Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America

May 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 21-4: Native American Studies, Summer 2010, Media Reviews

Channel Photographics (2010)

Review by Cindy Conway

The old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is especially fitting to Blended Nation. It examines the concept of race in America through a collection of photographs accompanied by personal essays describing the subjects’ experiences stemming from being bior multi-racial.

What exactly is race? Is it defined by a person’s skin color or the texture of his or her hair? Or is it defined by cultural background and upbringing? How should a person of mixed race identify himself? More importantly, why does the need to classify a person by race even matter?

Many of the interviewees state that while growing up, they identified more strongly with one side of their heritage because of who raised them, but as adults they have explored the “other” side of their genetic makeup by involving themselves in that culture. Some are offended when asked “What are you?” while others embrace their diversity.

Many didn’t even think about looking “different” until they left home and moved to places where cultural diversity is more prevalent. Others felt different from a very young age, never fitting in with one group or another.

Dr. Alan Goodman asks the readers to decide if race is defined through human biology or is a social invention designed to “pigeonhole” people.

This book would be a good addition to any college library or sociology department, helping to open the door to many discussions about race in America and the varied responses and theories it will undoubtedly evoke. It could likely raise more questions than provide answers because when it comes down to it, we are the same race – human.

Cindy Conway graduated from Fort Lewis College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology. She lives in Mancos, CO, and since 2003, has worked as a proofreader and researcher for the Tribal College Journal.

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