After attending the Mixed Roots festival over the weekend, I sat in my hotel room in Downtown LA thinking what will I bring back to the UK and how has this trip enlightened me about the Mix-d: USA experience.
After speaking to many people it really hit home that the Mix-d: experience has similarities and differences regardless of generation and regardless of country. However, one surprising difference in the US is the persistent and very real emphasis and reliance on the one drop rule. This stood out to me so I asked many questions regarding why this is and received a variety of responses:
-Society will still class anyone with “black in them” as black, hence Barak Obama being the first “black President”
-It is easier for society to put people of colour under one umbrella term
-People outside of the family see mixed race a certain way so the individual will internalise external views
-Black is often the predominant race in the household so a mixed race child will identify as black
-Identifying as mixed is often perceived as rejecting the “black side” of you
-Identifying as mixed is often perceived to be implying that “mixed is better than black” due to the historical view that lighter is better
An evaluation and assessment of all these responses would require much grilling academic research. So instead of hitting the books, I reflected and reminded myself that the beauty of Mix-d: as an organisation is that we do not tell people how they should identify themselves; instead we encourage our young people to develop an understanding of their identity internally without having to tick a box or be judged. If you are comfortable identifying as mixed race then identify as mixed-race; if you’re comfortable identifying as black, then identify as black; or half-caste or Asian, Cablinasin, Jamindian, White… So long as you are comfortable and confident in yourself!
My reflection also put the project into perspective. We are addressing the fastest growing ethnic group! I repeat. The fastest growing ethnic group! And the project will only grow alongside the mixed-race population. Following this trip I further appreciate all that this project is doing and has done and see a great future for the project in reaching out to mixed-race people around the world to address Mix-d: experiences- globally.
So, overall my experience of LA has been insightful and enlightening. I have met some wonderful people, seen fantastic sights and had thoughtful conversations – all which have inspired me as a person and in terms of my contribution to the project: I have decided to write a book; I am eager to start the Mix-d: Parenting book; and I would eventually like to combine my love for the project with my aspirations in the law and one day become the Mix-d: Political and Legal Adviser! (The joys of travel!)