Being Mixed-Race Series

Discovering Dangerfield

In the years before my grandmother’s death, she became the enthusiastic genealogist of our family, piecing together tales so extraordinary I can sometimes hardly believe they recount the genesis of our family. Now, after my grandmother’s death, I feel my tenuous grasp on my heritage slipping, so I revisit her expansive research and discover the complexities of my heritage are so much more astonishing than I could anticipate. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Excerpt from Memoir: King Leopold’s Daughter

“Imagine my hill at the edge of a road. Imagine a city, Kinshasa, a recent Belgian colony made independent nine years earlier. Imagine my white Belgian father, an architect waiting to make deals with one of the cruelest dictators of our times: Mobutu Sesseseko. Imagine my metisse mother, born as a simple brown girl in Burundi, now the queen of the continent, thanks to papa. Imagine me, a four-year-old brown girl, waiting for the sun to set to sneak out of the house to my castle at the end of a road, on the side of a hill.” […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Half-Cooked

This story is about food. And identity. And how each feeds the other. In a series of vignettes and reflections on Hana Etsuko Dethlefsen’s relationship with family, culture, food, and recipes, she explores the bitter-sweetness of an identity that is defined by being in-between. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Why Japanese Persimmons Are Hard

You waited until now to tell me I was the love of your life? More than 2 decades after we met—as we’re pushing 50? Timing has clearly never been our strong suit. Over and over again we find each other. We take turns rushing toward each other like a wave hitting the shore, only to pull away once again. I wouldn’t call you my other half, but no one else is my hafu. […]

Being Mixed-Race

Five Cent Secret

After a beloved grandfather dies, long held secrets come into sharp focus. “Five Cent Secret,” by Court Castaños, explores the complexities of having both white privilege and Mexican roots. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 25: Round-Table Discussion on Race

Nasiona podcast producers and editors Aïcha Martine Thiam, Nicole Zelniker, and Julián Esteban Torres López explore why it’s so difficult to discuss race, how race differs in different countries, race in publishing, share personal anecdotes, and give our take on Jordan Peele’s “documentary” Get Out. We also have a post-production conversation about The Nasiona’s Being Mixed-Race podcast series: what hit home for us, what we learned, and what surprised us. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 23: Traces of Home

Filmmaker Colette Ghunim on her first feature-length documentary: “Traces of Home tells the story of what happens when we as first-generation Americans go back to our roots to find out how where we come from shapes our identity. Through Traces of Home, I am telling my own personal story. I’m half Mexican and half Palestinian and both my parents were forced to leave their homes as children, and they both never returned since then. So through my film, we’re going back to Mexico and Palestine to try to find the original houses and to talk about why people are leaving and immigrating and why refugees are leaving as well, during a time when we need to hear it the most.” […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Breathing Lessons

After a racialized exchange with a doctor at a walk-in clinic, the narrator of “Breathing Lessons” examines the way she has been perceived as a mixed-race person; one constantly barraged with the question of, “What are you?” False binaries are explored in this deeply personal meditation. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Snapshot: A Hyphenated Coexistence

My grandmother from Peru remarried at 81 to Don from Dayton, Ohio. She didn’t speak English and Don doesn’t speak Spanish, but they managed to find their own language. Together, they created a unique American love story, far from the life she left behind in Lima. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 21: Education and Race

Even after Brown v. Board of Education, race is still a contentious topic in education. In fact, we’re more segregated today than we were in the late 1960s, but most people wouldn’t know that from their high school history classes. Race is still something we don’t teach in school unless it’s firmly placed in the past. Going against the grain is historian James Shields from Guilford College, a sought-after educator and speaker on anti-racism, community engagement, and Underground Railroad history. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 20: Brown White Black Family

Most TV and movies portray adoption as a white parent adopting a child. This is true in such mainstream shows as Friends, Glee, 90210, Modern Family, Sex and The City, Grey’s Anatomy, and Parenthood. This representation is often how people think of adoption, something that can get frustrating for Nishta J. Mehra, an Indian woman with a white wife and black adopted child. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Foreword to ‘Mixed,’ a Journalism Book about Mixed-Race Families in the US

In this Foreword for Nicole Zelniker’s journalism book about mixed-race families, Julián Esteban Torres López centers Mixed as evidence of one of The Nasiona’s strongest pillars: the subjective can offer its own reality and reveal truths some facts cannot discover. Mixed takes us on a journey and helps us glimpse into overlooked worlds and engage the spectrum of human experience. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 18: Parenting a Mixed-Race Child

In addition to being multiracial, many mixed-race Americans are also multicultural. Naomi Raquel Enright is one such person, and she writes about her own experience with race and racism in her book, Strength of Soul. Interwoven with her own story of being born to a Jewish American father and an Ecuadorian mother in La Paz, Bolivia, Naomi also proposes her own strategies for how to fight racism and introduces readers to what it is that exacerbates systemic racism in the US. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 17: Writing from Experience

Publishing has a race problem. Entertainment Weekly reported that only 7.8% of romance authors using a traditional publisher were people of color in 2016. For that same year, NPR found that only 22% of all characters in children’s books were characters of color. This, in a country where people of color are expected to make up more than half of the population by 2044 according to The Center for American Progress. For this reason, writers like Anika Fajardo, who is Colombian and white, and F. Douglas Brown, who is African American and Filipino, are more important than ever. Both were contributors to The Beiging of America, mentioned in our last episode. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 14: Disability Inclusion, Intersectionality, and Activism

Much of the already small disability representation in the media focuses on white people, and often men. Although we would never know it from TV and movies, the CDC reports that 19.67% of people of color have a disability compared with 20% of white people. In many spaces, people with disabilities aren’t welcome regardless of race, often unintentionally. Mia Ives-Rublee, a transracial adoptee and the founder and coordinator for the Women’s March Disability Caucus, is working to change the norm. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 13: Passing as White

Since European settlers brought enslaved Africans to the United States, there has been passing. In terms of race, passing means presenting as a race you don’t identify as, such as when former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal made headlines when it came out she was a white woman passing as black for many years. Not all passing is intentional, however. Sam Manas is white and Panamanian, although because he is much lighter-skinned than most people from Panama, people tend to think he’s only white. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 12: Mixed-Race Relationships

In 1958, married couple Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were jailed because they violated the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. In 1964, the couple sued the state of Virginia. Their case reached the Supreme Court in 1967, and the court struck down all state laws forbidding mixed-race marriages. Several decades later, this ruling allowed people like Zyda Culpepper Mellon, who is African American, to marry her white husband, and for Ricardee Franks, who is mixed, to also marry a white man. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 10: What It Means to be Mixed-Race

Mixed-race U.S. Americans are one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States. In 2017, 10% of all children in the U.S. were mixed-race, up from just 1% in the 1970s. Evidence indicates that this number will only go up: In 2016, it was reported that “47% of white teens, 60% of black teens, and 90% of Hispanic teens said they had dated someone of another race.” It is for these reasons that interviewees Justyn Melrose’s and Danielle Douez’s experiences are becoming more common. […]

Salvator Rosa, "Three Figures Around a Globe," 1615–73.
Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 5: Transracial Adoption

We continue our episode 3 discussion on mixed-race families by digging into transracial adoption. Nicole Zelniker—whose book, Mixed, was the focus of that episode—joins me to interview Leah Whetten-Goldstein about her experience being adopted from China into a white, Jewish family in North Carolina. We discuss side-effects, critiques, misunderstandings, and assumptions surrounding transracial adoption, as well as the beauty of being in a mixed-race family. We get a glimpse into Whetten-Goldstein’s struggle to find an identity growing up in a predominantly white community as an adoptee, and she shares the wisdom she’s gathered along the way. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 3: Mixed-Race Families

Journalist Nicole Zelniker, author of Mixed, takes us on personal journeys to help us glimpse into overlooked worlds so we can more fully grasp what it means to be mixed. Zelniker spoke to dozens of mixed-race families and individuals, as well as experts in the field, about their own experiences, with the hope to fill a gap in the very important conversation about race in the US today. […]