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What It Means To Be Multi-Racial

Emanuele Berry
Provided by Emanuele Berry
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Emanuele Berry is off exploring the world and amassing new experiences. But before she left, she developed this podcast that explores what it means to be multi-racial.

This week's We Live Here podcast is something a little different.

Recently, we've been looking at health and the way that toxic stress can impact someone's ability to succeed and even to be healthy. We'll be transitioning to a new area soon, but we wanted to take a step back this week to allow Emanuele Berry to produce her own, unique show.

Felia Davenport, associate professor of theater at the University of Missouri St. Louis
Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio
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Felia Davenport said she had a difficult time adapting when she moved to St. Louis because she felt people wanted to define her as a particular race.

Emanuele has left St. Louis Public Radio, as you may have heard. She took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to live and work abroad. But before she left, she wanted to do a podcast that explores what it means to be multi-racial.

Spoiler alert: She doesn't come to any concrete conclusions.

But she does interview three people who bring three different perspectives on how they move through the world.
Felia Davenport, is associate professor of theater at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and chairs that department. 

She grew up in northern Virginia, the daughter of a single mother from a military family. She says she never identified as any particular race. She wanted, instead, to just be known as Felia.

Robert Williams
Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio
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Robert Williams lives in Florissant with his wife and child.

Robert Williams is a 30-year-old native St. Louisan.

Even though Williams has a chilling memory of his white grandfather summarily cutting him and his mother off, Williams says he moves comfortably between the white and black worlds. 

Williams also explains that he doesn't have a problem with not fitting cleanly into one category or another. He says if he were an ice cream, he'd be a swirl.
Finally, Emanuele  Berry spoke to Alexa Brunsma.

Alexa Brunsma, 15.
Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio
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Alexa Brunsma was surprised by how much people focus on race in St. Louis. She moved here from California where, she said, she knew a lot of people of color who weren't clearly black or white.

Brunsma is 15 years old and recently moved to St. Louis from California. She now attends the Grand Center Arts Academy and wrote an essay for her school newspaper that was a finalist Missouri Journalism Education Association’s Opinion Story of the Year.

The essay is called "Blackish: Not black, not white but somewhere in between." Brunsma read a condensed version of the essay for us. She also talked with Emanuele about why it has been so difficult for her to adapt to living in St. Louis, a city that is much more segregated than where she came from.

Emanuele Berry is a 2012 graduate of Michigan State University. Prior to coming to St. Louis she worked as a talk show producer at WKAR Public Radio in Michigan. Emanuele also interned at National Public Radio, where she worked at the Arts and Information Desk. Her work has been recognized by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television Digital News Association and the Hearst Journalism Awards Program. Berry worked with St. Louis Public Radio from 2014 to 2015.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.