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HomeHealthWhat teenagers speak about after they speak about race : NPR

What teenagers speak about after they speak about race : NPR

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NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with Zoë Jenkins, Miranda Zanca and Ichtaca Lira, reporters for YR Media, about their sequence “Teenagers in America.”


Practically three-quarters of youngsters at the moment say that they’ve talked to a mum or dad about race up to now 12 months. That is at the very least in keeping with a Washington Submit-Ipsos ballot, which additionally discovered greater than half have had an analogous dialog with a detailed good friend. So we needed to know, what have these conversations been like? The youth media group YR Media teamed up with The Washington Submit for the sequence Teenagers in America. Teenage YR Media reporters from 5 elements of the nation recorded interviews with members of the family and friends, every exploring a unique query; from navigating being mixed-race to how white privilege performs out in households.

We’re joined now by three of these reporters at the moment – Zoe Jenkins in Charlottesville, Va.; Miranda Zanca in Chicago, Unwell.; and Ichtaca Lira in Hayward, Calif.

Welcome to all three of you.

ZOE JENKINS: Thanks a lot for having us.

ICHTACA LIRA: Yeah, it is so nice to be right here.

MIRANDA ZANCA: Hello. Thanks.

CHANG: Nicely, Miranda, I need to flip to you as a result of the story that you simply reported is known as “Am I Asian Sufficient?” (ph). Are you able to simply speak about why you determined to work on this piece, which was about the way you perceived your Chinese language background rising up?

ZANCA: So I believe it is an expertise that plenty of mixed-race individuals have. Am I sufficient, ? Is the expertise that I’ve had as a part of this ethnic group sufficient to make me a kind of folks that belongs? And I believe plenty of the expertise that I’ve had is being perceived as Asian by individuals who aren’t Asian after which being perceived as white or Hispanic by people who find themselves. And it simply makes you continually query, like, am I Asian sufficient? Am I Asian in any respect? Am I, , something?

CHANG: You recognize, after I was listening to your piece, one thing that actually struck me was all these conversations you’ve gotten had with members of your loved ones concerning the Chinese language a part of your identification. And I need to study kind of this distinction that you simply noticed between how your brother noticed the Chinese language a part of his identification versus how your grandfather did. Are you able to speak about that?

ZANCA: Sure. So my brother principally stated that whereas he was rising up, particularly in highschool, he had this expertise the place he simply was all the time wishing that he appeared much less Asian, regarded much less Asian, , was simply seen as white. And he went to, like, a Catholic all-boys faculty. It was majority white, and it simply created plenty of challenges for him as a result of individuals would assume that he was a sure means as a result of he was Asian. I do not even actually know what that meant in most contexts, however I do know that – and this was so heartbreaking for me. Like, he actually wished that he wasn’t. And on the flip aspect, for my grandpa, he has no notion of his personal race.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: You recognize, that is not the dominant a part of my identification in my tradition. I believe my tradition’s been formed way more by various the issues that I’ve grown up with right here in the USA. I believe that what maybe is extra vital is a bunch of questions posed by the good Western philosophers, , speaking about, what does it imply to be a great individual?

ZANCA: My grandpa’s 100% Chinese language, and my brother is 25% Chinese language, however they appear to have these fully totally different experiences the place my brother’s perceived racial identification was such an integral a part of, like, his self-image and his self-confidence and his development as an individual. And for my grandpa, it was sort of identical to, eh.

CHANG: Like a non-issue, proper.

ZANCA: Proper.

CHANG: Nicely, Zoe, I need to go to you now as a result of your story – it is about racism at school and your efforts to redefine how race is taught. What do you suppose is vital for lecturers and for directors to know after they’re making an attempt to sort out matters like race within the classroom?

JENKINS: Yeah. I believe the most important factor that is vital to notice is simply that we actually must depend on the scholar expertise to begin speaking about race in faculties. Our college students know what is going on on with race on this nation significantly better than the people who find themselves instructing it, so how can we contain college students extra in growing the sorts of curriculum and actions that enables them to really feel like their histories are being mirrored correctly?

And I believe it is actually vital for us to have intentional conversations about race as a result of as a lot as we need to act like race does not have an effect on the way in which that we stay in the USA, it does. And I believe now we have seen how the results of simply not speaking about it simply in, I believe, the awakening that we have had as a rustic during the last 12 months and a half.

CHANG: Yeah. And also you communicate very passionately about what you understand as your duty to battle in opposition to systemic injustice. Are you able to speak about the way you see that dedication?

JENKINS: I imply, it is the sort of entire, like, with nice energy comes nice duty, the place when you see an issue and you are feeling like you’ve gotten the instruments to sort out it or if the correct individuals who will help sort out it, then it is on you – proper? – to assist to deal with that.

CHANG: I need to discuss extra about this concept of how we understand our personal racial identities and the way different individuals understand our racial identities. Like, Ichtaca, you talk about how individuals usually assume that you simply’re white as an alternative of Latinx. What do you suppose that they’re specializing in?

LIRA: I believe they’re specializing in merely my look. And it is undoubtedly uncomfortable as a result of I believe rising up, my dad and mom have been all the time certain to make me really feel actually pleased with the place I got here from and to all the time get up for different individuals of colour and to cherish them after which to cherish myself for my identification and my roots. And that was one thing that I nonetheless have, very a lot so, at the moment. And particularly, like, within the wake of, like, what Zoe was saying, our racial awakening, I’m so pleased with the place I come from.

CHANG: Yeah.

LIRA: So it is simply very unusual and makes me really feel like I am unable to communicate up on these points in the identical means that I’ve earlier than.

CHANG: Nicely, Ichtaca, while you instructed your father, who’s Mexican, about being seen as white – are you able to speak about how he responded to that?

LIRA: Yeah. So my dad, he was very righteous in, like, his reply of like, no, there isn’t any means that you simply, as my child, must be perceived as white since you come from me. And my dad does not wish to understand himself as white.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I nonetheless do not settle for that an individual such as you is white passing, and that is possibly as a result of I’ve a private bias as effectively, , ‘trigger you sort of appear to be me.

LIRA: I believe it does, like, harm him in a little bit little bit of a means as a result of he additionally – like, his dad and mom have been immigrants. He needed to expertise racism. And so he’s very righteous in his identification as an individual of colour in that, like, he desires me to have – to really feel the identical means and…

CHANG: Yeah.

LIRA: …And never lose that a part of the way in which that we see ourselves.

CHANG: Nicely, Zoe, I need to go to you now. Are you able to speak about the way you need to see conversations about race change?

JENKINS: Yeah. I believe the most important frustration I’ve run into is that individuals are very desirous to not be racist proper now, which, certain, is a superb first step, however there are lots of points during which we truly do must deal with individuals in a different way due to their race as a result of they’ve totally different privileges and entry to issues. I believe that is once we’ll be capable of discuss extra realistically about equitable options and never simply sort of equal options that do not essentially, like, goal the sorts of inequalities that must be focused.


CHANG: That was Zoe Jenkins, Miranda Zanca and Ichtaca Lira. They’re reporters for YR Media. Their sequence, Teenagers in America, is a collaboration with The Washington Submit.

Thanks to all three of you a lot for this unimaginable dialog.

ZANCA: Thanks.

JENKINS: Thanks. This was unbelievable.

LIRA: Thanks a lot.


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