Mixed Race Americans Picture A 'Blended Nation'

  • Photographer Mike Tauber and the book's co-producer Pamela Singh.
    Hide caption
    Photographer Mike Tauber and the book's co-producer Pamela Singh.
    Photo by Robert and Robbie Bailey/Mike Tauber
  • Cheryl Quintana Leader: white, one-eighth Aztec Indian. Mar Vista Hills, Calif.
    Hide caption
    Cheryl Quintana Leader: white, one-eighth Aztec Indian. Mar Vista Hills, Calif.
    Photos by Mike Tauber/Mike Tauber
  • Andre Johnson: Native American (Cherokee, Blackfoot), White (Spanish, Dutch from Curacao), African-American. Brooklyn, N.Y. "Being seen and labeled as a 'black man' has never bothered me. Nor have I felt challenged to announce that I am also Native American/Dutch West Indian, and that my great, great grandfather was a southern man of Jewish descent."
    Hide caption
    Andre Johnson: Native American (Cherokee, Blackfoot), White (Spanish, Dutch from Curacao), African-American. Brooklyn, N.Y. "Being seen and labeled as a 'black man' has never bothered me. Nor have I felt challenged to announce that I am also Native American/Dutch West Indian, and that my great, great grandfather was a southern man of Jewish descent."
    Mike Tauber
  • Brandon Scruggs: less than half black (includes Creole), quarter Korean, and more than a quarter Native American. Alhambra, Calif.
    Hide caption
    Brandon Scruggs: less than half black (includes Creole), quarter Korean, and more than a quarter Native American. Alhambra, Calif.
    Mike Tauber
  • Janine (center), Evan (right) and their children, Weston, Austin and Isabella. Janine: white, some Native American (Aleutian Islander); Evan: African-American, Native American (Cherokee, Choctaw), white. Benicia, Calif.
    Hide caption
    Janine (center), Evan (right) and their children, Weston, Austin and Isabella. Janine: white, some Native American (Aleutian Islander); Evan: African-American, Native American (Cherokee, Choctaw), white. Benicia, Calif.
    Mike Tauber
  • Mikle and John McBride (brothers). Mikle: half African-American, half Korean. John: half African-American, half Syrian. New York, N.Y.
    Hide caption
    Mikle and John McBride (brothers). Mikle: half African-American, half Korean. John: half African-American, half Syrian. New York, N.Y.
    Mike Tauber
  • Christopher Kaapuniikealoha, Victoria Navarro Oana, Ariel Soleil Hokulani Overton, Rossiter Kamealoha Oana and Virginia Aguon Aflague. Victoria: half Pacific Islander (Chamorro), half white (Spanish); Christopher (grandson) and Arial (granddaughter): Pacific Islander (Chamorro), Native American (Cherokee), white; Virginia (Victoria's mother); Pacific Islander (Chamorro), white (Spanish). Seattl...
    Hide caption
    Christopher Kaapuniikealoha, Victoria Navarro Oana, Ariel Soleil Hokulani Overton, Rossiter Kamealoha Oana and Virginia Aguon Aflague. Victoria: half Pacific Islander (Chamorro), half white (Spanish); Christopher (grandson) and Arial (granddaughter): Pacific Islander (Chamorro), Native American (Cherokee), white; Virginia (Victoria's mother); Pacific Islander (Chamorro), white (Spanish). Seattle, Wash.
    Mike Tauber
  • Shigeru Logan: half black, half Japanese. Los Angeles, Calif.
    Hide caption
    Shigeru Logan: half black, half Japanese. Los Angeles, Calif.
    Mike Tauber
  • Ryan and his mother Tracy Schlachter. Ryan: half black, half white. "When I show people who my mother is, they are surprised because we don't really look alike." Queens, N.Y.
    Hide caption
    Ryan and his mother Tracy Schlachter. Ryan: half black, half white. "When I show people who my mother is, they are surprised because we don't really look alike." Queens, N.Y.
    Mike Tauber
  • Whitney Moses: father's parents were black, Native American and white; mother is white (French, English, Irish). Oakland, Calif.
    Hide caption
    Whitney Moses: father's parents were black, Native American and white; mother is white (French, English, Irish). Oakland, Calif.
    Mike Tauber

1 of 10

View slideshow i

On Our Picture Show Blog

The 2000 U.S. census was the first to give Americans the option to check more than one box for race. Nearly 7 million people declared themselves to be multiracial that year, a number that's expected to shoot up in the 2010 count. As more of the nation's population identifies itself as being of mixed race, the authors of a new book say Americans' traditional ideas of racial identity are in for a challenge.

In the book Blended Nation, photographer Mike Tauber and producer Pamela Singh combine portraits of mixed-race Americans with stories of living beyond the sometimes rigid notions of race. The husband-and-wife team tell host Liane Hansen they wanted to highlight the personal experiences of life between categories.

"We really wanted to know what it was like for somebody who checks more than one box to exist in that realm," Tauber says.

Though Singh says she considers race to be a social construct instead of a biological one, she points out that notions of racial identity have concrete applications.

"The concept of race and ethnicity and ancestry are so highly muddled," says Singh. "Yet so many of our educational, social, business and governmental policies are based on fixed racial categories."

'Blended Nation' by Mike Tauber and Pamela Singh
Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America,
By Mike Tauber and Pamela Singh,
Hardcover, 136 pages
Channel Photographics: $34.95

According to U.S. Census estimates, multiracial Americans have become one of the country's fastest growing demographic groups. Nicholas Jones, chief of the U.S. Census Bureau's Racial Statistics Branch, says the number of mixed-race individuals has increased about 25 percent since the 2000 census. "These are mainly driven by births of children from interracial parent couples," he says.

Researchers say that as the number of interracial marriages increases, so does the level of social acceptance and awareness about multiracialism.

It's the culmination of a trend that started centuries ago, says Alan Goodman, professor of biological anthropology and dean of faculty at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. "There were certain barriers to having individuals of different ethnic groups and cultures coming together. The first one was barriers of space. But in 1492, those barriers began to fall. Then, there were barriers of law in the United States, and those finally fell in the 1960s.

"I think the real change that is taking place [is] in the way people think about themselves," Goodman says.

The results, like the images in Tauber and Singh's book, create a new portrait of America — which Jones says he expects the next census results to show.

"In 2010, that new portrait will provide information on the racial and ethnic diversity in the population, as well as the changes in the multiracial population," Jones says. "So we are excited to see what we get next year."

Books Featured In This Story

Blended Nation
Blended Nation

Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America

by Mike Tauber, Pamela Singh, Rebecca Walker and Ann Curry

Hardcover, 136 pages | purchase

close

Purchase Featured Books

  • Blended Nation
  • Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America
  • Mike Tauber, Pamela Singh, et al

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: