This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a Zoom meeting sponsored by The Mixed Space. Over 40 people logged on a Saturday afternoon to not only hear a presentation from the author Farzana Nayani, but also have their voices heard as a group and individuals. Because we all share the same story with our own individual perspectives.
It was inspiring to see so many people come together to share something so personal and vulnerable as being mixed in a mono-racial world. And while we still have a long way to go, I think it’s important that we celebrate how far we’ve come.
The Way It Was
While it’s still the case, in the 80s being mixed was truly an anomaly. I was raised in Oak Park, a small suburb in Illinois. On my street there was only one other family of color and I was one of two families in the entire neighborhood that were mixed. Going to school was not much different and it seemed my very existence was a threat to the status quo.
I clamored for anything that could possibly represent who I was and always seemed to come up short. With the exception of He-Man, who I was convinced had to be mixed because he had brown skin and blonde hair. And when out in public, it was a common event to have our family be met this stares of disapproval or bewilderment. And to run across someone who shared this same experience was almost a once in a lifetime event.
Declaring yourself to be mixed was often met with a universal kind of disdain. Refusing to choose one side branded you as a betrayer. You had abandoned the causes and struggles of those who had come before you, and were suffering now. So you were stuck never quite feeling like you could truly be yourself.
I had left to live with my mother in Denmark, and when we returned after 5 years I almost didn’t recognize the streets of my old neighborhood. What was once a mostly white, affluent suburb now had almost as many people of color. I noticed mixed couples walking around, kissing and hugging seemingly without fear of judgement.
And I thought to myself:
What had happened in my absence?
Where was the America I once knew?
The truth is that it was essentially the same. The perception of living mixed was still an anomaly. But now, more people had decided to accept the judgement in order to live free.
A New Beginning
Being multiracial in 2020, we have much of the same problems as before. But the resources to tackle those problems has never been more bountiful. I began this website after finding groups on Reddit looking to share and connect.
Only 10 years ago, this would have been nearly impossible. Through technology, we’re able to reach out and find someone else to share our pain with nearly instantaneously. We recently had a president who’s backstory of having a white mother from Kentucky and a father from Kenya became recognized as part of the narrative of America. And we also have a TV show on network television that pushes the mixed experience to the forefront, even though it might be a bit corny.
But this just means that the work is just beginning. We’ve been given the tools to make our experience part of the greater collective. We need to use them create even more media, books, tools and education to empower this generation and the next.
I believe the progress we’ve made as created an unstoppable momentum. And this website will be one of those places leading the charge.