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At the University of Oregon, I would be eager to be a part of the advancement of the equity and inclusion division by contributing my ideas and passions to the Multi-Ethnic Student Alliance group. People often struggle to fully understand what it is like to be a person who identifies with multiple ethnicities. I identify as Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, and Japanese in no particular order. Safe spaces like affinity groups as well as open groups both serve different purposes and offer different benefits. However, they come together because they bond people who are interested in exploring specific aspects of themselves. Providing both forums for students to discuss and explore their identities will help those who feel like they do not fit into a specific racial group.As a student who identifies as both Caucasian and as a person of color, I would want to help create spaces for people who identify as multiracial at UO to talk about their experience being a mixed person. Being multiracial is different for everyone and definitely varies depending on individual circumstances. Some students (myself included) have been told “Oh, you’re Mexican? No! But you’re so… white!” The phrase “but you’re so white” might seem harmless out of context, but it really puts a barrier between culture and color that can confuse a lot of multiracial people about their identities. In a way, that phrase is essentially denying someone’s identity. For me, it was always hard to respond to comments like that because I am “white”, but I am also Mexican. I want to create a space where students can share their experiences with racial ignorance and confusion about racial identity, and eventually discuss the unique culture that makes up who we are.Besides my younger brother, I have never met someone with the same racial background as me. This has lead me to believe that I in my own way carry a unique cultural upbringing that informs my racial identity. Yes, at Thanksgiving there are a lot of Caucasian people in my house from my Dad’s side. However, there are also my uncles on the couch playing guitar and singing in Spanish, and my Japanese aunts knitting with each other while my Grandma pulls out the turkey from her Kamado pot. These are experiences that are created when Caucasian people, Mexican people, and Japanese people are combined. I am an embodiment of that racial combination, and I never want to leave any part of my identity out. I feel like I can help UO students discover how all of their aspects of racial identity are valid and integral to their identities. This would be through the creation of spaces where mixed students who are struggling with racial identity to dialogue about their experiences and build self-confidence and community tolerance. By doing so, students who are unsure of how they racially identify can safely explore reasons why they feel that way, and attain tools to further solidify their confidence in their individuality.
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