The Bookshelf

The books below (organized by publishing year) are just a taste of the growing scholarship and narratives on multi histories, identities, experiences. Please post any further book suggestions or comments!

New Books!
The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics and Aesthetics in the New Millennium by Michele Elam (2011)


Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua (1987)

With exceptional insight, Anzaldua creates a mosaic of the marginal person: a person, like herself, who exists in a state of transition, of ambivalence, of conflict; someone who is infused with many cultures yet cannot claim a single one wholly for herself.

Racially Mixed People in America by Maria P.P. Root (1992)

One of the "canonical" and indeed foundational books on mixed race people in the United States, "Racially Mixed People in America" offers a comprehensive look at all the issues involved in doing research with mixed race people, all in the context of America's multiracial past and present.



The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as the New Frontier by Maria P. P. Root

How might a multiracial concept dismantle our negative construction of race? How do we redefine `ethnicity' when `race' is less central to the definition? "The Multiracial Experience" challenges current theoretical and political conceptualizations of race using the multiracial experience of individuals as a tool for examining these and other questions.

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage & Ethnic: Intermarriage And Ethnic Identity In Twentieth Century America by Paul R. Spickard (1991) Focusing on three groups--Japanese-Americans, Jewish-Americans, and African-Americans--Spickard combines historical and sociological analyses to test basic theories explaining intermarriage patterns. More impressionistic and anecdotal than statistical, this well-written and extensively researched work is an impressive contribution to American social and ethnic history.
American Mixed Race: The Culture of Microdiversity edited by Naomi Zack (1995) This exciting multidisciplinary collection brings together twenty-two original essays by scholars on the cutting edge of racial theory, who address both the American concept of race and the specific problems experienced by those who do not fit neatly into the boxes society requires them to check.
What Are You?: Voices of Mixed-Race Young People edited by Pearl Fuyo Gaskins (1999)"In the eyes of many people I am the product of a relationship that wasn't supposed to happen." "I'm no tragedy, and no exotic other." "I'm no jungle-fever rainbow baby." The contemporary voices are disturbing, frank, witty, and heartfelt. In essay, interview, and poetry, 45 mixed-race young people between the ages of 14 and 26, from all over the U.S., speak about their growing up.
More Than Black? Multiracial Identity and the New Racial Order by G. Reginald Daniel (2001)"This book is a major contribution to understanding multiracial identity, a topic of increasing importance. Professor Daniel places the issues in a broad historical-comparative perspective, focusing primarily on mixed-race persons in America with some African ancestry. A leader in the multiracial identity movement, he has written a carefully researched, informative, and balanced treatment." --F. James Davis, Professor of Sociology Emeritus, Illinois State University, and author of Who Is Black? 

The Sum of Our Parts: Mixed-Heritage Asian Americans by Teresa Williams-Leon, Cynthia L. Nakashima & Michael Omi (2001) According to the last US Census, nearly one-third of all interracial marriages included an Asian-descent spouse, and intermarriage rates are accelerating. This unique collection of essays focuses on the construction of identity among people of Asian descent who claim multiple heritages. In the U.S., discussions of race generally center on matters of black and white; mixed heritage Asian Americans usually figure in conversations about race as an undifferentiated ethnic group or as exotic Eurasians. The contributors to this book disrupt the standard discussions by considering people of mixed Asian ethnicities. They also pay particular attention to non-white multiracial identities to decenter whiteness and reflect the experience of individuals or communities who are considered a minority within a minority.With an entire section devoted to the Asian diaspora, "The Sum of Our Parts" suggests that questions of multiracial and multiethnic identity are surfacing around the globe.
Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption by Randall Kennedy (2002) Kennedy offers a brilliant analysis of one the most controversial areas of American race relations--interracial sex. Kennedy weaves together history, law, literature, politics, and social policy in a searing examination of how blacks and whites have intermixed since Africans were brought to the U.S. as slaves. Beginning with the rape and sexual exploitation of black women by white men, Kennedy examines the underlying myths and stereotypes that have shaped social policy on marriage, identity, and adoption and given rise to the convoluted legal and social structure meant to maintain the racial hierarchy. He explores the social context of famous black-white relationships, from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, through boxing champion Jack Johnson's marriages to white women, to the Loving v. Virginia U.S. Supreme Court case that outlawed bans on interracial marriage. 
Mixed Race America and the Law: A Reader by Kevin Johnson (2003) With this anthology, Kevin R. Johnson brings together ground-breaking scholarship on the mixed race experience in America to examine the impact of law on these citizens. The foundational essays that comprise the collection present the historical, social, and political contexts surrounding the body of law that addresses race while analyzing the implications of multiracialism.
'Mixed Race' Studies: A Reader by Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe (2004) Mixed race studies is one of the fastest growing, as well as one of the most important and controversial areas in the field of race and ethnic relations. Bringing together pioneering and controversial scholarship from both the social and the biological sciences, as well as the humanities, this reader charts the evolution of debates on 'race' and 'mixed race' from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.     
The Politics of Multiracialism: Challenging Racial Thinking by Heather Dalmage (2004) This is the first book to critically look at the political issues and interests surrounding the broadly defined Multiracial Movement and at what is being said about multiracialism. Many of the multiracial family organizations that exist across the United States developed socially, ideologically, and politically during the conservative Reagan years. While members of the Multiracial Movement differ widely in their political views, the concept of multiracialism has been taken up by conservative politicians in ways that are often inimical to the interests of traditionally defined minorities.
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn (revised 2005)
According to this classic of revisionist American history, narratives of national unity and progress are a smoke screen disguising the ceaseless conflict between elites and the masses whom they oppress and exploit. Historian Zinn sides with the latter group in chronicling Indians' struggle against Europeans, blacks' struggle against racism, women's struggle against patriarchy, and workers' struggle against capitalists. First published in 1980, the volume sums up decades of post-war scholarship into a definitive statement of leftist, multicultural, anti-imperialist historiography.

Crossing Lines: Race and Mixed Race Across the Geohistorical Divide by Marc Coronado (2005)  Crossing Lines addresses the issues of race and mixed race at the turn of the 21st century. Representing multiple academic disciplines, the volume invites readers to consider the many ways that identity, community, and collectivity are formed, while addressing the challenges that multiracial identity poses to our understanding of race and ethnicity. 


Part Asian, 100% Hapa by Kip Fulbeck, Sean Lennon &  Paul Spickard (2006)  
   Originally a derogatory label derived from the Hawaiian word for half, Hapa is now being embraced as a term of pride by many people of Asian or Pacific Rim mixed-race heritage. Award-winning film producer and artist Kip Fulbeck has created a forum in word and image for Hapas to answer the question they're nearly always asked: "What are you?" Fulbeck's frank, head-on portraits are paired with the sitters' own statements of identity. A work of intimacy, beauty, and powerful self-expression, Part Asian, 100% Hapa is the book Fulbeck says he wishes he had growing up. An introduction to the rest of the world and an affirmation for Hapas themselves -- who now number in the millions -- it offers a new perspective on a rapidly growing population. 

Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption edited by Jane Jeong Trenka, Julia Chinyere Oparah, Sun Yung Shin (2006) In 30 personal essays, research-based studies, poems and accompanying artwork, transracial adoptees "challenge the privileging of rational, 'expert' knowledge that excludes so many adoptee voices." Conceived by the editors as "corrective action," the collection offers an eye-opening perspective on both the "the power differences between white people and people of color, the rich and the poor, the more or less empowered in adoption circles" and the sense of loss and limbo that individual adoptees may feel while "living in the borderlands of racial, national, and cultural identities."

Mixed Messages: Multiracial Identities in the "Color-Blind" Era by David Brunsma (2006) The experiences and voices of multiracial individuals are challenging current categories of race, profoundly altering the meaning of racial identity and in the process changing the cultural fabric of the nation. Exploring this new reality, the authors of "Mixed Messages" examine what we know about multiracial identities - and the implications of those identities for fundamental issues of justice and equality.   
Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line by Kimberly M. DaCosta (2007) "DaCosta describes in great detail the cultural, institutional (family), and political factors that motivate mixed-race people in the US to organize collectively and challenge the official classification of mixed people... The stories are diverse, yet all point to an existential component in which mixed people have conflicts over class, sexuality, education, and family history... This book is timely for all who are interested in race relations. Highly recommended."—CHOICE   
Mark One or More: Civil Rights in Multiracial America by Kim M. Williams (2008)"This is a smart, sensitive and brave book on a topic - multiracialism - about which many dumb, insensitive, and cowardly things have been said. Williams deepens our empirical understanding of the topic through her research and our normative appreciation for the complexities of the matter through her wise and insightful commentary. An altogether welcome addition to America's ongoing conversation about race." - Doug McAdam, Stanford University "This is a brilliant and provocative examination of the politics surrounding the multiracial movement and where it fits in the ideological divides in American politics." - Paula McClain, Duke University  

Mixed Race Hollywood by Camilla Fojas, edited by Mary Beltran (2008) Since the early days of Hollywood film, portrayals of interracial romance and of individuals of mixed racial and ethnic heritage have served to highlight and challenge fault lines within Hollywood and the nation’s racial categories and borders. Mixed Race Hollywood is a pioneering compilation of essays on mixed-race romance, individuals, families, and stars in U.S. film and media culture. Situated at the cutting-edge juncture of ethnic studies and media studies, this collection addresses early mixed-race film characters, Blaxploitation, mixed race in children’s television programming, and the "outing" of mixed-race stars on the Internet, among other issues and contemporary trends in mixed-race representation.

Multiracial Americans and Social Class: The Influence of Social Class on Racial Identity by Kathleen Odell Korgen (2010)In this book, noted scholars examine the impact of social class on the racial identity of multiracial Americans, in highly readable essays, from a range of sociological perspectives. In doing so, they answer the following questions: Who is multiracial? How does class influence racial identity? How does social class status vary among multiracial populations? Do you need to be middle class in order to be an "honorary white"? What is the relationship between social class, culture, and race? How does the influence of social class compare across multiracial backgrounds? What are multiracial Americans' explanations for racial inequality in the United States?

Fiction/Creative Non-Fiction 

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (1995)  Will the truth set you free?, Obama asks. Or will it disappoint? Both, it seems. His search for himself as a black American is rooted in the particulars of his daily life; it also reads like a wry commentary about all of us. He dismisses stereotypes of the "tragic mulatto" and then shows how much we are all caught between messy contradictions and disparate communities.
Native Speaker:  A Novel by Chang Rae Lee (1996) Korean-American Henry Park is "surreptitious, B+ student of life, illegal alien, emotional alien, Yellow peril: neo-American, stranger, follower, traitor, spy ..." or so says his wife, in the list she writes upon leaving him. Henry is forever uncertain of his place, a perpetual outsider looking at American culture from a distance. As a man of two worlds, he is beginning to fear that he has betrayed both -- and belongs to neither. 
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride (1996) The Color of Water tells the story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the two good men she married, and the 12 good children she raised. The book is a success story, a testament to one woman's true heart, solid values, and indomitable will. In telling her story--along with her son's--The Color of Water addresses racial identity with compassion, insight, and realism.

Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural by Claudine Chiawei O'Hearn (1998) Where are you from? When do you use "we"? The answers aren't simple for the 18 writers of these personal essays who live and work in the U.S. but aren't sure where they belong. Some are immigrants; most are children or parents of biracial, bicultural families. In her introduction, editor O'Hearn says she is always a foreigner, wherever she is ("Suspended, I can go anywhere but home"). David Mura writes with tenderness about his daughter: he is third-generation Japanese American, his wife is WASP and a small part Jewish; he sees little of his family's mixed race and culture reflected in the media. Danzy Senna's hilarious parody ("Make Mulattos, not War") says it clearly: multiculturalism is about dealing with racism and power, not about plates of ethnic food.

Caucasia: A Novel by Danzy Senna (1999) A young girl learns some difficult lessons in Danzy Senna's debut novel Caucasia. Growing up in a biracial family in 1970s Boston, Birdie has seen her family disintegrate due to the increasing racial tensions. Her father and older sister move to Brazil, where they hope to find true racial equality, while Birdie and her mother drift through the country, eventually adopting new identities (Sheila and Jesse Goldman) and settling in a small New Hampshire town. 

White Teeth: A Novel by Zadie Smith (2001) The scrambled, heterogeneous sprawl of mixed-race and immigrant family life in gritty London nearly overflows the bounds of this stunning, polymathic debut novel by 23-year-old British writer Smith. Traversing a broad swath of cultural territory with a perfect ear for the nuances of identity and social class, Smith harnesses provocative themes of science, technology, history and religion to her narrative.


Paper Bullets: A Fictional Autobiography by Kip Fulbeck (2001) Award-winning videomaker, performance artist, and pop-culture provocateur Kip Fulbeck has captivated audiences worldwide with his mixture of high comedy and personal narrative. In Paper Bullets, his first novel, Fulbeck taps into his Cantonese, English, Irish, and Welsh heritage, weaving a fictional autobiography from 27 closely linked stories, essays, and confessions. By turns sensitive and forceful, passionate and callous, Fulbeck confronts the politics of race, sex, and Asian American masculinity head-on without apology, constantly questioning where Hapas fit in a country that ignores multiracial identity.

Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience edited by Chandra Prasad (2006) Going way beyond the mythology of the tragic mulatto, this anthology of short stories by and about people of mixed racial heritage explores the complexities of multiracialism and multiculturalism. his is an absorbing and thought-provoking collection of stories that explore racial identity, alienation, and people often forced to choose between races and cultures in a search for self-identity. 

Amy HodgePodge by Kim Wayans, Kevin Knotts, Soo Jeong (2008)    This groundbreaking children's series follows the experiences of Amy Hodgepodge as she faces the ups and downs of growing up. Written by actress and producer Kim Wayans and her husband.        

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: A Novel by Heidi W. Durrow (2010) Durrow's debut draws from her own upbringing as the brown-skinned, blue-eyed daughter of a Danish woman and a black G.I. to create Rachel Morse, a young girl with an identical heritage growing up in the early 1980s. After a devastating family tragedy in Chicago with Rachel the only survivor, she goes to live with the paternal grandmother she's never met, in a decidedly black neighborhood in Portland, Ore. Taut prose, a controversial conclusion and the thoughtful reflection on racism and racial identity resonate without treading into political or even overtly specific agenda waters, as the story succeeds as both a modern coming-of-age and relevant social commentary.