Disrupting the Expected Face

I was just browsing on Facebook and a new notification caught my eye. It was from my past co-facilitator for Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) about a recent article on “The Changing Face of America.”

My experience with IGD was amazing. My co-facilitator Shalane and I worked with a group of bi/multiracial students. Usually IGD would be a group of students where half of them identify with one area and half another. For example, if the IGD was about religion, it could be a group with half who identify as being Christian and half that identify with being Jewish. This is how our group differed and was unique, we were all multiracial, including the facilitators, making it an intragroup dialogue. It allowed us to all talk about a common thing and explore some of the areas of our multiracial identities that we had not touched upon. It was one of the best experiences I had as a graduate student. To this day, we continue to have these important conversations on our Facebook group.

This brings me back to the post on Facebook. It was a National Geographic article about “The Changing Face of America”: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/changing-faces/funderburg-text#close-modal

This “changing face” was the continued growth of multiracial individuals. Some certain aspects stood out to me as I read this article.

What is it about the faces on these pages that we find so intriguing? Is it simply that their features disrupt our expectations, that we’re not used to seeing those eyes with that hair, that nose above those lips? (Funderburg, 2013, para. 1).

As the world continue to have this changing face and our multiracial population grows, will these faces become an expectation instead of disrupting our expectations? The article mentions the continuous growth of this population and how this has been changing our demographic, especially in data since only recently people could identify as multiracial in the census. It makes you think about before and how people had to choose to block out a part of their identity each time they checked a box. While there has been change, I still fill out a variety of forms such as surveys and employment forms that still only allow a person to check one box. Shouldn’t we move outside the box by now?

My favorite part of this article being able to look at the gallery and see the wide range of different appearances of multiracial individuals. The diverse features show the many backgrounds that this identity includes. While many people would see this gallery and say common microaggressions such as “they look so exotic” or “all mixed people are pretty” I think we should focus on the changing demographic of today’s America and how now multiracials have a place in the census and can now self-identify as multiracial, mixed, hapa, or whatever they want now that we have started this acknowledgment of a wonderful identity.


-Jenn Ellingwood


One thought on “Disrupting the Expected Face

  1. Rachel

    Thanks for sharing, Jenn! I also found this article and its premise quite interesting. I appreciate the enhanced awareness of multiracial experiences and increasing acknowledgement of diversity within such experiences. However, as you mention, the fascination with multiracial images can be problematic when it crosses the line from appreciation to exoticism. Thanks for continuing this dialogue!

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