Conference at UMD invites students, staff and faculty to connect with all races

By Audrey Widodo

Alexander Pryor presents his workshop, “Diversity as the Default: Exploring Advertising and Design through a Cultural Lens.” Photo by Naliyah Kaya

The University of Maryland hosted the fifth annual Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference from March 1 to 3. Scholars from across the nation attended this event to meet, discuss and learn from others in the field of mixed race studies.

The conference enables social activists interested in racial mixing and interracial bonding to come together and share their work, said Greg Carter, the president of CMRS and an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Undergraduate students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill attend the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference. Photo by Audrey Widodo

Carter said he hopes the conference connects students, mentors, scholars and faculty members who share an academic interest in mixed-race studies. He said his other goal is to encourage others to think differently about race and racism on a global and local scale.

Jerry Javier,  a student at University of California Berkeley majoring in ethnic studies and geography, came to the event to provide input on how to increase the presence of CMRS in higher institutions.

At the University of Maryland, the conference “kicks off the university’s multiracial heritage month,” said Naliyah Kaya, the community liaison on the executive CMRS board who helped organized the event.

“The conference reflects the goals [of] our campus because it aims to provide inclusive spaces for all students and communities to be represented and acknowledged,” she said.

“The arts, whether it’s visual or performing, are a great way to create the conversation about race and culture,” Pryor said.

Pryor sits at the table for Mix-Represented, a company that focuses on creating clothing and accessories that empowers multiracial activists and allies. Photo by Naliyah Kaya

Pryor and Kaya founded the company Mix-Represented, a play on the word  “misrepresented” to distribute clothing and accessories that empower multiracial activists and allies. 

“I came up with the idea, and he does the designs,” said Kaya. 

“The intention is to represent this the idea that there is a history of multiracial folks and to illustrate the wholeness of one’s identity instead of their race being a math equation,” Pryor explained. “Also, people get excited to have a shirt that represents their culture and their community because it communicates that they are part of something.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Alexander Pryor was the lone founder of Mix-Represented. Both Pryor and Naliyah Kaya are founders of Mix-Represented. The story has been corrected. 

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