|When Raising Mixed Race came last week (after I screamed & did a dance first)|
by Sharon H Chang
I am so thrilled to announce that, at long last, MY BOOK Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children In a Post-Racial World has been released on Routledge!!! This moment is so deeply meaningful to me beyond anything words can express. Raising Mixed Race represents not only years of work on my end but a multitude of others' lived racial realities; stories about and involving mixedness that are poignant, sharp, relevant and vital, and yet - remain mostly untold in America and around the world. To my immense and humble gratitude, advance reviewers have embraced this book with tremendous love; reviewed it glowingly in and out of the US. The Facebook Release Party for the book was incredibly well-attended on Friday, Dec 11, and pre-orders SOLD OUT on Amazon over the weekend! It is my sincere belief if we engage with Raising Mixed Race it can (will) challenge our thinking on mixedness to go deeper and contribute to moving society as a whole towards justice, healing and true transformation. I hope you too will read Raising Mixed Race, and join our journey.
In the mean time, you can of course find a brief Raising Mixed Race book description at any online retailer. But I know that doesn't tell much. So. I put together a little extra something to give you a closer peak. Following are summaries for the book's chapters plus short videos of ME telling you all about them (from the Facebook Release Party)! Take a look, and Happy Reading...
Building a Home for Understanding, Realization, and Change
In the introduction I share some of my own multiracial experiences and point out why examinations of racial identity are extremely important. Racial identity is about self-perception but also about how one participates in or resists a racist society. It is essential to add seats for such thinking to the table of society’s larger race conversation. But while there should be room for everyone, many are left out. The current under-five age set is predominantly children of color, Asian and multiracial overall are the fastest growing groups, and for around a decade Asians out-married at a higher rate than any other race. Multiracial Asian is a growing presence in this nation and yet there is very little literature specifically addressing the needs of mixed race Asian children. Most race research tends to be monoracial and age-constrained focusing on teens, young adults, and adults. This is worrisome given multiracial is such a fast growing self-identified youth group. Raising Mixed Race then importantly fills a gap. It is drawn from interviews with 68 parents of 75 young multiracial Asian children on parenting around race and what it means to be mixed.
Chapter 1 Foundation
The History of Race, Then and Now
This chapter defines key terms used to understand multiracial Asians through the lens of Joe R. Feagin’s white racial frame: wherein race is not biological but a white-constructed worldview and psychosocial belief system used to rationalize systemic racism. The origins of “race” and congealed racial thinking are traced back to elite white male intellectuals in the 17th to late 18th century. Particularly Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s human hierarchical taxonomy which is still employed today by the U.S. Census. Given this foundation it is established all racial language is loaded language which is rife with white supremacist societal coding and cannot be understood ahistorically. Common words and language practices heard today in reference to multiracial Asians are then critically discussed and clarified. Especially the racist medical term “Mongolian spots,” white-originated word “Asian”, colonialist appropriation of Native Hawaiian identity hapa, as well as the disturbing trends of interchanging of race, ethnicity and culture, and referring to mixed race people in fractions.
Chapter 2 Framing
Multiracial Asian On a White Foundation
This chapter looks at the under-acknowledged but very real ways Asians and mixed race Asians experience systemic racism. Expressly how they are racially perceived and stereotyped by whites and how pervasive discrimination against them is rationalized through the white racial frame. Asians are chiefly seen by whites as forever foreigners and/or model minorities while multiracial Asians are generally seen as either the same, sometimes Asian, still not white and/or conquest babies and cosmopolitans. Each white racially framed perspective has been purposefully leveraged throughout history (and to this day) to justify a wide range of anti-Asian anti-multiracial Asian oppressions from minimization, silencing, erasure, to aggression, violence and exclusion. Taking into consideration these formidable racist barriers, this chapter concludes by defining a positive multiracial Asian identity then as the ability to confidently navigate the race construct and self-identify within it in a resistant, transformative way.
Chapter 3 Framing
Multiracial Asian On a White Foundation
This chapter reviews key research on early race learning and racial experiences of young mono- and multiracial children contrasted against widespread disbelief expressed by parents in interviews. Studies to date show infants as young as 6 months old (and likely earlier) are able to sort people by racial difference. By 2 years of age children can be seen using race to reason about people’s behaviors. By 3 years of age societal pre-prejudice has been planted and by 4-5 years of age children demonstrate very advanced racial understanding using race to include or exclude and value or devalue. Children of all backgrounds learn these racial lessons from the world around them: from what they see, hear, and experience themselves. At least half of the 75 children represented in book interviewing had experienced racism today. Yet parents were wont to deny or dismiss this reality with the conviction children were “too young” to understand. The chapter concludes with the importance of adults acknowledging that young children are in fact developing preformative racial identities very early and that said identities are deeply foundational to their understandings of race later in life.
Chapter 4 Insulation
Barriers for Multiracial Asian Children
This chapter examines the specific barriers young multiracial Asian children face as they grow up in a systemically racist society. Parent interviews revealed that at least 68 percent of the children had already shown race recognition and at least half had already been targets of racism. But in addition to encountering discrimination typically assigned to so-called mono races, mixed race Asian youth were also facing racism and racial barriers very particular to their mixedness. Several large themes emerged. Compounded societal invisibility: where children do not see themselves reflected in the world around them not only because they are Asian but also because they are mixed race and children. Racial isolation: where, as a still very small racial minority in the U.S. (Hawai’i excepted), multiracial Asian children are not likely to have nurturing contact with others like them. And lastly a deep degree of parent indoctrination into mainstream ideology: where multiracial Asian children’s parents often hold underdeveloped racial awareness and are ill-equipped to deal with race, much less mixed race, in their parenting. All these barriers combined leave mixed race Asian children, like all children of color, at risk for internalized oppression and racism.
Chapter 5 Walls
Proximity to Whiteness
While multiracial Asian children live embedded within the same white racial framework and systemically racist society, it is important to remember their mixed heritages are not all the same therefore they do not necessarily share the same experiences of oppression and discrimination. Mixed race is implicitly but dissimilarly shaped by the system of race in which it is embedded. Given that the majority of self-identifying multiracial Asians in America are currently of white descent, this chapter addresses in detail what it means to be “mixed with white” and in close proximity to white parents and family. Though having white heritage can afford measurable racial advantages such as being light-skinned or having access to wealth and education, contrary to popular belief “mixed with white” is still not synonymous with being white. In fact what it means to be mixed with white is profoundly personal, confusing and even painful to those multiracials who are. Interviews revealed mixed race Asian/white children were not only being read and treated as people of color outside the home but simultaneously dealing with surprisingly high levels of white family racism within the home often targeting their parent of color or the children themselves.
Chapter 6 Textures
In a nation built on the backs of Black slaves and four centuries of ongoing violent anti-Black racism, this chapter points out the necessity of centering Blackness in any mixed race conversation. Public perception would suggest mixed race is a fairly new phenomenon. But such beliefs operate dangerously out of an ahistorical pro-white framework in ignoring that multiracial Blacks have existed in America since slavery yet a mixed identity for them has historically been disallowed to uphold white supremacy. This legacy remains an undeniable influence upon multiracial Asians of Black descent today. In a white dominated system that has always oppressed those who are “fractionally Black,” being of Asian descent too does not offer protection against whites’ deeply entrenched anti-Black racism. Consequently mixed race identities are differently privileged. Mixed race Asian/white children receive far more white favor (and thus societal favor) than Black/Asian children. Then prejudice against Black/Asians is further amplified by being caught in the crosshairs of white-engineered tension between groups of color wherein Blacks resent Asians being wielded by whites as “model minorities” at the same time anti-Blackness is frequently leveraged by Asians to maintain their greater socioeconomic access.
Chapter 7 Mirrors & Exteriors
The Face of the Future
This chapter deconstructs the pervasive modern myth that mixed race people will end racism just by existing. Parents themselves often believed their multiracial Asian children would have the innate ability to bridge races or end racial strife. These children also received comments that they would be smarter and more beautiful for their race. Such mixed-post-race views are becoming alarmingly systemic across society and are incredibly treacherous. Why? Because belief in racialized hybrid vigor pushes race as biological fact while implying some people are higher or lower than others because of it. Color lines and injustice are not disappearing. Mixed people are being used as a lever to achieve racially blind political ends; cited as “proof” of the success of “multiculturalism” over racism while ignoring the persistence of white supremacy. This is a belief pattern emerging not only in the U.S. but all over the world. Meanwhile concurrent research shows younger generations are still demonstrating strong discriminatory behaviors. White racism persists despite the burgeoning visible presence of all people of mixed heritage and insisting naively on the imminent arrival of a post-racial world symbolized by multiracial peoples derails from enormous strides that still need to be made in dismantling systemic racism.
Chapter 8 Final Inspection
Point of Intervention
In the final chapter of this book readers are asked to look at the whole picture of multiracial Asian children’s lives and start thinking about what can be done. Acknowledging that everyone has a different entry point into making change, chapter eight is parceled into three arenas of intervention and action: micro, meso, macro. At the micro level readers are asked to focus on themselves; to elevate their concern, grow their awareness, and be intentional in their everyday interactions. At the meso level readers are asked to focus on their communities; whether mixed race Asian children are moving through spaces that are affirming, or oppressive, and to make shifts accordingly. At the macro level readers are asked to focus on nation and world; to critique large institutions that perpetuate child racial inequity such as producers of children’s products, schools and schooling, healthcare and medical science, and government and organizational bodies. In the final analysis Raising Mixed Race concludes that while there is a stark, painful truth to the reality of race and racism in multiracial Asian children’s lives, readers should not feel hopeless at all but now informed and empowered to move towards transformative change.