I have become what I jokingly call a "professional mulatto." That means when the Census numbers come out every ten years and show that there are more multiracial people and the multiracial population is growing rapidly (this is "news every 10 years by the way), or a story like the Rachel Dolezal case break, media folks often call me for comment.
My phone isn't exactly ringing off the hook, but because biracial people (people passing as biracial people) are making the news I do hear from producers and reporters pretty often. It makes me think: are we in the midst of a multiracial/biracial moment or is this truly a multiracial/biracial movement?
My thoughts on this are still evolving, but right now I am thinking: There is no multiracial/biracial movement and there won't be for some time. Let me tell you why:
- Yes, our numbers are increasing. The Pew Research Center report on multiracial Americans released in June provided a portrait of an increasing multiracial American demographic, but it's a portrait of a demographic NOT a community.
- We are an ahistorical bunch. As soon as a young person has had difficulty dealing with their mixed-race experience, s/he starts a Facebook group, or Tumblr or Twitter account to express their discomfort, or pride or confusion. The same is true of the parents of multiracial kids who are suddenly experiencing difficulties with the way that society deals with their multiracial families. But I wonder if they have bothered to see what the resources are before they begin their enterprises. Essentially we have believed that we are alone in our experience so long that we don't even look to see what other people are already doing or have done.
- We have become enamored with the dominant narrative of mixed-ness being beautiful or the way of the future. And we love photos of ourselves and families. But where are our stories? We need to start sharing stories.
- We look to Census activism, and parenting groups to lead us as a community rather than our artists. I think it is only through the poetics of social justice that we will be able to move the needle on this conversation about mixed race experience and identity.
- We haven't taken our conversation to the mainstream. Our discussions are too insular. We have to explain as well as recognize that our stories are also part of the stories of white, black, Asian and Latino populations. We are part of "them" and importantly, they are part of "us".
I want to flesh out some of these points in future posts so stay tuned. In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you think!