Biracial and multiracial celebrities aren’t exactly common, but we should be doing more to notice them, appreciate them, and understand their identities. Ideally, we’d have them in more creative and leadership roles, starring in movies, fronting bands, and creating more works of art. At the very least, we can spend more time noticing and appreciating their identity and heritage.
For example, “Blasian” celebrities—those who have both Black and Asian ancestry—tend to be overlooked, written off as one category or the other, rather than recognized for their unique mix of heritage. However, there are dozens of Blasian celebrities contributing to art, music, sports, and virtually every other category of entertainment.
So why are biracial and multiracial presences so important in pop culture?
First, biracial and multiracial celebrities can serve as role models, or as inspiration for biracial and multiracial citizens. A child who’s half-Black and half-Hispanic may not feel like they have much (if any) representation in movies and TV shows, not really connecting with either Black or Hispanic protagonists. But they may feel much closer to a half-Black, half-Hispanic character, or even another biracial character simply because they also have mixed ancestry. This can foster a sense of belonging, and possibly inspire them to attempt a bigger and bolder career path.
Interviews with biracial and multiracial celebrities can also bring biracial and multiracial issues to the limelight. Mixed-race celebrities often talk about racial imposter syndrome, or about the various issues uniquely faced by multiracial individuals. This makes multiracial audience members feel a better sense of belonging, and helps other people more thoroughly understand what it means to be multiracial—and how difficult it is.
Bridging the Gaps
Biracial people can be valuable in helping bridge the gaps between races as well. A white person with deep-seated prejudices against Black people may not be comfortable watching a film with an all-Black or mostly-Black cast. But if it’s a film with a half-Black, half-white protagonist, they may be warmer to the idea. They may watch the film and learn about more Black perspectives and experiences, or see firsthand what it’s like to be biracial in the United States. Small steps like these, over time, can gradually wash out problematic prejudices and lead to stronger racial harmony across those divides.
Enabling Diverse Storytelling and Entertainment
Even more interestingly, biracial and multiracial celebrities give us a chance to tell more diverse stories. The vast majority of stories told in film before 2000 were from the perspective of white men, but now, we’re starting to see the emergence of more minority and women writers, directors, actors, and other prominent creatives. The prominence of these minority perspectives leads to stories with more diverse mythologies, more complex and present issues, and novel tropes that make those stories more entertaining. Biracial and multiracial creatives can foster even more diverse storytelling, since these people have likely grown up with experiences of multiple ethnicities, cultures, or identities.
What Can You Do?
If you’re not capable of directly influencing the hire and popularity of celebrities, you may be wondering what you can do to support biracial and multiracial celebrities. These are just a few of the steps you can take:
- Support media with biracial and multiracial stars. When you notice films, TV shows, music, or books created by biracial and multiracial people, consider supporting them—even if the subject matter doesn’t fall within your usual taste. The support will be a small contribution toward getting biracial and multiracial people into stronger creative roles, and you’ll broaden your own perspectives in the process.
- Learn more about the stories celebrities are willing to share. Consider watching more interviews and off-camera engagements with biracial and multiracial celebrities. You’ll learn more about what it’s like to be biracial and multiracial, and can use that information to inform your personal experiences.
- Think critically about multiracial narratives. When you do read or watch stories with biracial or multiracial lead characters, think critically about those narratives. What do they say about the current state of our culture? What can you take away from them?
The current racial climate in the United States and Europe leaves something to be desired, but there are steps we can take as a culture to provide more support to minority races and improve racial perceptions across the board. Learning to support and appreciate more biracial and multiracial celebrities is an excellent first step.