The Evolution of My Mixed Race Identity

The Evolution of My Mixed Race Identity

NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

Jeanette Snider, Assistant Director in the Undergraduate Program
Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland

I recently took an intergroup dialogue-training course for administrators and graduate students interested in leading a related course offered at my university. We were ushered through a number of activities to explore our own life experiences and interrogate any biases we might bring to our class as facilitators. One of the exercises that particularly stood out to me during the training was the “Racialized Life Map” worksheet. We were asked to record the first 5 experiences we can recall in which we encountered or recognized ourselves as racialized beings.

As a Black biracial (African American and German American) woman several moments came to mind. I can remember in kindergarten, being asked if I was adopted by my classmates after my father came in for career day. I recall getting strange stares from my father’s coworkers on take-your-daughter-to-work-day or even being called the “N word” by a white classmate in 6th grade after school.

The memories continue…my first recollection of being tokenized by my middle school history teacher occurred when she asked me to speak on behalf of African Americans in class when the topics of slavery and the Civil Rights movement arose. As a high school senior, I vividly recall my guidance counselor telling me I had a strong chance of getting admitted to my top college choice, an elite, small public university in southern Virginia, because I am black. I was constantly socialized and treated as an African American woman. You see, in my mind, I didn’t have a choice to be biracial. Based on the aforementioned interactions along with a lifetime of experiences, I have identified as Black for most of my life. This, often conscious decision is based on people’s perceptions of my racial identity…

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