6 tips for multiracial people on being antiracist

Being multi-racial, mixed heritage, or whichever term feels most relevant to you, can be confusing (I’ll use the term multiracial moving forward since that’s how I identify). Not only in your own experience and identity, but also in navigating conversations about race. Sometimes you experience the privilege of having lighter skin or being white-passing and sometimes you experience racism from not being white enough. You might physically look more like one part of your race, but identify much more with the cultural norms of another. Should you navigate a conversation as a white ally or a person of colour?

At least for me, these are dynamic questions that my experience and thoughts on change over time, between situations and contexts, and as I gain more knowledge on the subject. But overall, each day is a learning process that adds to my understanding of myself, how to be anti-racist, and how drive equality, equity, and justice. Below I’ve gathered some of my reflections on what I’ve found to be helpful and how to best show up.

For context, my experience is one of being half white and half mixed Asian. I have light skin and grew up in a diverse city and community. If others have perspectives from a different mix or experience, I’d love to add any advice you have to this list to better support people of colour.

Join the conversation -

Being confused and uncertain on your role in anti-racism isn’t an excuse for not engaging in the conversation. This is true for everyone. Race is a factor in our society and ignoring it or opting out of acknowledging it only continues to foster inequalities. Everyone needs to join this conversation so we can address it and open the space for a more just world. Share resources that you find are helpful, chime in when race comes up in conversation, or speak up when you see or hear something that might be racist.

Continue to explore and share your own identity -

The global population is increasingly becoming more racially diverse. The more that we can share about these experiences, the more understanding and accepting we will all become, by showing that ‘normal’ doesn’t look like one thing. Becoming anti-racist and a multiracial ally is an ongoing journey that is also going to evolve overtime. Keep learning, educating yourself, and having discussions. I’ve listed some resources below that I’ve found helpful.

Use your privilege -

We need to acknowledge the privileges of having lighter skin or being able to fit into white spaces and consider how we can use them to benefit those without. This can look like speaking up in conversations about race in a way that might be higher risk for other people of colour, opening up conversations about race and sharing your experience, or calling out all white spaces and prompting a discussion on how to make the space more welcoming for people of colour. Think of this as a gateway to open a conversation and create space for darker skin voices.

Support your white friends and friends of colour -

Your white friends might find it easier to have conversations with you and ask questions than with other people of colour. You can use your experience of understanding whiteness to make tough conversations and questions relatable. With your friends of colour, spend time listening to their experiences and understanding their perspective and what they need. Support and act on their behalf in ways they might not be able to. Even a small thing like correcting people when they mispronounce your friends’ names can be helpful.

Explore how you can support other excluded groups -

Being able to hold multiple experiences in your identity can mean that you are able to more easily empathise with others who have different multifaceted identities. Even if you don’t identify with another group that also experiences or has experienced social exclusion, explore how your experience can relate to theirs and be an ally for others. Inequality is intersectional so we need to be supporting all groups who face exclusion and oppression.

Just keep breathing and showing up each day -

Yes, it can feel like a lot and tough conversations can be draining. Navigating your own identity can take up a lot of brainpower when you’re also figuring out how it fits into the bigger picture. Care for yourself and know that you won’t have it all worked out. Check in with yourself and what you need and just keep showing up.

It is up to everyone to build an equitable and just society. We each have our role to play in anti-racism and being multiracial can be a very interesting one. And as multiracial people are inevitably each very different individuals, so are our roles in this fight. Use what tips are helpful, leave which don’t, add your own, and keep sharing. The more we share our stories, the more we break down the boxes of what is normal, desirable, and aspirational.

Anti-racist resources

The Great Unlearn by Rachel Cargle

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad

My Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

My Grandmother’s Hand by Resmaa Menakem

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