Mixed-Race Celebrities on Race, in their Own Words

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If biracial and multiracial celebrities have anything in common, it is that they are often asked to explain themselves. That may sound familiar to any person of mixed ancestry for whom questions like “What are you?” and the slightly more delicate “Where are your parents from?” are the norm.

“Historically, racism is equated with segregation, separating people,” says Dr. Marcia Alesan Dawkins, a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. “In turn, we think racial progress is racial mixing. But the problem is, [that progress is] still based on appearance.”

People who embody racial diversity can’t be expected to explain the concept to everybody else, but their thoughts on the matter are often illuminating. As Dawkins said, “It’s still important to bring issues of multiracial identity to the public’s attention.”

More Photography from Time

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