Stan Grant, a journalist at ABC, argued in an article this week that we shouldn’t be talking about Meghan Markle as “mixed-race.” Grant used the argument that is often used to discredit race identities. He said that there was no scientific basis for racial identity and that people shouldn’t be put into categories based on their race.
Grant’s argument is flawed because a person can adopt a race identity without using the scientific view of race. Grant admitted that race is important because people still see themselves as belonging to certain races. The fact that African Americans in the US suffer from inequalities, for example, is proof of this.
The social construct of race is what makes people read as African American or Asian. This makes race real for us. As an Okinawan-Japanese Australian, I can talk about the way society categorizes me based on my race without saying race is a science reality.
Many Aboriginals find the term “mixed races” problematic. It is likely due to racist colonial attempts to “breed-out” Aboriginality and to separate Aboriginal people from their history.
Aboriginal people were classified as mixed by using demeaning blood quanta. Understandably, they are suspicious of terms such as “mixed race.” What about those who have other histories and need a way to describe their mixed roots in a language?
Post-race? Not yet
People of mixed race can live in cultures that are different. This can be a feeling of not being white enough or Asian enough. As a child, I was shocked to hear Senator Pauline Hanson warn that Australia could be overrun with Asians. This made me feel like an outsider. In Japan, however, I was never considered a native.
Pauline Hanson, in her 1996 first-ever parliamentary address, warned that Australia was at risk of being “swamped” by Asians. Peter Matthew
It was a difficult and confusing situation. Where did I fit in? Was I white? Few positive examples were available in public to prove that I was both.
Some mixed-race people who have a white heritage feel that their ethnic background is devalued. It’s socially acceptable to be white rather than ethnic. When Western popular culture portrays the majority of characters in films and television as white, and people of color are often portrayed in stereotypical ways, we internalize this hierarchy of race. It can lead to mixed-race people learning how to pass for white and hiding their ethnic identity or culture. In Japan, for example, there is segregation and racism against mixed-race people.
Has been talking about a “post-racial era due to the growing number of people who are mixed-raced. It is the idea that everyone will one day be mixed, and there will no longer be any race or racism. The poster children for this “raceless future” are people of mixed race. The result of this is that they are not taken seriously.
What does it mean for someone to be a mixture of Asian and white in a society that reinforces in different ways the idea that Asians don’t belong? It’s not an oppression Olympics. I don’t say that mixed-race people have more problems than other races. I just think it’s important to talk about what it’s really like to be mixed race.
It is important to me because, as a child, I never saw my experiences reflected in public. I suppressed ethnic feelings and gave in to the pressure of assimilation to white Australian culture. In my early 20s, I only began to understand the internalized racism in my life when I attended university. I began to take pride in who I am and reassess my ethnicity.
We must ensure that ethnic Australians can freely express themselves in any way they choose. You can also have a mixed-race identity, which doesn’t fit into any of the exclusive categories. Only by expressing these identities and discussing them openly can we understand the impact of race on all of us.
I’d like to hear mixed-race Australians discuss what it meant to them to grow here. If Meghan Markle can help facilitate that discussion, then let’s do it!