HapaMama: First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself, how the idea for Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World came about and the process of researching and writing it.
Sharon H. Chang: I’ve worked with families and children for over a decade in various capacities: as a teacher, parent educator, administrator, school owner, etc. I hold a Master’s degree in Human Development with an Early Childhood Specialization and Raising Mixed Race actually grew out of my Master’s thesis. At the time I had just had my son and was struggling to find resources that would support our mixed race family. Frustrated beyond belief (particularly since I thought things would have changed by now) I finally decided to head into the field and conduct research myself. I interviewed 68 parents of 75 young multiracial Asian children around questions of race, racism and identity. I then compiled and analyzed those interviews, about 800 pages of transcripts, while simultaneously researching critical mixed race studies. Several years later I am at last thrilled to debut the book we are about to see today.
HM: Something I hear all too often is that “race doesn’t matter anymore”. And I’ve even heard this from parents of mixed race children. Your discussion about mixed race Asian identities is really based on analyzing and deconstructing the way we see race, ethnicity and culture (and I’ve also written before about how those are not interchangeable terms). It’s a major theme of your book… could you give a brief explanation or introduction about how the background of the concept of race and how that influences society and the way society sees us, even if we don’t think matters?
HM: It seems to be an easy assumption, especially for parents of Asian-white children, to think that their kids’ experiences will be basically the same as their white counterparts. But there are some dangers in that belief, aren’t there?
HM: Finally, it can seem a bit depressing or even hopeless, when we really start poking around the history of race in the United States or even current events. What parting words do you have for parents who are currently raising mixed race children?
SHC: Don’t lose hope! We can make a change through ourselves and our parenting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, paralyzed by despair, and then end up doing nothing. But doing nothing is part of the problem and we have to make a commitment to do better. You know I realized halfway through writing this book that if I ended without offering some guidance for action, folks would feel, exactly as you say, depressed and hopeless. And that was entirely not my point. My primary goal was to positively influence the lives of young mixed race Asian children. And to do that I wanted to galvanize, inspire and energize critical adults around those children to new ideas and awareness. So. The last chapter of this book (Chapter 8 Final Inspection: Point of Intervention) is all about suggestions for steps we can take. And particularly important here acknowledging that everybody has a different entry point into taking action. I offer suggestions at micro, meso and macro levels from empowering ourselves to transform our thinking, to being intentional about the materials our children interact with, to getting involved in organizations and activism. You won’t feel hopeless after you read this book. Promise!
Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World (affiliate link) will be released on December 15, 2015.