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When Stephen Shaw was younger, he often solely identified as white, he said, though he is multiracial.
“I distanced myself from the Maori side because I think you pick up pretty early on in America that it’s a lot easier to be white,” Shaw told NBC News.
Research shows that Shaw is not alone in this thought process. A 2015 survey by Pew found that, while 6.9 percent of adults in the U.S. “could be considered multiracial” under Pew’s definitions, 61 percent of them do not identify as such, preferring instead to identify with one race. The report also found that individual's opinions about their identity often changed.
“My experiences are not fully relatable to those of a black peer of those of an Asian peer, and even those of other mixed kids,” Taylor Chan, a multiracial UC Berkeley student, told NBC News. “That’s one of the key parts, even within people who are mixed, is like...the only thing we have in common is mixed.”
To get a better sense of these experiences, NBC Asian America spoke with people of diverse multi-ethnic and multiracial backgrounds about their personal stories and their identities.
Production contributors: Mahlia Posey, Manjula Varghese, Benjamin Alexander, Angélica Casas, Isara Krieger, Mariela Patron, Katherine Rose, Paayal Zaveri