A Review of
Mixed Blessing: Embracing the Fullness of Your Multiethnic Identity
Reviewed by Paula Frances Price
Even having grown up in Saudi Arabia, the narratives that defined my Christian imagination were primarily white. The lack of diversity of voices led to an anemic view of God.
When I started working for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, I craved diverse stories to help shape my faith and broaden my view of God. I began to notice that we had resources for other power minorities. Still, we lacked those same resources for students and staff of multiple ethnicities, creating ministries that asked people to stuff their diverse selves into black and white boxes.
Chandra Crane’s book, Mixed Blessing: Embracing the Fullness of Your Multiethnic Identity, provides a voice for people who don’t fit into the ethnic and cultural boxes our church has created. Her book shares her story and others’ stories, lifting many Mixed experiences as she bravely shares the brokenness in our world that tries to silence or devalue multiethnic people. She is unapologetic that this book is for multiethnic people when she writes, “Walk with the merciful God who also knows what it is like to be multicultural, because he’s the ultimate multieverything, incomprehensibly the ‘one person, two natures,’ three-in-one triune God.”
Chandra Crane invites the reader to see Mixed ethnicity as a blessing. While Chandra Crane wrote Mixed Blessing for multiethnic men and women, it also invites a monoethnic audience to see the fullness of the Mixed story and how they can point us towards God’s reconciling work.
As a White woman, this book gave me stories and language to appreciate my multiethnic brothers and sisters. Crane graciously explains the complexity and pain of being Mixed in America and the blessing that Mixed people are for our country. While she speaks to the Mixed experience, she is careful to explain that her story is not the only story. The inclusion of others’ voices helps the reader understand the complexity of America’s multiethnic story.
After telling a story that explains the complexity of having a Black father while being ethnically Thai and White, she writes, “I hope and pray that all of us are able to tell the entire truth about who we are, no matter the cost.” Chandra Crane’s honesty about her ethnicity invites us all to tell our entire truth of who we are.
Her book is an invitation for those of us who are monoethnic — and in particular white people — to listen. Crane writes, “Our ability to empathize with people is often directly proportional to how well we understand them. When we don’t do the work of really seeing and hearing people, we can miss them entirely, all the while thinking we’ve understood them.”
This book not only creates a space for other Mixed people to share their story but helps all of us listen to the diverse and often painful narratives of the multiethnic men and women in our lives.
Chandra Crane’s book shows how multiethnic people are the norm for the universal church. “The church universal was, is, and will be multiethnic, throughout history and beyond. The past four hundred years of church division in the United States are the anomaly, neither the kingdom goal nor the universal church norm.” While Chandra Crane is clear that multiethnic people are not a “magic talismans or a balm for our nation’s wound,” she explains why Mixed people can help the church become more like the picture of believers depicted in Revelation.
As I was reading the book, I found myself agreeing with Chandra as she outlined the problems in monoethnic churches and communities. I desperately wanted her to give a five-step plan for how to be better at creating spaces for more people of Mixed ethnic and cultural heritage to be heard. But Chandra Crane didn’t provide a 5-step plan in Mixed Blessing . Instead, she continued to wade into the complexities and problems of majority culture churches. As I started to feel like there wasn’t hope, Chandra reminds the reader of the biblical mandate for multiethnic community and how God has miraculously reconciled us. “The “dividing wall of hostility” that Paul writes of (Eph2:14) has been broken down and bridged across in the multiethnic body of Christ.” Crane refuses to tie up any of her points and stories with neat little bows and instead continues to push the reader towards God.
Even as she writes hard truths about whiteness’s toxic culture, her optimism and hope in Christ remind us that it is God who unites us. “This isn’t a simplistic Sunday School answer. We Mixed folks can be one of the groups to show the church what it means to celebrate differences while maintaining unity.” Crane’s book invites us to see how Mixed people are a blessing to the church, and if we are willing, multiethnic people can help us look more like the picture of the body of believers in Revelation.
Chandra Crane is bluntly honest in telling the pain of being Mixed in our culture. However, her book is remarkably hopeful, as it pushes people towards her Christ, asking the reader, “Who has God made you to be?”
I was struck by this question because, too often, I only dwell on who I am. But Chandra Crane invites the reader to see the importance of their ethnicity and how their ethnicity brings them to God. She writes, “…but when we frame the question through Jesus, we bring things back into their proper, healthy order. Both identities are important, but one is primary. Our ethnicity matters because Jesus is leading us in it. Our ethnicity is beautiful and purposeful because it reflects God and his kingdom. It doesn’t get erased in the new creation; it flourishes in the new heavens and new earth. Our ethnicity isn’t the most defining part of us, but it points back to Christ.”
Chandra Crane’s willingness to ask questions throughout her book and be open to the complex answers allowed me to see the Mixed experience’s blessing while showing me how to make space to hear Mixed people’s different stories.