Friday, April 29, 2005

Senator Obama

Right after our Boston event we drove through the rain, through the darkness, and through the barrage of trucks to get a chance to spend some time with Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. The drive from Boston to Washington DC was not just another walk in the park; between getting lost in Queens, getting caught in the morning traffic, and stalled by the police near the Capitol, it took us a hefty eight hours to get to DC.

The security near the Capitol is amazing, if not a little intimidating. While we were driving towards the Senator's office, two police cars immediately surrounded us and promptly directed us out of the area. The Generation MIX crew had to quickly walk to the office on foot, while Matt Kelley and Amanda Ereckson of MAVIN drove the RV to a more suitable parking area. We barely made it in time for the appointment.

Speaking with Senator Obama was an amazing experience in itself. Even though the interview itself was short, it was well worth the eight additional hours on the road. Senator Obama has an air about him that commands respect. Many people look up to him, and it's easy to see why; he is an extremely charismatic person with an intelligence of the utmost articulacy. He had many interesting things to say about the multiracial experience in America, especially since his views are coming from a person with much political power. We can't go into specifics here, but be on the lookout for the interview in a future issue of MAVIN Magazine!

Wham Bam - Charles

Between driving from Boston to DC, from Philadelphia to New York, New Haven to wherever, the days are rapidly starting to blur with one another. This morning as we were on the George Washington Bridge I am staring at the Manhattan skyline thinking that I've seen it before, when in fact I was just there the prior morning. I'm not really sure what day it is today - is it Friday already? I can't tell.

While I may not know exactly what day it is or what city we're in, one thing's for certain: I am very much enjoying this wonderful opportunity, educating others and sharing personal stories, hopefully changing people's views on race in that it's much more diverse, complex, and beautiful than just a black/white binary. Although the keynote speeches and discussions have been very productive, I am more enjoying the one-on-one conversations with everyone. Just taking the time to listen in-depth to people's stories is very inspiring to me, and I cannot express my thanks and gratitude enough to all the wonderful people who took the time to come to our events. Thank you!

It feels funny that this trip will soon be at an end. We have something like a week left on the Tour, I think, and it will be weird saying goodbye to my fellow crew members. For the past six weeks we've been eating, working, sleeping, and driving together, and I consider it a real miracle that we didn't get at each other's throats (yet). We've gotten pretty close in those weeks (I hope), and life after the Generation MIX Tour will be pretty surreal in the following weeks because they're not going to be around...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

All American Girl - Geetha

We spend a lot of time on this tour thinking and talking about how race plays out in this country. On Sunday at the Smithsonian, a question was raised that got me thinking not about race in America, but how my race plays out when I am in other countries. I have done a great deal of traveling, and there is no question that my race plays a large part in the way that I am perceived abroad. Interestingly, it is when I am in another country that I tend to identify most strongly with the fact that I am American, rather than with my racial heritage. Being a product of American culture is what distinguishes me from the people in whatever area I am visiting. At home it is race that tends to make me most different from the people around me and the piece of my identity that draws the most confusion and questions.

I lived in rural Kenya for a summer, and many of the people in the smaller villages rarely, if ever, saw people who were not black Africans. It was very common for young children to shout “Wazungu!” when foreigners would walk by. Guidebooks will tell you that “wazungu” means “foreigner” in Kiswahili, but from what locals told us, it basically means “white person.” It’s not a malicious thing, but more to tell other kids to come look. It was interesting to hear when people would shout it at me. There was another woman I traveled with who was also Indian American, and when we would go somewhere together, we did not get as many kids yelling at us. However, when we were with white people from our group, the kids always yelled. Does this mean that they did not think of me as a wazungu? Did they not see me as a white person? As a foreigner? To be honest, I sometimes got disappointed when kids didn’t yell “wazungu” when I walked by. It was important to me for some reason that people see me as a foreigner, to know that I am an American. Even my own host family had a lot of questions as to whether I was really American since I did not look like what they imagined an American to look like.

It is interesting to me that American identity is often one that people abroad are hesitant to apply to me. There are many images that other countries see about America, whether in news, media, or wherever, and mine is definitely not a face that appears in those images. It was not just in Kenya that I had to explain why it is that I don’t fit into the stereotypical “American” mold. There is often a perception, even after my explanations, that I am Indian and just happen to live in the United States. But then again, I guess my not being American is also a perception that many Americans have as well due to the stereotype that Asians (and Latinos) are perpetual foreigners. Why is it that I feel like I always have to explain my identity to someone? Why do I always have to legitimize why I identify the way I do, whether that is an American, a mixed person, etc.?

Media Plug

For all you insomniacs out there, be on the lookout for Charles and Ashley being interviewed by ABC News: World News Now. We're really excited about this, as World News Now is also shown in over 20 countries internationally, raising awareness to an even larger audience on mixed race issues!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Captain's Log: April 25 - Aaron

Maryland Saturday, D.C. Sunday, Philadelphia today (Monday), New York tomorrow, Boston Wednesday. Events in each city. Days flying by in a whirlwind of commotion. Interviews with national radio and speeches in front of the Smithsonian. In another time and life, I would have been fazed by such a schedule. Now it just seems routine.

Last night I had a chance to hang out with my friend Meredith from Morgantown after eating dinner with my aunt Ruth. Right now I’m at my Uncle Cliff’s house in Philadelphia. Sitting in a regular house and eating a home-cooked meal seemed alien to me after a month and a half on the road.

I’ve come to realize that this trip is far from any reality I have ever known. It is going to take months for me to digest all the things I have witnessed on this trip. We have traveled the gauntlet of this American continent in an effort to create a cohesive mixed race community and start a national dialogue. During this gigantic road trip I have met with mixed leaders across the country and talked about a mosaic of topics. I think that many of these things will stick with me for the rest of my life, even if it is too much for me to process right now. The personal stories that I hear in each city stick with me and remind me why I joined this endeavor in the first place.

Being mixed in the United States is definitely difficult. But I’ve come to find that it is also a gift. The people I have met in the host organizations and at the events are some of the most unique and interesting company I’ve ever kept. Their stories of overcoming adversity are steadily becoming a great source of personal strength.

The issues that we are attempting to overcome are very difficult to deal with. They are even hard to explain to somebody who not either mixed or in some sort of inter-racial relationship. It’s hard to explain why exactly I left my regular life behind for 2 months to go on this wild journey.

From the beginning of American history, people have been speaking on account of mixed race individuals. Whether it is the government, the racial hierarchy, or other communities of color, it doesn’t make a difference. One look at any government publication dealing with the issue (which I have done for numerous thesis papers), and it is easy to see that when other people look at mixed race from the outside, the result is going to be biased. No matter what is in store for the mixed-race community, it is important that we have a voice of our own.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Rocking the Capital - Geetha

Wow! This weekend has been quite the whirlwind of excitement. Yesterday we were in College Park for an activity fair with the MBSA (Multiracial Biracial Student Association) at the University of Maryland. I was very impressed with this group—they have so many events and activities they do. I was also really impressed with the size and diversity of the group. There were people of all different mixes, and also some monoracial people. I had an interesting conversation with one of the monoracial students about what kinds of things he’s gotten out of being a part of this group. It seems like MBSA is really thriving as an organization.

Today was a big day as well. We had the honor of speaking at the Smithsonian and becoming a part of “America’s attic.” There was a great turnout, and I enjoyed the fact that the audience included a mix of people of all ages. I was especially pleased that we had some familiar faces in the audience—Ashley’s grandmother was there, and a few of my friends came as well. There were a lot of interesting questions, including a few that really stumped us. Now that we have more time to think about them, we will try to address them in the blog.

Also exciting today was that the New York Times ran an article about us! It was very unreal to see my name being the first words in an article in my favorite section of my favorite newspaper. Of course there are always criticisms when you see your name and your quotes in print, but overall I personally thought it was a really good article. I hope that people reading it got something out of it and understand that the mixed race experience is quite multifaceted.

This weekend kicks off the most jam-packed week of our tour. Tomorrow Philadelphia, New York on Tuesday, then Boston, then an overnight drive back to DC for an interview with Senator Obama. I cannot even begin to describe how excited we are. Six months ago I never could have imagined that I would be on a cross country road trip, written about in a New York Times article, and getting to meet one of my own personal heroes.

Friday, April 22, 2005

A Visit To See The Fam - Ashley

While in North Carolina, I was able to stop by and make a quick visit to my old man. It was great to see him. Since he lives on the East Coast (far, far away from Boise, Idaho), I am not able to visit him as much as I would like to. Along with seeing my father, I got to visit with my three wonderful little brothers, Anthony- almost 13, Isaac- just turned 10, and the littlest one, Tristan- 4years old, excited to see his big sister and attached to my hip all night long. Even though he’s young, the boy (Tristan) can play some Dragon Ball Z though, he’s ruthless, even though I was playing as a beginner, there is no mercy playing with him.

Now, my little bros are not mixed, but growing up, it has never been a question of why we look so different, or why we have different skin tones. Oh, I’m sure they were curious and would ask my father when I was not there, but it has always been like, “we’ll she’s my sister and that’s all that matters” kind of attitude. Yeah, when I was younger, I would walk around with my father, step-mom, and little brothers, and of course, we would stick out. It was like “well who’s that?” and I did get the usual “well, are you adopted or something?” questions. I think that a lot.of people of mixed race come face to face with that question many a times. I know when I did get the adoption question, it would make me think like ‘well, how can they not tell that this is my father?’.

Yesterday, while at the store with my papa, I noticed that again people were staring. I told my dad this and he was like “they’re not staring”. And you know what, I was thinking about it later and I shouldn’t care what other people are thinking. He is my father, and I know that. People can choose to make whatever assumptions they want.

People make these assumptions, partially because they put me into the racial category of what they see me as, which is white. I feel that people put me in this monoracial box because it is to complicated to identify people as being more than one race. Personally, I choose to identify as both African-American and Irish/Swiss. I am proud of both of my heritages, I always have been, and I always will.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Am I Mixed? - Charles

Sometimes I wonder if I am qualified to participate on the Generation MIX Tour. I find it at times a bit hard to communicate my story to a wider audience concerning my multiethnicity, because not only do I, as a multiethnic Asian, have to deal with the “What are you?” questions, I also have to deal with the general presumption that all Asians are the same. I mean, even though my parents come from vastly different cultures, languages, customs, and creeds, I am still categorized under the term Asian American because both of my parents are of Asian descent. So, technically under the American definition of race I would be considered monoracial. Unlike my other crewmates, I have never experienced the frustration of having to check only one box when filling out forms. I have never, unlike some of my friends, gotten the inquisitive stares from strangers when walking out with my parents. I will never have to deal with issues concerning white privilege. But I do still consider myself mixed because I am a product of multiple ethnicities.

So while my continual search for a conclusive ethnic identity very much parallels that of my fellow crewmates, it seems, in my experiences at least, that the Asian American community has been more recognizing and perceptive in my ethnic ambiguity. The “What are you?” questions I get are mainly directed from other Asians. I get mistaken for a lot of things: half-Black, Latino; even my extended family thinks I’m half-white. I don’t look like my parents at all. My dad has this joke that he tells his friends and family – he tells them that I was sired by the neighborhood milkman. He’s told this story more times than I can count, and in retrospect this is probably his way with dealing with those very same questions. People who aren’t Asian are not as keen on my multiethnicity, and I often wonder why the frequency of the questions aren’t as high when coming from them. I have my own theories, but will refrain from examining them right now.

The Atlanta School - Charles

The Atlanta School invited the Generation MIX crew today to give a short presentation on mixed race issues. Prior to today, our primary audience has been college students, parents, and members of communities interested in hearing us talk. We've never spoken in front of an entire audience consisting entirely of school children before, and thus had to reconfigure our keynote presentation in order to make it child-friendly. Luckily Geetha, who has had experience working with school children, came up with a fun activity where everyone was given colored dots and had to "form their groups." It was a cleverly planned activity that elevated a lot of intelligent discussion.

The kids themselves were really cute and asked a lot of important questions. I was caught aback several times by the level of intellect that these kids possessed. We were given a tour of their school, and it literally took my breath away to see their academic accomplishments. One girl was writing a 10page thesis paper on the Thirty Year's War, and she's only 11years old. Another student was working on a large format oil painting. I think I was still learning my multiplication tables when I was at that age. I'm gonna go crawl into a corner and cry myself to sleep in humiliation and shame.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mad Max's Revenge! - Aaron

I have come to the conclusion that our RV, affectionaly named Mad Max the Roadwarrior, has a very sick and twisted sense of humor. For the second time during this strange adventure, she has chosen a very in-opportune time to chose to get sick. This time, 20 minutes outside of Montgomery, Alabama, Max lost her transmission belt, in a fury of cluttering madness.

After the power-steering went out, we drove her a short distance to a gas station where we waited for a good hour and a half for a tow truck to arrive. Surprisingly, the only reaction our brightly decorated RV received was a high pitched rebel yell from a guy riding in a diesel powered heavy duty pick up truck, emblazoned with Confederate flags kicking up massive amounts of dust as it laid tire out of the tarmac.

We were towed by a very nice mullet sporting fellow named Bubba and his baby brother Joe whose haircut I could only describe as a mullet in reverse.

After we were towed to the repair shop, we spent the night camp-out style in the parking lot. Although this was a different experience to say the least, I would say it helped us come together as a group. We watched Mean Girls on the laptop and ate fast food.

How Far We've Come - Geetha

Though I have been to the South before, I have never had an opportunity to do any historical sightseeing until yesterday. We were able to stop in Montgomery, Alabama where we saw the capitol building, the civil rights memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Seeing these landmarks was significantly more moving than any other American historical landmarks I have ever visited. It was powerful to stand on the spot where Jefferson Davis declared succession from the Union, visit the church where the Montgomery Bus Boycott was planned, and sit outside the Southern Poverty Law Center knowing that Morris Dees was possibly working inside. It was incredible to realize that these different eras in the fight against racism have all had such strong foundations in buildings that are just a few blocks from one another.

I would like to say that seeing these different buildings made me hopeful about the progress that has been made over the years. It is definitely a huge step to go from fighting a war over slavery to suing the Klan for monetary damages. But I can’t say that I felt that hope. How could I feel hopeful when the capitol building—a government funded institution—is surrounded by statues and monuments memorializing the Confederacy? Or when there has to be a security guard stationed outside the Southern Poverty Law Center? Maybe we have come a long way, as textbooks and social convention would have us believe, but I think we need to take a more honest look at what kinds of progress has been made and what progress is still left. While slavery is not still around, how are people of color used in the workforce today? Although a lot of civil rights legislation has been passed, how well is it being enforced? I feel like we do a lot of patting ourselves on the back about “how far we’ve come” without being honest or critical about what our progress means and what it indicates for the still remaining struggles.

Monday, April 18, 2005

New Orleans - Charles

We are now in Pensacola, Florida, after spending a couple of days in New Orleans to soak in the local history there. Things are pretty slow right now at the moment, which is probably a good thing considering the fact that we're going to be extremely busy in the next two weeks running up and down the East Coast. That is to say that we're not currently working, however! We spent an amazing day yesterday immersing ourselves into the history of the Creole people, a unique way of life in American history that was created out of the blending of three very different unique ethnic influences: West European (French and Spanish), West African, and Native American. What is very interesting, to me at least, is the fact that people in Creole society did not straify themselves based on race or skin color. Though it was a factor in social status, it was by far not the most prominent or salient.

And with this fusion of different peoples comes a unique culture that is rich in art, culture, and cuisine. I am so in love with the food here it isn't funny. So far I had seafood gumbo, shrimp creole, cajun fried chicken, red bean rice with sausage, and rabbit jambalaya, po-boy, fried catfish, and beignets. I've never been happier gastronomically.

The O.G. Mixed Culture - Jamie

We've been spending the last couple of days in New Orleans and it's been a real nice time. Aside from beautiful weather, rich foods and meeting up with friends it's been great to experience a bit of New Orleans culture.

I think a great highlight for most of us was yesterday's Creole History walking tour of the French Quarter. None of us had such an understanding of what history and special spot in greater 'Society' culture Creoles once held in these parts and it was very interesting to hear how the concept of 'what is Creole' has changed of over the years.

But really it's great to think that there is a historical legacy of a widely mixed population that was not just recognized by the mainstream, but even respected. Imagine that...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

My White Privilege - Geetha

Throughout our tour there has been a lot of discussion of white privilege. It is a very interesting question for mixed people who have a white parent. We have mostly discussed with respect to people who are mixed, but perceived as white. It is interesting to hear the ways in which they have received white privilege. But I have never really thought of myself as someone who would be a recipient of white privilege, because I have never really thought of myself as a white person and nobody has ever mistaken me for being white. I love and acknowledge my white mother, but based on my physical characteristics, usually what people see of me, I am definitely not white. There are many kinds of white privilege that I will never receive because I have dark skin, and there’s no question about that. Since I first heard the term “white privilege,” I have always categorized myself as someone who does not receive it.

However, this tour has made me think about the fact that although I am a person of color (and I will always continue to identify that way), my white background has in fact given me a lot of white privilege. My mom receives white privilege, and because she raised me, I have benefited from that privilege in a lot of ways. Everything from my family’s long historical presence in this country to the fact that my mother may get treated better by store clerks has impacted my own life and given me privileges that I would not have if my mother were a person of color.

This brings me to a whole new stage in my identity development that I can tell already is not going to be easy. Let’s face it: it’s very hard to come to terms with our own privilege. I still struggle to acknowledge the privileges I receive from aspects of my identity like my socioeconomic status and sexuality, privileges that are very easy to see and that others experience in the same ways I do. But this white privilege thing is a whole new dimension for me. With my socioeconomic status and sexuality, there is no question that I am privileged by them, but there are definitely questions as to when and how I am privileged by my whiteness. Much as been written and discussed around the issue of white privilege, but I have never heard a discussion that mentions the way I receive (and don’t receive) it. Of course this does not mean that other people aren’t thinking or talking about; it just means that this is the first time I’m thinking about it and trying to find others who are doing the same. I am both nervous and interested to explore my racial identity through this lens that truly does acknowledge all pieces of my heritage. But I know that it is important to acknowledge this privilege if I am going to work toward breaking down the system that creates it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Good Eatin' - Charles

Food here in Texas is fantastic. Portions here are HUGE and extremely fattening; I love it! Last night we went to this place in Austin called Polvo’s – that was probably the finest Mexican food I have had in recent memory. You guys should check out that place if you're in the area!

I am constantly surprised by the level of hospitality here in Texas. I must admit before coming to this state I had a few reservations about how I, we would be treated here. My initial impressions have been mainly influenced from what I have seen on the television and read in the magazines, but through interactions with the locals here I've come to see Texas in an entirely different light. The people here are courteous, polite, and seem genuinely interested in what we have to say about Generation MIX. I mean, it's inevitable that we're always going to be approached by strangers drawn by the colorful RV!

One of the best things about going on the Generation MIX Tour is being constantly surprised from these experiences, and how they reshape any preconceived impressions. We are going to be hitting the Deep South in a couple of days, probably the furthest from anything I've experienced in Seattle, and although I don't know too much about the cultures there, I am very much excited to again be wronged by what I experience there.

Austin Massachusetts - Aaron

So right now we're in Austin Texas. We're meeting with members of Neopolitan tomorrow for dinner. You have to give them props on the name, that is original.

I'm not sure if my last blog came up. I wrote it from the shady hotel in Van Horn Texas when our RV broke down. I was basically asking for advice from people who were mixed, but did not have any white blood in their veins. We have been getting a lot of questions about issues relevant to people who are "double minorities" (for lack of a better word), but I really do not know how to answer them. The reality is that, with the exception of Charlie, we are all half white. So if anyone out there has any stories to share with us, please do not hesitate to post a response to this blog. Your advice would be helpful.

Another area we have been getting a lot of questions from is the whole why are you doing this thing. I know that Jamie touched upon this earlier in a previous blog. It seems that Mavin is about the whole identity confirmation thing, but a lot of people are asking what comes next. Right now it seems that the movement is just trying to create space in which mixed people can own to an identity and not be labeled according to other people's perceptions.

But once we get past the whole identity thing, where will this movement take us? I feel that it is not enough for us to just have a place amongst other ethnic groups to call our own. I know personally that I came on this mission to legitimise mixed people's presence within the black community. I know that often times it is seen that mixed African Americans (especially people who are half white) are seen as "sell outs" in the eyes of many people within that community.
While I cannot say where this movement is headed, I do think that we have a right to be heard. I think it is important for me to point out that I cannot speak for anyone but myself. But I feel that whatever our message is, it is important for us to say it as a group and not allow other people to speak for us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Why - Jamie

It's been a while since I've posted anything. Generally internet based forums haven't been my trip. But as this thing goes along I'm understanding how this tour can be most effective in terms of reaching people and engaging them in dialogue. The media attention we've been getting has been surprising and seeing the counter on this blog grow tells me that people are watching us.

At today's event in Arizona a young woman spoke up about the fact that because of the ambitious, mainstream-geared approach MAVIN is taking with this project, for many we are spokes-people for this so-called movement. I don't think any of the five of us quite had that in our heads when we signed on to this and as we go along, having media interviews, having parents look to us for answers on ways to raise their children, I'm seeing just how much of a responsibility this tour has. This single project may spur some of the biggest attention our community has ever received at one time and for a great many individuals news of Generation MIX may be those peoples' first exposure to mixed people as a recognizable sector of society. It's of the hugest importance that we be as explicit as possible about the characteristics of what life as a mixed person can be like and what place within the broader social frame-work we see mixed people holding.

There is constantly that nagging question behind all of this - "Why?"
What's the point? Why organize around mixed race issues? What are those issues? What is the point of this tour?

I'm someone who has been doing work around and within the mixed community for nearly 8 years and I'm still working through those questions. It feels like the sort of thing where many of us who are in it are doing it because it feels right, we know it's work that needs to be done. But when it comes to explaining ourselves, that's when it gets sticky. What I have settled on is a need engage people in issues of civil rights and social justice.

Geetha wears her Michigan Justice shirt from the recent affirmative action battle. On the back it reads "Race is a factor because racism is a factor", and really that hits the nail right on the head. Racism is still present, period. As people of color we have experienced various forms of oppression because our society is still stacked against us, even if many of us are part white (which is a whole other issue we can address). If one can understand that there are still a great number of inequalities present in everyday life, be they based on race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status or issues of the environment, then that person can begin to understand the value of our work. By vocalizing the mixed experience and fostering and mobilizing the mixed community I see that we are allowing for ourselves to (i) reconnect with many of the ethnic communities of our heritage we at times feel distanced from and (ii) are establishing the mixed community as a wholly distinct sector of society with its own investments in social equality.

The messed up things in society don't ever just affect specific groups, they effect all of society because there ought not be anything that divides us when it comes to rights and privileges. Things are supposed to be fair, right? Well we all know they aren't and so with that it's like "pick a cause and do something."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Goodbye L.A./Hello Tempe! - Ashley

Altogether the weather was fantastic in L.A. it is even better in Arizona! I don't think any of us are really used to the heat, so we are enjoying it thoroughly. I am excited to see what the turnout in Tempe will be like for the event. So far we have had some great dialogue created at the other pitstops. I anticipate that it will be the same for Tempe. During these dialogues/conversations, I am learning so much about race related issues. Things I weren't even aware of before. I really appreciate others sharing their experiences and their knowledge of the multi-racial movement. I am just excited to hear more from the other people around the country and learning what is going on involving the movement in other parts of the country.

Time is going by so fast and basically all my days are meshing together! It's crazy, because it seems like we have been traveling for a very long time and Tempe is only our fifth pitstop. Five down-eleven to go!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The USC Stop

The beautiful Los Angeles weather permitted the Generation MIX crew to hold their fourth activity fair outdoors, in the Hahn Plaza of the University of Southern California campus. With wonderful guidance from Jungmiwha "Jummy" Bullock and Nancy Brown from AMEA, as well as amazing support from the army of volunteers from Hapa SC of USC, MORE of the Claremont Colleges, and UCI volunteers, the activity booths were filled with liveliness and color. We were able to connect with a lot of people who showed up for the event and share our stories with each other. Again, as with the prior host organizations, we cannot express our gratitude enough. Here are some pictures from yesterday's event:

A cameraman from FOX 11 comes to do some filming.

Nancy Brown of AMEA attends to a local couple who came to show their support.

Aaron and Sarah from Hapa SC talk to potential bone marrow donor.

Jummy captures onto film several kids playing with the volunteers.

Jamie and Charles putting up banners in preparation for the activity fair. The Generation MIX Tour would not have been possible without the support of such sponsors as State Farm Insurance.

Volunteers from MORE of the Claremont colleges arrive lend a big hand. Thanks, MORE!

A Whole New World - Geetha

Being out on the West Coast is a very new experience for me, and it has been interesting to see how race is played out in this very different environment. The population of Asian Americans is much higher here than I am used to in Michigan, so it has been especially interesting to see the strong presence of organizations and conversations that are focused on mixed race Asian Americans. These are conversations that I have never really had an opportunity to have because the mixed race community that I was a part of at home was mostly comprised of people who are mixed black and white.

As I am learning more about the issues that are specific to mixed race Asian Americans, I am still trying to figure out how I personally fit into it all. I do consider myself to be an Asian American, but I do know a lot of other Indians and South Asians who do not. Indian culture is vastly different than, for example, Japanese culture, but then again, many Asian cultures are vastly different from one another. Since learning the term "hapa" in college, I have always wondered if I can or should consider myself to be a part of this group (please note that I am still figuring out how I feel about this term and its etymology, but that is another discussion that will probably appear on this blog at some point). Most people who are familiar with the term see it as applying to East Asians, such as Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, etc. I even noticed that the mascot for USC's Hapa SC student organization is a face that has one side with a slanted eye. I certainly don't have slanted eyes, so how do I, as someone who considers herself to be a mixed race Asian American, fit (or not fit) into this category? What do I share in common with mixed race Asians of other heritages? How is my experience different, especially because of the way I look?

It is quite interesting to me, and slightly ironic, that much of my identity development with regard to being mixed has centered around feeling like I do or don't fit in in with certain groups, and now as I become more immersed in mixed race issues I still continue to question where and how I belong. It is a fine line to walk because clearly mixed race Asians have some issues that are unique to the fact that they have Asian heritage, but at the same time, as we break groups down into smaller and smaller categories, we create more exclusive groups. Do I have to find a group of people who are mixed Indian and white to find a group I where I "fit in"? Today at our USC event, a important point was raised that it is not necessarily worth it to worry about whether you should be "allowed" to identify with a group you feel you are a part of. Do I need someone's permission to identify as a mixed race Asian American? Does it matter that South Asians such as myself are often not seen as being a part of the Asian American community? I feel like both the Asian American and and mixed Asian American communities are groups that reflect an important aspect of my identity, so now it is up to me to make my own place in these communities, regardless of whether others think I belong there.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Touchdown to LA

We're cruising by the first few cities so fast the days seem to blur. We have to keep reminding ourselves what day of the week it is. We made it to LA safe and sound, and for the first time we're going to have a few days to relax and regroup while we're here. San Francisco was an amazing experience - we know that there were a lot of unanswered fishbowl questions from the San Francisco keynote presentation, so please continue to check up on this website as we will address them individually.

San Francisco - Charles

Here are some pictures from the San Francisco stop. It's 1AM right now and I'm too tired to write anything at the moment, but come back soon for reflections this stop!

San Fran - Ashley

WOW! I just love San Francisco! We had such a great experience here today. The venue was great and we were so excited that everyone that was there was so enthusiastic about the event. We had great conversations with everyone, it was really a learning experience for us all. I can't wait to get on the road to L.A. though. The warm weather will do us some good (especially since being in Seattle for two and a half weeks!). I am looking forward to the drive tomorrow also. It was such a beautiful drive down to San Fran, it made me even more excited to drive all over the country! Even though the beast only goes 35mph up hills. I think that this trip will be very long since it took us about 15hrs. to get from Portland to San Fran. But thats ok, I guess, if we don't want to do anything but drive the whole time. i have got to say, that even though we have only done three pitstops so far, I have met so many interesting people and it is great to get to know all these people from all over, it makes me even more excited to meet more people on the road. We have got a long trip ahead of us tomorrow, so I've got to go.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Captain's Log - Aaron

Our tour bus is a gas-guzzling behemouth. It took us a long time to get from Portland to San Fransisco: 15 hours. We left 4 hours early and we were still 2 hours late. Since the U.S.S. Mad Max (that's the name I christened the RV with) has the gas milage of Abrahm's battle tank, we had to stop five times for re-feuling. Poor Max had trouble getting up the mountains in California. She topped out at like 45 mph I think I'm going to have to buy a hybrid when I get back to make up for the o-zone damage.

Even though it took a long time, riding in Mad Max is pretty smooth. We took shifts, and whenever someone wasn't driving or navagating, we could sleep in one of the three beds on board.

Thursday we had a gig in San Fransisco and it was awesome. We had a bunch of volunteers, so we made up for lost time with the bone marrow drive. Everyone was awesome and had so much to say. It was such a great feeling being in a room in which you are part of a majority for a change. There was a great feeling of comunity. There were mixed people from all over the color spectrum. Even though we were of different races, we all had many experiences in common. Thank you so much Variations and all the people in San Fransisco who showed us such a great time.

Chuggin' Along

We anticipated spending a good amount of time in San Francisco, and so we left our hotel very early (6AM) in the morning so we could have that extra free time to explore the city. Well, it's now 6PM, and we are still two hours away from the Bay Area, which would make us an hour late from our scheduled arrival, even though we left three hours ahead of schedule. For the most part we've been traveling 10-15 miles under the speed limit; the RV just isn't powerful enough to make the climb through the mountains at a good speed.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


We were about twenty miles from the Oregon/California border when we started hearing this loud and constant sound. It sounded as if someone was tapping a large stick against the RV roof. We pulled over and, when Aaron climbed the roof to investigate, found out that the tapping noise was a result of the roof covering that somehow had gotten torn, and the torn flaps were hitting itself against the RV. With no discerning solution in mind, Aaron attached pieces of duct tape for a temporary solution. The tapping noise is now gone, but in its place the RV sometimes makes this farting sound as the air passes through the pieces of duct tape.

Aaron Captain Log - April 6, 2005

Portland was pretty rough. Two words, poop-cheeks. Not many people showed up. A couple families that somehow heard about it came, but that's it. I don't know what happened, I guess we didn't get much promotion or whatever there. Sue from the Asian American Donor Program flew all the way to Portland from San Francisco to help with the Bone Marrow Project. We had no volunteers so it was basically Geetha and I passing out pamphlets for 2 1/2 hours with Charlie giving us a little help. I felt bad because since we didn't get there until 3, I didn't have much time to pamphlet the campus for marrow donations. I only got eight people to sign, and they usually aim for 25-100.

The place where we were handing out flyers had a giant Mediterranean Restaurant and the smell of curry and babaganoush permeated everything, and I was hungry the entire time.

Trying to stay on a positive note, I'm looking forward to traveling on to San Francisco early tomorrow morning. California is just one more state that I've never been to, and I look forward to being there. We're almost done with our west side leg of our trip, next month we'll be going through desert in the southwest.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Mile 172 and Counting - Geetha

Last night after crashing pretty hard, we were up again at 7am to catch our story on NPR. Then it was time to pack the RV once and for all and finally head out on the road! The trip to Portland was pretty smooth, and Jamie, Charlie, and Ashley didn't even notice when Aaron and I got us a little lost...

Today's event in Portland was a good example of the ups and downs we are going to face along the way. Turnout to the event was very low and it appeared that many people were not aware that it was going on. But I was very proud of my fellow crewmembers because we really snapped into action. Aaron and I hit the campus to pass out fliers and tell people about the Matchmaker bone marrow drive that was going on. Ashley and Charlie greeted people who came by and encouraged them to sign CACI comment cards to the Department of Education. Jamie manned the resource booth and engaged the people who came in. We got a lot of positive response from people and signed up a number of new bone marrow donors!

Tomorrow is a long day of traveling as we make our way to San Francisco. I am really looking forward to it because I have never been to the Bay Area before. Even more exciting is that there is a lot of great buzz going on around the event on Thursday. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Media Blitz!

Our Seattle Tour kick-off and press conference generated a lot of interest from local and national media, with several local TV and radio station and newspaper features! Click on the link if you want to read it. If you see or hear mention of Generation MIX in your community, please let us know! Thanks!

(The Daily: 4/4/05) Mixed-race awareness tour makes stop at UW
(Seattle LIVE TV: 4/4/05) Generation MIX
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer: 4/4/05) Mixed-race youth are on a literal drive to find their identity
(Seattle Times: 3/31/05) Seeing mixed races through the eyes of new generation

Here are some other media outlets that also did stories:

KBCS (City of Bellevue, WA)
KIRO 710 (CBS Radio affiliate)
KOMOTV (ABC TV affiliate)
KUOW 94.9FM (NPR radio affiliate)
Pacific Citizen (Newspaper)