This Comic Offers a Simple, Beautiful Message on Cultural Identity

December 20th 2016

Laura Donovan

A new comic by artist Terry Blas highlights some of the unusual reactions people get for having a mixed-race background, and how those reactions can make mixed-race individuals question their identity.

Blas, a gay biracial Mormon man from Idaho, revealed in a comic for Fusion that the many layers of his identity brought him confusion at a young age. His religion told him that being gay is wrong, and people didn't know what to make of him because his father is white and his mother is Mexican.

Terry Blas Tumblr

Terry Blas Tumblr

Blas wrote that he received clarity from his post-high school experience in the Bronx, where he met two young gang members who were confused by his identity:

Terry Blas Tumblr

Blas wrote that one of the male gang members decided to call him "Ghetto Swirl," saying his mixed race background was like a mix of soft-serve.

Terry Blas

This was a defining moment for Blas, empowering him to to say he is both white and Mexican.

Terry Blas

ATTN: writer Danielle DeCourcey has written about experiencing similar identity crises as a black woman with an Irish-Catholic father. DeCourcey wrote that many people look surprised when they meet her father, who is white, and people have long asked if she's adopted. California native Kiran Permaul spoke to DeCourcey about the need to quit defining people of mixed-race backgrounds as one race or another.

“One of the hardest things I find, is that in America, rarely are you perceived as bi-racial at all,” Permaul said. “You are one, or you are the other, no matter what community you come from, you are not perceived as both.”

The Pew Research Center revealed last year that mixed-race individuals in the U.S. are growing three times faster than the rest of the country, and that 60 percent of mixed race people are proud of their background. Fifty-nine percent of mixed-race people surveyed said it made them more open to other cultures.

Check out Blas' full comic over at Fusion.