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


MXRS Workshops: Healing and Activism in Marin

img_5723On November 4, MXRS board member, Kaily Heitz, presented “Social Justice Fatigue: Creating a Supportive Environment for Activism” at the Breaking Through Shades of Color: Transforming Race Relations and Conflict conference at Middlebury Institute for International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, CA. This workshop focuses on the idea of “social justice fatigue,” a term that has been defined and presented for several student organizations by our own Dr. Chandra Crudup. “Social justice fatigue” is a concept that essentializes the way that social justice organizers, particularly people of color, experience burnout caused by intentional and unintentional exposure to injustices. The workshop is designed to identify the various ways that we feel attacked and brainstorm how to balance sources of fatigue with practices of self-care.

img_5734The MIIS workshop audience was comprised of students, activists, and Monterey community members. Participants were first asked to pair up and discuss the ways that they felt attacked at multiple levels. Many discussed social identifiers of class and gender as a source of fatigue. After reviewing issues of structural racism and injustice, participants went back to their pairs and talked about how vulnerable members of their community might be facing compounded injustices. A poignant examples came from one woman, who discussed the relevance of considering micro and macro aggressions with regard to the large population of migrant farm and hospitality workers in the area.

We ended by drafting a toolkit that enabled participants to identify ways they felt fatigued, self-care routines that brought back balance in the fight for justice, and ideas for fostering a more equitable environment for other activists and people of color in their communities.

img_5738

Participants were asked to write down how they felt that their needs were being “attacked” (on the right side of the chart) and the ways that they find balance (on the left side of the chart).

Although none of us realized quite how necessary this workshop would be in the coming days, it could not have come at a better time. This election acts as a call to action, and a reminder of the ongoing importance of our work as activists, artists, and storytellers. It also reminds us to hold one another. The most important self-care advice I heard repeated at the workshop at MIIS was to find and reach out to one’s community when feeling anxious or stressed.

We are so grateful that you are a part of the Mixed Roots Stories community. We aim to make story a practice of self-care and healing, of  justice, and awakening–for ourselves and all those whose lives we may unexpectedly touch with our stories. Is writing or making art part of your self-care routine? We invite you to share with us how you are taking care of yourself in these challenging times.

And, we’re here to support you! If you are interested in bringing our “Social Justice Fatigue” workshop, or others, to your school or organization, contact us at info@mixedrootsstories.org.


Diverse Storytelling – with MERGE

Mixed Roots Stories was honored to join MERGE students from Pomona College in preparing mentors for incoming students to the Claremont Colleges. The “Claremont Colleges” is a consortium comprised of 5 undergraduate colleges, and 2 graduate institutions in Claremont, California.  MERGE (Multi Ethnic and Racial Group Experience) “is the Claremont Colleges’ club for multi-ethnic/multi-cultural students.” Their mission is “to provide a safe space for people of mixed heritage in which we may discuss issues of multi-racial and/or multi-ethnic identity and to raise awareness within the [Claremont Colleges] community.” Kaily Heitz, one of Mixed Roots Stories board members & Pitzer College alumna, is one of the founders of the organization.

img_2125

Dr. Chandra Crudup, also a Mixed Roots Stories board member, facilitated a workshop on Surviving Social Justice Fatigue through Diverse Storytelling. She led the group of students through defining social justice fatigue, identifying warning signs, and creating a survival guide. We then explored ways to creatively self care through sharing our individual and collective stories. The students were challenged to create an individual and/or group representation of who they are and what goals they have for MERGE.  They decided to create a zine! Each student created one to four pages that will be compiled into a MERGE zine. The students shared their pages with the group describing what each element they included on their page represented or why they included it. It was an inspiring, encouraging, fun time! Check out the MERGE Zine in this video:

If you are interested in having a Mixed Roots Stories workshop work with your student group, email us at info@mixedrootsstories.org.


Netflix Binge Watch with Mixed Roots Stories

Do you binge watch shows and movies online? We do! We found these 6 programs on Netflix  that feature mixed roots discussions. Check them out, critically discuss them with others, and learn more! We have provided some questions to consider while watching each one, as well as further reading/resources to keep you thinking and critically looking at mixed roots stories!

 

We are just getting started with our Netflix recommendations, and we’d love your contributions. What films/TV series have you seen that are relevant? What critical questions can we explore when/after watching them? What mixed identity groups aren’t represented here? Send us an email to info@mixedrootsstories.org.

 

Trevor Noah: African American

From Trevor Noah:
Trevor Noah brings to film his unique brand of observational humor born of his mixed-race experience under the South African apartheid system. In his most recent stand-up special Trevor weaves together compelling stories with wicked smart observations on the inanity of the racial construct in the United States. The theme of Trevor’s presentation is his journey to America, because he believes he can be fully black here. A clip from Gabriel Iglesias StandUp Revolution:

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:

1) Can humor be an effective storytelling tool for change, especially on matters of race, culture and ethnicity?

2) As you watch Trevor Noah: African American, do you think his point-of-view effectively challenges our racial assumptions?

3) How does idea of mixed/blackness transfer between countries?

4) What does it mean to be “fully black?”

For Further reading/discussion:
Nancy Goldman makes an argument in her paper that humor can be a powerful tool for social change – Comedy and Democracy: The Role of Humor in Social Justice. 


 

The Fosters

From abcfamily.go.com/shows/the-fosters:
The Fosters is a one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. Stef and her partner Lina have built a close-knit , loving family with Stef’s biological son from a previous marriage, Brandon, and their adopted twins Mariana and Jesus. But how will things change when they meet troubled teen Callie and her little brother Jude?

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) What responsibilities do parents raising kids from different cultures than themselves have in teaching their children about those cultures?

2) Lina identifies as biracial – how does this affect her relationship with her partner, Stef, and her children? Do the conversations she has with her African American mother surprise you, or not? Why?

For Further reading/discussion:
Lisa Marie Rollins is a TRA (TransRacial Adoption) Activist. Her blog, poetry and live performance provide lots of insight into the TRA experience. Learn more here: https://birthproject.wordpress.com/


 

The Loving Story

From lovingfilm.com:
The Loving Story, a documentary film, tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving to examine the drama, the history, and the current state of interracial marriage and tolerance in the United States.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) What do you think were the most compelling arguments made by the Loving’s legal team to persuade the Court to rule in their favor?
2) What are some of the other Supreme Court decisions that have had a strong impact on the mixed community?

For Further reading/discussion:
For a more in-depth analysis on Loving v. Virginia and the people involved, see Race, Sex and the Freedom to Marry by Peter Wallenstein (mixedracestudies.org).


 

Parenthood

NBC recently aired the final season (season 6) of Parenthood. You can catch up/re-watch the first 5 seasons on Netflix. “Parenthood bravely and delicately take on the complexities of family life leaving viewers full of emotion after every episode like all good comedy/drama stories should! In addition to other major topics (cancer, post traumatic stress disorder and more), this series follows an interracial marriage and their child, the process of a transracial adoption and has explored an interracial teenage dating situation.” (http://mixedrootsstories.com/parenthood/)

A few key seasons/episodes:
Season 2 – Crosby and Jasmine (an interracial couple) are trying to figure out how to raise their child and if they are going to work on their relationship or continue to be separated. Addie begins dating Alex, and her parents begin to question the relationship, pushing her to move in with her grandparents. But are they questioning it because he is a different race or because he has a history of substance abuse?
Season 3 – Crosby and Jasmine work out their differences. Julia and Joel interracially adopt a son.
Season 4 – Crosby and Jasmine have a discussion with their son about race (Episode 4). Julia and Joel take on the challenge of raising their adopted son.
Season 5 – Crosby and Jasmine expand their family with a new baby girl. Jasmine’s mother has ideas of how religion should play a role in the families life.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) If your child brings home a partner with a mixed background (different race, culture, religion, gender orientation, country of origin, etc.) than what you expected, would you be concerned? Why? Would you voice your concern? How?
2) In Season 4 Episode 4 Crosby realizes there are situations his mixed race son will have to deal with that he won’t be able to protect his son from. How would you or do you answer these/similar questions?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
Raising Biracial Children by Kerry Ann Rockquemore & Tracey Laszloffy, takes on identity development with mixed-race individuals within a historical context and creates a framework to assist parents, educators, social workers, counselors and anyone who works with multiracial individuals.
Donna Jackson Nakazawa wrote Does Anybody Else Look Like Me: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children out of frustration in a bookstore, when she was unable to find a book that provided guidance on how to address the situations she was facing in her mixed roots family.

The appendix of both books have lists of useful resources!


 

Rabbit Proof Fence

Set in 1930, western Australia, Rabbit Proof Fence tells the true-life story of two “half-caste” girls who were taken from their families, by the government, and placed in a camp where they are trained to be servants for white families. The hope is for these children to end up marrying white Australian men so their aboriginal blood can be bred out. The girls escape and take off on a journey to find their family.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider:
1) The United States is not the only country that has had a history of hiding unspeakable events around race/color differences. What value, if any comes, from being aware of a global mixed roots history?

2) In what ways do institutions continue to support and enforce the separation of different people?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
“My Place” by Sally Morgan

“Daughter Dies With Her Story Still Incomplete”


Black in Latin America: with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

In this PBS 4 episode series, “Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Discusses the massive influence of African ancestry on the history and culture of Latin America and Caribbean.” He goes to: Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider:
1) As Gates interviews each country, how does his North American views of “Black” influence his questions, interactions, and expectations on what answers he is looking for in South America?

2) Both North and South America have a history of slavery with “Black” or African people. How are these histories similar and/or different? What lessons can be gleaned from both continents mixed roots histories?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
“Black In Latin America” by Henry Louis Gate Jr. http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/?p=31565

“Latining America: Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies by Claudia Milian
http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/?p=25463


Our Offspring Will Challenge Our Assumptions About Identity

Photo Credit: National Geographic

Photo Credit: National Geographic

Wow! Omilaju Miranda’s story packs a punch.  She gives a snapshot of her particular struggle with raising a mixed-race daughter that does not have her phenotype. Her daughter has many questions on identity that were revelatory for the author and you too will be intrigued by her responses, so please read it and share on our Facebook page if you have had a similar experiences.

For further reading, I recommend The Family Pangea by our guest blogger Sky Obercam.

——

Omilaju Miranda (“Omi”) is the founder of Mixed Diversity Reads Children’s Book Reviewhttp://mixeddiversityreads.com/ , a nonprofit site, which reviews Young Adult and children’s picture books with protagonists from culturally marginalized groups including those with interracial, transracial, lgbt, gender non-conforming, bilingual, and single parents. Omi has been published in Mixed Nation and has also founded the art and literary blog zine, Parenting My Interracial Family http://myinterracialfamily.com/ . A former Javits Fellow, she is a graduate of Columbia University, received her MFA in creative writing from Virginia Tech, and can be followed @diversekidreads or @Multiracefamily or on Facebook.



Funding Your Projects – Creative Capital

We know what it’s like to try and get funding for the projects you’re passionate about, especially when you are just starting out, or when the ‘gatekeepers’ tell you they don’t think there will be enough interest in your story. That’s why we want to be a resource to help you find ways to garner financial support. One such resource is Creative Capital. Even if you haven’t begun to put pen to paper, take a look at their requirements, and the other projects they have supported – so when you are ready, you’ll have strong guidelines to help you get the funding you need.

Website: Creative Capital

 


Miss Manners on How To Respond to ‘Is That Your Child’?

For the most part I find it a pleasure living the mixed experience. I know the ‘What Are You’ question annoys some – and with good reason (I’m asked only because of my light skin, and the privilege that comes with that); but I often look at it as an opening for continued conversation (and occasional ‘schooling’) on the history of ‘race’ and racism. But THESE kinds of questions, I cannot tolerate. Here’s a great response from Miss Manners. How would you respond?

Miss Manners responds when a man is asked, “Where did you get your daughter?’

If you’re looking for more resources on this topic, check out our post on Becky Sarah’s book Grandmothering, which includes an entire chapter dedicated to families with mixed children. We also really like the podcast Is That Your Child – check out these resources when you have the chance!

 

http://www.journalnow.com/home_food/advice/article_102b269e-5624-11e3-a2da-001a4bcf6878.html