Mixed Race Matters

Recently, the New York Times ran an article “Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above” examining the changing (or not-changing) attitudes toward people of mixed-race. The report spotlighs a group of college students in the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association at the University of Maryland.

The article is part of the Times’ Race Remixed series, a timely discussion as the results of the 2010 Census are set to be released next month. You may remember the flack over President Obama checking off the “Black” box, and not the “white”, even though he is of mixed heritage. The census actually allows people to check off more than one box, as I did for my kids, avoiding the decision of which part of their equally divided ethnicities they should identify as.

But sometimes that option doesn’t exist.

Soon, many parents will be signing up their children to enter school next fall. I remember registering my son for Kindergarten last year, and filling out a form for race. My pencil hovered over the paper for a few minutes, alternating back and forth between the Asian and White boxes. The school district directions clearly said to only mark one category. Ultimately, I chose Asian, simply because I’m The Mom, and I want to represent the minority culture. Then again, my children’s identity— and their social context — is not as simple as one check mark in a box. While their physical features may reflect their Asian heritage, other aspects of their upbringing don’t. They are not fluent in any other language and they attend a school which is largely split between white and Hispanic. Since the Asian demographic group at this school is too small to be statistically counted, maybe it would have better served those all-important test scores if I had identified them as White.

I seem to remember an article about schools now being required to allow parents to identify their children as more than one race. (The bookmark was on my phone, which was lost earlier this week).

How do you identify your Hapa kids on those government forms?

Other stories of interest:

Washington Post article on intermarriage.

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