“People tend to look at me from a racial perspective, but I am not one race or another,” said one of the participants. “I am me.”
On Monday, Oct. 5, the Binghamton Association of Mixed Students held its discussion, “What does it mean to be Mixed?” via Zoom. The discussion began with participants sharing three words that pop up when they think of mixed people. “Multicultural” and “multiracial” were the most common words, and some less common phrases such as “split cultural identity” and “self-determination.” After briefly discussing words that caught participants’ attention as a conversation starter, a video about mixed people was played. The video portrayed a range of experiences from personal stories of living as a mixed-race person to identity crises and how they identify themselves.
The participants at the event shared their personal experiences growing up in backgrounds that are multiracial, multicultural, multireligious and more. One of the participants stated that they believe words such as “biracial” and “bicultural” should not be used because the prefix “bi-” refers to a mix of two, when not all mixed people come from only two backgrounds. Most of the stories shared were focused on the societal perspective toward mixed people. When people ask, “Where are you from?” they do not have the intention of asking where an individual was originally located, but rather are curious about their racial background.
These societal perspectives led some participants to define themselves by following one side of their multiple backgrounds. However, one participant shared that they felt like they could fit into multiple boxes. When one person asked, “Has anyone asked if you were adopted when you were out with one of your parents?” a few nodded. Others shared that they have felt uncomfortable within their family because they did not look like their cousins. They added that these situations were not meant to insult the mixed individual, but people need to be more sensitive when referring to some racial features even within the family because it can make the person who doesn’t have those specific racial features feel excluded or offended. During the discussion, many participants seemed to empathize with each other’s experiences. For one participant, through this event, she felt there are many others who go through the same phases of struggles as her.
The event was not only for mixed students but was open to anyone who wanted to learn more about people of multiple backgrounds. Any participant was free to ask questions. One of the participants introduced themselves as not being a mixed individual, but asked about the misconceptions of being mixed. Many participants shared that just because they come from two races, that does not mean they must look a certain way. Most importantly, most participants said they were proud to be mixed because they experience multiple backgrounds that give them unique perspectives and stories.