I was tired of conversations about race being framed in black and white. So I created my own conversation.
This post was originally published on Medium.
I suppose I should tell you a little bit about myself.
I’m a half Korean, half white woman who grew up all over the country.
I’ve lived in places where I was the whitest kid in my class, and other places where my dry cleaner asked if I spoke English. I only speak the most basic Korean, and I haven’t been back to Korea since I was a toddler. I grew up the darkest cousin in my family, going to reunions full of blond people in Kansas.
By the time I was three, I knew to explain to strangers why I looked the way I did: “Hi, I’m Alex. I’m half Korean.”
Me, with my cousin and grandmother.
When I meet other multiracial people, I get excited. It’s something familiar you see in each other. You might not know exactly what their mix is, but you can see in their faces that they don’t quite fit in either. They’re familiar with that ever-present question: “What are you?”
I wanted to investigate that moment of recognition.
It’s the kindergarten-level foreign language you can speak to your aunts, the taste for “foreign” flavors you’ve known since childhood, and the distinct feeling of otherness projected onto your face because you look just a little bit “different.”
Out of all of these experiences, I created “Other: Mixed Race in America,” a new podcast from The Washington Post about multiracial identity.
I’ve spent the last year reading everything I can about mixed race identity. I interviewed experts and people I met on the Internet. I have stories from Ruth Ozeki, Maureen O'Connor, Sulome Anderson, and more. I listened to an ungodly amount of Mitski and Japanese Breakfast.
“Other: Mixed Race in America” is not meant to paint the definitive portrait of mixedness in America. I’m not even sure such a portrait is possible. But I do hope that the stories we tell will inform and enrich the conversation about what it means to live in America today.