|Watson Will Allow Reid to Study Issues Multi-Racial People Face
April 19, 2007
Contact: Bill Giduz
by Rachel Andoga '07
“When I went abroad to Strasbourg, France, I remember meeting everybody in my program on the plane, and this one girl said to me, ‘So, can we just get this out of the way—what are you?’”
Amy Reid, a senior biology major and dance team captain, has heard such questions about her ethnicity for years. Her light skin and curly black hair defy pigeon-holing her as white, black, Latino or somewhere in between. Realizing that she’s not alone in ethnic no-man’s land, she wrote a successful Watson Foundation proposal that will allow her to spend the coming year exploring the concept of ethnic identity in Brazil and Namibia.
|Amy Reid will travel to Brazil and Namibia.|
Reid’s project seeks to compare and contrast multi-racial identity development within specific communities. She chose to visit Brazil and Namibia for their unique cultural heritages. “For a long time, people believed that there was no racism in Brazil since there is such extensive interracial mixing between the native groups, descendants of African slaves, and the Portuguese,” she said. “That’s no longer the popular belief.”
A 2000 census conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics revealed that about 38% of Brazilians self-identify as being mixed-race.
While in Namibia, Reid will stay in Rehoboth, a city unique in that the majority of its citizens are biracial descendents of the indigenous Nama community and Dutch settlers. Reid hopes to work with racial activist organizations, community groups, and schools in each country to identify and locate the populations she is most interested in interviewing.
Reid became interested in the Watson Program as a sophomore in Professor A. Malcolm Campbell’s biology class after he detailed his own experience as a Watson Fellow. The inspiration for her particular project stemmed from strangers’ response to her biracial identity. “I grew up in a house where my mom is white and my dad is black, so being biracial has always been a big part of my life. But people are always trying to guess what I am, and it’s always confused me why it’s such a huge deal to them.”
While abroad in Europe during her junior year, Reid encountered frequent fascination with her ethnicity. “In each country, people would guess,” she said. “They’ve guessed Asian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, Ethiopian… I’ve heard a wide range of things.”
Members of the Davidson community have been supportive as she begins to work out the logistics of her itinerary and mid-July departure. “I’ve been getting lots of e-mails,” she laughed. “I’ve gotten one from Chris Clunie, who is on his Watson now, and Gray Lyons, who went in 2004, congratulating me and offering help. I’m a bit nervous, but very excited about getting the details ironed out and getting started!”
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked in the top ten liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
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Posted By: Bill Giduz