Race, News, Social Justice

5 things I learned from the Mixed Remixed Festival

It still boggles my mind that this isn't advertised on a mainstream level like the Tribeca Film Festival, or frigging Coachella.

The Mixed Remixed Festival was founded in 2013 by New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow, a kick-ass mixed race woman of African American and Danish American descent. It’s a space in Los Angeles for writers, filmmakers, performers, and other artists to share their stories on mixed race identity and interracial families. They schedule the festival every year near Loving Day, the anniversary of the court case that legalized interracial marriages in the United States.

Attending the festival was a flurry of firsts for me. It was my first time attending the festival, speaking as a panelist, and traveling to California. But it was totally worth it!

Here are five reasons why more people should attend the festival, and why it was a great experience for me.

1. The edifying discussions about activism and mixed identity 

Various authors and journalists of mixed race and monoracial descent touched on various topics that a lot of other conferences about social justice don’t touch on. Usually, these kinds of events will cater to monoracial groups all week, and give mixed race people a table for a day, or nothing at all.  It was also great to see discussions surrounding mixed race gender politics and identity (like why women may be more sensitized to being mixed than men), and sexual orientation and multiraciality. Not to mention all the hair stories – whether naturally curly or curiously straight – and experiences with code switching.

2. The amazing people who run the show 

The festival is run and organized entirely by volunteers. All of the volunteers are so passionate on making sure the festival runs well, because they identify with the work being done. Heidi Durrow, the founder of the festival, works as a volunteer as well, donating her own money whenever she can. They’ve been able to keep the festival running every year through donations and amazing sponsors (hair-care business Mixed Chicks and film company Focus Features are two of them!).

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3. Multiracial representation in film! 

To visually see the various forms of multiraciality (e.g. Afro Mexican, Hapa, Black Biracial, etc.) was such a joy because it’s a step in getting these stories into the mainstream. It was also important to me that I saw multiracial people who had similar heritages as in short films such as Evoking the Mulatto: It’s Not a Cool Word, Crazy, Mixed-Up World, and Maya Osborne: Confessions of a Quadroon, which displayed a number of second generation mixed race people. Because Focus Features was sponsoring, we were also able to see a nice preview of their upcoming film, Loving.

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4. The Mixed Millennials Panel

I got to speak on this particular panel for the poems and essays I published online on my multiraciality; and I got to shout out The Tempest for allowing me to continue writing about it. I was with the founders of the site Mixed Race Politics, N. Laurence and Andrea Venkatesan, and multidisciplinary artist Via Perkins. The organizers titled our panel Mixed Millennials: Changing What Mixed-Race Means. It was great that they gave it such a provocative title, because our generation is changing what mixed-race means. By 2050, one in Americans could potentially identify as mixed race, and we as artists are able to push that forward and embrace that. Not to say in the patronizing fashion of how “we’ll all be mixed,” or that we’re obligated to act as “bridges” between racial groups, but hopefully, we’ll be able to continue to create safe spaces and unapologetic works about our multi-faceted identities.

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5. Meeting Taye Diggs and Shane Evans

Each year, the organizers select recipients to receive the Storyteller’s Prize, a prize awarded to a celebrity who was able to get mixed visibility in mainstream media. Last year, the award was given to comedians Key and Peele. This year, it was given to actor Taye Diggs (Rent, The Best Man Holiday, Chicago) and Shane W. Evans, who wrote and illustrated the children’s book Mixed Me! for Diggs’ biracial son, Walker. In their acceptance speech, they talked about how they met at the age of fifteen, and Diggs first question to Evans was “What are you?” and how they have grown in their friendship and partnership since then. I had the chance to get my book signed, give them hugs, and say “Thank you, Benjamin Coffin III” (if you don’t get that reference, look it up, my friend).

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It was an honor and a blessing to be a part of this continuously growing platform that is the Mixed Remixed Festival. I definitely look forward to attending again next year. It still boggles my mind that this isn’t advertised on a mainstream level like the Tribeca Film Festival, or frigging Coachella. Definitely check out the festival on their social media, they spend all year each year planning and sharing conscious material on multiraciality.