Who Gets to Be A POC?: Self-Identifying & Privilege

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-17 17:02Z by Steven

Who Gets to Be A POC?: Self-Identifying & Privilege

Mixed Dreams: towards a radical multiracial/ethnic movement

Nicole Nfonoyim de Hara

This post is in response to a great question a friend asked about how the wonderful new book (1)ne Drop:Shifting the Lens on Race by Dr. Yaba Blay and Noelle Théard, featuring portraits of individuals who identify as “Black” speaks to an article entitled “4 Ways to Push Back on Your Privilege” by one of my favorite bloggers, Mia McKenzie (aka Black Girl Dangerous). Many portraits in (1)ne Drop may raise a few eyebrows. Take the portrait of ‘Zun Lee‘ on the right. He says:

“When I applied to grad school or for jobs, all of a sudden the boxes come up. I had to make a choice, so for the first time, I checked ‘Black.’ And I didn’t think long about it because for me, it was based on personal circumstance. I just chose the box that I felt most at home with because I didn’t relate to any of the other options. From then on, if I were asked, I would answer, ‘I’m Black.’ Of course, people told me I couldn’t do that — that I couldn’t choose that box. But I had spent all of my life being pushed away by people. In Germany, I wasn’t even given the option to check anything because I wasn’t welcomed there. I had no box. For the first time, I was being given the option to identify myself. Now I had a box, and I was happy in that little box.”

Is it okay for Zun Lee to identify as black? He doesn’t self-identify in his quote as “Asian.” Should we, the viewers and readers see him and insist that he must be “Asian” or at the very least “not black?”…

Read the entire article here.

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What My Mother Gave Me

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive on 2012-12-22 19:02Z by Steven

What My Mother Gave Me

Mixed Dreams: towards a radical multiracial/ethnic movement

Nicole Asong Nfonoyim

“To lose your mother was to be denied your kin, country, and identity. To lose your mother was to forget your past.”
Dr. Saidiya Hartman

I am the spitting image of my mother.

Three years ago I learned the ‘truth’ about my origin story. The ‘truth’, however, didn’t make the myth of my early life any less real–any less a rooted marker of who I was and who I am or will become. And that, I owe to my mother.

You see, three years ago I was told that I was kinda, sorta adopted– not legally with paperwork and red tape, not brought from some far off place to an entirely different family, but taken in quietly, seamlessly, secretly by the love and determination of a woman who loved my father very much. That woman became the only mother I have ever known.

My father, who I write about in “Native Speaker,” has always been a very strong and visible part of my identity. The Cameroonian name I inherited from him, make my African identity proud and visible against a face that is sometimes hard to place. My Cameroonian family is large and spread all over the world and the blackness I share with them is rooted in a vibrant ancestral past  and a contemporary post-colonial African present.

And yet, in key ways it was my mother who gave me kin, country and identity…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Is/Mixed Ain’t

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Passing, Women on 2010-09-30 17:47Z by Steven

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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