"Duality: Blaxicans of L.A." is a photo exhibit that explores multiracial identity among the city's two largest minority groups. Stanford graduate student, Walter Thompson-Hernandez, created the exhibit after starting an Instagram account exploring the issue. Thompson-Hernandez, whose mother is Mexican and father is Black, started the Instagram account while doing research on the topic for his Latin American Studies graduate thesis.
"Most multiracial scholarship has been on the black and white binary. I felt it didn't cover the range of ways that multiracial people identify," he said.
Growing up, Thompson-Hernandez had to navigate both worlds, Black and Mexican. Because most people identified him as Mexican based on his physical appearance, he identified as Mexican for a very long time. He was forced by society to choose a side. This pressure to choose led Thompson-Hernandez to do research on why people are forced to choose.
"There's tremendous nuance in how blacks and Mexicans identify, and I want to understand the motivations that guide lives of Blaxicans and how they construct identity," he said.
The exhibit opened the beginning of February, one of many projects and events in the Los Angeles area commemorating Black History Month. Its opening night at Avenue 50 Studio, drew more than 500 people.
"I think this project reminds us of the complexities of identity and diversity, whether ethnically and or culturally, each of embodies," Sanchez said. "The popularity of this exhibition is only a testament for the need to continue this cross-cultural and intergenerational conversation."