This post is the second installment in a series called Fresh Voice Friday, where we’re talking with inspiring leaders who are living meaningfully. Last week we heard from Merci Ngozi Best, an awesome individual who empowers others with her take on life.
I could not be more thrilled to introduce you to Drea Herrera of Mixed Vixen! Drea and I met at Columbia where we are both studying to be social workers. She’s the kind of person everyone is drawn to because of her warm friendliness and non-judgmental attitude. Her passion for validating the experiences of mixed-race people was another reason I couldn’t wait to become her friend. Plus, she’s hilarious, as you will soon discover. 🙂
Oh…and it’s HER BIRTHDAY. Whaaaat! Hbd you awesome gal!
Take it away, Drea!
An Interview With Drea Herrera
Who are you, anyway?
WHO AM I?? *existential crisis begins*
My name is Andrea Herrera. I also go by Andi, Drea, A-bomb, Hey You…etc.
According to my current Tinder profile (#sorrynotsorry) “ I’m a Mixed-race, sociology-loving, Seattle-bred, coffee-addict seeking a partner in crime”. (*winky face*)
I’m also a person who is incredibly passionate about social justice and building communities. Creating a more just and humane world is what I spend most of my time doing. This starts by building positive relationships with others. I enjoy bringing positive energy into community spaces, cheering people up, and making people laugh.
You’re suddenly in an elevator with your favorite author and s/he asks you your life story. What the heck do you say?!
(I’ve recently become obsessed with this amazing actor/tv writer/author.)
*Mindy Kaling Walks in*
Me: “MINDY KALING!!??” *faints*
*wakes up 1 minute later*
Mindy: “Are You OK? I noticed you’re reading my book and you have an incredible fashion sense. Wanna get caramel frappaccinos and share our life stories?”
Me: “MINDY KALING SPOKE TO ME??!!” *faints again*
Let’s get deep, speed-dating style. What’s the purpose of life?
Deep, meaningful, positive human connections. That’s it.
What do you get passionate about?
Ooh, this hard to synthesize because I’m passionate about SO MANY THINGS! Racial justice, intersectional feminism, art as an impetus of social change, MINDY KALING…. the list goes on and on.
One thing in particular that I am passionate about is the wellbeing of the Mixed community (people who identify as multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, etc).
Mixed people experience race differently than their monoracial counterparts (those who identify solely as one racial/ethnic/cultural identity). Because we blur the lines of the socially-constructed monoracial system, many of us move through life feeling like an enigma, even a problem to those around us. Many Mixed people experience emotional trauma or distress throughout their life that is directly related to identification with more than one racial category. A rejected self-identity, psychological fragmentation, and body dysmorphia can keep Mixed people from feeling like whole and worthy human beings.
I am one of the Steering Committee members of the MiXed Caucus at Columbia School of Social Work. The caucus’ goal is to establish a space of support, education, and exploration around the Mixed identity. We celebrate all of our Mixed identities and embrace contradictions while fighting for a world beyond “othering.”
How did you get interested in that?
I’m Mixed. 🙂
I joined my first Mixed community back in Seattle and since then, I realized the importance of establishing a Mixed community wherever I am.
Anything you’re working on now?
I’m a part of an organization called Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ). Within this organization, there’s a Jews of Color (JOC) Caucus that I’ve become more involved in. Our most recent efforts involve organizing an action every Thursday this month leading up to Tisha B’av, in support of the Movement for Black Lives. The tone of the actions are peaceful; we mourn the Black lives lost in this country. These actions are also a call to increase pressure for police accountability and to pass the Right To Know Act, a piece of legislation that consists of two parts 1) New Yorkers’ right to know why a police officer is stopping them/interacting them (a general statement upon interaction) and 2) The right to know who a police officer is (to show identification upon the interaction). Very proud of the work this organization is doing.
No false modesty, now. What’s your proudest achievement and why?
Reigniting the MiXed Caucus has been my proudest achievement this year. I’m so proud of the close, loving, supportive community we’ve created together at CSSW and I look forward to building upon it next year.
Everyone gets it from somewhere. Who inspires you?
MINDY KALING, OBVI.
She’s just knocking down so many barriers- the first Asian woman to create, write, & star in a sitcom. She’s Brown. She’s thick. She’s unapologetic. And she tells it like it is. She’s such an inspiration to me to fight for my dreams even if society tries to slam the door shut on them.
Top 3 things on your bucket list. Ready, go.
- Become fluent in Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic.
- Live in another country for at least a year
- Publish a journal article on being mixed
If you could communicate one message to a large group of people, what would it be?
Be Kind. Be Loving. Do no harm, but take no shit.
And finally, what’s your favorite flavor of Skittle? Pleasesayyellowpleasesayyellowpleasesayyellow.
Major thanks to Drea for taking the time out to do this! Give her a warm welcome to TN7 in the comments and wish her a great birthday! Also, be sure to check out her blog on being mixed called Mixed Vixen!