All eyes are on Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week as the nation remembers the tragic events of May 31 to June 1, 1921, when a White mob killed some 300 Black residents and looted the community known as “Black Wall Street” before burning it to the ground.
The official agenda put forth by the city’s Centennial Commission offered a slew of redeeming events, including a candlelight vigil, an economic empowerment day featuring actor and author Hill Harper, and a day of learning with scholar Cornel West.
But all is not as it seems on this centennial anniversary. In the midst of…
I once received an email from a reader and aspiring author. “How did you get funding to support your book?” she asked. “How did you pay for travel and other resources?” Her question got me thinking.
Over the years I’ve received contracts for advances as high as $150,000 (in the more flush 1990s) and as low as $3,000. It’s a maddening process, and one that can be disheartening for even the most thick-skinned authors. We tend to think of nonfiction book proposal writing as a fixed, singular process. Optimistic authors find agents, who send our proposals to publishers. Then we…
What does it mean to be a mother? What does it mean to be a Black mother? Those two questions continue to yield entirely different answers in America today. As the biracial mother of a 4-year-old girl with both Asian American and African American roots, and a father from Spain to boot, I am constantly aware of the way her identity is being shaped by the sights and smells and sounds that she takes in every day — on television, at the playground, and in her preschool classroom.
“Her hair is curly like mine,” she’ll say when we see another…
“As a person of color…” Phoebe Vlahoplus, 20, a history major at Wesleyan University pauses.
“Or… half a person of color.”
“It depends,” she says carefully when I ask if she’s uncomfortable using the phrase. She is East Indian and Greek, but her parents were born in the United States. “I can’t speak for immigrants.” She weighs the considerations, then adds, “But my skin color is Brown.”
Meiko Flynn-Do is Japanese, Vietnamese, and White but before attending Stanford University, where mixed-race students made up 11% of undergraduates in 2012, she never saw herself as a “person of color. That wasn’t…
“Raise your hand if you would see me on the street and think I’m Black?”
Several hands went up in an auditorium full of college students.
“Okay. What about biracial?”
“Hmm… And what if I wore my hair in an Afro?”
Still more hands flew into the air.
What are you?
Multiracial people field that question daily.
Not long ago — before, during, and just after the civil rights era — there was often an unspoken understanding that those of us who are biracial should answer to only one race. One reality. One allegiance. …
Sonia Smith-Kang wears a lot of hats. She calls herself a multicultural activist but an equally accurate description might be something like “master connector.” Across genres and platforms, live and online, she’s a collaborative entrepreneur who seems to be constantly strategizing new ways to expand and strengthen her support network for multiracial people and families.
Currently, she’s president of the Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC), one of the oldest and largest organizations of its kind, with 17,000 members. The group boasts a social media following of about 50,000 according to Kang, with activities ranging from educational and legislative campaigns…
“Black. Ivory. Shadow.”
I repeat the words to make sure I heard them right.
“Black. Ivory… Shadow?”
“Yeah.” Jasmin Baker, 25, is cracking up.
“When I was younger I made it my thing.” She lowers her voice, making it seductive. “Like… yeah. I’m black ivory shadow.”
“Right.” Now her boyfriend, Grant Wyena, 28, is laughing too. “Real dark and mysterious.”
We’re at the Evergreen Café in downtown Tacoma, Washington early one July morning where they’ve agreed to talk to me about multiracial identity in Tacoma. …
This conversation has been lightly edited for space and clarity.
T. Kira Madden: My parents were just: “This is the way it is. We don’t see color.” They were kind of oblivious about that. I was raised in a predominantly White, privileged community. There were no other people who looked like me. My best friend was Black and she was the only Black girl in school. I was the only Asian girl. We would often sort of practice racial slurs with each other as preparation for when other people said those things to us.
We didn’t have any understanding of…
In the third episode of the new sitcom Mixed-ish, which debuts September 24 on ABC, there is a classroom scene in which the camera zooms in on the back of 12-year-old Rainbow Johnson’s head (played by Arica Himmel) as she faces the teacher. Her hair is worn naturally and seemingly without gels, oils, or styling products. It’s big. Poof. It fills the screen.
Bow’s parents lived on a commune for the first 12 years of her life, where no one felt the need to discuss race, much less to style a biracial Black girl’s hair. When federal agents raided the…
“Usually very physically attractive,” said one survey respondent. “They’re always beautiful people,” said another. “Most often a gorgeous mix.” The comments continued. “Biracial babies are pretty.” Mixed-race people are “glamorous and exotic.”
These were just some of the comments from a July 2019 study in which 1,100 mostly White respondents were asked what stereotypes they thought society had about multiracial people. Researchers found that one nearly universal stereotype was common to all biracial groups: attractiveness.
The study is important, says Sylvia Perry, co-lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University, because “stereotypes inform our expectations…