Welcome to Swirl!
It’s hard to believe that it was almost nine years ago that the idea of Swirl started to appear in doodles in my notebook; the beginnings of what would become our national mixed heritage community. I’m happy to say that we are here, in 2008, at a very different place than where we first started.
In 2000, many of us found ourselves having to explain the idea of mixed identity to others. From strangers to our own families, we have had to answer the questions of people who didn’t believe or couldn’t fathom that we could be “more than one thing” at the same time. We have been asked to choose time and time again — and that’s when we were actually presented with the choice — many times, people have chosen for us. Swirl was created in order to challenge the idea that identity is simple — something that can be discussed in black and white terms. I wanted to create a space where people could find community amongst others who thought about ethnicity and identity in more open-minded ways. I wanted Swirl to become a community of children and adults, young and old, interracial couples and families to share experiences, support one another, and to learn together in order to create change and move us from the borders to a space that was inclusive of all.
While many of us continue to get questioned or see the kind of close-minded thinking that shows how dysfunctional our thinking around race/ethnicity/identity is, there is definitely a sense that we have made some progress. Fluid and complex identities have been lived for ages. For many reasons, although mixed heritage people have existed for generations, we now find ourselves at a time when people are ready to recognize and acknowledge that our country has to account for people who don’t easily fit into one of the five archaic racial classifications (Black, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, White). Mixed heritage individuals are able to check more than one box on the US Census, there are mixed characters in primetime TV shows and Hollywood films, there are more books, organizations, and other resources out there for mixed heritage people, interracial couples, and mixed families. We have made some strides, but of course, there is so much more to be done. With that said, Swirl is committed to growing — both to serve more communities throughout the country, but also to take on more of the work that will initiate big picture change in this country.
We want to change the culture of how identity is thought about, talked about, and lived.
Over the past several years, I have been involved in many projects tackling the difficult questions around race and identity. Seeing the change that is possible through connecting people of different backgrounds and experiences, seeing how eyes are opened by the offering of new information, realizing how many like-minded people are out there willing to challenge the ways we think about race…it has all made me very hopeful. I never expected Swirl to become a national organization, so I am excited to see how Swirl grows over the next nine years. We have a strong team of leaders, with more and more great people joining us as we move forward. I hope that even more of you will become a part of our growing community of people dedicated to challenging racism, moving us forward, and connecting people and communities of different ethnicities rather than working to separate us.
Here’s to change and community!
I hope you will join us,