Burlington WA–Worker and Immigrant Solidarity March, Feb 12 2017 / photo by Sharon H Chang
by Sharon H Chang
I was fortunate enough to be able to take part in a Worker and Immigrant Solidarity March this last Sunday in Burlington, Washington. It’s the first rally/march I’ve been to out of Seattle in a while and it got me thinking. A lot. (more…)
Garfield High School Multiracial Student Union protesting Trump‘s election / photo by Sharon H Chang
by Sharon H. Chang
Where does a biracial activist stand in “Trump’s America”? As one of my so-called sides in solidarity with everyone else? Or as nothing in solidarity with everyone else? Perhaps I can only stand in alignment with monoracial movements now because times are urgent, crises are at hand, there’s only space for frontline issues in chaos, and mixed-race isn’t a real racial group anyway (or if it is, it’s not a politicized, radical, justice-seeking one)? Maybe I just don’t get to be my whole self for the next four years or however long this shit show lasts? (more…)
E R A S I N G T H E S T I G M A
Last year with Rocky Donaldson and Shanelle Donaldson West (among others) I helped organize a gathering of Black folks and people of color at Leschi Elementary in Seattle to congratulate kids for completing their first week of school. We were inspired by powerful gatherings of Black men who had done the same across the nation in Georgia and Connecticut. The goal was to show children of color positive images of Black people in their community instead of the negative and damaging images commonly portrayed in the media. We had an amazing, uplifting, incredible morning at Leschi. Six months later, hundreds of Black men turned out to greet children at Seattle’s South Shore PK-8 School as part of National African American Parent Involvement Day.
We loved the spirit and impact of this effort so much, we decided to do it again! (more…)
Expert opinion for The Stranger. Article by Ana Sofia Knauf:
According to Sharon H. Chang, author of Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World, the UW study’s findings completely go against “the ‘telling polls’ trotted out by mainstream media saying that ‘levels of acceptance are so high.'”
In the process of writing her book, Chang extensively studied the history of racial doctrine, which dictates that populations of differing races must stay siloed away from each other.
“Society ingrained that we shouldn’t mix. Our nation is founded on that kind of ideology and it’s still woven into our culture today,” says Chang, who is mixed-race Asian and white.
Chang recalls a shopping trip with her son where a Filipino store clerk approached them to ask if they were mixed-race. “I said ‘yes’ and she said something like, ‘Oh, there’s no pure blood anymore,’” says Chang.
Expert opinion for The Wall Street Journal. Article by Tracy Slater:
A growing body of research looks at minority kids with parents who grew up in the majority, although much of it focuses on transracial adoption of monoracial children. Sharon H. Chang, author of the book “Raising Mixed Race,” cautions against applying this research to families like mine. The experiences of monoracial minorities and mixed-race people, she explained by email, are like “apples and oranges. Monoracial people have not lived the experience of mixedness, no matter their minority or majority status.”
Image by Jeannie Phan
Mention in NPR’s CodeSwitch. Article by Leah Donnella:
Sharon H. Chang is an activist and author of the new book Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World. She also runs social media for the Critical Mixed Race Studies team, which was founded through DePaul University. In her writing, Chang tends to use “mixed race” and “multiracial” interchangeably, but in regular conversation, when someone asks her about her background, she says “I’m mixed.” She used both in the title of her book to convey that there are ongoing conversations about terminology and what it means at any given time.
Photos by Sharon H. Chang
by Sharon H. Chang
The other night at a Mixie Mixer (monthly meeting for radicalized multiracial-ID folk) two fierce sisters shared with and affirmed for me 4 keys to resiliency: animals, nature, spirituality, creativity. It was such a relief to hear this blossom from their lips. Over the last years I’ve been passionately prolific in scholarly activist work. But recently I’ve started to get overcome by exhaustion, racial fatigue, others pushback ranging from moderate to aggressive, people’s bullshit in general, continual bad news in the news, etc. All of which then began to twist itself into knots of depression, hopelessness, resignation, cynicism, isolation and an overall feeling of being just ragged-edge jaded.
I felt like I was on a fast-sinking ship called Sharon H. Chang. And — to use an overused adage — it was pretty blatantly obvious I was at a “sink or swim” passage. So. I talked to people. I got help. I asked for advice. I thought. And I thought some more. I really wasn’t sure where I was going to find mental peace but decided to just follow my gut. I knew going on walks in nature brought me some sort of calm (as long as I didn’t use my smartphone). I knew spending time with my family, my son and my animals brought me maybe not calm but a feeling of fullness (as long as I didn’t use my smartphone). And after thinking long and hard about probably needing a so-called hobby, I got out my camera again after almost ten years (can’t use smartphone at same time).
Little did I know it but I had steered myself toward some kind of humanity, hope and survival once more. And then hearing my sisters encapsulate and affirm that survival in four succinct, beautiful words — animals, nature, spirituality, creativity — I felt as if I might be coming full circle. So this Thursday? I’m in a good place and I’m hanging on to it for now. Here’s to never giving up and finding our spirit and energy again even when we thought it might be gone forever.
Douglas Smith (Korean/white) and Malik Abdul-Haqq (Black/Cambodian/Thai). Photos by Lindsey Wasson.
Expert opinion for The Seattle Times. Article by Audrey Carlsen:
Sharon H. Chang, a Seattle author and activist who has written extensively about multiracial experiences, says younger people of mixed race tend to be optimistic when it comes to how society perceives them. But Chang says young people’s attitudes often change over time, as they find themselves in new settings like college or workplaces.
Chang attributes this change in part to an increased awareness of the small thoughtless comments, actions and assumptions people experience when they walk out the door. “Each one is a little ding on your soul over time,” she says.
I ask her whether she thinks race still matters, and her answer is clear: Yes. “Race is about the way we look,” she says, and about how society views us based on those looks.