For those people who identify themselves (or who are identified by others) as mixed raced, however, the artifice of race is often visible, self-evident, and even inescapable. People whose families include members of different races, for example, can rarely take race for granted. If for no other reason than self-defense, they need to learn the nature of the racial regimes that they and their relatives are certain to encounter, even in the most causal social interactions. Under the best of circumstances, mixed-race identity requires a performative dimension similar to the racial masquerading of Korla Pandit. Under some circumstances, it can provide a useful optic on power, a privileged standpoint from which important aspects of social relations can be absorbed, analyzed, and understood.
Yet mixed-race identity can also be a source of great personal pain and considerable political disempowerment. Of course, all people are mixed race, because pure races do not exist. The history of humans has been a history of intermixing. Even among those who recognize that all identities are socially constructed, that all ethnic groups are coalitions, and that all racial identities are political, provisional, and strategic constructions rather than biological or anthropological facts, mixed-race people can sometimes find themselves unwanted in any group, ridiculed as disloyal, despised as the “other’s other,” because they carry within their embodied selves an identity that seems to threaten the unity and uniformity of aggrieved collectivities.