LIFE
05/08/2017 08:13 pm ET Updated May 09, 2017

This Comic Captures What It's Like To Grow Up Mixed Race In America

Cute AND educational.

Growing up half-Japanese and half-Jamaican in Hawaii, 19-year-old Kiana Khansmith quietly struggled with misconceptions about being mixed race.

“A lot of people seemed to know who I was more than I did,” the animation student at the California College of the Arts told HuffPost. “They would tell me what to be or how I should act based on my heritage.”

When a professor in a race and comics course told the class to create a series based off personal experience, Khansmith knew exactly what to draw: a comic strip about the complexities of growing up multiracial in the U.S., as told by a character named Puppitty.

Khansmith and her comic alterego, Puppitty. 
Kiana Khansmith
Khansmith and her comic alterego, Puppitty. 

Half-dog, half-cat, Puppitty looks a little different than others and doesn’t always feel like she fits in, like many of multiracial descent:

Kiana Khansmith
Kiana Khansmith

Some try to put Puppitty into boxes based off stereotypes ― something Khansmith said she dealt with often while growing up.

Kiana Khansmith

“I would get a lot of stereotypes about being black or being Asian that would discredit my achievements,” the animation student told HufffPost. “Others would come up and say, ‘Just ignore them. You’re you!’”

That latter was a “nice thought,” but not the easiest message to absorb as a little kid, Khansmith said.

Kiana Khansmith

In the comic, Puppitty often has to explain her mixed identity to others in simple terms they’ll understand: 

Kiana Khansmith

Khansmith used animals as her characters so people of all mixed backgrounds could relate ― and so far, they have. 

Since posting the series on Tumblr last week, she’s received a ton of positive feedback and even requests from parents to turn Puppitty into a printed picture book.

“It’s been amazing. I’ve had a lot of people message me and tell me how much the comic meant to them and how happy they were to have their story told,” she said. 

Kiana Khansmith

Despite the confusing parts, being mixed race in America is “an equally unique and beautiful experience as well,” Khansmith said.

Kiana Khansmith
Kiana Khansmith

And as Puppitty finds out, being mixed race means you’re far more likely to relate to others who feel “different” ― and that’s always a good thing:  

Kiana Khansmith

To read “Puppitty” in its entirety, head over to Khansmith’s Tumblr page

HuffPost

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