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#ImNotAlone: Bringing light to the multiracial community

#ImNotAlone: Bringing light to the multiracial community

Photo Courtesy of Hofstra University Relations

#ImNotAlone, a new social media movement launched Tuesday, March 5, is an initiative established by members of the Hofstra community intent on expanding the public’s idea of what it means to be multiracial through journalistic storytelling. The launch date is a significant date for its founder, Dr. Kristal B. Zook, a prolific journalist and professor here at Hofstra. Dr. Zook is biracial herself; she is white and African American. #ImNotAlone’s launch date honors Zook’s African American grandmother.

Since the launch, the movement has been active across multiple social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Zook’s blog. Two students work on creating daily content that mixes national news with local stories. Through these narratives, #ImNotAlone creates a virtual space for people to interact with and explore the complexities of a multiracial identity, and, as a result, come to understand themselves more thoroughly.

The campaign is based on the optimistic idea that the young, up-and-coming generations will really change society’s perceptions of racial identity for the better, but this is not a baseless hope. It’s all in the numbers. 

A single statistic inspired the creation of #ImNotAlone. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, Americans younger than 18 are only 26% of the population, but make up 46% of those who identify as multiracial. This number is growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole. Not only do these numbers indicate a need to have a more open conversation about race, they also impact the way we have the conversation. 

“When we talk about [race] in this country, we still kind of talk about black and white, and I think that that’s a very old-fashioned way of looking at race today,” Zook said. 

Not only are more global identities emerging, but, as stated in the Pew Research Center’s study, it has become apparent for multiracial individuals that racial identity can be fluid and may change over the course of a person’s life. The study states that “about three-in-ten adults with a multiracial background say that they have changed the way they describe their race over the years.”

On its various social media platforms, #ImNotAlone shares both the slew of news regarding multiracial identity as well as its evolving perception in the public eye. For example, celebrities like Meghan Markle and Naomi Osaka have had their moments dealing with this subject publically. 

At the same time, #ImNotAlone is zealous about bringing local stories into the mix. Zook’s blog focuses on her personal story of growing up biracial, while the other social media platforms seek to feature the stories of individuals closer to Hofstra. It is important that #ImNotAlone is rooted in the relatable.

“What we’re doing at Hofstra is ... talking to people locally,” Zook said. “You know, students on campus and around Long Island; what is it like for them, what is it like growing up ... in Hempstead or Mineola or some place on Long Island.”

Anyone wishing to express their own experiences growing up multiracial is welcome to share. So far, an interview with Haley Grace Bono has been uploaded on the movement’s YouTube channel, Imnotalone 2019, and other in-depth interviews are in the works. Such sharing can act as catharsis for the storyteller while simultaneously helping people trying to understand their own identities. 

#ImNotAlone is currently looking for anyone willing to share their story. Zook advises those interested to email her to schedule an interview. “They’ve shot ... three other students, and you know they’re just working on editing and getting those ready,” said Zook. “But we’re going to be working into the summer and into next year.”

#ImNotAlone is for a generation of people who realize that colorblindness is counterproductive and who pursue the nuance of racial identity in the process of storytelling. It is a movement that offers support for what can be a difficult journey to undergo alone.

“There [always has been] confusion with mixed-race identity,” Zook said. “We’re not pushing an agenda about how people should feel, [because] that’s their journey and that’s their experience, but we’re really just trying to have it open up a space where people can go and talk.”

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