We’re taking a look back at the year and wanted to highlight some of the big stories about biracial and mixed race people and experience that made the headlines this year. Okay, yes, it was supposed to be just 10 but we thought there were 11 big stories. Check out our list here:
11. #blacklivesmatter: Yes, we mean #blacklivesmatter, NOT #ALLlivesmatter and not even #biraciallivesmatter though that got into the discussion after the death of Tony “Tyrell” Robinson, Jr. who was fatally shot by a police office in Madison, Wisconsin. In a press conference in which the young man’s uncle called for calm but also a swift investigation, the uncle insisted that his nephew was biracial and the #blacklivesmatter moniker did not fit. According to ABC News the uncle said: “A lot of [Tyrell’s] identity was formed because of his racial ambiguity. Tyrell felt a misfit for most of his life and that’s why we became close . . . We don’t want to just stop at Black Lives Matter. … Tyrell is a mixture of everything. You can’t look at him and say he’s Black.” Strangely, his comments did not cause much of an outcry. But then I was delighted to see this piece by Amity Paye (@amitypaye) gain notice about being biracial and an active supporter of the #blacklivesmatter movement. Thanks Amity!
10. Miss Japan: We were sad when Ariana Miyamoto ultimately didn’t win the Miss Universe contest. Wait? Who won, Mr. Harvey? Was it Miss Colombia or Miss Philippines? (Oops.) Anyway, we were proud of the way Miss Japan handled the firestorm when she was crowned Miss Japan and some Japanese people decried her for being not Japanese enough. (I should mention here that Miss Japan is the daughter of a Japanese woman and African-American man. She has always lived in Japan and speaks Japanese fluently.) Her response: “I want to start a revolution. I can’t change things overnight but in 100-200 years there will be very few pure Japanese left, so we have to start changing the way we think.” Bravo Miss Japan! We are huge fans!
9. Mat Johnson scores with his excellent new novel Loving Day! Not only did Johnson get a glowing review on the cover of the New York Times Book Review and land in every national magazine and high profile radio interview, he snagged a spot on the Best Books of 2015 and a TV deal with Showtime! Yes, the book will soon be a series written by Johnson himself. We were hugely lucky to have him read at the Mixed Remixed Festival in June. If you haven’t read his book yet, you must! And you can still get a copy as a perk if you donate to the Festival.
8. My original (and only childhood) biracial hero, Mr. Spock, died. It was a sad day when Leonard Nimoy died this year, not just for Trekkies, but for biracial people all over the world. Nimoy’s character was the only character on TV like me and my brothers – he was half human and half Vulcan and had to figure out how to negotiate that difference. So yes, Mr. Spock was essentially biracial. On the day he died, this letter who he wrote to a biracial teen who felt like she didn’t’ belong circulated widely. Be well and prosper, Mr. Spock. You meant the world to us.
7. Key and Peele ends on a high note after a 5-year run. Oh, man! What can I saybut whaaaa! First, Key and Peele are geniuses – each in their own right and most definitely together. And can we just say that they changed the game in terms of talking about being biracial. They talked about it all the time! Here and here, and even at the Mixed Remixed Festival! They’re so awesome!) We will miss the show, but we also can’t wait to see what they do next! Don’t forget your peeps at Mixed Remixed, guys – we’d love to get you back!
6. Major Movies with Biracial Lead Characters on the Big Screen. This is fudging a little because most of these movies hit the big screen in 2014 and were released on DVD in 2015 – but we had to mention how amazing it was to see the diversity of these stories of the Mixed experience. Don’t miss these excellent films with biracial lead characters. Tell us what you think!
- Beyond the Lights, director Gina Prince-Bythewood
- Belle, director Amma Assante
- Infinitely Polar Bear, director Maya Forbes
- Black or White, director Mike Binder
[Tweet “Movies with Biracial Lead Characters Hit it Big in 2015! #multiracial #mixedrace” #beyondthelights]
5. There are lots of biracial people and there will be even more! That was essentially the headline for every news outlet about the Pew Research Center Report about the state of multiracial America that was released in June.
Here are some findings from the report:
- The multiracial population is 3 times larger than the latest Census count reflects.
- More than half of multiracial Americans are proud of their background and feel more open to other cultures.
- A majority (55%) also say they have been subjected to slurs or jokes because of their racial background.
Read the whole report here .Do the numbers surprise you? Not me. I’ve been talking about this stuff for a long time. Glad that the research is catching up.
4. The Biracial Twins! Yes, they’re twins! Photos of the biracial twins – now teenagers-nearly broke the internet. The photos show the sisters together – one who looks brown and one who looks white. There seemed to be a collective gasp from internet sharers. “How could this be? Egad!” Well, that’s how it goes with mixing – a little mixing can go a long way. You never know where different trails will turn up. The story illuminated the fallacy of the assumption that we can “see” race. Let’s hope these young women continue to deal with the ignorance of others with aplomb.
3. The Mixed Remixed Festival in June was a huge hit! How could we not include the Festival on this list? It was the biggest and best ever with a stellar line-up that included Jamie Ford, Mat Johnson, Marie Mockett, Alex Barnett, Kayla Briet and Donn T among many more. The panel What’s So Funny About Being Mixed was a crowd favorite. Check it out here. And the Festival had its best attendance around 700 people and best coverage ever. NBC News, the New York Times, KTLA and the Costco Connection magazine profiled or mentioned the Festival! And now already 2016 is shaping up to be bigger and better. Join us!
2. Taye Diggs’ Mixed Me. I didn’t want to comment on this “controversy” because, well, I didn’t want the haters to misconstrue what I said. Let’s just agree that Diggs wrote a children’s book to speak to his son’s Mixed experience. People found it easy to take him to task for his comments because he is talking about something that we still find difficult to talk about. Heck, not even the president calls himself biracial and he’s the most powerful person in the world. (I know Twitter haters are going to jump on this. I’m ready.) Taye Diggs, we’ve got your back! Thanks for the book – let us celebrate you at the Festival in June.
1. Rachel Dolezal is not black. The story of the Spokane NAACP chairwoman’s “outing” as white nearly hijacked every conversation at this year’s Mixed Remixed Festival. Again, I decided not to talk about it publicly because: 1) it seemed absurd that this was the story it took to pay attention to biracial people and 2) it seemed like there were other psychological issues at play in a family that decided to publicly humiliate their daughter. I recently read this Guardian article about Dolezal and I feel for her. Yes, she lied about who she was. But now she’s suffered her come-uppance. But can we leave her alone now and get back to the issues that we face as mixed race families and people?
Ok, so that’s our list. What did we miss? What do you think? Let us know! Leave a comment or email us at info(at)mixedremixed.org-Heidi Durrow, Festival Founder
P.S. Notable on-purpose omissions from our list: The birth of Kim & Kanye’s baby boy Saint, Sandra Bullock adopted a 2nd child Laila, The Rock and his girlfriend had a chip off the old Rock.