Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World
Sharon H. Chang
Routledge, 2016, 264pp, £27.99
Reviewed by Nicola Codner
I was really excited to finally get my hands on a copy of this excellent book which focusses on how to navigate successfully raising Asian multiracial children in today’s world. The main argument of the book is that in order to do this parents must analyse their own understanding of racial issues, and seek to expand their knowledge and awareness in this area so they can adequately support their offspring. Considering the content of the book, the mention of ‘a post-racial world’ in its title can only be taken as tongue-in-cheek since the writer argues throughout the text that the world is anything but this and sets about exposing how white racism continues to be pernicious and pervasive, simply mutating over time rather than weakening in power.
The book is split into an introduction followed by 8 chapters and is based on an interview study conducted by the author with multiracial Asian parents. The study explored multiracial Asian parents’ approaches to parenting in conjunction with their attitudes regarding race. Chang, who is an activist, writer and scholar, is multiracial Asian herself, as is her husband. The study highlighted parents often neglect appropriate conversations around race with their children and thus do not support them in developing good self-esteem and coping skills when it comes to dealing with racism.
A particular strength of this book is the thorough explanation of how and why white racial framing emerged, and how it manifests today impacting the lives of multiracial children and children of colour in general. I commend the author for her honesty in pointing out the common inadequacies in the parenting of multiracial children and for exposing the hollowness and the dangers of the multiracial propaganda we commonly hear, which frequently positions multiracial children as racially superior and at the same time incongruously as evidence of racial harmony amongst other harmful fallacies. The writer’s courage in addressing the realities and complexities of the multiracial experience is a refreshing relief, and we need so much more of this in our world which is seeing a rapidly increasing multiracial population in many countries, including the USA and the UK. Another strength of the text is in how the book explores race relations between the different non-white racial groups, how tensions have been created between them and continuously maintained by white racist framing, and how this affects the individual lives of multiracial people of different racial mixes. A real benefit of the work is that it also provides guidance on how and when to have conversations with children about race (although some parents may need more guidance on this), how to deal with/ consider some challenging environmental factors and how parents can encourage changes in social policy when it comes to multiracial issues.
My only criticism would be that the book offers no real analysis of how multiracial people’s mental health is affected by racism and inadequate help from parents with this, but perhaps statistics on this are harder to get a hold of in the USA (where the author is from) due to more pressure for multiracial people to identify as monoracial. I would imagine this is also an under-researched area.
This book will obviously be of particular interest to parents of Asian multiracial children who wish to ensure they are providing the best foundation in life for their kids. Although the book focusses specifically on multiracial Asian children, as a mixed race woman of black and white heritage and possibly a future parent of a multiracial child, I found this book to be an incredibly useful resource and would like to thank the author sincerely for writing it. This book will be invaluable for all people who are multiracial and/ or in multiracial families. I would also consider it required reading for mental health care professionals, medical professionals in general, as well as teachers and researchers in the area of multiracial identity. It is additionally essential reading for anyone who desires to be conscious of the white racial framing we all live within, how it impacts us and how to fight against it with insight and intelligence.
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