i ntro D u C tion
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reading Mixed- race aFrican aMerican
represenTaTions in The new MillenniuM
I​have​never​been​at​home​in​my​body.​Not​in​its​color,​not​in​its​size​
or​shape.​Not​in​its​strange,​unique​conglomeration​of​organic​forms​
and​wavy​lines.​.​.​.​There’s​an​awkwardness​to​my​body,​a​lack​of​grace,​
as​if​the​racial​mix,​the​two​sides​coming​together​in​my​body​have​yet​
to​reconcile.
—rebecca walker, Black, White, and Jewish
For​a​young​man​of​mixed​race,​without​firm​anchor​in​any​community,​
without​even​a​father’s​steadying​hand,​the​essential​American​ideal—
that​our​destinies​are​not​written​before​we​are​born,​that​in​America​
we​can​travel​as​far​as​our​energy​and​talents​will​take​us—has​defined​
my​life.​With​a​mother​from​Kansas​and​a​father​from​Kenya,​I​know​
that​stories​like​mine​can​happen​only​in​the​United​States​of​America.
—Barack obama, “what is patriotism?”
Representations​ of​ multiracial​ Americans,​ especially​ those​
with​a​black​parent​and​a​white​parent,​appear​everywhere​
in​the​twenty-​ first-​ century​United​States,​from​the​memoirs​
of​celebrity​children​to​the​reality​shows​of​supermodels​to​
the​speeches​of​presidential​candidates.​Some​representations​
equate​ mixed-​ race​ with​ pain:​ the​ multiracial​ individual​ is​
mired​in​the​confusion​and​problems​imagined​to​be​inherent​
in​the​racial​mixture​of​black​and​white.​These​images,​such​
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