Mixed

One of the sessions I attended at the NAIS conference that I hadn’t written about until now was called: What Are You? The Changing Face of America.

It featured artist Kip Fulbeck who’s newest book: Mixed: Portraits of Multicultural Kids features wonderful images of children of multiple ethnicities who answer the question: What are you? Some of the children are young and one of their parents answers that questions.

I could relate to Fulbeck when he talked about filling in forms (standardized tests, job applications, etc.) and they asked you to check a box: White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Other. What if you were white and black, could you check both boxes or just other. By asking a child to choose one, you are essentially asking them to pick one parent over another.

Being a mix of Chinese, Portuguese, Irish, and other ethnicities, it was refreshing to see images of people who don’t fit any of the ethnic boxes that are often provided. In the end, to me, what it really is about is who you think you are. Make your own box.

One of my favorites is a portrait of a boy called Olivier who is listed as French and Japanese. His mom writes: We plan on telling Olivier that identifying with one race would be impossible. We hope that he embraces Bollywood, dessert wine, bagpipes and kilts, kimchi, four leaf clovers, and wooden shoes.

You can learn more about the book at this website.

An exhibition of images from his new book starts next week at the Japanese American National Museum.

The book is due to be released this week, but Fulbeck had copies available at the conference. I picked one up if anyone is interested in taking a look.

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