ATR 82- Future of the Multiracial Movement – 9/19/2007 – Submit an Audio Comment: 917-720-6348

Carmen, Jen and Anthony discuss the future of the multiracial movement. In the late 80s and 90s, quite a few organizations sprang up to serve people of mixed heritage. In 2000 they enjoyed a significant victory when the Census finally allowed people to check two or more races. But since then, the multiracial movement seems to have floundered. Prominent community leaders have withdrawn from the scene, and one of the oldest organizations, Hapa Issues Forum, closes its doors this month after 15 years of activism. So what’s going on here? What’s the future of movement? Or was it even a movement to begin with?

This episode features the song “Home Alone” by Lux featuring Freeway, courtesy of Spectre Entertainment.

Carmen is joined by Anthony Yuen and Jen Chau in this episode.

Anthony Yuen is a former executive director of Hapa Issues Forum who first became involved with the organization in 1996 as a member of the UC Berkeley chapter. A graduate of UCLA’s Asian American Studies M.A. program, he produced as his thesis a video documentary entitled From Their Own Voice, which examines multiracial Asian American arts, academics, and activism from 1977-1997. He recently received his M.Ed. in Counseling and Student Affairs from UCLA and currently works as a study abroad advisor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jen Chau is the Founder and Executive Director of Swirl, Inc., a national anti-racist, grassroots organization that serves the mixed heritage community. In addition, she is the Director of People Services at New Leaders for New Schools, a national non-profit education reform organization. She shares her thoughts on identity, education, and leadership at her blog, The Time is Always Right.

Articles about the closing of Hapa Issues Forum:

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2 thoughts on “ATR 82- Future of the Multiracial Movement – 9/19/2007 – Submit an Audio Comment: 917-720-6348”

  1. My comment is for ATR 82. Living in SC, I became aware of Racialicious and the ATR podcast via the B*tch magazine interview w/Carmen. Because of my job, I live in a town an hour from everywhere, and my computer is my link to the outside world. Back in 2000 I’d heard that there was a push for multi-box checking [which I'm so grateful for, having grown up feeling torn at every standardized test I took.] But I wasn’t familiar with either of the organizations represented on this podcast.
    Unconsciously, I’ve tended to gravitate toward international groups of people throughout my life, finding it a more accepting atmosphere – a place that I could relax. Growing up mostly in the South, I have been conscious of my mixed race ever since I can remember. I’ve always understood that because I am brown, most people will assume me to be black. That’s led to some interesting moments when people meet my white mother. :)
    Anyway, I definitely agree with Jen that there are varying levels of need in this ‘movement’. In places like NYC, folks may generally be over the box-checking issue. But I actually had my own personal crisis when I moved to SC, two years ago. There was a line for race on the form to get my driver’s license. I left it blank. When I gave the form back to the woman behind the counter, she said, “What’s your race?” I said, “Black and white”. She told me that she couldn’t put that on the form. I argued with her, saying that I _am_ black and white — both. She looked at me without a whit of sympathy and said, “Pick one.” I stood there in shock. Tears coming to my eyes. Not even fully aware of how deeply this was affecting me, I finally just told her, “black”.
    There was no one in this town I could even relate to about it. Thankfully, cell phones and the internet connect me to friends and family, for that was [and remains] my only form of support whenever I encounter multiracial issues around here.
    Multiracial support/movement organizations are definitely still relevant to those of us confined to Anytown, USA. Certainly, country-wide, the scope may change toward more international inclusion and general diversity acceptance, but multiracial families are increasing in small towns as well as the cities – the attitudes are taking longer to catch up, though.
    Thanks for what you guys are doing, and keep up the good work!

  2. jeanette,

    glad to hear your thoughts…and thanks for the supportive words! yes, i am realizing more and more that different communities call for different things.

    one of the most interesting things about having Swirl become a national organization, has been the ability to see mixed communities (and therefore, a sense of how people deal with race and identity) in so many different cities throughout the country. it’s fascinating. what works for nyc doesn’t necessarily work for dc, and vice versa. building community in phoenix looks different than the bay area….

    it’s quite a challenge, but i am looking forward to the next few years with Swirl! here’s to more building!

    thanks for listening…

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