This article asks how the category of “mixed race” can help us think through the recent spate of violence against Asian Americans, culminating in the Atlanta mass shootings of March 2021. It further reflects on a tension within mixed-race studies: whereas mixed-race theory, in its embrace of anti-essentialism and hybridity, bespeaks a certain hope and optimism, mixed race as a lens through which to view history brings us inescapably to violence. Tracing how the concept of mixed race threads through a history of violence in this country, the article demonstrates how misogyny and racial hatred toward Asians have long been intertwined. Recent anti-Asian hate crimes surface the continuities in the targeting of Asians as a source of pollution and contagion, and in representations of Asian women as a source of sexual “temptation” that must be restricted, prohibited, or eliminated. Finally, it is argued that the turn away from the post-racialism of the Obama era and the rise of a new white nationalism call our attention to a fundamental flaw in the very premise of mixed-race theory: that is, the category of “mixed race” simultaneously unlocks the liberatory potential of nonbinary identities and reifies the problematic category of race itself.

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