Multiracial and Proud: Meet the Americans Who Check More Than One Box

60 percent of multiracial Americans say they’re proud of their diverse background.

Millennials are the largest, most educated, and most diverse generation to date: 58 percent are white, 21 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are Black, and 6 percent identify as Asian/Pacific Islander. They’re also the most multiracial. The median age of multiracial Americans is 19, compared with 38 for single-race Americans.

Yet, America’s most open-minded generation isn’t the only one whose racial makeup is in a state of transformation. Since the Census Bureau first started allowing people to check multiple boxes for race in the year 2000, the number of Americans who self-identify as being of two or more races has doubled. America's multiracial population is growing at a rate three times faster than the overall population, according to a Pew Research Center study released this summer. The study also found that 60 percent of multiracial Americans are “proud of their heritage.”

Yet nearly as many—55 percent—have also admitted to being the subject of racial slurs or jokes. Nearly a quarter have expressed annoyance that people make assumptions about them based on their presumed ethnicity. Human beings are much more complicated than any checklist or survey could capture. What is it really like being multiracial in America today?

For Evan Waterman, a 35-year-old Miami-based DJ (aka DJ KingCut) who has a white father from Chicago and a mother from the Philippines, “proud” isn’t always the first word he’d choose to describe how he feels about his background. Though the percentage of adult Americans identifying as biracial white Asians has increased 87 percent since the year 2000, Waterman says that his light complexion and amber eyes leave people confused about how to perceive him. And that makes him a bit uncomfortable.

“I think being kind of racially ambiguous goes both ways in terms of hindrance and advantage… It has ... gotten me followed around stores. But that could also have been how I was dressed that day or something like that. There are indicators beyond race that people sometimes use to determine how they will treat people. I’m sure I’ve probably unconsciously slipped in and out of identities and have had the advantages of white privilege,” he says.

Uche Nchekwube, also in his thirties, can relate. Nchekwube is a realtor residing in California’s Bay area. His father is a black man born in Nigeria. His mother is a white woman born in Detroit. Nchekwube says he often feels more black than white. “If I was the only black kid in the class, that would be one thing. One time a kid told me that I don’t give enough acknowledgement to my white side. And the context was that he felt like I dressed black and I didn’t dress white, whatever that means. This was a Jewish kid wearing baggy jeans. I just took it as hypocritical and moved on,” says Nchekwube.

Meanwhile, Waterman says he doesn’t really align himself with either of his racial identities. “As corny as it sounds, I identify most with the culture of being a hip hop head. But then with that, there comes again that point of pride, because there are a number of top DJs who are Filipino. DJ Qbert is one of the best to ever do it, and there’s Neil Armstrong, Jay-Z’s tour DJ. We’re out there. We’re not the stars of hip hop, but we’re out there,” he notes.

Waterman adds that he has felt embarrassment from both sides of his parentage. “The white side, has so much ... that it is responsible for. There was also a time when I was a kid, I was embarrassed to have people over to my house because my mom would make Filipino dishes that I knew other kids would find weird,” explained Waterman.

Nchekwube and Waterman are adults, navigating a new racial space. But the data shows that there are plenty of babies being born who’ve never known anything else. Between 1970 and 2013, the percentage of multiracial babies has increased from 1 percent of the infant population to 10 percent. What is it like for kids growing up in this incredibly diverse era?

Amanda Corsetti, a white American living outside of Washington D.C., is raising a multiracial son who is nearly 5 years old. The boy’s father is Jamaican with Syrian and Chinese parentage. The result? A boy with skin Corsetti describes as “brownish.” His thick hair does occasionally draw scrutiny, she says—though her son has yet to weigh in on the matter.

“The kids at camp were treating him like some kind of unicorn... I asked him what he thought he was and he said ‘white.’ He thought about it and said that I’m white and Daddy is brown, so maybe he’s both. But then he said that he has hair and eyes like mine, so he’s white,” says Corsetti, a Millennial employed as a foreign liaison officer.

As a white mom of a multiracial child, Corsetti is open to the fact that she doesn’t have all the answers. “I’d like to tell him not to think about race/color, but I know that’s naïve, and honestly, I’ve never had to deal with these issues myself, so this is a learning process,” she says.

Still, Corsetti hopes her son will be counted among the growing percentage of proud multiracial adults. A song with the refrain, “Say it loud, I’m multiracial and proud,” may not have the same ring to it as a certain 1968 hit from James Brown. But it would definitely be a sign of positive progress for everyone.

Illustration by Brian Hurst

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.