This Bridge – On Connection, Support and Mixed Student Organizing with Jenifer Logia

Interview with Jenifer Logia, Founder of the Mixed Alumni Association at UCLA and Recipient of the 2017 UCLA Impact Award 

 

I first met Jenifer at UCLA during their Mixed Student Union’s 5th annual Mixed Heritage Conference back in April. The recipient of the 2017 Impact Award, Jenifer is driven, yet she speaks about her experience with mixed student and alumni organizing with humility, and as having its roots in finding a community that embraced her multiple ethnic backgrounds. I interviewed Jenifer a few months later to hear more about how she came to establish the Mixed Student Alumni Association for which she was recognized, in the hopes of bringing some lessons from her experience to other student leaders in our community.

Jenifer grew up in the Bay Area with a family of Nicaraguan, Filipino and Guamanian heritage. She says that she was always made to feel that all of her cultural lineages were equally important. It wasn’t until she attended the admitted students weekend before her first year at UCLA that she found a place where she could fully express this with others. “I just happened to walk past one [table] that said Mixed Student Union. As soon as I started talking to the folks at the table, they were telling me about their different backgrounds and one person was like ‘oh I’m Mexican and Jewish’ and someone else was, you know, Canadian and Indian and all these different things and I was like oh my gosh this is me. And I’ll never forget that moment because it was literally the first time in my entire life where I even thought I could identify that way and just meeting other people who had multiple backgrounds, I just felt this immediate connection like, ‘oh wow, this is a space for me.’”

 

See more of Jenifer’s story in Part 1 of our video interview:

 

What I was most struck by in Jenifer’s story was her commitment not only to being part of and serving an insular mixed race student body, but widening her network to gain support and perspective from an intergenerational group of student and community leaders. She worked with the leaders of other race and ethnic establishments on campus, and regularly attended their meetings. Even when people looked at her strangely, she persisted in maintaining her relationships across campus to make MSU known and understood as an ally; for Jenifer, “it was just about showing up and showing up consistently.’

The UCLA Mixed Heritage Conference created the opportunity to connect with local organizers and academics. Initially inspired by UC Berkeley’s annual conference, Jenifer and her colleagues began hosting their own in an effort to bring this type of event to student organizations in Southern California at schools like UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and UC San Diego. By expanding the possibility of mixed student organizing, Jenifer opened up new ways of seeing how to shape community, identity, for herself and others. She says, “Knowing that I wasn’t alone and knowing that there were people out there doing work to, whether it was researching it at academic level or organizing outside of college was really big for me. It was a whole new way of understanding myself and seeing the world in a different way–having friends who I felt were like my family…and on top of being in the student group.”

 

See more about Jenifer’s experience with MSU in Part 2 of our video interview:

 

The alumni group is also premised on this notion of broad based support for mixed students. Jenifer had noticed that other more established groups obtained support through networking opportunities, scholarships and fundraising events. She made it her goal to begin the an alumni association for MSU in and effort to raise money for multiracial scholarships, provide post-graduate opportunities to MSU students, and increase representation of mixed alumnus board members. An additional benefit? Seasoned student organizers will be familiar with the sophomore slump, in which membership tapers off after the first year or two. An alumni association, Jenifer noticed, provides an external support network for student leaders to lean on during the skinny months of membership, as well as added interest for juniors and seniors who are looking for external mentorship and job training.

In addition to propping up MSU as an organization, the alumni network offers students and alumni the opportunity to understand more about their shared history as well as what mixed community looks like beyond the walls of academia and into the future. “This experience has opened my eyes to what it means to be a multiracial person later on in life or what it was back in the 90s or 80s long before I was a student. Up to the point that I started the alumni association, most of my experience talking about mixed race identity had been with college students on a college campus and so this just broadened my perspective to a much bigger level and just hearing stories from folks who attended UCLA long before there was ever a mixed student union and hearing about their experiences and how, today we’re very fortunate that students on college campuses can get together and claim a mixed identity and be proud of that, whereas before that was very much something that was taboo.” Outside of UCLA, Jenifer has noticed new issues arise around mixed race organizing. “Not everyone has that multiracial awakening in their 20s.” The dialogue is ongoing and, she says, it’s “been interesting to have that conversation with people who have professional careers and families. This has opened up a question about how we foster dialogues that’s not just about people in college, but how does this conversation look to someone who’s a little bit older?”

 

See more about the Mixed Student Alumni Association in Part 3 of our video interview:

 

These days, Jenifer has shifted some of her organizing energy to focus representing more women of color, and Latino and immigrant populations, in politics. Last year, she worked with San Mateo County on community outreach and engagement projects with the Latino community; this fall, she begins her studies for a Masters in Public Policy at Mills College. Her work with MSU has clearly left its mark. She says, “Wherever I go in life [MSU] has helped me to identify the missing pieces and that we still have a lot more work to do.”

 

Find out what Jenifer’s up to these days in Part 4 of our video interview.

 

You can see more about Jenifer Logia and the UCLA Impact Award here.

To find out more about MSU, find them on Facebook and Twitter @MixedStudentUnionUCLA

And to find out more about the alumni association, visit their website, or find them on Facebook @UCLAMixedAlumniAssociation.


Kaily Heitz is on the board of directors with Mixed Roots Stories, as the student and partner outreach coordinator. She is and alumnus of Pitzer College, where she co-created a club for mixed race students of the Claremont Colleges Consortium called MERGE, and is currently earning her PhD in Geography at UC Berkeley.


Celebrate Multiracial Heritage Month with MICA

March is Multiracial Heritage Month at the Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA) center at the University of Maryland’s Stamp student union! Mixed Roots Stories is proud to partner with this exemplary university group and think it important to tell the stories of student leadership. Check out the re-cap of last year’s mixed heritage month and see this year’s awesome line-up of events (below)! Go participate in a talk, hear spoken word, see a film screening at UMD or, if you’re not a local, get inspired for your own multiracial heritage celebration! Tag your mixed heritage month posts on Twitter and Instagram @UMDMICA and @OurMixedStories.

If you’d like to get involved with MICA, contact coordinator Dr. Naliyah Kaya at nkaya@umd.edu; if you’re interested in partnering or would like to see your student group events/leadership story featured with Mixed Roots Stories, email kaily@mixedrootsstories.org.

Multiracial Activists in Black Social Justice Movements
When: Thursday, March 2nd @ 7pm
Where: Stamp Student Union Thurgood Marshall Room
Members of the UMD community will gather to discuss the role of multiracial activists in Black social justice movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. This even is cross-listed on the Black History Month Calendar. *Dessert provided.

Mixed Monologues
When: Wednesday, March 8th @ 7pm
Where: Stamp Student Union Art Gallery
Join TOTUS Spoken Word Experience for an evening of poetry performances hosted by UMD alum and spoken word artist Tony Keith. *Refreshments provided.

50 Years of Loving: Interracial Dating Across Generations Panel
When: Thursday, March @ 9th
Where: Stamp Student Union Pyon Su Room
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, which banned anti-miscegenation laws nationally. Join a panel of students and local community members as they share their experiences with interracial dating and offer reflections on challenges and changes across generations. This event is cross-listed on the Black History Month calendar. *Refreshments provided.
From Black/Red Power to Hip Hop: Black & Indigenous Solidarities in Unexpected Places  When: Tuesday, March 14th @ 7pm
Where: Stamp Student Union Grand Ballroom Lounge
Join us for an exciting evening with Dr. Kyle T. Mays, historian of modern US, Afro-Indigenous, and Indigenous studies! *Food provided.
The Mixed Experience Brown Bag Lunch
When: Wednesday, March 15th @ 12pm                                                                                                                 Where: Stamp Student Union 1121 MICA/LCSL Conference Room 
Come out for an engaging dialogue focusing on the experiences of bi/multiracial people. You do not need to identify as bi/multiracial to attend. Lunch will be served, so come hungry!
Loving Film Screening
When: Monday & Tuesday, March 27th & 28th @ 8pm
Where: Stamp Student Union Hoff Theatre 
The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, whose challenge of their anti-miscegenation arrest for their marriage in Virginia led to a legal battle that would end at the US Supreme Court.
Your Cup, Your Culture: DIY                                                                                                                         When: Wednesday, March 29th @ 6-8PM
Where: Stamp Student Involvement Suite
Come decorate your own personal coffee mug with designs inspired by your culture and heritage. Mugs and materials will be provided, courtesy of the brothers of ATS. Designs will be part of a #yourcupyourculture social media campaign.

Multiracial Asian Americans In Dialogue
When: Thursday, April 6th @ 5PM
Where: Stamp Student Union 1121 MICA/LCSL Conference Room
This event is a space for people to share experiences related to multiracial identity within the Asian American community. Participants will engage in dialogue around community and build awareness of the needs of multiracial students at UMD. This event is cross-listed on the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Calendar


BOOK REVIEW – Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post Racial World

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Sharon H. Chang’s inaugural book, Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post Racial World, lays out a blue print that outlines the history of white supremacy and how it has corrupted the way people treat each other, specifically Mixed Race/ Multiracial and Multiracial Asian individuals. She develops an important foundation that provides a glimmer of hope for moving forward toward improving our future world, despite the powerful suppressive system before us.

The title might make you think it is a parenting book, and it is (or could be), but it so much more! The language/verbiage used in the book makes this potentially academic/research strong book accessible for those who might have the most questions…parents. Though this book has a focus on multiracial Asian children, it is not just a book for parents of multiracial Asian children. It is a book for all children of color…and even for parents of white children! This book is for anyone who comes in contact with children in any way. This means if you are a teacher/educator, a child care worker, do research with children or on race and intersectionaility…or if you are a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or once was a child. This book is for everyone!

The book is based on Chang’s interviews with 68 parents of 75 young children living in Washington State. She does not go into detail about her recruitment and method, however she does discuss this in my recent interview with her (see Part 1 of 2 below). She intertwines her findings with current and historical events, existing scholarly research and reports, her expertise in tracking dialogue across social media, her own multiracial Asian experience and more.

The focus is on children from 0 to 5 years old. This is an age that has been neglected in most parenting books and research with a multiracial focus. This is also an age during which many parents think that their children do not recognize/see race; however Chang shows us that they absolutely do. Young children are learning from the subtle and often unspoken systematic racism that is infused throughout every aspect of our society.

Chang makes it clear that the understanding of race begins in the home. In a world that is fearful to discuss how white supremacy has been engrained into society and families generation after generation…it is time families start having these difficult conversations. Chang warns that race is not easy to discuss, but essential and does not have to be done alone. It can be done through community. Her last chapter provides specific examples of how to address race in the community, school, and home.

This is the first book that I have seen, that looks at racial identity development, and puts systematic racism and white supremacy where it belongs…. at the beginning and linked over and over again to the end. To understand and address race issues with our children, we must begin with its origin story. When attempting to comprehend the lens in which race issues are created, we must understand the frame in which that lens is held together – white supremacy. Chang tells it like it is. She lifts the curtain on age-old white ideas of race, breaks down history, language and concepts that have created divisions between people who look different or do not follow the prescribed norms. For example, she breaks down how the trending term microagression was created from a white lens and points out there is nothing small or mirco about them! She deconstructs terms used in medical spaces, such as “Mongolian Spots” that have racist origins; and many individuals have just come to believe that is what they are called (See Part 2 of 2 below for more on this). Additionally, she provides a fantastic response to the common question/idea “But aren’t we all mixed?” in one of the most eloquently written explanations I have seen. Watch Part 2 of 2 below to hear about how she responds to the question and her new elevator response to this question!

The book is coming out just in time for the holidays, and will make a great gift. It should be on everyone’s 2016 reading list! You can order the book on the publisher site  or on Amazon.

Be sure to join Sharon on December 11th for her Facebook launch party. She will be partying all day and giving away some great prizes. Don’t miss it!

You can find the Multiracial Asian Families community and blog page on Facebook, the book page on Facebook. You can fin her on Twitter @mutliasianfams, Pinterest, or on her blog MultiAsian Families.

 

Watch my recent interview with Sharon!

Part 1 – She shares her mixed roots story, how the book came to be and more!

Part 2 -We discuss content from the book including: “Mongolian spots”, miss-education and the need for reeducation around racist terms, how to respond to -“Everybody is Mixed”, Culture vs. Race, Anti-bias curricula, learning environments and more.



Chandra Crudup, PhD, MSW
 is a board member and co-founder of Mixed Roots Stories. She is the Vice President of MAVIN and the Production Manager for One Drop of Love. Chandra is full time Lecturer and Faculty Associate Coordinator in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. She has over six years of practice experience in K-12 schools. Her research interests are centered on multiracial identity and interracial relationships. Her research utilizes video technology as a qualitative data gathering tool. She is also interested in using the arts as a medium to build positive self-esteem in youth.


Mixed Roots Stories Highlight Vlogs from #CMRS2014

At the 2014 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference we documented a few of the Mixed Roots Stories highlights from each day by including them in a vlog every night. You can view the highlights of #CMRS2014 in all 4 vlogs below!

 

MXRS CMRS 2014 Vlog 1 – The Night Before

MXRS CMRS 2014 Vlog 2 – Day 1

MXRS CMRS 2014 Vlog 3- Day 2

MXRS CMRS 2014 Vlog 4 – Day 3

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for more highlight vlogs from the festival and other Mixed Roots Stories events coming soon! And sign up for our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming events http://mixedrootsstories.com/get-involved/.

We look forward to seeing everyone at #CMRS2016 in Southern California!


Seeking Holiday Guest Bloggers

How do you mix your holiday traditions?

We’re looking for guest bloggers for the last couple months of 2014 who will share their holiday traditions. Holiday traditions often represent our cultural and familial roots that have been passed down through the years.

We want to hear from you! How have you and your family mixed those traditions to celebrate the holidays?

Email us at info@mixedrootsstories.org if you’re interested in sharing your mixed holiday story!

 


Skin. My Story Starter

Ten years ago this week, I was in the hospital with a rare acute allergic reaction called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. I had been taking a mild antibiotic that had Sulfa in it…I am allergic to Sulfa based drugs, but did not know it. It started with flu like symptoms and a sensitive rash that turned into blisters. Once my rash and blistered covered body worsened, and my ulcerated mouth made eating a challenge, I was admitted to the hospital.  I spent eight days and seven nights in the hospital as the Sulfa burned through my skin.

Skin.

My skin has always been a perfect blend of my dad (who is Black) and my mom (who is White). I have always LOVED and embraced being mixed. As long as I can remember, I made it clear to everyone that I was both Black AND White. In the 4th grade I even spoke to a university class, with my parents, about being mixed.

As I got older, I recognized that my skin changed with the seasons. In the winter, I was lighter. In the summer, I was darker. My ever changing color always makes picking out the “perfect shade” of make up a challenge! In the summers, I would try and get enough sun to last as long into the winter as possible.  This was mostly because I felt I looked healthier with darker skin.  I know that sounds silly, but it’s just how I felt, and still feel sometimes. My skin has always ignited discussion from others. I have usually taken advantage of their curiosity by answering their questions, sharing my mixed story, and educating them about what it means for me to be mixed.

Changing Shades.

As I sat in the hospital, a few weeks before graduating with my Bachelors of Social Work from Azusa Pacific University, watching my skin literally flake off my body, I had a lot of questions for the doctors about what the final results would be. At this point, the skin that had fallen off was leaving very raw, fresh, pale pink, and sensitive skin. There were spots of this new skin surrounded by darker, unblistered, and unaffected skin. One day the infectious disease doctor came in for his daily visit.

 

Me: “What am I going to end up looking like?”

Doctor: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Am I going to look like Michael Jackson?”

(I know this might make me sound vain…and maybe it was a little…but I had stopped looking at my reflection. I no longer recognized myself in the mirror, and was having a difficult time remembering what “normal skin” felt like. I was beginning to realize that I might never look like my old self again.)

Doctor: “Well its hard to tell. We don’t really know.” (Looks at my mom) “You will probably end up being about her complexion.”

(My heart sank. Not because my mom isn’t beautiful, but because I LOVED my mixed skin. That is who I am, mixed.  If it is washed away…than who would I be? I was speechless.)

My mom pulled out my senior picture to show the doctor.

Mom: “This is what she normally looks like.”

It was written all over the doctor’s face. He did not realize that I was mixed. I had been in the hospital for at least three or four days, and the doctor didn’t know I was mixed!

Doctor: “Oh, well, uh, we will just have to wait and see. Time will tell.”

 

WHAT!?!  You are the doctor! You can’t tell me what is going to happen! As I was quickly learning, no one really knew the exact outcome of Stevens-Johnson. They didn’t even know what was the best way to treat it or prevent it from getting worse. Nurses from all over the hospital came to visit me. They had worked there for 10 years and had never seen a case. The only thing the doctors could tell me is that it has to run its course as it works through my system and out through my skin.

The doctor left and I was left in epidermis limbo. I was forced to start the process of coming to terms with my current changing color of skin.

5_1_2004

Picture taken May 1, 2004. This was Day 7 in the hospital.

As my skin continued to flake off, my face was light, and like new baby skin. My arms and chest and back were spotted. Slowly the light spots gained pigment.  I was hopeful that my skin would even out. However, the light spots continued to darken, eventually hyper-pigmentating. Now I had my color back, but I was spotted. After about nine months, lots of prayer, and a series of microdermabrasion treatments with my Dermatologist, my skin evened out. I still have a few lingering scars, but only I see them.

As I reflect back on the experience, I am thankful, and feel blessed, that my mixed skin was restored, but if it hadn’t been…I still would have been mixed, for mixed blood runs through my veins. My worry was never that I might be different, or having to come to terms with an altered appearance. I think my worry was that if my skin was lighter, spotted, or looked like Michael Jackson, that it would no longer be a catalyst for conversations where I could educate others about my mixedness. For someone who has always felt comfortable with my mixed identity, the thought of that being stripped away was scary. I realize now, more than ever, that being mixed, for me, is more than skin deep. My skin would have still been a discussion starter…but for a new purpose…surviving Steven Johnson. Now my skin tells an even more complex story, not only one of my mixed heritage, but of surviving Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Who I am is obviously more than skin deep, but skin, for me… is a story starter.


MXRS Visual Podcast Episode 1: Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis and the Mixed Race Initiative

We are excited to launch the visual version of Episode 1 of the MXRS Podcast — bringing you the story behind the stories. Our first several episodes are in partnership with the Asian American Literary Review and its Mixed Race Initiative. Editor-in-Chief Lawrence-Minh Búi Davis is our first guest. Join us as our conversation winds its way through language, how we identify ourselves, the origins of the Mixed Race Initiative and its components, making our work more accessible, and much more.


Grant Writing Specialist Needed – Intern/Volunteer Opportunity

Mixed Roots Stories is looking for a motivated person who is experienced, or wants to gain experience writing grant proposals. The Grant Specialist will work with the Mixed Roots Stories team to grow a database of grant opportunities as well as gather information, collect and organize data, and draft grant submissions. This could be either an intern or volunteer position. The intern/grant writer must be self motivated, organized, detail oriented, a team player and timely with due dates. This is an ideal position for someone looking for an internship or volunteer opportunity working with an up and coming, very active nonprofit.

 

Please send resumes/CVs (include references) and cover letters expressing your interest in Mixed Roots Stories and the Grant Specialist position to info@mixedrootsstories.org. Please put “Grant Writer” in the subject line.



Social Media Intern Position

We are looking for a motivated person who is experienced with multiple social networking sites and promotion within those sites. The individual must be self motivated, creative, organized, team player, and timely with due dates.  This is a perfect position for someone looking for an internship working with an up and coming and very active nonprofit. Some tasks may include: keeping a constant presence on facebook, twitter, etc.; creation of promotional material; research to support the MXRS podcast, and more.

Please send resumes and cover letters expressing your interest in Mixed Roots Stories and the Media Intern position to info@mixedrootsstories.org. Please put Media Intern in the subject line.