University of Washington Tacoma professor Cathy J. Tashiro will lead a discussion of her book, Standing on Both Feet: Voices of Older Mixed Race Americans, at 7 p.m. Friday June 14 at Elliott Bay Company in Seattle.
“Like the people in my book, I am of mixed race,” said Tashiro, an associate professor emeritus in the UWT’s Healthcare Leadership and Nursing Program. “My parents got together at the end of World War II when there was a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment. My mother was disowned by my white grandfather for a time, for marrying my father. We are living witnesses from a time when people like me didn’t often have their experiences validated or named, to an era with a mixed-race president.
“But even he self-identifies as black and is widely known as ‘America’s first black president’ which has created controversy and proves the enduring power of ideas about race.”
In Standing on Both Feet: Voices of Older Mixed Race Americans, Tashiro interweaves the experiences of 20 people born between 1902 and 1951 who are mixed African American/Caucasian or Asian American/Caucasian. The book’s title refers to a frequent theme in their stories―a life with one foot in each culture; but a society that checked the box of racial identity for them based largely on rigid definitions of race.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, over 8 percent of Tacoma’s population self-identifies with two or more races, higher than the state and U.S. averages. Some of the people in Tashiro’s book say their parents traveled to Washington state to marry, because Washington was one of earliest states to make interracial marriage legal. On June 12, 1967 a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, legalized interracial marriage.