The eye of the storm. That’s what Black Studies professor Ethan Johnson calls the Northwest, when it comes to multiracialism. “The Northwest has some of the highest rates, within the black community in particular, of marrying outside of their race—in the whole country,” Johnson said.
The eye of the storm.
That’s what Black Studies professor Ethan Johnson calls the Northwest, when it comes to multiracialism.
“The Northwest has some of the highest rates, within the black community in particular, of marrying outside of their race—in the whole country,” Johnson said.
This fact, along with many others, is discussed in Johnson’s course, titled “The Multiracial Experience.”
Johnson explained that the course has three focuses: interracial relationships, both friend and romantic; transracial adoptions; and people who identify as, or are identified as, multiracial.
With a primary focus on discussion, the class looks into these topics and considers how gender, class and sexuality play roles in the multiracial experience. In class, students will look at and discuss poetry, commercials, pop culture, music and documentaries.
“I see myself as a facilitator of discussion,” Johnson said.
Each student will read about 40 to 70 pages a week and write a one-page response. The readings come from various sources, including academic articles, magazine articles and a novel, called The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, which was written by a multiracial woman who grew up in Portland.
Johnson said he believes this class is important because race is a very contemporary topic.
“What’s important about the class is that through multiraciality, we can look first at race as a social construction and then at some really important issues,” Johnson said. Those issues include the idea that people tend to think of love and friendship as not having a lot to do with race, and that it’s just about attraction. But Johnson points out that “in fact, we know that these things are very political, and power is all a part of that.”
He also said that multiracial people generally experience the world differently and in some unique ways, and this class offers a way to look at how race and power shapes lives.
Johnson said that even in the Black Studies Department, this is the most diverse class he has ever taught on campus.
“There are white people in the class, but I would say there are more people of color in the class than white people—though I may be wrong,” Johnson said. He says the class contains black, Asian, Latino and Pacific Islander students.
Johnson said that many of the students are taking the class because they can in some way identify with the topic personally and they want to deepen their understanding.