When each weekend rolls around, I anxiously await PostSecret’s new exhibit of Sunday Secrets – a posting of roughly twenty or so postcards baring anonymous secrets from all over the world. While some secrets are light-hearted and fun …
others can be fraught with raw feelings of fear, confusion, sadness, or anger, among many other emotions. Although these secrets are not always easy to read, I look forward to feeling inspired each week by the bravery and honesty of their authors. PostSecret provides them with a safe community to share secrets that may have only been heard through the ears of close friends, family members, or, perhaps, no one at all.
What is especially powerful about the PostSecret community is that occasional moment when we share the same secret as an anonymous secret-sharer. When we feel connected to someone else through a secret and realize that we are not alone, that there is someone else out there who understands our struggle, hope, or fear.
I have been reading PostSecrets for quite some time, and, as someone who identifies as multiracial, I have felt this sense of connection or understanding when I came across secrets like these:
Thinking back to myself in college, it would have been helpful to know that there were others out there who were facing a similar struggle to understand their racial identities. In college, I experienced feeling alone, rejected, and out of place because of my race. I didn’t feel like I knew anyone who shared my experience, and, like the authors of these postcards, my struggle with my identity became my own little secret. Had I known that others around me had similar experiences, I would have felt empowered to voice my thoughts and explore my identity rather than keep it inside.
During the past year, I have had the pleasure of working with a multiracial student organization at my current institution. During the very first meeting, the president asked the members to share their stories of understanding their mixed identities. The room went quiet with hesitancy. As soon as one student shared his journey of navigating different racial spaces and the pressure to choose just one race, I saw consistent nodding of heads and relieved faces as, one by one, other students shared similar thoughts.
These students found a community with one another, a place of support where they realized they were not alone. What might have once been secrets became connections of understanding and shared experience.
From the time I have spent with this student organization, I have observed multiracial students truly benefiting from connecting with one another on a highly racialized college campus. While multiracial student groups are certainly growing in number, they are nonexistent at many higher education institutions. I am looking forward to a time when these spaces are viewed as necessary and all interested students are able to have a space, whether it is multiracial or monoracial, where they can find a community. Please share any ideas, thoughts, and experiences you may have on how to best start and organize a multiracial student organization so that we can work to find a place for these students on all campuses.