Racing “mixed race” in the 21st century

Racing “mixed race” in the 21st century

Gender News
The Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Stanford University

Krystale E. Littlejohn

Mixed race and social negotiation

What are you?  For many people, this question elicits a variety of responses: student, sister, brother, dancer, mother, sports enthusiast.  For ethnically ambiguous people, however, the question usually refers to what race they are — or whether they identify as mixed race.  Implicit in such a question is the notion that mixed race people have a choice, a choice to decide how they racially identify.

This view of choice implies that America has arrived in a post-race society. For the first time since its origin in 1790, the U.S. Census in 2000 gave respondents the choice to mark more than one race.  Many view the “mark one or more races” (MOOM) option as validation that mixed race people can freely choose their racial identities.  In a recent talk at the Clayman Institute, race scholar Michele Elam challenged the notion of unconstrained choice for mixed race people and offered a nuanced view of the relationship between race, art and social justice in the 21st century…

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