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Monthly DEIJ Celebrations: April – Multiethnic and Multiracial Heritage Month

Monthly DEIJ Celebrations: April – Multiethnic and Multiracial Heritage Month

This is the next installment in the 10-part series of monthly DEIJ celebrations at TAS.

For more information on this monthly-series, please be sure to read the original post, published on August 25, in the Parent Post, written by E-chieh Lin, the Director of Inclusion and Wellbeing. 

 

In April, TAS celebrates and honors Multiethnic and Multiracial people. Multiracial is an umbrella term for people who identify with more than one racial identity or heritage. Multiethnic refers to people with more than one ethnicity who may also have one or more racial identity.   

There are not many organizations or governments that celebrate Multiethnic and Multiracial Heritage Month because many people believe that these identities can be celebrated with the other racial and cultural identity months. However, people who identify as Multiracial or Multiethnic are not just one of their racial or ethnic identities; they are fully ALL of their racial and ethnic identities. We use the term “fully” because for many Multiethnic and Multiracial people, they are asked to identify or feel like they are forced to share percentages of different racial and ethnic identities. Percentages and fractions diminish the right for a Multiracial or Multiethnic person to feel a part of any of their ethnic or racial identities. Multiracial and Multiethnic people are wholly all of their respective ethnic and racial identities. Which means, a person who is Irish, Diné, Mexican, and Han Chinese, is just that, and not a percentage of each identity.  

Some organizations in the United States celebrate Multiracial Heritage Week in either March or June.  The University of Maryland, other than TAS, is one of the only organizations that I’ve seen that celebrates Multiethnic and Multiracial Heritage Months. This year, their theme revolves around self-determination in terms of identity, meaning “I get to decide who I am” and “we get to decide who we are”. This theme reflects Dr. Maria Primitiva Paz Root's Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage, which states:  

I HAVE THE RIGHT… 

  • Not to justify my existence in this world. 
  • Not to keep the races separate within me. 
  • Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy. 
  • Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with my physical or ethnic ambiguity. 

I HAVE THE RIGHT… 

  • To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify. 
  • To identify myself differently than how my parents identify me. 
  • To identify myself differently than my brothers and sisters. 
  • To identify myself differently in different situations. 

I HAVE THE RIGHT… 

  • To create a vocabulary to communicate about being Multiracial or multiethnic. 
  • To change my identity over my lifetime–and more than once. 
  • To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people. 
  • To freely choose whom I befriend and love. 

Dr. Maria Primitiva Paz Root is a clinical psychologist and educator who resides in Seattle, Washington. Her research and work focus on Multiracial identity and families, cultural competence, trauma, workplace harassment and disordered eating. Dr. Root is a former President of the Washington State Psychological Association, she has served as Chair of the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, served on the advisory council of The Association of Multiethnic Americans, and co-founded the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies in 2011. Dr. Root’s research on multiracial identities informed the deliberations for the U.S. Census to allow a person to check one or more races on the 2000 census.  

Questions for the Dinner Table

  • Does someone in your family identify as Multiethnic or Multiracial?
  • When thinking about Multiethnic and Multiracial heritage, what are some of the experiences that you have heard about these identities?
  • What are some examples of how you, someone you know, or you community, support people with multiple identities?
  • How do you feel when learning about Multiethnic and Multiracial identities?
  • How does this learning impact how you might think about your own identity?

Places to learn about multiethnic and multiracial identities and to learn how to celebrate this month: