Alexus Coney

Students gathered Wednesday in a room full of lively music and catered food at La Casa to talk about and bond over, their multiracial and transracially adopted identities.

The event, which was held at La Casa and hosted by the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Asian American Cultural Center and Native American Cultural Center, was organized to recognize and celebrate transracial and multiracial experiences at Yale. The third annual mixer, which lasted two hours, included introductions from representatives from cultural centers, followed by food, music and games. While the first hour was structured with activities, the remaining time was left for students to form their own natural connections, said Dean of the AACC Joliana Yee, who helped coordinate the event. The mixer was co-sponsored by cultural communities Asian-ish, Students with Mixed Heritage, Korean American Students at Yale and Chinese Adopted Siblings Program at Yale.

“For people who are mixed or are transracially adopted, being able to connect with others who identify that way makes a major difference,” Yee said. “They walk away with this sense of affinity.”

The mixer began three years ago, when Dean Risë Nelson of the AfAm House — alongside Lee Johnson, a former graduate assistant of the AACC — noticed the absence of events and organizations tailored for mixed-race students.

Nelson said she identifies as multiracial and an adoptee, while Johnson identifies as a transracial adoptee. Nelson said they understood how students can often feel restricted to a single cultural center on campus.

Student attendees interviewed by the News said they enjoyed the event.

“I came from a predominantly white high school,” Derek Demel ’21 said. “For the first time, I’ve been able to meet others who share similar experiences and backgrounds as me, [which] has been very liberating.”

Every year, the location of the mixer switches between the four cultural houses to give students the opportunity to become familiar with each of the spaces. Organizers emphasized that the mixer requires discussion and work from all communities on campus.

“Culture change is difficult work and it takes all of us to create a space for everyone to be themselves,” Yee said.

According to Asian-ish President Bryan Owens ’21, the University has recently redoubled its efforts to support multiracial and transracial students. Asian-ish originally had 80 members and attracted additional 80 students at this year’s Extracurricular Bazaar, Owens said.

Vice President of Asian-ish Miranda Coombe ’21 also emphasized the difficulty of navigating Yale as a mixed identity student. Both Coombe and Owens said the mixer is a place for students to find themselves and discover other students with similar experiences.

“When people first come into Yale, they have this idea of what someone who is Latinx should look like or what someone who is Asian should look like.” Coombe said. “But really a lot of people don’t fit into those molds.”

There are four cultural centers on campus.

Noel Rockwell |

Clarification, Sept. 27: A previous version of this article stated that the event was sponsored by Asian-ish and Chinese Adopted Siblings Program at Yale. In fact, it was also sponsored by Students with Mixed Heritage and Korean American Students at Yale. The article has been updated to reflect that information

Correction, Sept. 27: A previous version of this article misidentified Joliana Yee as a transracial adoptee. The article has been updated to reflect that Lee Johnson, not Yee, is a transracial adoptee.