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Multiracial Identity

Based on the essays of Julia Alvarez and Danzy Senna and our class discussion, what do you think are the real issues of multiraciality or multiracial identity? The essays of Julia Alvarez and Danzy Senna address issues of multiracial identity important in their younger years as they grew up daughters of a multiethnic and multiracial background. Despite the slight generational differences, the same issues are as important today as they were twenty or thirty years ago.
The concept of one being multiracial is a relatively new concept. In the past, a person with a mixed racial background could not reasonably claim a mixed heritage openly, one had to identify with one or the either. Those that could not do that usually found themselves isolated from either background. This is made apparent in American literature through memorable characters such as William Faulkner’s Joe Christmas, a man from a mixed racial background who could not identify wholly with either his black or white heritage in the South in the early 20th century. This is also the experience of Danzy Senna, who explains that in her early experiences in Boston, that there was either black or white and no “halvsies”. Despite her father’s choice of white female companionship, her father made her define herself as black. This was the usual trend of the multiracial equation until corporations, as Senna describes, realize that multiracialism can increase their profit margin. Thus, we see the bombardment of multiracialism in pop culture today. This is especially apparent in the entertainment industry, particularly the music industry. Many celebrities now take pride in their multiethnic, multiracial heritage. Nowadays, it is chic for many music artists to be of multiracial background. Where one had to choose between one or the either, as Senna and in part Alvarez had, it was considered okay to claim a multiracial background even on official forms ...

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