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Jan 3, 2014

Maria Roots' Bill of Rights for Mixed People

Maria Roots' Bill of Rights for Mixed People

some notes:

"I have the right not to be responsible for people's discomfort with my physical ambiguity."  Racial ambiguity is scary because humans, as pack creatures, want to have the comfort of putting each person they meet into the appropriate position of power in relation to themselves and others they know the place of.  To deny someone the knowledge of your ambiguous race is an act of resistance, not toward the individual but to the system that created and perpetuates the delusion of race, "a status quo that perpetuates race wars and violates civil rights."

"I have the right to identify myself differently than how strangers expect me to identify." Recently, after being asked what I am and responding that I am mixed Asian and White, I got the follow up, "Yeah, but that's so vague.  Come on, what kind of Asian?" followed by the assertion, "I'm Mexican." I complied and gave my full breakdown, as Root says, "fragment[ing] myself and others."  When I give in to this line of questioning it is a concession at the point when I've run out of energy and just want to give people what they want so that they'll move on and leave me alone.  I hope it was as unsatisfying for them to learn as it was for me to share.  [This differs from a personal conversation about race/identity/whatever where race comes up.  This is about being approached in this way by people who I do not know.]

"I have the right to freely choose whom I befriend and love." Have you ever had the thought or fear that if you had children with a white person, that your children would be white?  Does the fact that I've had this thought offend you?  It's certainly not a fear I want to live by or chose my partner by, I'm just saying I've had this thought, and I know I'm not the only one who has feared it.  Freedom is complicated.

Root breaks down her thoughts and further explains each of the declarations:

Root, Maria. "A Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People." Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. Ed. Maurianne Adams, Warren J. Blumenfeld, et. al.  New York and London: Routledge, pp. 120-126.