NPR has a radio show called “Code Switch” about race and identity. They like cute sounding titles. The title of last week’s show and article was this: All Mixed Up. What do we call people of multiple backgrounds? Mixed…mixing…mixed up…you get it. Project RACE got it 25 years ago when we opted to go with the term “multiracial” instead of mixed, halfsies, bi, mulatto, and a whole lot more. We felt that the community deserved a respectable term with inclusive meaning.

Mixed was nixed for a variety of reasons.

  • It lends itself to mixed up, mixed nuts, etc. as perfectly shown by the NPR title. Why would we want that?
  • Mixed doesn’t quite mean the same thing as whole and multiracial people are whole entities.
  • Mixed morphed into “mixie” at some point, which is just too cutesy.
  • Academia has coined the phrase “Critical Mixed-Race Studies” when they put us under the microscope to study us. :::shiver:::
  • My personal best reason to nix the mix is that mixed is the opposite of pure and let’s just not go categorizing ourselves into pure and impure. Think about it. It’s happened before historically and I, for one, did not like the implications or results.


Let’s look one step further. President Obama recently addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He said this: “My grandparents knew these values weren’t reserved for one race; they could be passed down to a half-Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter….” Half. Would it have been so difficult for him to use the term “multiracial”? Is he, the son of a white mother and a black father, exactly half and half? That makes gray and we don’t have to even go to the historic connotations of the word “gray.” It’s interesting that when the media refer to President Obama’s multiple racial heritage, they almost always call him “multiracial.” Yet, he can’t seem to bring himself to use the term. So God bless you, Mr. President and God bless the United States of America.