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Our "racial" language

Even the words we choose to express the realities of our families can be loaded. At various times I've used different phrases, from "biracial" to "mixed race" to (even, long ago) "First World" and "Third World." Someone in my family has always objected to one or another descriptor: "Mixed race makes me feel like paint being mixed," I heard. Or "Biracial ignores the Native American heritage in favor of black and white."

I finally figured out that the subject is so fraught, with such a tough history of discrimination, no word, even if well-intentioned, is going to heal up the hurt.

Until our culture changes to be truly inclusive--with no more "What are you?" as an automatic introductory question--we will not find the perfect word to describe a complicated history. But until then, we humbly do our best as our language evolves, trying to catch up with the ever-changing reality of families whose members, defying social norms, come from historically separated groups. Families whose members, no matter how different they may look to outsiders, love each other.
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