Radio 101: Multiracial Youth Refuses To Choose Sides

Radio 101: Multiracial Youth Refuses To Choose Sides

8:06pm Sep 23, 2016
Radio 101 reporter, Persia Taheri, talks about being a multiracial youth.
Lopa Shah

Persia Taheri's father is Persian and her mother is African American. Persia says she was initially oblivious about race. According to her mother, Stephanie Taheri, Persia only started recognizing differences in "color and culture" as she got older.

As a teen, Persia sometimes feels that people want her to belong to one race or the other.

People will sometimes say I’m not “black enough” or that I “act white” and “talk white”, as if the way I talk is a color.

Persia spoke to Dr. Sarah Gaither, a psychologist from Duke University who studies multiracial children. Dr. Gaither says the pressure on mixed race children to choose which group they belong to can lead to lower self-esteem.

Persia agrees and adds that people's assumptions about her race are determined by which parent she is with.

When I’m with my Persian dad, people are like, “Okay, she’s foreign or white.” But if I’m with my mom who’s black, people think, “Oh, she’s definitely mixed.”  

Dr. Gaither points out that a multiracial youth's appearance can affect their experiences, depending on whetherothers see them as more minority or more white.

Persia says she now identifies with both of the races in her family, though she acknowledges that some mixed race youth identify with only one race and others think of themselves as simply human.

Gaither says adolescents who identify as biracial or multiracial have certain advantages, such as higher self-esteem and more flexible thinking.

Persia now associates with students who recognize all aspects of her identity.

I tell myself that people who want me to choose only half of what I am to “fit in” are not the best pick of friends. I have definitely lived a more peaceful, worry-free, accepting life that way.