Mixed↑ (MixedUp): A Photo Essay

Still from Mixed↑ (OUTtv) Premieres Nov 11th 2020

“Explaining my heritage is like coming out of the closet every time…”

Where did our innate desire come from to categorize each other and ourselves? How do we learn to live contiguously with one another in a world that is socialized around rules? We are expected to live certain ways. Think certain ways? Adopt ways of “being”.

What if we want to break free from these limitations? I am so intrinsically connected to my queerness, my blackness. I am also a son, a brother, a husband. All of these things make up what is my identity. Yet at the root of it all we are human. There are no different races.

Mixed↑ explores how I’ve learned to combat the isolation of being of mixed heritage, queer and labelled as “other” when this is my normal. I do not claim to be a scholar on this subject. Like one of my favourite artists Kara Walker says, “I’m an unreliable narrator”¹. I would go one step further to say that I am an unreliable historian. Each of us have the power to create our own history, and forge our own future.

There has never been an internal hierarchy with my blackness and my whiteness, yet society has told me for years that my whiteness is something that takes precedence. What does it mean when I’m prouder of my blackness? Without exotifying this I want people to know I’m a person of colour. There has been a shift in my internal existence over the past years. This has also been amplified in our current climate. In some ways I believe if you are mixed it is your job to stand up for your most oppressed side. To fervently stand up and fight injustice. Those before me fought for the liberty to love who they love and to exist freely. So what am I doing to move this forward for generations to come?

Because I pass as white to some, I must come out over and over again. It is part of the territory. Exhausting? Sometimes. But worth it so people understand that they cannot assimilate me as white just to make themselves feel more comfortable. My lack of melanin does not mean that I am not black. It means I am less likely to be racially profiled.

We can no longer settle at being comfortable with the systemic structures that are in place. By keeping things the way they are my internal cohesion is at odds with one another. I’m on a journey of healing. Why can’t the rest of you join in? We must all do this together to overcome intolerance and prejudice. We must all actively find ways to quell racism. Living contiguously does not mean world peace. We can share different opinions on many things except one: discrimination. This will no longer be tolerated.

Being mixed is complex, but can also feel free.

I’m the quintessential, influential version of me.

This search is ongoing, and can so often feel,

like a growing definition of what’s really real,

but instead of being a futile exploration,

it’s my mixed up manifesto and my proud declaration.

This film is a book of genesis. These images are just a peek into the way I see the world. This journey was a chance to reclaim my narrative in a way that might help audiences move forward more conscientiously when thinking and discussing ideas of race, gender, orientation and culture. To think how we might be transformative and live outside of the existing rules. We can choose to be defined however we want to be. For me…I choose to be “MixedUp” and wear that emblem with pride.

Check out the film on OUTtv, Apple TV and Amazon Prime. Watch the trailer at the website below.

¹ [Tate]. (2019, October 25th). Artist Kara Walker — ‘I’m an Unreliable Narrator’ | Fons Americanus | Tate [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/tV_L3fceGNA



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Haui aka Howard J Davis

Haui, aka Howard J Davis, is a multidisciplinary artist who has worked as a filmmaker, director, designer, visual artist, and performer for stage and screen.