Category Archives: Member Reflections
This time of year always makes me really reflective. I don’t know if it’s the holidays or just the first time we get to catch our breath after the busy start to Fall, but November in particular has become a Pondering Month for me. This November, like this whole year, there’s been a lot to consider. First, we had the twists and turns of the election, which sent me and many others reeling afterwards. Second, I turned 30, which feels like an especially big milestone when coupled with the fact that my wife and I just announced the arrival of our first child in April. And to top it off, the Loving movie just came out, with widespread release this week. These three moments, the election, my personal life changes, and the Loving movie feel very interconnected in my mind, and I hope my thoughts here have relevance to the entire MRN family.
Back in June, MRN celebrated the anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia (1967) court case, which invalidated the laws prohibiting interracial marriage. We held a Twitter chat, of which I’ve shared some screenshots here. You can see these are issues and discussions with a wide range of impacts that we still feel today, even if to our more modern thinking an interracial marriage does not seem uncommon at all.
I’ve included a few screenshots of our Twitter chat. It took place the day after the Orlando Nightclub shootings, another heavy time of year when oppression felt very real and dangerous, something we sometimes forget just living our lives out. You can find the full story here: https://storify.com/ACPA_MRN/mrn-loving-day-chat-mrnlove
The Loving case feels especially relevant to me today as I think that when my parents were children, they wouldn’t have been allowed to marry. I wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for this case. My Latino mother could not have married my White father some 30+ years ago and me, a multiracial individual talking about race on a Multiracial blog, couldn’t have been possible. When I put it in terms of my lifetime, or my parents’ lifetimes, that court decision doesn’t seem that long ago.
This last tweet, in particular, caught my eye. As I look to the future, my own child is coming into a world where multiraciality will be even more common, though that doesn’t mean easier. My wife identifies as Korean American and our child will be Korean, Latino and Caucasian. I hope my own pride at my multiraciality, a way of identifying myself that I did not use until introduced to the concept in college, will help him grapple with the question of race much earlier than I did. I also hope to continue to instill the values of three different cultures in a blend of positivity, honoring those who went before us while acknowledging that he is going to look at the world through different eyes then we, his parents, or his grandparents. It’s funny, because I feel “ready” to raise a multiracial child, but not a Korean child. My wife feels ready to raise a Korean child, but does not fully grasp the challenges of multiraciality.
Sounds like we just acknowledged one of the many struggles of parenting we’re about to face together.
One comfort was the baby party we threw, where both sides of our family came together for the first time since our wedding. It was a reminder that we are not alone in raising this child with all the values of all his backgrounds. Multiracial isn’t just our “exotic” complexion, it’s both our families’ way of life now.
All this talk about the past and the future brings me back to the present, at a time when we feel a lot of uncertainty about the new regime in our federal government. And with that uncertainty, there comes fear. Fear that feels much more informed and tangible than in any election I can remember. And as we look around, I think it’s important to remember that we’ve never really had to stop fighting for something. In 1967, it was fighting for something as basic as interracial marriage. Today, it’s not like racism, homophobia, sexism, islamophobia and the litany of others has gone away. If you look at the Loving story, the Supreme Court Case was the last step. The grassroots movements, the culture shifts and earlier court battles were key to getting to the end of the story. And perhaps one day my son will have his own reflection on how the rights of any of the number of his identities were won and fought for during his parents’ lifetime.
As a final note, if you haven’t already, go check out the Loving movie. What an easy way to reimmerse ourselves in the history, the struggle, and reconnect with the individuals that often get lost in the story of the movement. We’ve gotten to work closely with Focus Films already, and we really believe in the cause of the movie and appreciated unpacking the stories behind it. I hope you have that opportunity too.
May we keep doing the work together, learning from the past to make ours and our children’s lives better. Happy belated Thanksgiving and may these winter holidays be a time of reflection, hope, and togetherness for you, our MRN family.
-James Engler, MRN Past Chair with support from Rachel Luna, MRN Past Chair
Current Chair: Victoria Malaney (she/her/hers)
Victoria K. Malaney is Ph.D. student in the department of Educational Policy, Research and Administration focusing on Higher Education in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Victoria’s research interests focus on multiracial college students, intergroup dialogue, race, and student activism. Prior to graduate school, Victoria was an AmeriCorps VISTA and VISTA Leader for two years. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College and her Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from UMass Amherst. Victoria is the Current Chair of the American College Personnel Association’s Multiracial Network (MRN). She was formerly the Scholarship and Resources Coordinator and has been in involved with MRN since July 2012.
Past Chair: James Engler (he/him/his)
I serve as the past chair of the Multiracial Network and am very excited as the 2016-17 year is underway. When I was in graduate school, I attended my first ACPA conference in Louisville 2012. I remember wandering around and being overwhelmed by so many presentations and socials and groups. A friend of mine had told me to come to the MRN social and as soon as I walked in there I was greeted like a family member by people I’d never even met. Before I even realized it, I felt safe and happy and home.
Since then, I’ve been involved in the MRN leadership team as Historian, Blog Coordinator, and now in the past chair position. Joining the MRN family was just the beginning for me. MRN connected me to the larger ACPA network and introduced me to the broader higher education world. MRN has shown me what advocacy looks like, whether it’s educating privileged groups with our “10 Tips for Working with Multiracial Students” or being part of a bone marrow donor campaign since multiracial folks have more trouble finding a match. MRN has even led to my first public spoken word performance at Culturefest last year. As much as I challenge my students to grow and develop, MRN has give me that chance to grow too. Currently, I am the Program Coordinator for UC San Diego Parent and Family Programs.
Past Chair: Rachel Luna (she/her/hers)
Hi there, I’m Rachel Luna. I’ve been connected to MRN since 2010 and am currently Past Chair. I joined MRN as a graduate student and immediately found a professional and personal home. I’ve stayed involved with this community of scholars because I continue to learn with and from our members. Through my involvement with MRN, I’ve presented at conferences, hosted webinars, enjoyed socials, read articles, and chatted on social media with some really great folks. I spend my days as Student Services Coordinator at Samuel Merritt University in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most nights and weekends, I’m wearing my other hat as a first year doctoral student in Higher Ed Leadership at Colorado State University.
Awards Coordinator: Rob Kunicki (he/him/his)
Rob Kunicki was born and raised in New York City to a native New Yorker and an Ecuadorian immigrant. A first-generation college student, Rob holds a BSEd in Adolescence Education with a concentration in Mathematics and a MSEd in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from St. John’s University as well as a MA in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University. He has experience working in New Student Orientation, First Year Seminar Peer Mentoring, and Fraternity and Sorority Life. Currently, Rob serves as the Assistant Director for Student Success, Assessment, & Enrollment Initiatives at Baruch College of the City University of New York where he has been able to translate his experience in student life to his work with retention and graduation initiatives in Enrollment Management. Rob is driven by his passions for education, exploring cultural identities, leadership development, and equal opportunity and access. He is a self-proclaimed data nerd who works diligently to support his Division to improve the student experience and meet strategic priorities. Rob also serves as Chapter Advisor for Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity at St. John’s. His interests include traveling, exercising, and binge-watching Netflix.
Social Chair: Laura Carroll (she/her/hers)
Hello! My name is Laura Carroll and I’m an Academic Advisor for the College of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. I received my Master of Education in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University and my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Slippery Rock University. I’ve been an active member of ACPA for the past 5 years, and am excited to return to the MRN Leadership Team. Initially, my interest in MRN derived from my experiences as a multiracial individual. After learning several theories in graduate school, I became fascinated with multiracial identity development. I began intentionally reflecting on and exchanging stories with fellow multiracial students, staff, and faculty. I quickly noticed the varied struggles and successes that we had in common and those that differed. Through my involvement with MRN, I have enhanced my knowledge of multiracial research and issues within higher education. I’ve had opportunities to coordinate and execute social and cultural events with some amazing individuals and thoughtful artists. MRN provides a safe space for multiracial educators and allies to engage in critical dialogue, which I truly value.
It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. -Audre Lorde-
MRN Liaison: Michael Dixon (he/him/his)
My name is Michael Dixon and I serve as the Director of Intercultural Services at Manchester University in the midst of my 6th year. I’ve worked in higher education since 2004 in a variety of departments (intramurals, residential life, multicultural affairs, student activities, admissions, career development & international student support services) at 10 different institutions. I’m currently working on a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Higher Education Administration at Indiana State University via distance education.
Scholarship & Resources Coordinator: Annette Girion (she/her/hers)
I am a student affairs professional with a passion for serving higher education students. I graduated from UCSD with majors in Communication and Psychology. I am now in my last year of graduate school at Claremont Graduate University, studying Higher Education/Student Affairs. I spent the summer as an Orientation and Student Life Intern at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where I got the opportunity to work in both the student center and residential life. I am also beginning an internship in the Employer Relations at the Career Center at Cal Poly Pomona this year.
Social Media Coordinator: Kelli Campa (she/her/hers)
Hello MRN folks! My name is Kelli Campa and I am excited to be apart of MRN again this year! I work at SUNY Binghamton as a Resident Director. Originally a California native, I received my Bachelors in Communications from California Lutheran University and my Masters in Higher Education from Iowa State University. In my free time I love to travel (both domestically and internationally), am an avid Netflixer, and hang out with friends.
MRN Advisory Board: Beth John (she/her/hers)
Beth John has been working in higher education for 15 years. She is currently the Director of First Year Experience and adjunct faculty member in the Higher Education Leadership Graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Beth also serves as a Dissertation Advisor for the Edgewood College Doctoral program in Educational Leadership and a Research Assistant for Roar Enterprises, Inc. Beth received her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education from Edgewood College and her M.S. in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University. Beth’s primary areas of interest and research include multiracial identity development, diversity and inclusion, first year students, and students in transition. Beth has been actively involved with ACPA for many years and has held several leadership positions within the Commission for Student Involvement, Standing Committee for Multicultural Affairs: MultiRacial Network (MRN), and the Mid-Level Community of Practice. She has been invovled with MRN since 2009 and is a past chair. Beth serves a co-advisor to the first Mixed Race Student Union (mXd) at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, which was established in 2015.
Identity development is cyclic, contextual, and complex. It is never set or static, and facets of identity can be salient at different times, in a variety of places, and triggered by certain events.
Over the past two months, my family and I have navigated personal, professional, and political transition from California to Minnesota. For those folks who know me, my life is in a constant state of transition, which causes perpetual reflection, interrogation, and processing what it means to navigate daily tasks with the identities I hold. Just when I thought I had a firm grasp on my race, gender, ability, class, sexuality, and the intricate intersections of my narrative, I have found myself humbly re-learning and exploring my politic as a queer, cisgender, mostly-able bodied, Multiracial, Asian, womxn of color.
Transition is nothing to joke about.
As I continue to contemplate my positionality in my new community and workplace, the intersections of my identities, and how to make impact, I am challenged to recognize the ways that the personal continues to be political. As a racially ambiguous mid-level administrator at a predominantly White institution, I’m thinking all the time about how to tactfully address microaggressions in my role. Whether it’s “you’re intense,” being mistaken as a Latina or Chicana, or being positioned as a “model minority,” I’m finding myself having to pick and choose how to address these assertions, while also understanding that racial equity and campus climate are not solely placed on my shoulders. All this, while I’m navigating the cyclic nature of racial identity development, immersion, and finding affinity and community in my new home.
I find myself wondering- how do I pick and choose how to address the many subversive forms of racism. Do I address it head on? Use some good ol’ passive aggressive comments? Do I make a funny comment? Do I wait and talk to people ‘offline?’ Use all these moments as educational with colleagues, supervisees, and/or students? Do I remain silent until I have more capital? The answer really is- I don’t know. I’m not really sure. I’m relying on friends, mentors, accomplices to help me navigate the challenges of being a small, younger, brown, Multiracial, cisgender womxn in my current context. It’s complicated. Transition is complicated. Transition is especially complicated when moving from a feminist, holistically caring, trauma-informed, intersectional work environment, to a much more uncharted context. Even in my experience navigating, I just don’t really know.
So this blog post, albeit short, is a shout out to those new and mid-level professionals navigating new spaces and contexts. Who are navigating transition. Who are struggling, searching, and hoping to find solidarity and support in racialized, gendered, sexualized spaces that are White supremacist. The microaggressions are real. What you are perceiving is real. You are real. And precious, and deserve to take care of yourself and your community. You will find your way to navigate, and master those oppositional tactics, but just know- you are not alone. You matter. You are not alone. And you have the capacity to be transformative.
Heather C. Lou (she/her/hers) is a past chair of the Multiracial Network. She enjoys thinking critically, making art, cuddling her cat, Olive, and love as praxis.