(Tacoma, WA. –May 2013) — Until now, no one has examined the collective stories of the 20th century’s older, mixed-raced Americans. “Stories of younger people of mixed heritage are out there,” says sociologist, professor and author Cathy J. Tashiro. But, Standing on Both Feet: Voices of Older Mixed Race Americans takes the story one step further¯analyzing how previous generations worked to find their place in decades when their very existence violated entrenched societal beliefs and legally enforced color lines.
“I heard many secrets during my interviews,” says Tashiro. “Until the 1967 Supreme Court decision, many mixed-raced couples defied the law to marry. Their racially ambiguous children faced everything from hostility to awe and the ‘what are you?’ questions familiar to Americans of mixed ancestry¯even today.”
In Standing on Both Feet: Voices of Older Mixed Race Americans, Tashiro interweaves the experiences of 20 people born between 1902 and 1951 who are mixed African American/Caucasian or Asian American/Caucasian. The book’s title refers to a frequent theme in their stories¯a life with one foot in each culture; but a society that checked the box of racial identity for them based largely on rigid definitions of race. “I discovered that what was happening in society when a person was coming of age shaped their options, identities and family relationships.” In the book’s final chapter, Tashiro uses her research to predict trends for the rapidly-growing numbers of mixed-race Americans.
“Like the people in my book, I am of mixed race. My parents got together at the end of World War II when there was a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment. My mother was disowned by my white grandfather for a time, for marrying my father. We are living witnesses from a time when people like me didn’t often have their experiences validated or named, to an era with a mixed-race president. But even he self-identifies as black and is widely known as ‘America’s first black president’ which has created controversy and proves the enduring power of ideas about race.”
Cathy will lead a discussion on her book and the broader issue of mixed-race Americans June 14th at Elliott Bay Company, 1521 10th Avenue, Seattle, 7 p.m.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As a healthcare provider, sociologist and researcher, Cathy J. Tashiro has published articles and has presented at international conventions giving her first person perspective on mixed race identity, health disparities, and social justice. She is associate professor emeritus at the University of Washington Tacoma’s Healthcare Leadership and Nursing Program.
Book Signing and Discussion event:
Discussion & Signing: June 14~7 p.m. @ Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle
This event will commemorate the 8th year of Loving Day marking the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the June 12, 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage. Tashiro’s appearance is co-sponsored by MAVIN, a Seattle non-profit working to build healthier communities by educating about mixed heritage experiences.
About the book: First Chronicle to Give Voice to Older Mixed-Raced Americans.
Personal stories link the poignant voices of Americans of mixed blood as they struggled to define their place in times of strictly enforced color lines
Standing on Both Feet: Voices of Older Mixed-Race Americans
By Cathy J. Tashiro
Published April 2013~paperback/161 pages/$29.71
Paradigm Publishers~ISBN: 978-1-59451-983-3
Race & Ethnic Studies/History