Whether you like it or not this country is becoming racially diverse. The multiracial population in the United States is growing substantially; in a 2013 U.S. census about 9 million people identified themselves as two or more races. As multiracial relationships become more widely accepted, the population of multiracial babies is looking to double, even triple, in the next 50 years. As this population of mixed race children grows older, they will be faced with new and unique challenges their parents didn’t have to face. In fact, a lot of these challenges are already present in many of the lived experiences of mixed race millennials. Buzzfeed recently released a video titled, “The Struggle of Being Mixed Raced” where individuals scratched the surface of the multiracial experience.
The multiracial experience is complex and indicative of the changing tides in race relations. The barriers multiracial millennials face is nuanced. As a multiracial woman, I oftentimes get asked “what are you?”, “but like, where are you really from?”, “Oh, if you’re only half, why do you care so much about this community?” The fact that non-multiracial folk act as the authority on the term “people of color” happens too often. From having to choose only one option for “race” on standard testing, to being treated as an incomplete, or being exoticized for being mixed, it’s both a systemic and blatant unique form of racism multiracial kids face. It’s a way for us to be painted as the other and not whole, and this black and white thinking is toxic not only to the mental health and well-being of multiracial kids but also makes the movement for racial justice exclusive.
Exclusive movements are toxic and a way of maintaining oppression, just look at second wave feminism and their exclusion of women of color. Too often are multiracial kids forced to choose one side or the other, or even worse feel excluded from race justice movements entirely. If there is going to be race justice, it needs to include multiracial generations. It needs to be as inclusive as possible. Let’s stop treating multiracial people like watered down versions of their ethnicities. Mixed raced individuals and their narratives are a necessity to addressing racism as a monolith of oppression.
There needs to be a change in the way multiracial kids think about themselves. See themselves, if they already don’t, as whole, as enough. So this one is for my multiracial babies out there. Know that the universe came together in beautiful, new, and exciting ways to make you. You are the result of incredible, rich histories and your own story will only continue to flourish in detail in ways no one else could possibly understand. You are more than enough. Our stories as multiracial children are so important in making the world a better place for all people of color. Let’s shift this culture of the “other” and the “exotic” to the “empowered” and the “future.”
Political Science, 2017
It was day five when I became aware that UW law graduate Edwin Lindo was in San Francisco, engaged in a hunger strike seeking to raise the level of national dialogue regarding the moral boundaries of the use of lethal force by law enforcement in communities of color. I pondered extensively and deeply; what would I do with this knowledge?
By day eight of the hunger strike, I decided to book a flight to San Francisco, using personal funds. I had decided that I would sit with Edwin, I would acknowledge Edwin and the other strikers, and that in my own personal capacity, I would witness the imperative of their action. By day nine, law student Tadeu Velloso decided to join me in sitting with Edwin. By day ten, we were sitting with Edwin and the other strikers, on the sidewalk, outside of the Mission Police Department. We were there for just the day, but we did sit with the strikers for seven hours, witnessing this human imperative and the seeming unending flow of other people who likewise came to bear witness to this action.
It was day 14 of the hunger strike when Tadeu and I elected to write a letter to the UW community to recount and share our experience. Looking for words to describe my personal observations, I realized that Edwin’s words described it best. “This is not a moment. This is a movement.”
UW Law Lecturer
As I left the Frisco 5, my friend Edwin Lindo embraced me and whispered, “I’m doing this so our kids can live in peace and not be scared.” Edwin and the other members of the Frisco 5 have been on a hunger strike for two weeks, calling for the resignation or termination of San Francisco’s Chief of Police Greg Suhr. As a Bay Area native and Latino, this protest hits close to home.
Since 2014, four people (of color) have been killed by SFPD officers. Alex Nieto was killed March 2014, shot at 59 times on his way to work; Amilcar Perez Lopez was killed February 2015, shot 6 times in the back; Mario Woods was killed December 2015, shot as he was backed into a corner; and Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat was killed April 2016, shot within 30 seconds of initial contact with police.
If that wasn’t bad enough, text messages that were exchanged between SFPD officers during this time were released last week. Some of the text messages shared between some of the police officers are excerpted below:
“I hate that beaner. But I think the n---- is worse”
“F---in n----s tryin to loot”
“You need help with those rioters? I can snipe em with my air rifle.”
For communities to be safe, a police chief must promote a climate where this type of hate amongst rank and file cannot bloom. If the Chief fails in this objective, it is rational for the community to expect a change.
UW Law, ‘17