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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

I am Multiracial, but You Can Call Me Katie

At first glance, I was once told, “There’s something not all white about you”. Growing up in a dominantly white town, other people could tell that there was something different about me. I have big brown eyes, hair so dark brown people mistake it for black, pale skin with a tinge of yellow undertones, a nose that’s a tiny bit rounded, and I stand at a whopping five feet, three inches. This is my appearance, and as you can tell, I’ve studied myself before. Often times I have stood in front of the mirror trying to see myself as others see me, but we all know that is an impossible achievement. My father is Chinese and my mother is Irish. Originally, I thought my ethnicity was simple: two races combined. But throughout my life I have realized it is more confusing for others to understand, which in turn brings confusion for me.

When reading about multiracial people and studies done for people of mixed races, I have had different experiences, but I also have seen things that parallel my life. According to Heather Dalmage, in the writing, Patrolling racial borders: discrimination against mixed race people, people who do judge others of the same race are referred to as border patrollers, or “race police”. Border patrollers judge people of their same race by judging others physically, asking if others know the language, seeing who others hang out with, and demanding cultural likeness. Unfortunately, the Asian ethnic group that I have encountered is not extremely welcoming to people of mixed race, so I have had many unpleasant experiences with border patrollers. The first time an Asian person told me that I was not really Asian, I was alright with it for the most part, because I knew not everyone would accept me for who I am. The second time a full Asian person told me that I was not really Asian, I was so hurt and mad at the thought of someone thinking they could tell me what I am or what I am not. Ever since that day, I have wondered to myself and to those who do not accept me if being fifty percent Asian makes me not a real Asian, then I guess being fifty percent white does not make me really white, so then what am I?

“What are you?” I have heard this question so many times. I am so happy to be my mix of races and I feel lucky to get to grow up with such different cultural ways of living, but honestly, sometimes I do not want to answer people when they ask, “What are you?” I do not want to answer someone just so they can tell me that I am lying, or see the look of disbelief on their faces. Also, I get curious as to why someone who does not know much of anything about my life wants to know what my ethnicity is. Sometimes I see people waiting for my answer just so they can mentally put me in a category. I would like to be seen as a person with many different qualities, not just a person who is a certain mix of races.

One of the many qualms that comes with being multiracial is the part on forms that includes the race boxes. “Check one box only” might as well be replaced with “Pick which part of your family you like the best”. I understand that there are studies done on races so it could be helpful to have people tell their race, but it is not relevant for a multiracial person to be forced to pick one race to define them.

“First, although not all mixed race individuals identify as biracial or multiracial, preventing individuals from choosing more than one racial background effectively denies the identity of those who do. Limited choice is associated with lower self-esteem, reduced motivation, and heightened anxiety, as well as with increased efforts to reassert one’s choice” (Brehm, 1955; Brehm & Brehm, 1981; Iyengar & Lepper, 2002).

Asking a person to pick one race box when they do not feel comfortable doing it is not fair. There is an alternative to these boxes: people can pick “other” or no answer, but these “options” show a blatant disregard for the multiracial person’s recognition. On top of having to possibly take a test after this part of the form, or fill out an application, it puts the multiracial person in an odd state of mind that could possibly prevent them from doing the best they can. I know that I have dreaded whether to represent my father’s side or my mother’s side of the family to the world, but more often than not I pick the “Asian” box. My parents divorced when I was a child and since then I have always lived with my father, so I give him as much credit as I can, even with something as seemingly insignificant as a box on a piece of paper.

Multiracial people are very different from one another and are known to have different experiences, but the shared incidents and feelings that are prevalent throughout life is a way that bonds people of mixed races together. Personally, I am a fan of the show Family Guy. On a certain episode, it showed Stewie (the baby) as half black and half white, in this clip he says, “The great thing about being half black and half white is that when I grow up, everyone will accept me”. This line is obviously controversial; it is comedy that sheds some sarcastic truth on race. The truth is that not all races accept multiracial people as their own. One of the best things to do about this injustice is to share feelings on being racially discriminated against, but also, as a multiracial person, I have learned to take what people say not as a law, but as an opinion that I can accept or reject. I wish true acceptance for myself, my family, my friends, and for strangers who might ever feel like they do not belong. I am happy to have my different characteristics. I am happy to be Chinese and Irish.