by Special Correspondent Thea Lim
Earlier this week, while writing about my affinity for Mariah Carey based on the fact that we are both mixed race, I forgot to mention something important. I forgot to clarify that, while me and Mariah are part white and part POC, there are a lot of people who are mixed race but have no white family members, or have all white family members.
It seems like an obvious point, yah? It seems obvious that a person is mixed race if their family is composed of more than one race. But you don’t need me to tell you that for many of us, the term mixed race is synonymous with being half-white. In other words, when we say mixed race, the assumption is that we are referring to people who have one white parent and one parent of colour. Or even one white parent and one black parent.
We assume mixed race people always have one white parent. We forget that children of part-white ancestry don’t have a lock on mixed raceness; you’re still mixed race if you have two parents of colour from different ethnic backgrounds. And (this one’s a shocker), technically you’re mixed race if you have two white parents from different ethnic backgrounds.
This is problematic in and of itself because we are erasing the experience of mixed race people who don’t have white ancestry. But further, it’s simply another way in which we center white experiences in our culture. We don’t note the experiences of mixed race people without white ancestry because their combo leaves white folks out of the picture; a mix without whiteness is not considered worthy of comment. As a culture we continue to fail at conversations involving issues that have nothing to do with white people. Embracing and recognising our mixed race non-white brethren is yet another way that we can break the The Wheel of Tyranny.*