Skip to main

Sarah Gaither Featured in Documentary Film on Mixed-Race Identity

In 2016, film directors and American University professors Caty Borum and Leena Jayaswal, contacted Assistant Professor of Psychology and NeuroscienceSarah Gaither about a documentary film they were creating called MIXED. The film would explore the status of mixed-race identity and inclusion 50 years after the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case ended legal persecution of interracial marriage in America.

The film makers learned about Gaither’s research—which explores how multiple racial or social identities affect behavior—after reading one of her online op-eds. Borum and Jayaswal wanted to learn more about Gaither’s work and, each having ties to North Carolina, decided to travel to Duke to interview Gaither and students from the Duke student group SWIRL (Students with Interracial Legacies).

Anchored in their own experiences and told from a personalized storytelling lens, Borum and Jayaswal explore what it means to be a bi-racial child living in a mixed-race family in today’s “post-racial America”—a topic Gaither is familiar with both personally and professionally.

For Gaither, being a part of the MIXED film is a special project: it not only explores research from her Duke Identity and Diversity Lab, but also features her family. Gaither, her brother and parents were all interviewed for the film and share their personal and collective experiences as a mixed-race family.  

“Being in this film as someone who struggles a lot with my own mixed-race identity—my physical appearance and also the questioning I get from academic scholars on whether my work is meaningful or matters to anyone—this film is evidence that it does. There are millions of people who are in interracial or cross-cultural relationships or family structures and for me to be able to experience this film with my family is extra validation that my existence is worthy of learning about. There are so many other people like me, who aren't often given space to reflect on what it means to belong to multiple groups and that is why I loved being a part of this film.”

A free viewing of MIXED will be held at Duke’s Rubenstein Arts Center on Friday, 2/10/23, followed by a live Q&A with Gaither, Borum, Jayaswal and students from the newest cohort of Duke SWIRL (Students with Interracial Legacies).

Interested in joining Duke’s mixed-identity student group? Contact student liaison Sejal Mayer-Patel

Event co-sponsors: Duke Institute of Brain Sciences, Psychology and Neuroscience Department, Mary Lou Williams Center for Black CultureSamuel DuBois Cook Center on Social EquityOffice of Faculty Advancement, and The Center for Multicultural Affairs.