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Dear Mixed Peer: You are the Definition of Diversity and Inclusion

I never felt like my identity as a mixed race person was confusing. It was other people that were confused about my identity that lead me to question: How should I define myself? The countless strangers who have questioned my racial ambiguity in public asking, “What are you?” illuminated the fact that America’s racial constructs have not allowed for mixed race people to be recognized until the year 2000. For the first time in 2000, the United States census allowed for citizens to select more than one racial identity. I personally identify as multi-racial and multicultural with my father being African American and my mother being white.

Now being at the University of Washington, Seattle campus I find myself observing many monocultural ethnic groups. But where do the mixed race students fit in to all of these different communities? Personally, I believe mixed race people should be able to honor the nuances of their identities despite the pressure to identify with one ethnicity. Furthermore, I have realized that my unique mixed race identity allows me to create space for other people like me within the clubs, groups and associations on campus that I am involved in. Even if the club is not specifically for a minority group, my existence within the group creates space and representation for other mixed race students to feel like they belong.

For my fellow mixed race peers, if you ever feel like you are not enough of one race to belong to certain clubs or groups, don’t let that discourage you or stop you from joining. You belong.

This year, University of Washington has joined many other Universities that have implemented a Mixed Student Union (MSU) club. Their bio on Instagram states: “Aiming to create a community for students who identify as multi-racial, ethnic, cultural, etc, and support one’s search of their own personal identity” (@msuatuw via Instagram). Other top universities like UCLA have lead the way in implementing these groups and even pushing for there to be a “mixed” identification category on application forms. Mixed Student Unions are on the rise nationally and represent a generation of mixed race people, like myself, who refuse to select only one race when asked to self identify.

Dear Mixed Race Peer, you are the definition of diversity and inclusion. Your identity is proof we were meant to be together, not separate. You can empathize with others who share a part of your identity and represent more than one people group with your very presence. You understand the importance of inclusion because you know what it’s like to feel excluded. Be you, fully. In whatever lane, major, club or sport you find yourself in during college. Never dismiss the power of your existence in that space. You are creating a lane for others like you. Even if there is not a club explicitly for your mix, you are seen and you belong. If there is not a space for you, create your own space that accepts every beautiful aspect of your identity and most of all encourages diversity and inclusion. Maybe you will be the next founder of a Mixed Student Union on your college campus.

Erin Jones

Washington '20

Senior at University of Washington studying Communications and Diversity. Passionate about women empowerment, fashion, and faith! Other personal interest include being an alto saxophonist, social media marketer, lover of the arts and advocate for social justice.
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