Mixed Is/Mixed Ain’t

Mixed Is/Mixed Ain’t

Mixed Dreams: towards a radical multiracial/ethnic movement

Nicole Asong Nfonoyim, Assistant Director, Multicultural Resource Center and Africana Community Coordinator
Oberlin College

…As someone who has never passed as anything other than black (and maybe a lil’ somethin’ else from time to time, but always black), I was surprised to find just how much of Birdie’s story resonated with me—the idea that our mixed bodies become at once the canvas and the mirror upon which others cast their perceptions of who we are. At the same time, I kept wanting to get inside Cole’s head. I wanted to hear her side of the story—the story of the sister “left behind”—the sister who’s “black” body could not be erased or so easily forgotten. Instead of feeling like Birdie, I found I felt much more like Cole. We only hear about Cole through Birdie and see her through Birdie’s eyes. Birdie seems envious of the ease with which her sister can pass through and into the black community, while she struggles to make her blackness visible. Ultimately, Birdie passes as white, Cole passes as black.

Lately, this idea of passing has been nagging me. Racial ambiguity and passing are big issues in our multi experiences, yet  are they prerequisites? How do our current conceptions of passing support the centering of white/non-white identities in the mixed community? Can we think of passing as multidirectional—not just passing as white, but also the ability to pass as black, Asian, Latin@ or even races/ethnicities we don’t identify with at all?…

Read the entire essay here.

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