mixed-race avatar

The many faces of race research

by John Goddard
The technology to turn oneself into a mixed-race avatar might be confined to movies, but Brian Banton plays with racial manipulations of himself online.

As a York University graduate student, he explores questions of racial hybridity as related to corporate design. Much of the work is obscurely theoretical, Banton says. “But I also want to be playful. (Mixed race) is a serious issue but I don’t want to be heavy-handed.”


(York University graduate student Brian Banton, who is half-Scottish and half-Jamaican, used an online tool to manipulate his race. The real Banton is top centre.)

Banton was born in Brampton, the offspring of a Scottish-born mother and Jamaican-born father. When visiting his mother’s family, he feels black, he says. When he’s with his father’s family he feels white. He calls himself “mixed” and “biracial” and “just myself,” but he also admits to a low-level underlying anxiety. People have guessed him to be Italian, Greek, Arab and South American, he says, never half-Scottish half-Jamaican.

“There is comfort in being explicitly part of a community,” Banton says. “I’m in this middle space, not fully committed to one side.

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3 thoughts on “mixed-race avatar

  1. This article was very interesting. [= Tiffany when will you make a new youtube video?

  2. Hi Tiffany,
    I have been reading your blog for a while and I would like to ask your opinion. Many of the black mixed race folks I have met or read about seem to fall into two categories. Those who see themselves as black and whatever and celebrate both cultures and those who use their biracial parentage to hide and disavow their black ancestry like Tiger Woods. I am genetically mixed race like most African Americans and have I strong black identity. I find the latter Tiger Woods type deeply disturbing. As a biracial woman what do you think?


  3. @Tiffany,
    What are some of the reasons that mixed race folks feel uncomfortable in the black or white world? I wonder if it is similar to the way many black immigrants feel while stratling the world of black and white America?

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