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Commentary: Mixed identities deserve space within our community

Senior+Madison+Almonte+writes+about+the+importance+of+including+and+validating+people+with+mixed+identities.++
Kaeleigh Banda
Senior Madison Almonte writes about the importance of including and validating people with mixed identities.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest commentary. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

As an Afro-Latina from a predominantly white neighborhood in upstate New York, it has been a constant struggle to find my identity and take pride in it. With my father being a first-generation Dominican and my mother being Black, I grew up with a myriad of identities that often conflicted with one another, resulting in a daughter who didn’t speak Spanish, didn’t know how to care for her curls, and had no idea who she was. I felt so lost coming to Ithaca College, a predominantly white institution and in the middle of a global upheaval. 

While I have come to know so many amazing peers of color here at Ithaca College, being mixed is a different experience that isn’t discussed nearly as much as it should be, despite the ever-growing presence of young people identifying as multiracial within the last decade. According to data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau, upon expanding the demographics recognized, the 2020 national census saw an increase of 300% in multiracial individuals, growing from 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020. Acknowledging these statistics, we must consider more spaces and conversations for mixed students on campus.

IC Mixed serves as a support group and a safe space to vent about these unique experiences, and I am incredibly honored to serve on their e-board this academic year. I was introduced to this group by my cousin, a recent graduate from the Center of Music and a former e-board member. With us coming from similar backgrounds, she invited me to a meeting. I finally found a group of wonderful peers that I could relate to, and I will never forget the sheer joy I felt that night. From there on I began to embrace my mixed identity truly, and use it as my motivation in my music studies and advocacy work within the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

Currently led by my dear friend, fellow senior Seessa Kauffman, our discussions can range from language barriers to interpersonal dynamics to imposter syndrome, experiences all too familiar to most of us in the group. Other times, our meetings serve as a space to just exist, and we offer Jason Mamoa coloring books (a fan favorite among our members) and snacks to enjoy. We even went as far as to host a One Piece watch party last December; it was truly an unforgettable bonding experience. Our faculty advisor and pizza provider, Professor Derek Adams, has been an amazing resource and support system for us this year, and a strong advocate for these spaces and encouraging his students to attend our meetings. 

Every meeting serves as a reminder of just how much these conversations and support spaces matter, and what they mean for our members and others within the BIPOC community on campus. For myself and my peers, we can embrace ourselves to the fullest and not have to hide ourselves or diminish who we are to be accepted by others. We challenge ourselves to be more empowered to advocate for ourselves and others. For us, IC Mixed is more than a campus organization; it is family, a sanctuary of healing and growth, whether through our conversations or through watching a silly cartoon about a pirate finding some treasure.

What we need, however, are more spaces and opportunities across campus for mixed students of all identities to feel not just safe, but comfortable and appreciated. The BIPOC Unity Center does offer spaces such as sensory rooms and numerous events for the BIPOC community including their First Friday events and collaborations with organizations like Sister 2 Sister and the Musicians of Color Association. In conversations among our group, our members have struggled to confidently enter these communities and have their voices heard, either for their proximity to whiteness or past experiences. 

While I proudly identify as Afro-Latina, I do acknowledge that my appearance such as my lighter skin, facial features and looser curl pattern can be perceived as white-passing, and it can be difficult to engage in some spaces. While no one is at fault for this, it is also a factor our community must consider when in these spaces to ensure true inclusion and unity.

Everyone is deserving and worthy of taking up a seat at the table, and it is our duty as a community to facilitate these conversations that empower everyone to show up as authentically as they can. At the end of the day, we are a community that must have each other’s backs and continuously show up for one another.

Madison Almonte (she/her) is a senior music major with an outside field in storytelling and a concentration in voice. Contact her at [email protected]

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Kaeleigh Banda, Assistant Photo Editor
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    Cliff-Simon VitalFeb 6, 2024 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing your opinions and authentic thoughts. You matter, you deserve space, and you are important to this campus and community. Know that you and all those who choose are invited to learn, socialize, and engage with us! Let’s connect to see what more we can do to bridge the gap and support

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