Multiracial Americans to Celebrate Stories of Mixed Experience

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Playwright Velina Hasu Houston ("Tea") will receive the Loving Prize.

Multiracial Americans, the country’s largest growing community, will celebrate stories of the mixed experience at the fourth annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival on Saturday and Sunday, June 11-12, at the Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. First St. in Little Tokyo.

The free two-day festival brings together film and book lovers, innovative and emerging artists, and multiracial families and individuals for workshops, readings, film screenings, and special family activities in collaboration with the Target Free Family Day at JANM.

The festival hosts the largest West Coast gathering for Loving Day, a nationwide grassroots celebration of the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that allowed people of different races to marry (Loving v. Virginia, 1967). This year’s Loving Day celebration is a free dessert reception.

Immediately following the reception is the annual Loving Prize presentation and “Mixed Unplugged,” a live performance of music, comedy, and spoken-word poetry. Councilwoman Jan Perry will speak at the presentation.

The festival, a fiscally sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit organization, is produced by the co-hosts of the award-winning weekly podcast “Mixed Chicks Chat” (www.mixedchickschat.com): award-winning educator and actor Fanshen Cox and New York Times best-selling novelist Heidi Durrow.

Today, 7 percent of all marriages are interracial, according to the Census Bureau. More than 6.8 million individuals identify as mixed. New census figures reveal that multiracial Americans are the fastest-growing demographic; and one in five mixed-race people lives in California.

Festival highlights include:

• Target Free Family Day at JANM, June 11, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Storytelling by Sarah Culberson, author of “A Princess Found.” Families can also enjoy interactive craft activities all day.

• Loving Day celebration on June 11 at 6 p.m. The reception is held in conjunction with the 1,000-person New York City celebration hosted by Loving Day (www.lovingday.org). Free.

• Scholar Paul Spickard and award-winning playwright Velina Hasu Houston will each receive a Loving Prize, the festival’s annual award for inspirational storytelling of the mixed experience, on June 11 at 6:30 p.m. Past recipients include best-selling writer James McBride, NFL star and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Hines Ward, Hapa artist Kip Fulbeck, scholar Dr. Maria P. P. Root, writer Maya Soetoro-Ng (President Obama’s sister), and writer and TV producer Angela Nissel.

Spickard is a professor of history and Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara. He is the author of many books, including “Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History,” and co-author of “Is Lighter Better? Skin-Tone Discrimination among Asian Americans.”

Houston is professor of theater, director of dramatic writing, associate dean of faculty, and resident playwright at the School of Theatre, University of Southern California, where she founded the graduate playwriting program. She has written over 20 plays, including “Asa ga Kimashita,” “American Dreams,” “Kokoro,” “Tea,” “Ikebana,” “Bliss,” “Calligraphy” and “Thirst”;  is a noted poet, essayist, and screenwriter; and has published two anthologies of Asian American drama, one of them being the first anthology of plays by Asian American women. She is is of Japanese, Blackfoot Pikuni Native American Indian, and African American heritage.

• Several feature films will be screened, including the L.A. premiere of “Yelling to the Sky,” starring Zoe Kravitz and Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe, and “One Big Hapa Family,” about the touching, profound and funny insights of blended and non-traditional families. Award-winning short films will also be shown.

• Author readings by award-winning novelists Danzy Senna (“You Are Free”), Nina Revoyr (“Wingshooters”) and Marie Mockett (“Picking Bones from Ash”), as well as National Book Award finalist Susan Straight (“Take One Candle, Light a Room”).

All events are free and open to the public. However, pre-registration is strongly encouraged. The complete festival schedule can be found online at www.mxroots.org.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s good to see people celebrating who they are and “all sides of themselves.” whether people like it or not, we are becoming a more multiethnic society.

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