Redefining — by not defining — biracialism

Redefining — by not defining — biracialism

The Daily Illini: The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871
Tuesday, 2015-03-31

Audrey Majors, Opinions columnist

Last week controversy arose over Japan’s 2015 Miss Universe contestant, Ariana Miyamoto, because she’s biracial— something critics, many of whom are Japanese, have taken issue with. Miyamoto has an African-American father and does not look like what most people imagine a traditional Japanese woman to look like.

As several news outlets have pointed out, Miyamoto speaks Japanese, lived most of her childhood in Japan and has a Japanese mother. Much of the discussion in defense of Miyamoto has consisted of the idea that these qualities make her Japanese, despite her biracial status. While I applaud the well-intentioned support for Miyamoto’s chosen racial identity, any legitimation of her race is unneeded because each person should be the sole authority of their racial identity.

I firmly believe no one should have to defend their chosen racial identity. And it sure as hell isn’t okay for anyone to police or undermine the racial identity someone has chosen. Even though the United States is more racially diverse than Japan, this type of exclusion exists here, too. And it will continue to exist everywhere until we change the way we think about racial categories and stereotypes…

…Racial identity is not merely a matter of appearance or genetics, but is one factor combined with social and cultural experiences that have shaped each person’s racial experience. Policing how multiracial people chose to identify neglects our right to understand the experiences that we feel best reflect ourselves…

Read the entire article here.

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