MultiRacial Erasure in Academia

MultiRacial Black-Hispanic students will never be included in batch emails about Hispanic student aid/networking/etc because universities only acknowledge them as Black.

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A student who identifies as South Korean & White (MultiRacial) on enrollment forms is counted as a monoracial South Korean student.
A student who identifies as Black & Hispanic & Japanese on enrollment forms is counted as a monoracial Black student.

Black is the category of first resort/ primacy.
White is the category of last resort (among known categories).

In short, some of the university demographic data on how many Black, Hispanic, Filipino, Persian, Indian, Pacific Islander, Native American, & students of other ethnoracial backgrounds may in fact be MultiRacial students who are being misidentified.

As such, enrollment numbers that indicate (for example) 6% of university students are X ethnoracial background are most likely including many MultiRacial students in that percentage.

Monoracial high-school seniors researching the demographic data of various universities may truly be interested in the representation of their monoracial identity on campus. Thus, they may have no idea that when they read a report indicating a university’s number of X students increased from 2% in 2020 to 6% in 2021 data that monoracial X students are only 1% of that overall proportion.

It may even be the case that the university was 1.5% monoracial X in 2020 & now they’re only 1% monoracial X. So the student enrolls in that university thanks to seeing an increase in 4%, unaware that the group they were concerned with actually decreased by .5%

How is this consequential…

If you’re a MultiRacial Hispanic & Vietnamese & White student,
→ you will never be in the university’s email lists for Vietnamese student organization updates/info because universities only acknowledge you as Hispanic.

If you’re a MultiRacial student of any background
→ you will never be directed to a plethora of opportunities that would recognize & benefit the fullness of who you are.

Importantly, this isn’t due to malice, hateful prejudice, or any ill-intent. Unfortunately, it’s due to how the coding & reporting of student demographic information is requested by the US Department of Education. Given that preference at the macro-educational level, the data collected at the micro-educational levels of university systems is going to be coded & structured in a manner that results in the erasure of MultiRacial students. As always, the impact matters more than the intent.

you will never be directed to a plethora of opportunities that would recognize & benefit the fullness of who you are

InterMinority MultiRacials May Be Most Affected

Consider the following example using President Barack Obama & Vice President Kamala Harris

InterMinority MultiRacial → Vice President Kamala Harris is half Indian & half Black. Given that Indian is in position #8 & Black is in position #1, she would receive all the same emails that President Obama is receiving, but she would be at risk of completely missing out on similarly enriching experiences & opportunities as it pertains to her cultural identity as an Indian student.

National Organizations for MultiRacial Individuals

MultiRacia Isle

What are some things we could create or some things that may already exist that we could recognize/ share/ celebrate as part of being Mixed Student Union?

Mixed Race Day (June 27th) is one, but what are others?

What are some great MultiRacial restaurants?
What’s some popular MultiRacial cuisine?

What is our Born This Way, Tell Me Why, Same Love… what songs are part of the narrative of MultiRacial culture?

What strategies can we use to pass on stories of a family’s MultiRacial heritage to grandchildren when they will most likely be of different ethnoracial backgrounds (given that MultiRacials primarily date interracially)?

EthnoRacial Reporting Structure

This piece is part of the Other-American series.

Logo for Mixed Student Union at UCSD; Mascot = Chimera

Sidenotes for Future Pieces

Race Ratio vs Sex Ratio

For example: U of Hogwarts has 120M & 80W, so it may seem the sex ratio favors women. However, 70 women are White & 10 are Asian.

Men at HU are: 25% Asian, 25% Black, 25% Hispanic, & 25% White.
If assortative mating is still assumed, then this ratio favors Asian women (10 Asian women with 30 Asian men to choose from) & disfavors White women (70 White women with 30 White men to choose from).

And Hogwarts is better than Slytherin. Everyone accepts this.

The Salad Bowl That Never Mixes

Aside for MultiRacial, people in interracial relationships, bisexuals (who have a strong interracial dating preference), & athletes (in team sports), we’ve collectively just lived the least diverse *in-person year* of our lives.

A plurality of UC San Diego students in objectively diverse classes reported their interactions have been less diverse this year while interacting on Zoom.

Lunch is usually the most diverse time of day but we haven’t had happy hour, chats in the break room, small talk waiting in line for boba in over a year

It’s hard to build & maintain closeness in long-distance relationships as the time apart increases, & humanity has been in a long distance relationship with itself for the past year. Thus, I think the lack of in-person diverse interactions over the past year should be considered a part of the general public’s readjustment/ rehabilitation in adulting settings as citizens in diverse countries return to normal. Diverse interactions on Zoom don’t compare to in-person (even with the camera on).

Top: UCSD Student Survey; Bottom: Observational Study On Campus At UCSD

Thankfully being remote for so long hasn’t erased simple social courtesies, such as waving goodbye when leaving Zoominars

4.28 Addendum on Harm

Increasing student awareness on this may be useful as well. It’s a form of harm* that the person harmed may not be aware of. For instance, if Twilight fans aren’t invited to a Harry Potter event, and those who try to register for the event are rejected, at least the Twilight fans know that they are being harmed (though it’s their fault because Harry Potter is better). I imagine that many (perhaps most) Multiracial students likely have no idea that they are being harmed.

* = If receiving information regarding opportunities/ events/ offers/ etc for something that one is objectively qualified to receive info about is a public good, and the person is not receiving that info due to a coding structure that erases part of who they are, then the failed receipt of that public good is an instance of harm.

If that student has to expend additional effort to learn about such opportunities while others receive it automatically via email, the disproportionate energy expenditure is an instance of harm. The displacement of energy towards that venture & away from things like studying, reading, finishing term papers, etc could also be considered harm (given that the student’s monoracial peers don’t have the burden of such effort reallocation placed upon them).

If we, the Mixed Student Union at UCSD, along with other MSUs, and campus admins who are concerned about this issue — the partial erasure of the college experience of an entire group of students — succeed in this endeavor

it will significantly enrich the college experience of thousands of current students & countless students in the years to come

I'm passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of others, & that's something I have the opportunity to do a professor & researcher.