Rutgers Group Brings Students Together to Explore the Complexities of Being Multiracial

Rutgers Group Brings Students Together to Explore the Complexities of Being Multiracial

Rutgers University News
September 2012

Carrie Stetler

By 2050, one in five Americans is likely to be multiracial

It’s a question Joan Gan hears a lot: “What are you?” She instantly knows what it means.

Her father is Chinese and her mother is Greek, so when people meet her for the first time, they often have trouble identifying her ethnicity.

Gan, a Rutgers junior who grew up in Parsippany, understands their curiosity, and the questions don’t really bother her. But other aspects of growing up biracial were harder to negotiate.

“In high school I saw lots of ethnic clubs, and at colleges, too, and I didn’t really know which one to join,” says Gan, an environmental science major. “Even though I’m technically Asian, people don’t consider me one of them and technically I’m white, but people don’t always consider me that, either.”

During her first year at Rutgers, Gan discovered Fusion: Rutgers Union of Mixed People, which gives her and other students an opportunity to come together and explore the challenges and complexities of being multiracial…

…Fusion began seven years ago when Rutgers psychology professor Diana Sanchez, who is now the club’s adviser, started researching biracial and multiracial identity.

“As a way of connection multiracial students and getting participants for my research, I asked a student I knew to start an organization and he did,’’ says Sanchez, an an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, in the School of Arts and Sciences.. “Multiracial people hold a unique view of race; they’ve questioned it in a very different way. If you feel ‘in between’ communities, there is another identity you form that has to do with the merging of both those identities.”

Phillip Handy, who graduated in 2009, was one of the co-founders of Fusion. He is half European and half African American. “Racial conversations at Rutgers … often viewed race in a very categorical way,” says Handy, who grew up in Howell and now lives in California.“I thought the discussions would be enhanced by a multiracial student group.”…

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