Monday, October 28, 2013

Mixed Heritage and Knowing We Still Have Work To Do



"When I think of heritage, I don't think of race"

"I'm just Japanese"

"I'm just mixed"

"I consider myself mixed within the context of Mexico"

"I just feel whole because I'm human"

"I'm confused. What box do YOU want to put me in?"

*  *  *
 by Sharon H Chang

My head is swimming as I sit here wondering how to begin. On Saturday night I had the distinct honor of sitting as a panelist for Mixed Heritage at Seattle's Union Cultural Center along with youth speaker Saiyana Suzumura and Jabali Stewart, Director of Intercultural Affairs at The Bush School. The event is part of an annual series Dialogues of Resistance & Healing funded by a recently awarded 4 Culture grant. The dialogues are a forum for folks to come together around issues, conversations and art forms that are important to the community but often underrepresented. That formally and technically said, these are no ordinary dialogues. You won't find yourself sitting in a conference room with stock commercial carpeting and fluorescent lights; over-warmed, under-cooled by artificial air and a central system; eating bagels and cream cheese, muffins or veggies off a Costco party platter.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Are We Really So Different?


(Source: Exhibit at Museum of Man - discovers.com)
by Sharon H Chang
for Racism Review ~ www.racismreview.com 

Did you know there’s a national exhibit that’s been traveling the US since 2007 entitled RACE: Are We So Different by the American Anthropological Association (AAA)? When I heard about it my thinking went something like this, “Oh good. A credible entity getting behind race discourse. Oh no. Why are they asking if race really makes us that different?” As a multiracial woman often scrutinized for being “ethnically ambiguous” my experience of race is of something absolutely differentiating at the same time I find myself constantly butting up against people who deny its salience. So I felt invalidated then worried that an exhibit choosing to lead with the question, “Are we so different?” might prove unhelpful. Studies have found that when misinformed people were exposed to corrected facts they (a) rarely changed their minds, (b) often became even more strongly set in their beliefs, and (c) did so without recognizing how their own desires influenced them. We live in an era when undoing racism means battling avoidance, denial and the inability to understand another point of view. If people see what they want to see, might a national science exhibit questioning the salience of race run the risk of reinforcing rather than challenging the colorblind ideologies that plague us today? Here’s what I mean…

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Did You Want the Boy Scooter, or the Girl One?


My son on his big kid bike. Recent hand-me-down from an adored 6 yo (girl)friend.

©  Sharon Chang, Oct 6, 2013

Yes, I encourage my son to explore the color pink. No, it's not his favorite color. No, it doesn't make  him gay (though if he is gay I won't love him any less). And no, I'm not pushing my agenda on him. My son loves this pink bike because a beloved friend gave it to him. He prefers his pink helmet because it fits best. I never force, but I do always ask. I ask my son to consider things that fall outside his ascribed gender role (e.g. pink, skirts, dresses, dancing, talking about feelings, dolls, dollhouses, cooking, nurturing, etc.). And I would do the same for a daughter (e.g. blue, pants, sports, legos, cars/planes/trains, being smart/strong, working, wage-earning, having a career, etc.). Why? Because in our family we don't believe anyone should be caged in or should cage others based on physiology.