Sample Author Q&A
1. Tell us about yourself and your book, Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World?
I am a writer/scholar/activist who focuses primarily on racism, social justice, and the Asian American diaspora with a feminist lens. I wear a lot of writer hats from author to blogger to editorialist to journalist. My pieces have been featured in BuzzFeed, Think Progress, Hyphen Magazine, AAPI Voices, The Seattle Globalist, International Examiner and ParentMap Magazine, to name a few. I hold an M.A. in Human Development with an Early Childhood Specialization. Before I was a writer I was an early childhood and parent educator for over a decade. My debut book Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World will be out this December through Routledge. Through interviews with 68 parents of young multiracial Asian children combined with extensive research, it looks at the complex task of raising our youngest around being mixed race and Asian at a time when so many narratives try to tell us race “isn’t a problem” anymore.
2. What inspired you to write about parenting?
My husband and I both grew up around very few other multiracial people. It's a lonely way to be and we were both starved for company, unity, solidarity. When we first met our relationship was filled with deep discussions and awesome revelations about what being a mixed person is. And for a long time that was enough. But then our mixed race son was born in 2009 and I realized after a whole life living as mixed race, I still had only questions and no answers for this beautiful person who had just transformed my life. So I set out to find things that could help us: parenting books (or any adult book), kids books, toys, shows, movies. And I found barely anything. It was beyond frustrating which is what lead me to pick up my recorder, paper and pen, head out into the field, and interview parents of young multiracial children myself around questions of race, parenting, and identity.
3. How does the book relate to your experiences growing up?
This book relates to my experiences growing up in every way. I have always known on some level, and later understood to a pretty conscious degree, that I was a mixed race and Asian person. The knowledge of being those things and “different” was pushed on me all the time by others through measuring, authenticity tests, comments, stares, innocent to rude questions, acceptance or rejection, etc. The words I’ve had to describe my experiences of difference throughout life have changed and not always been the same. But being multiracial has been (and I expect will always be as long as race exists) one of the defining themes of my existence beginning in childhood.
4. Knowing what you know now, after conducting the research, what would you do differently?
As a parent? Not much! I began researching and writing this book when my son was an infant because I felt ill-prepared. Thankfully the journey to book publication has been an ever-ally and educator in parenting my child from practically Day 1. But as a person, and as I continue to write and learn, I do experience sadness that my political consciousness wasn’t raised sooner. Despite feeling highly racialized as a mixed race person my entire life, I had little-to-no understanding of race, racism, and systems of power until only recently. Schooling and everyday lived life offer so few opportunities to learn about such things. I wish I had had more opportunities as a young person to critically think about my relationship to the larger society I live in.
5. If you could sum of your book in one tip, what would it be?
This book is about the reality of race for multiracial Asian children and what we -- as critical adults and caregivers in their lives – can do to support them in becoming empowered, confident beings despite our highly racialized world.
6. For someone who does not have mixed race children, could you explain the unique concerns of parents raising mixed race children?
I find non-multiracial identifying folk romanticize, dismiss, feel confused/irritated by, or greatly underestimate the mixed race experience. When they do this, they cannot see the unique concerns of parenting a mixed race child. For example, there are various harmful myths floating around about mixed race peoples “being the most beautiful”, “bridges to harmony,” “having the best of both worlds.” None of these fantasies address the truth of racism multiracial people face while at the same time they also frame mixed folk into a kind of harmful model minority. Two, when the hybrid-hero fairytale doesn’t kick in, there is confusion or irritation that multiracial children “don’t fit” which results in either demands for conformity or total erasure. As we can see the expectations for mixed race peoples run the gamut but very seldom validate, center, or empower who they are as people in the same society as everyone else. Parents of said children know this dichotomous reality on a regular basis but are often unsure how to address it and don’t see validation of their family experiences in communities where they live.
7. What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m currently working on my second book, co-authored with sociologist Joe R. Feagin, which will examine the reality of Asian/American women facing sexism and gendered racism.