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Think Out Loud

School I.D.

Pete Springer/OPB

More Oregon students  than ever are choosing to identify themselves as multi-ethnic, according to the state’s education department. But many of these same students say the issue of race is not that important in their lives.

Fourteen year-old Samara Rodarte is Vietnamese and Hispanic. She will be a sophomore next fall at the Renaissance Arts Academy at Marshall High. She says race is mostly about “appearance” and she asks why we’re not talking about having black hair versus having red hair. She says it doesn’t make a bit of difference because ultimately we’re all the same; we’re all human.

Dalton Miller-Jones is black studies professor at Portland State University. He says it’s important to talk about racial issues, even though he says the word “race” brings “a lot of baggage.” But he’s not a fan of the “multi-ethnic” category used by the Oregon Department of Education either. He says:

It doesn’t help us, it’s like checking Asian. That includes so many disparate and different cultures, that it’s not a meaningful category at this point.

Are you multi-ethnic or mixed race? How do you identify yourself? Have you found your racial background makes a difference in your everyday life? Did the election of a mixed-race president have any effect on how you see yourself in the world?

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OPB | Broadcast: June 22, 2009