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.

Table of Contents (click to Fast Travel)

· How is this consequential…
· InterMinority MultiRacials May Be Most Affected
President Barack Obama & Vice President Kamala Harris

· MultiRacia Isle

· Sidenotes for Future Pieces
· Race Ratio vs Sex Ratio
· The Salad Bowl That Never Mixes

https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/sites/default/files/Race-Eth%20Data%20Collection.pdf

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 MultiRacial Black & Hispanic & Japanese student,
→ you will never hear about Hispanic Serving Institution related programs, scholarships, or grants. You would qualify for them, but unlike other students, you’d have to go out of your way to learn about them because you won’t be included in batch outreach emails/campaigns because universities only acknowledge you as Black.

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

Assuming that there are more scholarships, grants, programs, etc for students from underrepresented groups relative to White students, this erasure of MultiRacial students likely hurts Interminority MultiRacials more than it hurts half-White MultiRacials.

Half-White MultiRacial → President Obama is half-White & half-Black. Given that Black is the category of first resort & White is the category is last resort, he would receive all the emails about Black student orgs on campus, email reminders to apply for specific aid offers before the deadline, campaign invites, networking opportunities, etc.

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.

[Michelle Obama & her husband remain the only interracial couple as First Family: Multiracial man married monoracial woman]

Finally, this reporting structure means that there are fewer funds/resources being allocated to programs, aid, networking events, etc that specifically for MultiRacial students. If you would like to know more about these issues & others please contact one of the national MultiRacial organizations listed below and/or consider joining the Mixed Student Union (or similar group) on your campus.

MultiRacia Isle

Unlike other student orgs, we have no shared language, traditions/rituals, historic statues/ ancient texts, or a sovereign MultiRacial country of ethnogeographic relevance to our MultiRacial heritage.

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

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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

Sex ratios that don’t take campus & community ethnoracial diversity into account assume a non-normative level of disassortative mating exists. Although MultiRacial individuals are the most desired non-coethnic mates on the racial hierarchy of mate preferences (see MultiRacial Dividend Effect; Curington et al., 2015), there’s not a significant degree of ‘pride’ for the interracial couples that create MultiRacial individuals. Thus, at increasingly diverse universities, racial/ethnic diversity has to be factored into the relative 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.

Primary Ethnicity Reclassification Hierarchy

Right now Multiracial Black-Chinese students are only receiving org info, networking/ event info, etc related to their Black identity & nothing related to their Chinese identity because Black is the Primary Ethnicity of first resort. As such, that student may go through their entire college life & completely miss the opportunity to learn about & create bonds with & celebrate aspects of & etc their Chinese identity. That’s time that people can’t get back. And it’s time that is lost because some Multiracial-erasing hierarchy decided how that student was going to be identified.

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.