Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reflections on the 2014 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference

Fred Sasaki performing "How to Hafu it All: Three Easy Steps to 100%" [image from CMRS Facebook]

by Sharon H Chang

Ah. Where do I begin. I'm sitting on a plane waiting to takeoff to Seattle (correction, taking off) thinking on my last 3 days in Chicago at the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference. I'm exhilarated, emotional, exhausted, enlightened. I got to present some of my research for the first time. After years of researching, MAJOR milestone. I got to be with and meet in the flesh so many folk doing great work whom I had mostly only known by name or via social media thumbnails till that point: Eliaichi Kimaro of A Lot Like You; Jeff Chiba Stearns of One Big Hapa Family, Yellow Sticky Notes, and the forthcoming Mixed Match; Megumi Nishikura of Hafu; Fanshen Cox of One Drop of Love and, with partner Chandra Crudup, Mixed Roots Stories; Ken Tanabe of Loving Day; Co-creators of War Baby / Love Child (as well as two of the conference's founders) Laura Kina and Wei Ming Dariotis; and Steven Riley of MixedRaceStudies.org.

with Jeff Chiba Stearns of Yellow Sticky Notes

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Heading to Chicago to Get Critical About Being Mixed!



image from criticalmixedracestudies.org

by Sharon H Chang

Today I'm heading inland from (strangely) sunny Seattle to the Windy-Much-Colder-City for the 3rd Biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference! I've never been and I'm excited. So excited. That's actually putting it kind of mildly. In three decades of life I haven't yet had the opportunity to be in a space filled with mixed-identifying folk and get gritty about what being multiracial means. And I don't mean like a multicultural festival where we revel in ethnic foods, get profound about international music, hold hands while singing All You Need Is Love, and wax poetic about globalization. I've done those. They can be fun. But they don't get at what it's like to move through a racially divided world that persists in being starkly unequal when you're a person who embodies crossed racial lines. Not even close. For instance, when half the planet's entire population lives in Brazil, the US, and primarily Asia, what is the perception of others and daily experience of being a mixed-race person of Asian/white descent? By contrast, when the poorest countries in the world are in Africa because the continent remains devastated by Western conquest and Blackness worldwide continues to suffer heavy negative perception, what is the experience of being a mixed-race person of Black/white descent? There is a trend today of lumping multiracials together as if our lived lives stood apart in some ethereal, united place. But we are not the same, though we may stand together on shared ground, nor do we transcend race by our mere "non-conforming" existence. People identifying as mixed, like all racialized peoples, need the chance to come together too to talk about who we are, how we are alike but different, what we're proud of, what pisses us off -- and what we're going to do about it. Can't wait.

In three decades of life I haven't yet had the opportunity to be in a space filled with mixed-identifying folk and get gritty about what being multiracial means.

Please take a quick look at my Storify slide show below or view it at here at storify.com. Over the last week I've been counting down to the conference on Twitter by tweeting about presenters, panelists, performers, etc. This is your chance to learn something about the many great multiracial people out there who are reflecting upon, researching deeply, and writing about the mixed experience. There are some fabulous photos, shows to catch, names to look up, links to click, films to watch, books to read  (*note: mouse-over photos/images to view captions). I assembled a list of Tweeps to follow at the end. During the conference this week, I'll be tweeting live as much as possible. You can follow me on Twitter @multiasianfams OR if you aren't on Twitter (and don't want to be), you can read my Twitter Feed live at this blog in the sidebar to the right. Come with me on my journey...it's going to be a great ride!



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why Mixed with White isn't White


(1942) Japanese American children pledge allegiance [image source]

by Sharon H Chang
for Hyphen Magazine ~ www.hyphenmagazine.com
July 22, 2014

When I wrote my first post for Hyphen, Talking Mixed-Race Identity with Young Children, I was deliberately blunt about race. I talked about how I don’t tell my multiracial son, who presents as a racial minority, that he’s white -- but I do tell him he’s Asian. While the essay resonated with many people, others made comments like this:


“Your child is as white as he is Asian…Why embrace one label and not the other?”
 

“Why is he Asian but not white? He has white ancestors as much as Asian ones. So if it's OK to call him Asian, it's OK to call him white. Or, if it's not OK to call him white (because he's not completely white) then it's not OK to call him Asian, because he's not completely Asian either.” 

“Your child is neither white nor Asian. I once heard this description: When you have a glass of milk and add chocolate to it, you no longer have just a glass of milk and you no longer just have chocolate because you have created something completely different. A bi-racial or multi-racial child is not either/or.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Hafu" an AMAZING Start But We Need to Go Deeper


[image from hafufilm.com]
About a week ago I had the chance to do something I've been wanting to do (and bugging the filmmakers about for a long time) -- finally go to a local screening of the documentary Hafu, meaning "half," which represents 5 stories of mixed heritage Japanese folks navigating their multi/identities in Japan today. The film was made by a production team of mostly mixed-race Japanese themselves many either having been raised, born and raised, or with very close ties to the country. The movie shares with us the lived lives of: Edward (Venezuelan/Japanese), The Oi Family particularly their son Alex (Mexican/Japanese), David (Ghanaian/Japanese), Fusae (Korean/Japanese), and Sophia (Australian/Japanese).

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Talking Mixed-Race Identity with Young Children



by Sharon H Chang
for Hyphen Magazine: Asian America Unabridged  ~ www.hyphenmagazine.com
 
“Mom, am I white?”

A few weeks ago, I got this question from my four-year-old. Technically he is “biracial”—but that label does him a severe representative injustice, because his bloodline is actually Japanese, Taiwanese, Slovakian, German, French Canadian, British, and Welsh. He also does not possess a parent of one race and a parent of another race as “biracial” is usually assumed—both my husband and I are mixed-race Asian/white too. To that end, I much prefer to describe us, and him, as multiracial.

I write about and research race, families, and children with an especial focus on multiraciality and the intersection of mixed-race ID/Asian. I don’t believe in avoiding race talk with my child, though I do discuss it in age-appropriate ways. I’ve tried to stand by my conviction that it’s better he learn how to think and talk about these issues within the family first, rather than have normative ideals force-fed down his throat by everyone else when he walks out the door.

That said, I wasn’t fully prepared when he turned to me and asked, “Mom, am I white?” When I told him no, he immediately followed up with, “Am I Black?” Then when told he wasn’t that either, he started crying and plaintively turned downtrodden eyes to me, “But I want a color too.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mixed or Not, Why Are We Still Taking Pictures of "Race"?


[image source]
By Sharon H Chang, as seen on Racism Review

Just days ago PolicyMic put up a piece entitled “National Geographic Concludes What Americans Will Look Like in 2050, and It’s Beautiful." In it writer Zak Cheney-Rice attempts to address the so-called rise of multiracial peoples which has captured/enchanted the public eye and with which the media has become deeply enamored. He spotlights a retrospective and admiring look at National Geographic’s “The Changing Face of America” project of last year featuring a series of multiracial portraits by well-known German photographer Martin Schoeller, and also peripherally cites some statistics/graphs that demonstrate the explosion of the mixed-race population. “In a matter of years,” Cheney-Rice writes, “We’ll have Tindered, OKCupid-ed and otherwise sexed ourselves into one giant amalgamated mega-race.” Despite admitting racial inequity persists, he still flirts with the idea of an “end” approaching (presumably to race and by association racism), and suggests while we’re waiting for things to get better, we might “…applaud these growing rates of intermixing for what they are: An encouraging symbol of a rapidly changing America. 2050 remains decades away, but if these images are any preview, it’s definitely a year worth waiting for.” We are then perhaps left with this rather unfortunate centerpiece of his statement, “Here’s how the ‘average American’ will look by the year 2050” referring to the woman pictured above.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why Isn't College for Learning About Mixed-Race Identities?


[image from engagefamilyminute.com]

By Sharon H Chang, as seen on Racism Review

There are some incredible opportunities out there right now to get certificates, higher ed and even advanced degrees specializing in the experience of Americans of color. Want a degree in Asian American Studies? Sure. How about African American, Native or American Indian, Latin American, Mexican American or Chicano studies? Absolutely. Google all of these and you’ll find brilliant choices to be credentialed in these heritage experiences at very fine colleges and universities.

But what if you ID as mixed-race multicultural across any of these racial lines? Is there a degree for that?