As I read and reflect on the series of articles dealing with racial inequality in Madison, I find myself sincerely agreeing with … wait for it … ALL sides. How is that possible? While I have sat quietly watching this debate for years now, in every story I notice the same thing. We continue to have this discussion about white privilege and black inequality without considering the fastest growing segment of the population that currently has no voice at all: multiracial folks like myself. Where do we fit into the scheme of things? I guess it depends on which race we were immersed in the most.
The 2000 U.S. Census was the very first opportunity for Americans to identify themselves as belonging to more than one race. The 2010 Census showed that people who reported multiple races grew by a much larger percentage than those who reported a single race. From 2000 to 2010, the population reporting multiple races grew to over 9 million, an increase of 32 percent compared to single race reporting, which grew by only 9.2 percent.
There is considerable evidence that shows the actual number to be higher. The census also reflected that while the total U.S. population grew by 9.7 percent, many mixed race groups increased by 50 percent or more. The number of Americans who checked both “white” and “black” in 2010 was 134 percent higher than it was in the prior census.
I’ll just be honest: I’ve never been white enough or black enough to be fully embraced by either race. Asians and Native Americans don't claim me either. Even though I love and relate to all races equally, most cannot see themselves in me because I am too thoroughly blended to be identified as any one race. Mixed race people have not been included in the equality discussion thus far, but in order to have a complete understanding of racial relations and to find positive solutions to address this issue, I highly recommend including multiracial folks in this discussion for several reasons.
In my experience, multiracial people have a broader, richer, more diverse perspective on race and can empathize with all sides of the discussion, creating more opportunities to smooth the ragged road of racial relations. Mixed people can more easily bridge the gap between races and bring people together for a common purpose because of their firsthand understanding of the differing perspectives involved. Multiracial children have become the common bond that joins families of different races together in loving lifelong relationships.
To ignore the fastest growing racial demographic in this discussion would be shortsighted and would not allow all perspectives to be heard. We all know that nothing in this world is black or white, and in reality we are all just varying shades of brown. Coming from this caramel brown woman’s perspective, the sooner we all work together to improve our society’s overall health and success, the better.
My experience as a multiracial female has been diverse and rich, and I cherish my relationships with friends of every age, race, creed, color, religion, political affiliation, and social stature. As the tired old paradigm of “us vs. them” is replaced with the radically hopeful new paradigm of “we are all one,” the face of our Rainbow Nation will be smiling back at you wearing not rose-colored glasses, but race-free ones.
Renee Greenland lives in Baraboo.