Mixed But Not Divided: Multi-ethnic populations redefine racial lines

Mixed But Not Divided: Multi-ethnic populations redefine racial lines

City on a Hill Press: A Student-Run Newspaper
University of California, Santa Cruz

Chelsea Hawkins

When I was six or seven years old, I would spend my Saturday afternoons at the local Korean Baptist Church. A pink textbook opened in front of me, oversized hangul lightly sketched on sheets of paper. I kept my eyes turned downward behind a veil of straight brown hair as I avoided speaking. My face would become red and hot with embarrassment, as the guttural sounds got caught in my throat and I fumbled over words — the syllables swirled around in my mouth, only to be spit out awkwardly, a jumble of sounds always a little off.

Korean school was a short-lived experience — I hated going because even though I wasn’t sure what it was, I knew I was different. I looked different. I was shy and out of place. I hated my limited Korean and I hated feeling like an outsider. I spent more afternoons hiding in the secret places of a little garden than talking to my peers.

I am — like 4.2 million Americans — multiracial. My mother is Native American and white; my father, Korean and white. If my parents had followed the life paths their families had in mind, I would not be here. A product of teen parents, I stumbled through life and grew up with them. And when they came into the picture, my two younger brothers joined our little family.

Among American children, the multiracial population has increased almost 50 percent to 4.2 million people since 2000, according to The New York Times. The 2000 census report was the first time that Americans had the option to select more than one race — and reports flooded in, indicating the number of mixed race people in the United States…

…Mark-Griffin, who is a native of Michigan and former UCSC student, had an experience unique compared to a multiracial Californian: He was one of the only Asian-American students in his school.

While Mark-Griffin said he doesn’t want to portray Michigan or the Midwest as a racist area, he did emphasize that it wasn’t nearly as diverse as California. But as a result of the differences in culture between California and Michigan, Mark-Griffin has seen the way people’s perceptions can change with communities.

“In Michigan, most people identify me as Asian, but here in California, I’m a white guy,” Mark-Griffin said…

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