This past week, I had the great pleasure of attending the 2022 Critical Mixed Race Studies Association (CMRS) Conference, which took place from February 24th to 26th. This meeting of the CMRS conference revolved around the theme "Ancestral Futurisms: Embodying Multiracialities Past, Present, and Future." Over 500 scholars, educators, activists, and artists who think, teach, and organize around multiraciality gathered together virtually from all around the world to reflect on the question of time in relation to mixed race studies, challenge past conceptions of multiraciality dictated by white supremacy, and imagine new forms of multiraciality rooted in decolonization and radical hope.
Panels and workshops covered a range of exciting topics, such as the importance of connecting multiracial identity with ancestral knowledge, how to effectively support mixed race students at both the K-12 and university levels, challenges and rewards related to parenting multiracial children, and representations of multiraciality in popular media like speculative fiction, superhero comics, and television and theatrical productions. Educator, singer, and "RAPtivist" (rap activist) Aisha Fukushima delivered the keynote presentation, which powerfully integrated music, speech, and storytelling.
The conference theme was beautifully captured by the design pictured below, "Transition," which was created by Favianna Rodriguez, an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and social justice activist based in Oakland, CA. To see more of her art, please visit www.favianna.com.
On the second day of the conference, I presented on a panel titled "Toward a More 'Critical' Mixed Race Studies: Troubling Representations of Race and Gender" alongside fellow scholars Dr. Anna Storti (Duke University), Ph.D. candidate Alma Villanueva (Texas A&M University) and Dr. Corinne Collins (University of Southern California). Attracting over 80 attendees, our panel examined popular representations of multiraciality in media, narrative, and visual culture in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, with the goal of problematizing how progress narratives are often attached to mixed race bodies.
My presentation, "Rewriting the Mixed Self: Narrative Resistance against the White Monoracial Imagination," was inspired by ongoing conversations that I have been having with my students in a new course on multiracial rhetorics that I am teaching this quarter at Stanford, "Not Part but Whole: Writing Mixed Race Identity." In this talk, I considered the tensions between popular discourses about multiraciality and narrative testimonials by mixed race authors. I demonstrated how works by Sui Sin Far, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Mary Hope Whitehead Lee challenge popular conceptions of mixed race people as figures of shame, tragedy, exoticism, and post-raciality. Ultimately, I concluded that these authors engage personal narrative as a life-sustaining platform for reimagining the mixed self beyond the limitations of the white monoracial imagination.
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