The last few months, I’ve been reflecting on the people who have raised, shaped, and molded me. Those people have mostly been Black women, but more specifically my mother, Diana, and maternal grandmother, Eva. Both of their lives exemplified what it meant to push boundaries by being courageous and daring, but more importantly, being themselves.
I would say “being yourself” was a motto I heard the most and clung to the hardest as a child, and even today. I couldn’t be myself if I didn’t have the examples of strength, grace, fierceness, humor, and love that my grandmother provided and…
I have become desensitized to the “ching-chongs,” the barks telling me to go back to my country, and White men telling me they “love Asian girls.” But the comment that somehow stings the most is the appraisal of my English, however good it may be — being told I speak English well.
Most recently, the backhanded compliment came from a 22-year-old White English teacher from Connecticut after a five-minute exchange as I sold him a used bicycle outside Seodaemun Station in Seoul, where I currently live.
We were in South Korea, and I am Korean. Of course, I too might…
One evening when I was about 10 years old, I found my mom sitting cross-legged on the living room floor by a lamp. She was gazing at herself in a hand mirror, and an open rectangular box wrapped in red satin with Korean writing on the lid sat nearby. As I got closer, I noticed the box contained several vials and a pack of microneedles.
Both fascinated and horrified, I observed in silence as my mom dipped the tip of a needle in the serum, and used it to painstakingly prick a dark spot on her face over and over…
“The only thing getting me through this is my will to survive. My head is just above water. I’m trying to get through the best that I can, but it is agonizing. Any way you cut it — mentally, physically, emotionally — this is painful,” Sza Sza quickly says into the phone, trying to tell as much of her story as she can before the detention center cuts the call after the allotted 30 minutes.
Sza Sza, who is not using her full name for safety reasons, is a transgender asylum-seeker from Jamaica in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody…
Healing is an ongoing, layered process… and the healers that lead these spaces are no exception. For Black womxn specifically, finding spaces that are intentionally and unapologetically Black while also focused on our needs within the wellness space is almost as hard as feeling like we have the permission that we need to center our own collective healing. However difficult it is to carve out that space for ourselves within a whitewashed field, Black womxn are coming forward to prioritize our own healing, and the impact is incredible.
That’s why the work that Black Girl Magik has done, and continues…
“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. …
“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…