School Without Walls


D.C. Youth On Mixed-Race Ancestry: It’s Complicated

Students of School Without Walls in D.C. speak about their personal and cultural identities in “Finding Self: Asian America’s Youth.” The short film, produced by  Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co.’s Asian American Youth Program, profiles multiracial and mixed-Asian ancestry students. We’ve written before about how multiracial residents fit into D.C.’s landscape, but as these youth point out, mixed identities often go unacknowledged by others. One student states:

“There’s genetic identity, there’s cultural identity, there’s who you are compared to everyone around you. People expect everyone to be a single thing, like you can only be Asian, or someone can only be white, or only black or whatever. And I think everyone in that sense is a hybrid. No one is like a pure Asian, or a pure American.”

And sometimes other people’s perceptions trump your own reality. One student talks about her Chinese ancestry, but then mentions:

“People who are full Chinese never think I’m Chinese. Like they just straight up don’t believe me when I say I’m a quarter Chinese. They just say, ‘No, you’re white.’ It doesn’t really bother me because I know I’m Chinese and I have a relationship with my Chinese relatives.”