Blended Nation: A Portrait of Mixed-Race America
The fear and xenophobia in the aftermath of 9/11 got Mike Tauber and Pamela Singh thinking about how race and ethnicity are based on visual cues.
They began photographing a network of mixed-race friends in the spring of 2002, eventually working with organizations like Swirl, a national, multiracial organization that challenges notions of race; and the Mavin foundation, an organization that raises awareness about the experiences of multiracial people.
The resulting photographs and interviews culminated in their 2009 book, Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America, which delves into racial issues in America on a personal level.
The work tackles some complex questions: what is race, who determines it, and what does race mean? These questions are explored in the interviews that appear alongside the photographs, where people reflect on their experiences existing between racial categories as deigned by the U.S. Census. (The 2000 Census was the first that allowed multiracial individuals to indicate more than one race).
Race doesn't have a justification in human biology. Instead, race is a social construct used to categorize people. The problem, as Tauber and Singh write in the epilogue of Blended Nation, is that race and ethnicity aren't fixed categories. People's identities are fluid and subject to change depending on context.
Blended Nation provides some insight into the fluidity of identity and the complex relationship between race and identity and furthers the discussion of what it means to be a mixed-race American.
To view a photo essay that samples the book, click here.
Mike Tauber is a New York City-based photographer with a background in anthropology, and Pamela Singh works for a consulting firm in Manhattan.
Information about Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America (136 pages, Channel Photographics, $34.95) is available here.
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