Last year I was at a Dodgers game with my family when the jumbotron flashed information about upcoming ballgames. My young son tugged my arm and motioned for me to glance at the information being displayed, including “Filipino Night,” “Cuban Night,” and “Korean Night,” to name a few. He pulled me closer and asked, “Mommy, what day do kids like me come to Dodger Stadium? Is there a day for us mixed kids coming up?” I asked him to explain what he meant and he said: “Well, you’re Black and Mexican, and Daddy is Korean, so is there a special day for kids like me that are mixed?”’
Talk about being thrown a curveball.
Initially I laughed it off and told him that we could go to the ballpark anytime we wanted, but by the seventh inning stretch I had not been able to shake his question. As we locked arms and swayed side to side to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” I was determined to approach the Dodgers and share with them the question my son posed: what about us? What about those folks who don’t quite fit into one box, and who identify with more than one culture? The subject of not fitting in brought up emotions I have been grappling since I was a kid.
“What are you?” is a common question every multiracial person knows well. It is typically the first question asked, followed by the dreaded “but what do you identify with more?” I have gone through a multitude of answers to this question, and it differs for everyone, but what we agree on is that we have the right to self identify. It wasn’t until the late ’90s that I read Dr. Maria Root’s “Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage” and felt a great sense of self. It gave me the courage and comfort to reply: I am what I say I am.
When I was growing up, there weren’t many folks that looked like me. While in school and on many forms, government or otherwise, there wasn’t a box for me. Forms that asked me to “choose one” were the norm. If you didn’t fall into any of the categories you would check “other.” I was an “other” and it hurt.
It hurts not fitting in or seeing yourself and your reality reflected. From school forms or dolls that look like you to television shows and books with characters that you can relate to, representation matters. It mattered then when I was a kid and now for my children and children like them. With this in mind, I reached out to the Dodgers and asked if I could suggest a day for individuals that identify as mixed heritage to have a day at the ballpark.
Not too long after, I heard that “Mixed Heritage Day” was approved for August 27, 2016. I couldn’t wait to share this great news! The local multiracial community was thrilled to know that the Dodgers were offering a day to commemorate diversity. And my family couldn’t believe it — that it wasn’t just Mommy saying to hope for change. To see their multiracial heroes on the ball field is a dream come true for them.
So on August 27th, you’ll find me, my children, family, friends, and hundreds of the multiracial community at the stadium. And when the jumbotron flashes on and welcomes us to “Mixed Heritage Day,” we will be celebrating a win for diversity. Our hope is for events like this to continue to bring change and acknowledgment of our community. We aim to make it a yearly event at Dodger Stadium and perhaps at every ballpark around the U.S.
Now that is what I call a home run!