places. Hell, most of us don’t know shit about ourselves or the people around us. I think that education’s main role is to help people understand that learning about something will make is less unfamiliar, and therefore less threatening or frightening.

Be brave and educate yourself. If you fear what you don’t know, get to know it. We’re all tiny sub-categories of the same essential core shared by all people; that core is humanity, being a part of the human experience.