By Rose Espiritu
So I’ve been working on my documentary, Mixed Up, a little bit over a year. The film is centered on parenting someone of a different race. We’ve conducted over 70 interviews with interracial couples and their bi/multiracial children, as well as interracial families brought together by adoption, to ask about their understanding of their racial identity. The majority of my interviews have been in urban locations such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York etc. I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to interview folks in my home state of Louisiana. Here is a sneak peak of one of the interviews.
Q: How do you identify and why?
A: I identify as black. I think it’s because I grew up in the south, so we’ve always had the one drop rule. Growing up at a very young age my dad explained to be that although my mom was white the world would always see me as a black girl first. The best example I can give you is
“I’ve never been in a room of black people where I felt like I’m the only white person here, but I have been in rooms full of white people were I know I am the only black person there.”
Q: What factors influence how people choose to identify?
A: We live in a society where race is learned. So it really depends on the community you come from. I think if you grow up around black people a lot of times you identify with certain cultural things that are happening within that community. But beyond that even when you are in a diverse or white community, if people see you as black than that is what you begin to identify as.
Q: Why would you be reluctant to marrying a white man?
A: My grandmother wants me to be able to identify with and always remember that I’m black because she went through a real struggle and she wants to relate to me. She’s like you’re so beautiful, you’re so smart. She wants to think of me as an extension of her legacy. She was born a sharecropper, she didn’t have a lot of education but she did the best she could. But because I’m getting an education and I’m traveling it’s like everything she did wasn’t in vain, and she wants my kids to relate to her. If at some point I marry white. My kids might feel like they can’t identify with my grandmother. I think that’s my biggest fear.
Q: Do you think mixed children are reducing racism?
A: I don’t necessarily think that mixed children are reducing racism. What I think is that the more mixed kids that we have the more people will relate to two different races or three different races. And I read somewhere recently that the reason why the LGBT issue has really taken off and grown exponentially is because everybody knows someone gay. But not every white person has a black person in their family. Well my white family does have a black person in their family, they have three, me and my sisters.
Rose Espiritu is a Nigerian and Filipino filmmaker from Louisiana. She has always had an interest in identity development in relation to race. In 2013, she began filming Mixed Up: The Documentary. The film is an interactive investigation into the parental influence of racial identity development in children of interracial families. Rose has conducted over 70 interviews with interracial couples and their bi/multiracial children, as well as interracial families brought together by adoption, to ask about their understanding of their racial identity. Rose also founded the company Culture Chest, which is a subscription service that carefully curates divers books for children ages 3-8. Find us at @CultureChest! You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @roseespiritu_
Mixed Up: The Documentary is an interactive investigation into the parental influence of racial identity development in children of interracial families. Follow us to keep up with our progress FB: Mixed Up Documentary @mixedupdocu