It’s hard to tell what the future will hold, especially when it comes to what the future will look like. And we’re not talking about whether or not we’ll be seeing hover boards or flying cars within the next few decades. How about what your neighbors will look like? America, as we know it, is a melting pot. National Geographic recently attempted to figure out what the population will look like in 2050. Racial and cultural boundaries are blurring. Even today, thousands of Americans navigate how to identify themselves on government forms and in their daily lives. How will we see race in 35 years? National Geographic is offering us an interesting look at how people will change. Now, the people featured throughout the gallery are people living today. Photographed by Martin Schoeller, the goal is to show that identity and race don’t fit neatly into a few check boxes.
This is Alexander Sugiura. While he self-identifies as American and Jewish, he often checks “Japanese” on government forms.
2. Caucasian and Chinese
Solomon Hsiang, like Alexander above, often self-identifies himself as Jewish. Government forms often find him checking both “white” and “Chinese” due to his Chinese and Eastern European background.
3. Asian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
Five year old Jacob identifies as American. He hails from an Asian and native Hawaiian background and lives with his family in California.
4. Alaska Native
Joshua Ahsoak hails from a native Alaskan and Jewish background but usually simply identifies as native Alaskan on forms.
5. African American
Kelly Williams II is multi-racial, citing his German and African-American background. On government forms, he IDs himself as “black”.
6. African American and Caucasian
Imani, who’s 13, identifies as biracial, citing her German and black heritage. On forms, she usually checks ‘black’.
7. African American
Sandra Williams, who’s 46, identifies herself as biracial but human, first and foremost. On census records, she usually identifies herself as black.
8. Korean and Hispanic
Daisy, while she has yet to check her own Census or any government forms, is three years old and hails from a Korean and Hispanic background.
9. Left: Caucasian, Asian Indian, Chinese and Filipino. Right: Caucasian and Japanese
As these two people demonstrate, self-identification can be an interesting thing to navigate when you’re multi-racial. How you’re perceived can vary from person to person. Just like how perceptions vary, so can self-identifications.
10. Left: African American and Mexican. Right: African American and Caucasian
Unlike how we saw race a hundred years ago, people are very rarely just black or white (and even back then, that could be debatable). Race, to many people, is sometimes more than just the color of someone’s skin. A lot of multi-racial people identify with one race versus another, as many people in this gallery cite, because of how they were raised or how they identify with a particular culture.
11. African American
Jordan, who comes from a biracial background, identifies herself on censuses and forms and her daily life as black.
12. Korean and African American
Maya is among the many youngsters who come from multi-racial homes. Maya identifies herself as Korean and black but often selects black on forms.
13. Caucasian, African American and Vietnamese
Ariel herself identifies herself as being multi-cultural. On forms, she usually lists herself as being white, black, and Vietnamese.
14. Caucasian and African American
Tevah Jones, who cites his Trinidadian heritage, is biracial and IDs himself as black/white.
15. African American and Korean
Christopher Blaxton, who sometimes refers to himself as “blasian” is half Korean and half black.
16. Chinese and Caucasian
The radiant Jesse Lee hails from a mixed European and Chinese heritage. Half Chinese, she’s also a quarter French and a quarter Swedish. On government forms, she simply ID’s herself as Chinese.
17. Caucasian and African American
Jakara Hubbard comes from a biracial background, identifying as both white and black. Sometimes, she even refers to herself as ‘mixed’.
18. Caucasian and Japanese
Gabriela, like a lot of youngsters, hails from a very diverse background. She likes to say she comes from “a little bit of everything”. Officially, she’s listed as being white and Japanese.
19. African American, Native American and Caucasian
Hosanna Marshall, like many Americans, comes from a very diverse background. While she primarily identifies herself as black on government forms, Hosanna also personally identifies with a background that includes a white, Jewish, and even Native American heritage.
20. Caucasian and Asian
Helen Robertson IDs herself as English in her personal life. On government forms, she lists herself as white and Asian.
21. Eastern European and Puerto Rican
On census forms, he may list himself as “other”. But Harold Fisch is proud of his Eastern European, Puerto Rican, Jewish and Texan heritage.
22. Chinese, Indonesian and Caucasian
Lula comes from a mixed Asian and European background. She personally identifies with her Chinese, Indonesian, German, Polish, and Welsh background. On a census, she’ll usually list her race as white, Chinese, and other Asian.
23. Chinese and Caucasian
Oona Wally identifies with her Chinese and Jewish background. On forms, she tends to check white and Chinese.
24. Native Hawaiian, Chinese and Caucasian
Cameron Benjamin hails from a native Hawaiian, Chinese and Caucasian background. This also reflects on the forms he checks, where he lists himself as native Hawaiian, Chinese, and white.
25. Filipino and African American
Mars Wright identifies himself as Filipino and black, which reflects on what he checks on government forms.
26. Mexican and Arabic
Mariyam Nayeri identifies as Mexican and Saudi. But on forms? She’s not necessarily sure how to identify herself so usually, she’ll list herself as “some other race”.
27. Thai and African American
Yudah Holman, 29, identifies himself as half black and half Thai. On census records, he usually lists himself as being “other Asian”.
28. Caucasian, African American, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
Themba Alleyne likes to note that he “checks every box” on forms. He comes from a very diverse background, which consists of a white, black, American Indian, Asian Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander heritage.
29. Korean and Dominican
Celeste Seda self identifies as Dominican and Korean. On forms, she lists herself as Asian and other races.
30. Caucasian and Filipino
24 year old Adrian Adrid self-identifies as white. But like many Americans, Adrian comes from a varied background, which he acknowledges by IDing himself as “white” and “Filipino”.