A birth certificate masked my multiracial truth. For me and 33 million others, the 2020 Census asserts it.

A birth certificate masked my multiracial truth. For me and 33 million others, the 2020 Census asserts it.

The Washington Post

Steve Majors

More than 33 million people in the United States identify as being of two or more races, according to the 2020 Census, a 276 percent jump from the 2010 head count. (Paul Sancya/AP)

My face burned — whether with anger or shame, I wasn’t sure. In 1994, I stood outside human resources at the CBS offices in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Studio City and listened to my future boss over the phone. You want the job? You need to complete the paperwork and check just one box, he insisted. Hours earlier, my pencil had marked X’s in two boxes on the application form. One designated my race as White, the other Black. The HR representative had called him to intervene, and now she waited inside her office for my decision. In a split second, I decided. I wanted the job at CBS’s flagship TV station in Los Angeles; it would be career-changing. So, though no one had told me which box to check, I had a feeling what the HR rep wanted. The recruiter who had first connected me with the opportunity had explicitly told me CBS was looking to increase diversity among its producer ranks. So I grabbed the pencil and erased the mark that declared me half-White. After all, I thought, no one — not even my own family — had officially told me I was of mixed race. The only evidence I had otherwise was written all over my face.

Decades later, when the “23andMe” response jumped into my email inbox at work, I stopped talking to colleagues mid-meeting to read the results. After years of looking at my pale reflection in the mirror and questioning my identity, I already knew the truth. When I walked out into the world, people looked at my fair skin and perceived and treated me as White. I sensed that the birth certificate that claimed I had the same father as my all-Black siblings was a lie, as was the story of my birth that my mother held on to until her death. Even my family’s nickname for me, “High Yella,” has been a signal to me that I was different from them. Now the results I read confirmed it: 56 percent European, 42 percent sub-Saharan African, with a fraction of East Asian and Indigenous American and other thrown in. I felt a sense of recognition. Science had validated who I was.

This month, I felt a similar sense of validation. After filling out the 2020 Census and checking the box to declare myself as two or more races, I saw the final results. My multiracial identity counts, and I’m far from being alone. According to the data, I’m among 33.8 million people who identify as multiracial, a whopping 276 percent increase since the 2010 Census. It’s proof that the United States is truly a racial melting pot, with the most diverse population in its history…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,