Mixed-race student researches media diversity

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Photo Credit: Pedro Luna | Daily Texan Staff

The most stressful part about standardized testing for Rachel Malonson wasn’t the test itself­ — it was bubbling in her race beforehand.

“I wished I could select black and white but since I couldn’t, I just picked black because I’m not about to select ‘other,’” journalism and broadcasting senior Malonson said. “That wouldn’t identify me well at all.”

Malonson has been used to being asked to explain her ethnicity from a young age. Though she knows she’s biracial, both black and white, Malonson said the doubt people expressed when she would tell them about her mixed heritage often made her question whether she could identify with either. 

“People asked if I was Hispanic so often that I sometimes thought I was lying when I said no,” Malonson said. “So, I thought, ‘Maybe I am Hispanic (because) so many people think I am.’”

Malonson gained confidence by asserting her identity as a biracial person and began urging others to do the same. 

“I remember I felt so insecure because people didn’t understand who I was by my look,” Malonson said. “I’m confident in it now and see it as a unique trait where I’m able to teach people that not every black person (and) not every mixed person looks the same way.”

In the Miss Black UT 2017 pageant, she researched lack of racial diversity in media for her service platform. Malonson wants use this platform to help others become as confident in their identities by focusing on bettering media’s stereotypical representation of minorities.

“I want to help people have the opportunity to share their stories to break down stereotypes that don’t fit every black person and change the mindset,” Malonson said. “You don’t understand what the stereotypes are until people are able to share their stories.”