Claudine O’Hearn (editor), Half and Half Part 1

Half and Half is a collection of essays from writers who are biracial and/or bicultural. The book includes big names such as Julia Alvarez, Malcolm Gladwell, David Mura and Danzy Senna, among many others.  Senna’s piece is my favorite in the first half of the collection; “The Mulatto Millennium” a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the “it’s hip to be mixed” stereotype. There is a lot of important material in the book, so I’ve broken it into two parts.

From Claudine Chiawei O’Hearn’s Introduction:

  • “Because most people didn’t know where to place me, I made up stories about myself. In bars, clubs, and restaurants I would try on identities with strangers I knew I would never meet again” (ix).
  • “What name do you give to someone who is a quarter, an eighth, a half? What kind of measuring stick might give accurate estimation? If our understanding of race and culture can ripen and evolve then new and immeasurable measurements about…our identities become possible” (xiv).

Danzy Senna, The Mulatto Millennium

  • “Strange to wake up and realize you’re in style. …I woke to find that mulattos had taken over. They were everywhere” (12).
  • “Mulattos may not be new. But the mulatto-pride folks are a new generation. They want their own special category or no categories at all. They’re a full-fledged movement, complete with their own share of extremists” (14).

Francisco Goldman, Moro Like Me

  • ” One of the first things I actually figured out was this: it doesn’t matter what my features actually are, the bigot looks only for certain recognizable markers – in this case curly dark hair, brown eyes, perhaps a certain roundness to the face – and does you the favor of filling in the rest” (55).

David Mura, Reflections On My Daughter

  • “It’s clear it didn’t matter to the neighborhood children that her daughter was of mixed race and part white. They saw her dark skin and ran” (82).
  • “I have a friend whose father is European American and whose mother is a Japanese national. She says when you grow up in two cultures, you aren’t split in half. Instead, there are two distinct beings inside of you” (87).

Julia Alvarez, A White Woman of Color

  • “It was clear to us growing up that lighter was better, but there was no question of discriminating against someone because he or she was dark-skinned. Everyone’s family… had dark-skinned members” (141).

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