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The Harvard Undergraduate Union of Mixed Students received official recognition from the Undergraduate Council earlier this month to become the first group on campus for all mixed-race students.
Since it began recruiting members last week, the group has attracted plenty of immediate interest, and its membership list now includes more than 100 students. Founders Iris R. Feldman ’20, Antonia Scott ’20, and Isaiah Johnson ’20 said they want the organization to serve as an inclusive space for all identities shaped by the needs and ideas of its members.
Scott said she was partially inspired to create the group after seeing mixed-race organizations at other colleges and she wanted to replicate the same experience at Harvard, which did not have a group for all mixed-race students on campus.
“It was something that was really exciting to me because it was a part of my identity that I could explore and find people to understand and connect with,” Scott said. “People like Iris also had similar feelings, so she kind of approached us about actually getting serious about making it happen.”
Harvard did boast one group for mixed-race students prior to the formation of HUUMS — the Half-Asian People's Association. Though HAPA formed before HUUMS, it is targeted speficially to part-Asian students, meaning HUUMS is the first Harvard group to accept and serve mixed students of all racial backgrounds.
Feldman said she was motivated to create the union to provide a space for people who felt their identity did not fall into just one of Harvard’s cultural organizations.
“While you are a part of these two communities, there is a unique, separate, mixed identity that a lot of people experience,” Feldman said. “I want to make sure that we can acknowledge that and give people the space to explore what that means and the unique challenges and cool things that you have from that.”
Scott said the group will allow mixed students from a wide variety of backgrounds to bond over their mutual experiences and create a supportive network.
“Even when we have different experiences, it’s just good to know that there are other people having similar struggles that you can kind of figure stuff out with,” Scott said.
Both Feldman and Scott said inclusivity is important to them, and they plan to incorporate the concept into their new organization. They will hold both informal and formal discussions within the organization and also create a communal resource base for articles pertaining to the identities of mixed race people.
"I think something that was very helpful for me was to be able to find...a lexicon from which to draw to talk about my experience,” Feldman said. “So that everyone is able to put words to it, find their identity, speak about what they are saying, and communicate to others the experience that they’ve had.”
Feldman and Scott said they hope to recruit a diverse membership by reaching out to as many of Harvard’s cultural groups as possible, publicizing the organization over a multitude of email lists, and personally reaching out to peers to spread the word.
“We want to be as inclusive as possible, especially when we’re talking about mixed people, making sure we’re not just talking about people who are mixed with white, or people who are black and white,” Feldman said.
“Using the word mixed is very intentional. We're not multiracial or biracial, or whatever it is. If you identify as mixed, whatever that word means to you, please come,” Feldman added. “Please come and make this a community for you.”
The group will have its first meeting on Dec. 6 at 5:30pm in Sever 102.
—Staff writer Ruth A. Hailu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ruthahailu.
—Staff writer Olivia C. Scott can be reached at email@example.com.
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