Mixed Race Youth
I'm half Colombian and half French, born and raised in California. My mother is European white and my father is Latinx (a mulatto/mestizo mix). I grew up with mostly white friends, feeling myself defintely not white. It took until I got to UCLA — when I made friends with other POC —to feel comfortable in my brown mixed body. I always felt a bit in this limbo — not being able to speak fluent Spanish made me feel like an outsider of the Latinx culture, yet white folks always made it clear that I didn't belong with them either. This photo series has been an outlet for me to connect with all kinds of mixed race folks through a shared experience. I photographed and interviewed everyone on growing up mixed.
"I’m half African American, I don’t know what part of Africa that stems from because I’m adopted. I’m also half Mexican American. My parents are both caucasian. Socially, I identify as white. I learned this in college that you can identify with something you don’t look like. I’m still kind of coming to my own as this weird tri-racial or biracial person. I’m just being me and identifying however that is." —Griff S.
"If I go into a community where everyone is first generation, everyone is full Mexican, came straight from Mexico, yeah I’m the white guy. They don’t take me seriously, they wouldn’t even consider speaking to me in Spanish. But in white spaces, it’s the opposite." —Pasqual G.
"It’s a difficult thing especially in the Black community when you identify with both of your sides, it can be seen as if you’re trying to whiten yourself, or saying your Blackness is not enough. That’s really absurd to me because ignoring my Armenian side is ignoring another rich culture that also survived a genocide. I should be able to embrace both, otherwise it’s doing a disservice to my ancestors, the fact that I even exist. I’m proud to be Black and Armenian." —Carene M.
"How POC am I allowed to be? How much can I feel in solidarity with my peers who are really re-rooting themselves and trying to decolonize themselves? It feels inauthentic to be like “pinoy” this, if somebody asked me some trivia question about the Philippines I’d have no friggin’ clue. But that’s not to say that my experience and my lineage there isn’t deep and true. Who’s to tell me that I’m not Filipino, who’s to tell me that I have less of a right to identify with that?" —Brandy E.
"My friend asked me if my hair gets messed up when I sleep at night. And I was like no, that doesn’t happen to me. Well most Black people have satin sheets because their hair gets so kinky and curly that it gets caught on the pillow case and it messes up the hair, thats why sometimes they have the wrap to keep it from catching. I had no idea, that’s because I have the Asian hair in it too. So I’m learning these things that I felt like I should know, but I haven't experienced it myself." —Khalif B.
"I’ve found myself very fluidly being able to fit into cultures that aren't mine like, say, Mexican culture or when I was in Cambodia. People accept you as one of them. When I travel, people don’t think too much about me, they’re just like ‘oh she’s one of us.’ People think I’m Indian or Greek, all these different races. I love feeling like global citizen in that way. It makes up for feeling so isolated as a kid. It kind of revealed itself as this quiet superpower that you can have." —Odette M.
"My appearance is ambiguous, and people tend to project a lot onto me because of that. I’ve had Black friends claim me as Black because of my hair, Black friends distinctly tell me I’m NOT Black because of my skin tone, Philippinx and Chinese friends tell me they could tell I was part Asian based on my eyes. It’s made me very aware of the question of belonging. How much do I belong to an ethnic group, what does that belonging even mean?" —Hannah C.