Remix sponsors Mixed Race Awareness Month

For almost two years the media has told the story of Barack Obama, a biracial man with a geographically diverse upbringing. And now, as the country prepares for his inauguration, groups like GW’s Remix are celebrating similar stories in Foggy Bottom.

Remix, a student organization which raises awareness and provides support for mixed ethnicity students, is sponsoring “Mixed Race Awareness Month” this November. A growing faction of students on campus are multiracial, though exact numbers are not available because those who mark more than one race on a GW application are categorized as “unknown.”

“There may be only a few things that many multiracial students share, but the dominant shared characteristic is simply the status itself: being multiracial,” said Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center. “The dominant ethnic traits are not shared because the range of ethnicities in multiracial folk is so broad.”

Throughout the month, Remix is hosting panel discussions on race and politics to clear up misconceptions about race and raise awareness about students who come from a multiracial background.

Freshman Rachael Sullivan, who is half-black and half-Filipino, said that despite being born and raised in America, there have been some instances where she has felt uncomfortable because of her racial background.

“I’ve always had to deal with it a little bit, but it became more apparent when I came to college,” Sullivan said.

“People have to realize that there’s not a single set of how a certain ethnicity is supposed to look or how a certain ethnicity is supposed to act,” Sullivan said. “There are a lot of people who are multiracial, and you should always be aware that there could be other aspects that are a part of them.”

Some multiracial students choose to identify with certain parts of their heritage more than others, but Sullivan said she was raised to embrace both her black and Filipino backgrounds – and she is discouraged when people assume that she is just black.

“It bothers me when people only acknowledge me as black, and it makes me feel upset because it’s like there’s another part of me that they don’t know,” Sullivan said.

Parents often determine how a child sees his or her heritage, Tapscott said.

“Many parents have become much more aware of the benefit of giving value to both or more racial identities in their biracial children as their children develop,” Tapscott said. “I think this gives the young person the benefit of a broader cultural experience and expression.”

Freshman Meshach Cisero is multiracial and recently became involved with the Remix club at GW.

“The club promotes a social learning experience,” Cisero said. “You meet a group of diverse students all the time. Learning about people’s past and the different cultures is unique and cool to learn and talk about.”

Remix Vice President Julienne DeWalt, whose father is black and mother is white, looks at the upcoming Remix events as an opportunity for both multiracial and students of one race to come together.

“It’s not just about being multiracial and being biracial,” DeWalt, a junior, said. “It’s an element that we support, but it’s also about the fact that we are promoting unity and cohesion.”

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