Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 3

Sonia Janis

Committee Member 3 Email



This inquiry explores my journey of understanding my multiracial identity. Being multiracial by heritage, but identified and labeled Black socially and governmentally, contradicts my racial identities. Who am I? What am I? These are the questions that have plagued the back of my mind as I become multiracial, more accurately, Opianchoctalirican. I am mixed with racial heritages, partially Ethiopian, partially Native American, partially Italian, and partially Puerto Rican. I am OpianChocTaliRican.

Theoretically, I draw upon many theorists’ work on the fluidity, complexity, and dynamics of racial identities (e.g., Baldwin, 2008; Bhabha, 2004; Coates, 2015; Fanon, 2004, 2008; Gaztembide-Fernandez, 2009; Ibrahim, 2014; Janis, 2016; Maalouf, 2012). I also draw upon a wide array of works on fluidity, complexity, and dynamics of multiracial identities outside the field of curriculum studies (e.g., Daniel, 2002; Gay, 1995; Korgen, 2010; Root, 1992, 1996; Spencer, 1999, 2006, 2011; Zack, 1995). These theorists dive into the identity issues of multiracial and mixed heritages in positive supportive ways while questioning the tenets of multiracial identity theory. Based upon my memories, I use fiction and poetry to represent my journey of understanding my racial identities in the world from kindergarten to my career as an educator with the intent to capture the contradictions, miscommunications, and misunderstandings about mixed race individuals.

Diving into my multiracial experience, I have made ten discoveries: (1) Multiracial identity, such as OpianChocTaliRican, is a complex issue that cannot be ignored due to its pervasiveness in society. (2) Multiracial identity, that goes far beyond racial categorizations, is an act of continual becoming (Ibrahim, 2014). (3) There exists a natural yearning or desire to fit in or belong. (4) Recognizing and being comfortable with one’s own mixed heritages fosters positive social interactions and cultivates a more peaceful society as opposed to violent and murderous one (Maalouf, 2012). (5) Fixation on phenotypes, colors, and race perpetuates the killing of Black bodies and other violence. (6) Since Black people tend to form collective bonds due to common struggles as a people (hooks, 1992), could mixed peoples also build bonds based upon their common struggles? (7) The notion of double consciousness can be expanded to multiracial consciousness for “triumvirate mental diaspora” where a multiracial person’s thinking exceeds a dualistic way of thinking about the mixed identities beyond race and place. (8) OpianChocTaliRican is the race I have created for myself because my racial background is rooted in Ethiopian, Choctaw Native American, Italian, and Puerto Rican heritages. (9) Researching or writing about multiracial experiences evokes complexity and contradiction. (10) Diverse forms of inquiry and modes of expression, such as memoires, fiction, and poetry, represent the experience of becoming multiracial.

Research Data and Supplementary Material