Westridge School’s Multiracial Storytelling Events Inspire Everyone to Think of Their Stories, Cultural Identity
On Tuesday, November 4, Mariko Thomas, who conducts research in the area of race studies and storytelling, was on campus to meet with students and parents to talk about “Storytelling in Multiracial Families.”
She presented her research, “The Stories We Tell: Multiracial Storytelling,” to an all-school assembly, met with multi-racial students from each division, and ended the day presenting her research and conducting small-group discussions with Westridge parents.
“Throughout (my) research project, I reached the conclusion that stories of racial background within families are of utmost importance, and are overwhelmingly helpful in mixed race kids figuring out who they are,” Thomas said during her assembly presentation. Later adding, “Families often serve as the first point of social education especially about difficult subjects such as race. Therefore, they are an amazing place to encourage communication about race, ethnicity, and heritage and that (process), whether you identify as mixed or not, is sure to help you feel comfortable in becoming whoever you want to be.”
Lower School students worked with Thomas to create personal recipes – the mix of the attributes, some racial attributes and many others as well, that combine to create their identity. Thomas led discussions with both Middle School students and members of the Upper School Multiracial Affinity group. Topics included identity, race as a social construct, and how students feel about answering the question “What are you?”
“Multiracial students are the fastest growing segment of our student population, which mirrors population growth in the U.S.,” said Danae Howe, Dean of Student Voices & Activities. “They are often asked ‘What are you’ or ‘What is your background,’ which is a complex question and we thought that Mariko’s work, which talks about the fluidity of racial identity as well as the importance of racial identity being defined by the person rather than assigned by others, was important for them to be aware of.”
Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.