Hearing on Multiracial Identification

Statement of Ryan Graham
Project RACE, Inc.

Before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology
of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight

Hearing on Multiracial Identification
22 May 1997

 


My name is Ryan Graham and I am multiracial. I live in Georgia and when I fill out forms there is always a multiracial box for me to check. It wasn't always that way, but when my mom and the parents of other multiracial kids asked the Georgia lawmakers to add the multiracial classification, they passed it and the Governor signed it. Some of the legislators told us later they voted for it because it was the right thing to do.

Four years ago, when I was 8-years-old my mom and I came to Washington to ask the members of Congress to make it possible for the multiracial classification to be on every form in the country. We hoped the Federal government would also think it was the right thing to do. Four years is a long time when you're only 12, but here I am again.

My mom is white, my dad is black, and most forms force me to choose between those races. I feel very sad, because I can't choose – I am BOTH!

Wouldn't you be embarrassed if your classmates laughed at you because you went up and said to the teacher, "I don't know what race to mark on my test"?

One day a kid asked me, "Are you mixed?"

I said, "No, I'm multiracial, big difference."

He said, "What's the difference?"

I said, "Puppies are mixed, people are multiracial!"

Some forms include the term "other", but that makes me feel like a freak or a space alien. I want a classification that describes exactly what I am.

In Georgia I have that option, but there are millions of kids just like me all over the United States who don't. I think those of us who are multiracial should be able to choose that classification. I think adults should understand that.

My little sister is waiting back in Georgia for me to come home and tell her that this subcommittee has said "YES" to the multiracial classification.

It is not how YOU see me, it is how I see MYSELF that is important. I thank you for letting me be here today.

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