Documenting the Mixed Race Experience at Urban


Jin Valencia-Tow, Guest Writer

The Urban School of San Francisco prides itself on its community and inclusive affinity spaces – but is that true for mixed-race people? Some mixed-race and mixed-ethnicity individuals at Urban find it hard to fit into affinity groups, even with the many spaces that exist.

“After attending LatinX for the first time, I became very aware of how disconnected I was from my Mexican heritage. As someone who is half Chinese and only a quarter Mexican, I just don’t feel qualified to go,” said Chloe Taylor ‘25.

A large part of the mixed-race and mixed-ethnicity experience for many individuals is the constant pressure of picking a side or choosing one race to identify with. According to a study by the Pew Research Center in 2015, 29% of adults in the United States who are multiracial previously thought of themselves as only one race.

For students at Urban, the identifier mixed-race and mixed-ethnicity can mean a multitude of things, and experiences vary from person to person. “I came in not really knowing my identity as being mixed, but finding other people who have mixed experiences similar to mine felt good,” said Anushka Chandran ‘25, co-leader of MESH, an affinity space for multiracial/multiethnic students.

MESH offers a time to unpack experiences around being mixed mainly through open discussion. Most importantly, MESH actively creates space for discussion to flow freely. Meetings may start with a pre-decided topic, for example, mixed media representation, but naturally, might flow into a conversation around family. These practices provide the foundation of affinity spaces by actively trying to build community and create a place where individuals can exist in the entirety of their identity.

“I feel more of a sense of belonging because of affinity spaces like MESH,” said Daphne Gilman ‘26. “There’s been room to meet people who are like me and also talk about it.”

However, many students acknowledge the challenges and nuances regarding affinity spaces. Specifically, some mixed-race students feel that a mixed-race space isn’t enough to represent the full picture of the multiracial experience.

“[I’m] Mexican and Filipino, and a lot of the time it’s been really hard to connect with other mixed people because everyone [else] has a similarity with being mixed white,” said Selena Corpuz ‘24.

Considering the plethora of mixed identities, and the majority of Urban’s mixed population being half-white, ensuring everyone feels welcome in MESH presents a challenge. The sentiment expressed by Corpuz speaks to the sometimes limiting nature of affinity spaces for mixed-race individuals, even in a space dedicated to multiracial identities.

Additionally, Corpuz brought up traditional societal beauty standards, such as a favorability for whiteness, and its relation to the mixed community at Urban. “Am I ugly or am I just not white?” Corpuz said. Corpuz also acknowledged that this question is not only something that some people of color ask themselves daily but affects the mixed community in specific ways, especially at Urban. “It will never be the same experience with being mixed white. It’s what we as a society and in American culture view as beauty,” she said.

While representation remains a challenge within the mixed community at Urban, the importance of having a mixed-race/ethnicity space is still felt among some students. “I like that MESH is more than just a space with other mixed people in it,” said Jaxon Howard ‘25. “There is a sense of community where everyone can understand and relate to each other’s experiences despite them not necessarily having the same [racial] makeup.”