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#ImNotAlone: Opening up about being biracial and adopted

#ImNotAlone: Opening up about being biracial and adopted

Photo Courtesy of Hayley Bono

#ImNotAlone is an internet and social media campaign “trying to bring awareness to stories from people in multiracial and biracial families ... so that their voices can be heard,” said Hayley Bono, a junior communications major, recently interviewed in a YouTube video for the #ImNotAlone campaign.

The campaign has an active presence on social media, including Twitter (@ImNotAlone2019) and Instagram (revolutionimnotalone) accounts on which statistics and news articles are posted about mixed-race people, as well as personal stories from biracial people documenting their life experiences.

“The hashtag ImNotAlone is actually starting to be really big on Twitter,” Bono said. “They’re trying to make this huge social platform [and] I think they’re trying to target the younger demographic with the way they are marketing this campaign.”

Bono was interviewed for the campaign’s YouTube channel, Imnotalone 2019, which aims to post videos of young, mixed-race people talking about their experiences with race and how it has affected them. Bono’s video is currently the only one uploaded to the channel, but the campaign has more lined up for the near future – including one with YouTuber SNEAKO.

Bono was interviewed by the campaign’s founder, Kristal Zook. Zook is a professor of journalism at Hofstra and is from a multiracial background herself – she is half African-American and half white.

Bono first met Zook when she had her as a professor and Zook encouraged her to participate in the campaign. Bono, who is half Laotian and half Hispanic, connected with Zook over the fact that Zook’s daughter is half Laotian.

“I’m Laotian and I’ve never met [or] seen another Laotian person before, so we were like, ‘Oh my god!’” Bono said.

“[Zook] emailed me out of the blue, like, two months back and was just wondering if she could interview me about my story and about the things that I’ve gone through,” Bono said. “It was honestly one of the first talks I’ve ever had ... about my life and how I view race [so] it was really powerful and moving to me.”

In the video, Bono talked about growing up in a mostly white community and having to deal with racism at a very young age. She recalled “being called the n-word ... in second grade,” explaining that this experience was the first time she recognized the difference between her and her white peers.

Bono said she had never really felt comfortable talking about her experiences with racism or her own racial identity before – especially since her parents, who are both white and adopted her when she was a baby, have never been open to discussing it.

“[The video] was the first time I had ever really talked about race in that fashion,” Bono said. “[My parents] don’t really talk to me about [those] things and I feel uncomfortable bringing it up to them because they have a different viewpoint on race – they don’t see color, but I’ve got to see color.”

Bono said she is grateful that this campaign has given her the opportunity to talk about race. “Something the organization has done for me is allowed me to have that open communication and conversation with somebody who I felt like I could confide in,” Bono said. 

Because her experience with the campaign has been so positive, Bono said she now tries to support the campaign by promoting it on social media.

“I share things on my Twitter [and] try to share with my Instagram as well just to – in my little way – try to keep the movement going.”

While Bono does support the campaign’s cause, she does not necessarily feel the name gives off the correct impression – she disagrees with the notion that the campaign exists to help people of mixed race feel less alone.

“It’s honestly not even, like, an alone thing,” Bono said. “I don’t look at it as being alone, I look at it as more of having somebody else to be able to talk to about it and just feeling like there’s somebody else standing behind you in ... this fight. So maybe it is an alone thing, but I look at more of the positive side – like there’s somebody else out there that feels the same thing.”

A previous version of this article stated that the #ImNotAlone campaign was founded at Columbia University.  This statement is inaccurate and has since been updated.

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