Project RACE was founded almost 30 years ago and we now welcome Harvard Students to the multiracial community. However, we are disappointed in the way they have chosen to differentiate their members from the community-at-large.
They will find out how it feels to be called “Mixed Up” and “Mixed Nuts”? Because that’s exactly what they’ll get whether it’s said to their faces, used as headlines, or behind their backs. The Harvard Undergraduate Union of Mixed Students became the first group on campus for all mixed race students. It sounds like a very exclusive club. Founder Iris R. Feldman stated, “Using the word mixed is very intentional. We’re not multiracial or biracial, or whatever it is.”
Feldman went on to say, she was motivated to create the union to provide a space for people who felt their identity did not fall into just one of Harvard’s cultural organizations. “While you are a part of these two communities, there is a unique, separate, mixed identity that a lot of people experience.” I have a news flash for Feldman, if you are biracial, say white and black, just for an example, you are actually part of three communities: white, black and multiracial. By the way, there are many mixed, interracial, multiracial, etc. communities that have been around for years. To think that Ms. Feldman thought of this is absurd.
Feldman and her other co-founders somehow see “mixed” as the better choice of names, but doesn’t mixed mean the opposite of pure? I certainly don’t want to see people separated by mixed and pure. It reminds me of a not so pleasant time in Germany and sometimes in some places in America. Most Jewish people understand this.
When Barack Obama was president, the media referred to him as having a multiracial background. Why? Because the term “multiracial” is appropriate, perfectly descriptive (meaning of more than one race) and respectful; perfect.
Do multiracial people use “mixed”? Sure they do. We do not discriminate, but we have our preferences for very important reasons. Mainly, we thought it through over the past 28 years that we’ve been around. No one at Project RACE would ever tell someone how to racially or ethnically identify. We fought very hard in the 1990s to win the right to self-identify, and if that means “mixed,” to some people, so be it. We only make suggestions. We realize the 90s are ancient history to you, but that is also when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said we had to decide on only one word for the community, and after a national vote, that word was “multiracial.” History is important.
I wish Ms. Feldman and her mixed friends the best of luck and welcome them to the community.
Susan Graham for Project RACE
Photo Credit: Diverseeduccation.com