SEATTLE (January 7, 2020) - Join the Seattle chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) for the Mixed Race Seattle conference, a transformative day of storytelling, art, and creative expression meant to grow community among multiracial teens, young adults, and their families. This event is free and open for all to attend (RSVP is required, as the building has a maximum capacity of 300 people).
Attorney, poet, and former Seattle mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver, one of the featured performers of Mixed Race Seattle, says her awareness of race and social justice began early, in seeing how differently her Black father and stepfather were treated compared to her white mother.
"As a Black, queer, Mixed woman, it took me a while to find my community," said Oliver, who will perform a spoken-word poetry piece about her identity at the conference. "This conference is about helping other young Mixed people define their own stories and identities. Youth will get to hear from people they can look up to and connect with like-minded people their own age."
The event will include a keynote address by Alissa Paris, co-founder of the MidWest Mixed conference, which works to expand understanding of race and identity through courageous conversations, arts engagement, educational outreach, and a biennial conference. Other featured performers and speakers include Michael O'Neal Jr. ("Majinn"), who performs this February in Dani Tirell's Black Bois at the Moore Theatre; internationally acclaimed flautist Leanna Keith, who recently presented a collaborative piece on her own mixed identity at On the Boards; and Tracy Rector, a Native American/mixed-race filmmaker, curator, community organizer, and City of Seattle arts commissioner. With an emphasis on supporting youth, groups, including the UW Mixed Student Union, will provide resources during the day.
While the schedule is still being finalized, morning activities include a youth-led workshop for teens and college-age students and a panel discussion featuring Mixed Race young adults, and [the conference] will conclude with a panel discussion of multiracial artists. Artistic performances will be interspersed throughout the day.
The Seattle JACL is the flagship chapter of one of the nations' oldest Asian American civil rights organization. The vision to "promote a world that honors diversity by respecting values of fairness, equality and social justice," is rooted in its belief that in America, race still presents one of the biggest challenges to justice for all people, and in particular, for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color.
The Seattle JACL presents this event through a 2020 Legacy Grant from JACL National, a smART Ventures Grant from Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and a special partnership with Sharon H. Chang, author of Raising Mixed Race and Hapa Tales and Other Lies.
Mixed Race is the fastest growing racial identity among youth today, a growth we expect to see highlighted even more prominently in the 2020 census. Yet resources, recognition, and support for young multiracial people and their families is still lagging way behind, says author and activist Sharon H. Chang, one of the event's co-presenters.
"Mixed-race children are the least likely to see themselves represented in children's books, there is only one college in the US that offers a minor in mixed-race studies, and no colleges offer a major," Chang said. "Multiracial youth repeatedly say they feel unheard, unseen as whole people, and pressured to 'choose sides.' If we truly care about supporting the next generation, our ability as a society to honor the diverse experiences of mixed-race people needs to develop exponentially."
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Blaine Memorial Methodist Church:
3001 24th Ave S, Seattle
The public is welcome to attend the entire day or drop in for specific events (check the event Facebook page as the speakers and the schedule are confirmed). Light breakfast, snacks, and water will be provided. Parking is available in the lot in front of the building. The site is ADA-accessible, and the event is barrier-free: if you require specific accommodations, including translation and ASL services, please inform event organizers at least two weeks in advance at the RSVP form [http://bit.ly/36DrzX1].
The Seattle JACL is presenting this conference in a church, specifically because Blaine Methodist is allowing the nonprofit to use its space for free. Rather than spending limited grant funds on a facility rental, the JACL is using funds to maximize how much it can pay its BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and other People of Color) speakers and performers. The JACL acknowledges that a church building may be an uncomfortable or even painful space for some, particularly for Indigenous people, who have experienced genocide and cultural destruction in the name of Christianity. The Mixed Race Seattle conference is a nonreligious, antiracist event, held as an act of liberation and decolonization. Prior to the conference, one of our event organizers, Audrey, and her father Matt Remle (Hunkpapa Lakota and Paiute) will be offering a Lakota prayer and "smudging" the church down to cleanse the space.
The Japanese American Citizens League, the nation's second-oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, was founded in the 1920s to address issues of discrimination targeted specifically at persons of Japanese ancestry residing in the United States. The Seattle Chapter JACL has been unafraid to tackle difficult and often controversial issues related to the wartime experiences of our community and other civil rights issues. While the JACL's founding mission was focused on protecting the civil rights of Americans of Japanese ancestry, today we are committed to protecting the rights of all segments of the Asian Pacific American community.
Courtesy of the Seattle JACL