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Contact zone project

Porkchop's picture

My 6-week project took the different individual identities at bryn mawr and compared them to the media's representation of those respective identities.  After interviewing many people of mixed ethnicities, I saw a pattern; people of mixed ethnicity have trouble identifying with their identities at the same time, and also don't feel that they identify wholly with one identity.  It is hard for bi/multi-racial people to feel completely understood by one side of their identity - like a half-japanese half-african person would not feel completely understood by another japanese person, or by another african person.  These people deserve more understanding, they deserve a support group of people they can relate to, or people who can understand their struggle at least as a bi/multi-racial person.  I think minority groups have bonded together to create support groups that fight against racism from white America, but these minority groups don't place enough focus on embracing the identities of mixed-race people.  At Bryn Mawr, we can address this issue by making a club or a newspaper for mixed-race people, where they can share their struggles and emotions (maybe even anonymously) and put a voice to these emotions that are felt by many.  Knowing that other people relate to one's emotions could really help these people to feel understoond, even if it is not by someone who is exactly the same mix of ethnicities as they are.

I think my idea could be shared with people who do the housing at Bryn Mawr, maybe groups like zami and the POC groups on campus could benefit from the interviews that I had with mixed-race people at Bryn Mawr.

My project focused on the contact zone created by the representation of specific identities in media, but ended up honing in on the mixed-race identity; this identity is a contact zone in and of itself- people with multiple clashing identities or even multiple different identities have to identify as one, and that requires merging the cultures/stereotypes of both races into one, or picking which one to identify at specific times.  The people that I interviewed feel that sometimes, living as a mixed-race person means living as a racial contact zone, constantly having to combine the struggles of both groups into one, and to feel isolated by both of your ethnicities.