Mixed Dreams: Exploring “Multi” Experiences in the U.S.

Mixed Dreams: Exploring “Multi” Experiences in the U.S.

EXCO (Experimental College)
Spring 2011
Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio

Nicole Asong Nfonoyim

The experiences and identities of mixed-race people in the United States have often been marginalized if not rendered invisible, silenced and subsumed under the dominant black-white binary. While mixed identities have been part of U.S. history since the nation’s birth, the year 2010 marked only the second time in U.S. history that Americans will be able to check more than one racial/ethnic category in the census. From the overwhelming 6.8 million individuals who checked “more than one box” in the 2000 U.S. Census to the election of President Barack Obama (a self-proclaimed “mutt”)—“multi”* Americans are gaining unprecedented visibility in the 21st century. With this visibility, however comes inevitable scrutiny and ambivalence as evidenced by debates over Obama’s racial identity as well as the mixed racial ancestry of the growing number of U.S-born Latino/as who are gaining considerable social and political ground. With a nation so obsessed with race and yet as intent on hastening a post-racial era on the backs of Americans of color, re-imagining conceptions of race and mixed identities has never been more important.

This course will provide an introduction to contemporary discussions, debates and narratives surrounding multi America. By reading and discussing scholarly, literary, editorial, and visual texts we will critically examine the spaces multi people occupy in the U.S. as well as the identity politics and perspectives that mark these experiences. We will also explore the growing narratives and spaces being created to build communities and express multi subjectivities. Through class discussions, assignments and a final project, students will also be encouraged to explore their own identities and subjectivities as they relate to larger discourses and narratives around race and intersecting identities.

Oberlin’s Experimental College (ExCo) is a student-run initiative that allows all members of the Oberlin community to teach and take courses outside the scope of the college’s traditional curriculum. With its flexible nature, the program reflects the current intellectual, social, and aesthetic trends of the Oberlin community, providing opportunities to explore or expand upon subject matter beyond the usual course offerings.

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