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Swirl Nation Blog is the lovechild of four female friends who share the common bond of living multiracial and multiethnic lives. Join us as we feature mixed families and individuals from around the country, and discuss a variety of topics from parenting and relationships to fashion and beauty and everything in between. xoxo Jen, Kourtney, Amal and Jenn

 

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MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH


With husband, poet Nick Laird

With husband, poet Nick Laird

This remarkable woman just came out with another novel and I’m so excited!  She was the featured guest for Fresh Air on NPR about a week ago and I sat in a parking lot for the full-hour interview. 

 

OK, so backing up…

I read White Teeth, very late, right before I became pregnant with my daughter in 2007.  I couldn’t put the book down.  Zadie Smith is so lyrical, so RAW.  Being mixed-race herself, she writes from a deep place about growing up mixed-race.  She examines immigrants and their children and the tug and pull of longing for a homeland while making a home in a new land; a new land where your neighbors are from all over, doing the same thing.  She is witty, truthful, and a great storyteller.  White Teeth, her debut novel, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the 2000 Whitbread Book Award in category best first novel, the Guardian First Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize, and the Betty Trask AwardTime magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

 

Can we say “baller”?

Since her debut novel, Smith has written four more novels, countless stories, and essays.  She’s brilliant.  And this is really a Woman Crush for me – I know I wrote about Rose Bertram before, but I don’t know much about Rose Bertram, except she’s very attractive, is dating a hot soccer player, and has an amazing Instagram.  Rose could be quite the erudite, I just don’t know; however, Zadie Smith finished White Teeth while in her final year at Cambridge University...

 

A little more about this woman du jour (taken from Wikipedia):

Zadie Smith was born as Sadie Smith in the north-west London borough of Brent to a Jamaican (Black) mother, Yvonne Bailey, and an English (Caucasian) father, Harvey Smith.  Her mother had grown up in Jamaica and migrated to England in 1969. Their marriage was her father's second. Zadie has a half-sister, a half-brother, and two younger brothers, one of whom is the rapper and stand-up comedian Doc Brown and the other is rapper Luc Skyz. As a child, she was fond of tap dancing; as a teenager, she considered a career as an actress in musical theatre; and as a university student she earned money as a jazz singer and wanted to become a journalist.
 

Her interview on Fresh Air made me fall in love even more – it can seriously be its own post.  She is so intelligent and insightful.  A couple excerpts:

On a poll that found that about seven in 10 Donald Trump supporters thought life in America was better in the 1950s

Zadie Smith:

This is a very interesting point for me because that kind of historical nostalgia is only available to a certain kind of person. ... I can't go back to the '50s, because life in the '50s for me is not pretty, nor is it pretty in 1320 or 1460 or 1580 or 1820 or even 1960 in this country, very frankly. So that's what interests me — the historical nostalgia that is available or not available to others.
I am also historically nostalgic, and the left is also historically nostalgic, and as tempting as it would be to apply the solutions of 1970s semi-socialist England to present problems, I don't think that's possible either. I think the idea is that you find some way to restate the things you find valuable in the past — if you find them valuable — in a way that people can live with, in a way that's livable in this contemporary moment.

On how being biracial allows her to blend in with different cultures

Zadie Smith:

I think people of my shade all over the world will have these experiences: You might go to Morocco and people will believe you Moroccan; you might go to Egypt and be confused for an Egyptian; you might find yourself in Bangladesh and people are talking Bengali to you. It's an interesting mind state, one I've always found very enjoyable, actually. ... I guess ... the movability of the identity is interesting, whereas I suppose a white person is white wherever they go. They're kind of stuck with it, whereas I find the interesting interpretive quality that my shade creates in others curious — sometimes funny, sometimes upsetting, sometimes alarming.
 

And I haven’t even mentioned her beauty and style.  I’m providing photos for that…

MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH via Swirl Nation Blog
MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH via Swirl Nation Blog
And she can hold her own standing next to a model and fashion designer

And she can hold her own standing next to a model and fashion designer


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THE SALDANA SISTERS THEIR EQUAL OPPORTUNITY LOVE


So, some people got heated over the above photo of Zoe Saldana and her sisters

From accusations of self-hate, to entitlement, people (presumably black men) were not happy with the sisters’ romantic choices:

Jen forwarded this to me because I come from a family of four girls and every last one of us married non-Black men.  With the exception of my younger sister, we ALL equal-opportunity dated – Black, White, Latino, Asian, and every mixture of all of those…

My oldest sister married her first love at 18.  He is white.  They have three beautiful children.  My brother-in-law married my sister knowing she had a terminal illness and he would have to take care of her.  He took care of her until she died, and I can assure you he still loves her very much. 

My older sister had a child with a black man.  Things did not work out and she raised my niece as a single mother until she met her current husband.  He is white.  They have two children together and he takes care of my niece from my sister’s first relationship like she was his own.

My little sister fell in love with her husband.  He is white.  They have one daughter together and his daughter from a previous marriage.  I am so happy for my little sister to be married to this man because he’s just a REALLY good guy.

They are ALL really good guys.  I totally notice they are white – they are like, white, white, super-, like “OMG” white; but I KNOW in my heart they didn’t marry these men because they are white.  They married them because they are good guys and treat them really well.  I know this because I married my non-Black husband.

I didn’t have a “type”.  I was so equal opportunity, with one exception: my dates needed to be tall – the taller the better.  When I met my husband, while wearing heels, he was shorter than me.  I did not want to like him.  I still think he did some Santeria/Voodoo on me because I can’t control my love for him.  I’m crazy for him.  Literally.  I risked having short offspring to be with him.  No one can make me laugh like him.  No one can make me as mad.  I love his short little Latino ass.  I love him to the moon and back, and I can tell you, with sincerest honesty that I didn’t go out looking for a non-black man to marry because I hate my race.  I was looking for a man to make me feel this way.  We’ve been together for twelve years, married for ten of those years, and we have two very lovely children who are being raised to be proud of both heritages.  (oh, and by the way, I’m his first black relationship… he wasn’t purposely seeking me because of my race either)

So please stop with this “they date outside their race because they hate themselves.”  I’m sure Zoe and her sisters don’t hate themselves.  Although I agree there has been a lot of messed up stuff that has gone on throughout history to make us Black people feel bad about ourselves, I am sure that is not why Zoe Saldana and her sisters are with these men. 

If you love black women, more power to you.  I have a secret, the Saldana sisters aren’t the only black women in the world.  In America, many black women are single.  Sadly, statistically, black women are least likely to marry than any other woman of another race in America.  Unfortunately, black women represent the largest percentage of single mothers in America.  Over half of black women over the age of 18 have had some college, so they are educated.  You are complaining about these THREE women… get over it.


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PODCAST WITH MULTIRACIAL HAIR STYLIST AND ENTREPRENEUR SYLVIE VAUGHT


PODCAST WITH MULTIRACIAL HAIR STYLIST AND ENTREPRENEUR SYLVIE VAUGHT via Swirl Nation Blog

We are very excited that Alex of Multiracial Media recently interviewed hair stylist and entrepreneur Sylvie Vaught for his podcast.

Sylvie and her family were one of the first families we featured on Swirl Nation Blog back in January!

Please take some time to listen to the podcast here and get to know Sylvie better! 


More information can be found here

Ep. 94: Sylvie Vaught is is African American, Choctaw Indian, Irish, and Russian/Romanian Jewish.  She is a multiracial woman in a multiracial family who has experienced multiracial life in Canada and the United States.  Currently, she works as a hairstylist, with a particular sensitivity and affinity for multiracial hair.
Sylvie is also a a co-founder of Blow Me Hair App a Los Angeles and Orange County based on-demand beauty that connects available hair stylists with clients interested in a professional blowout or up-do in the convenience of their home, office, and hotel.

 

 

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WHEN "THE HATE" SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE


Don't you hate when you are minding your own business, just wasting time on Instagram and then BOOM! You are slapped in the face with hate. That's what happened to me this weekend. I saw this Banana Republic Factory Store ad sponsored in my feed. Normally I would ignore this ad because I am not a Banana Republic kind of girl and I also hate Outlet stores, but the multiracial couple caught my eye. Of course my first instinct, as the founder of Swirl Nation Blog and the mother of a biracial daughter, was "awwww how cute are they?!". But that was instantly me with a feeling of "oh shit, I bet the comments are full of ignorance." Unfortunately my feeling was correct. 

Over 3,000 people of course liked this photo so I don't want to discount that, but as usual those with the most hateful voices tend to also have the loudest. I am not one to engage with people on social media, especially in an argumentative way, but I was certainly tempted. Also since this is an ad, and not a post that will remain on the company's profile, I decided to screenshot the hate to preserve it for all to see. 

 
WHEN "THE HATE" SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE INTERRACIAL COUPLE ON INSTAGRAM via Swirl Nation Blog
 
WHEN "THE HATE" SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE INTERRACIAL COUPLE ON INSTAGRAM via Swirl Nation Blog

I have been the target of some social media hate in my day. All of the messages have been from insecure white men who feel like I "wasted my white genes" by having an biracial daughter. I've been asked why I "ruined myself" by dating black or multiracial men. These are always fun DMs to get. One was by a former high school classmate of mine, or at least that is what he said, I couldn't see his face because his profile photo was him in a KKK hood. Yup, this world is a scary place. 

Recently the hate has become more vocal. People are no longer hiding their racist views and with social media they can broadcast them to the world within seconds. As a mother with a daughter who is in middle school, it worries me what she may innocently come across when she's least expecting it. That's what happened here, just scrolling along, seeing what my friends are up to and BAM! Racist assholes trying to mess up my day. 

You can go through the whole chain below: 

 

Banana Republic is owned by the same company as The Gap and Old Navy. This Spring Old Navy got a lot of attention for their use of a beautiful mixed family which got endless attention from racists. As a company these brands have always been progressive in their use of interracial couples and multiracial families. I'm happy they do not back down to the hate and continue to share a diverse sampling of the human race. 

Instances like this remind me why we started Swirl Nation Blog. Sometimes living in Los Angeles it is easy to think that everyone thinks like I do. The latest election is a giant wake up call of course. Hate is prevalent and as @mshite2you says, is "trying to rise up again". Those of us who are involved and passionate about the multiracial community need to keep spreading love.

WHEN "THE HATE" SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE INTERRACIAL COUPLE ON INSTAGRAM via Swirl Nation Blog

The idea of sheltering my 12 year old daughter from racism and hate is attractive, but wouldn't do her any good. She needs to know her history and she needs to know the current state of race relations in America. And of course I hope if "the hate" slaps her in the face one of these days I hope she can be confident and strong in the face of discrimination. I hope outlets like this site will help her and other multiracial people feel loved, accepted and supported- for we are stronger when we battle back together against those who are filled with ugliness. 

I also hope corporate America will continue to represent diverse couples and families in advertising. I recognize this often brings them backlash to the companies, but I have noticed an increase in diverse casting choices the last couple years. The Cheerios commercial with the multiracial family probably got the most press and recently we featured the new Chase Bank commercial that follows an interracial love story. I wish everyone in this world was as smart as the kids in this video: 

Some wisdom from these kids: 

"Think about those people that are of mixed races, they probably feel horrible because of messed up people like the ones commenting." 
"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
"In real life there are family of all races." 
"It definitely will get people mad, but eventually those people will just realize it doesn't really matter."

So I want to thank Banana Republic Factory Stores, and all of the other brands that realistically portray America's families, don't back down to the hate.


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL COUPLE: MEET KELSEY AND PAUL BLASI


Kelsey Blasi, age 23 & Paul Blasi, age 26

 

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

Kelsey: Black & Filipina American

Paul: British & Irish American.

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

Attending School at University of Texas at San Antonio, he was my next door neighbor. He was locked outside his dorm and my roommate and I were sitting at table a few feet away, when he walked over it was the closest thing to love at first sight that I have ever experienced.

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

San Antonio

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Yes, we live in a very diverse area. Mostly Latino and Hispanic descent.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL COUPLE: MEET KELSEY AND PAUL BLASI via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL COUPLE: MEET KELSEY AND PAUL BLASI via Swirl Nation Blog

WHERE DID EACH OF YOU GROW UP? WERE THEY DIVERSE COMMUNITIES?

Kelsey: Texan born and raised grew up in Austin TX. Somewhat diverse community very & liberal.

Paul: Grew up in New York. Very diverse community

 

Paul's grandmothers on the end and Kelsey's in the middle

Paul's grandmothers on the end and Kelsey's in the middle

HAVE THERE BEEN ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS? 

I have never felt like there were any significant obstacles that we have faced do to our differing backgrounds, we have always felt that our differing background, views, and opinions are what make us a stronger couple. It allows us to step outside of what we know and what we are comfortable with in order to learn and grow. The key is to always be open minded.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR PARTNER'S ETHNIC/CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

Kelsey: His family is incredibly musically gifted, I love visiting his family's home because it is never quiet, there is always music playing his dad could be on piano, his mother on violin, his sisters singing or his brother on the drums each one of them a completely unique style, but all of them talented.

Paul: I enjoy the diversity of her mixed background in her family whether it be food or tradition it always seems like there is a new experience to have.

 

WHAT IS THE MOST UNEXPECTED THING YOU'VE LEARNED ABOUT EACH OTHER'S CULTURE?

I’ve learned to do away with stereotypes, no matter the culture or race the family love is the same and dad’s always get the good chair.

 

ARE BOTH OF YOUR FAMILIES SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

Yes!  We are so blessed that both of our families are so loving and happy for us.

Kelsey and her family

 

ARE THERE BIG DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY YOU GREW UP VS. YOUR PARTNER DUE TO DIFFERENCES IN RACE?

I wouldn’t say there were huge differences in the way we grew up. However, we did grow up differently but I’m not sure that our race played the biggest role in those differences. I was born and raised in TX an only child of divorced parents both ex-military, I had to grow up rather quickly because both of my parents worked and there was really no one else to take care of me.

Paul grew up Upstate he’s number 4 out of 6 siblings. His mom stays at home and his dad is a businessman whose job has moved them all over the world even to Japan for a short time. Family dynamic is probably the difference we have.

Paul and his family

 

ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO YOUR INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIP?

I don’t really feel as though we hear a lot of negative comments about our relationship it's not really taboo where we live and, we are fortunate in the fact that most of our close friends are in interracial relationships as well.  But of course there’s always time for jokes in our group and I don’t know how many times I’ve heard… “Yeah Paul likes his coffee like he likes his women. “

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL COUPLE: MEET KELSEY AND PAUL BLASI via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL COUPLE: MEET KELSEY AND PAUL BLASI via Swirl Nation Blog

DO YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT?

Yes, and I feel like even more so in this past year with everything happening in our country. It can be a little unsettling for an interracial couple watching the news today. The fear that our country isn’t as forward thinking as we had hoped for. It’s important to talk to each other about these things to help one another gain perspective and in turn help others gain that same insight. We’ve been given a unique privilege as an interracial couple to have the ability to reach more demographics and possibly reach people who would have otherwise felt defensive or less eager to be open-minded on topics that affect our country. I believe just being who we are as an interracial couple shows people who might not even know us that different is beautiful and despite what they may have been taught or what they believe love is love no matter its race, or religion.     

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN BEING IN AN INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIP?  

Trying to see things from the other person's perspective, it’s one of the reasons why I feel that it is important to talk about race in our relationship. We’ve been together for going on 6 years and we are still learning how to communicate our perspectives. The world we live is unfortunately not a fair one, but it is important to make the best out of any situation that you are given.  We’ve talked about starting a family soon and how we’re going to raise our children and keep them informed I don’t want my children to ever feel inadequate for being mixed I want them to feel empowered by it.  

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL COUPLE: MEET KELSEY AND PAUL BLASI via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?

My dream for America has already started to come to life as a child of mixed race I am happy to eventually have children of my own who are even more culturally and genetically diverse than me. I am both excited and optimistic on what kind of enlightened future they will have.

You can follow Kelsey on IG


 

 

 

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WHAT?! DETAIL OVERLOOKED.


WHAT?! DETAIL OVERLOOKED.

It’s that time of year again where people dress in costumes. Some recognizable, others not so much. It is not uncommon to hear the question asked “what are you?” It’s in fact an expected question if your creative skills are not too strong and like me, you are big on homemade costumes.

 

Now let’s talk about life, not in a costume, not on a day of parties and dress up. Life on any day for a person of mixed race. As a woman who is pale and freckled, I never expect to be asked that question, but if I were and I understood what they really wanted to know, answering honestly it would be “I am a quarter drunk, a quarter bad teeth and half Viking”. You guessed it right if you thought Irish, English and Scandinavian but a stranger wouldn’t ask me that question because I don’t have a beautiful brown complexion that they feel needs an explanation.

 

People of mixed race know exactly what this question means when they hear it, little kids do not.   

I was recently informed this is a very common question asked of people who are of mixed race and have lightish brown skin.  “What are you??”

 

As mother to a child of mixed race, I am told I should expect this question being asked of my daughter. Thanks for the warning, seriously.  While I haven’t heard it asked of her yet, I did have a parent learning moment of the “what are you” kind which was way bigger than the question.

 

My daughter (who was six years old) and I were flipping through the racks at a department store when a chatty woman told me my daughter looked as if she could be part Asian. I smiled at her and her little dog that my child was ooing and awing over and simply said “no” instead of asking her if she had her non-service dog in a department store. This is San Diego not Paris. However, this lady wanted to engage further, Chatty Cathy at her finest. She persisted with the inquisition of my daughter's complexion, in front of my daughter to which I finally revealed,

“She is half African American”.

 

This is where time stands still. My daughter stands up from petting the dog, with her big round brown eyes. looks at me and exclaims rather loudly

“WHAT? I am AFRICAN AMERICAN? I am from Africa?”. 

I am frozen. No words. Awkward expression on my face.  My mind is spinning as I am nervously turning my head from my daughter to this woman and her dog and back again. I’m thinking…we do have mirrors in our home. Her father is present in her life and she sees that he has a dark complexion. How have I as a parent failed to have this conversation? How have I as a parent with fair complexion failed to educate my daughter on her ethnicity blend? How as a parent did I not see this as a piece of important information worthy of explanation? Not in a way that her blend isn’t important but important in that she knew the exact dictionary definition of her blend. I stood speechless for what seemed like eternity. When I finally spoke, to my daughter I said

“Yes darling, you are half black”

and then to the woman

“Thanks for being part of a monumental life moment”.

 

After getting over my own shock and going about our shopping I realized, as her mother I had not had this discussion because her skin color does not define “what she is”. It doesn’t define who she is. It does not define her identity. To me when she is asked this question, no matter the expected answer, I want her to stand tall and proud as she says “I am a confident, courageous, empowered, educated, talented girl who sings like an angel, what about you?”

 

My naivety of the questions children and people of mixed race are faced with has come to light. I have some learning to do. This chapter was missing from the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting! To other parents of bi-racial kids, educate yourself on what they should expect and to those of you of mixed race reading this, I apologize on behalf of the people who ask you this question. Next time reply with “why do you ask?” That’s usually a good silencer. 

 

Post was originally published on Chris Kelly With Love  


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MULTIRACIAL REDHEADS CHALLENGE THE WAY WE SEE RACE


MULTIRACIAL REDHEADS CHALLENGE THE WAY WE SEE RACE via Swirl Nation Blog

Recently I came across this Upworthy article from 2015 that shared images that photographer Michelle Marshall takes of individuals with the MC1R gene variant, which is the gene mutation that causes red hair and freckles.

Only 1-2% of the world's population boasts natural red hair, which is caused by a genetic mutation in the melanocortin-1 receptor, or MC1R. For the most part when asked to describe a redhead, we probably would imagine someone of Caucasian descent. 

However, when Marshall was working on a photography project specifically about freckles, she met an adorable redheaded girl who she was surprised to learn was mixed race which then inspired her to find other mixed race redheads. 

She explains her focus in her artist statement:

"I am currently interested in documenting the incidence of the MC1R gene variant responsible for red hair and freckles, particularly amongst black/mixed raced individuals of all ages. I want to stir the perception that most of us have of a 'ginger' person as a white caucasian individual potentially of Celtic descent.

Whilst there seems to be a strong Irish/Scottish connection to the MCR1 gene in the occurrence of red hair, does being ginger still only means being Scottish, Irish, Welsh or even a white caucasian individual?  As we struggle with issues of immigration, discrimination and racial prejudice, Mother Nature, meanwhile, follows its own course, embracing society’s plurality and, in the process, shaking up our perceptions about origins, ethnicity and identity.  

Yet, statistics do not seem to reflect everyone."

 

The artist's main objective is to connect people. In an interview with Vice magazine she said, 

"A lot of [my photo subjects] have been feeling quite isolated, I got a message from one boy who said, 'I didn't realize there were so many of us' — I've not even shot 50 people. But the fact that he was able to see a cluster of people that matched his identify and could relate to that is quite positive."

And as the Upworthy article states: 

That's why it's so important that we open our eyes and celebrate the diversity in the world. Not only does it encourage us to challenge our own preconceived notions — for example, by showing us that redheads don't have to be white — but it also helps those people see themselves (or helps us see ourselves) represented in the world.

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE KELLY FAMILY


MEET THE KELLY FAMILY

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE KELLY FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

Chris Kelly, age 53

Caucasian of Irish and Scandinavian descent born in the US

 Alexander Rabin (biological son), age 23

Caucasian of Irish, Scandinavian and Latvian (American born, Jewish father) descent born in the US

 Asa Rabin (biological son), age 21

Caucasian of Irish, Scandinavian and Latvian (American born, Jewish father) descent born in the US

Theresa Kelly-Kimble (biological daughter), age 8

Caucasian of Irish, Scandinavian and African American descent

 

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

My daughter and I live in San Diego, CA while my sons both live in Washington state, the birthplace of all three of my children.

My daughter's father lives in the Pacific Northwest and while long distance, we co-parent as friends in a way that our daughter knows that both parents love her and contribute to who she is in every way.

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

There is diversity in our community however the diversity leans more toward Hispanic and very little African American

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

We celebrate Christian and some Jewish holidays

 
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE KELLY FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR FORMER PARTNER'S CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

What I have enjoyed most is being a member of a black church as my first exposure to being a church member. Albeit it was not because of or with him but had it not been for a biracial daughter I would likely not have chosen that church.

 

DID YOU FIND BIG DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY YOU GREW UP VS. YOUR FORMER PARTNER DUE TO DIFFERENCES IN RACE?

Yes, he grew up in Augusta, GA where there were few white people. I was the first Caucasian to set foot in his then 85+ year old grandmothers home when we took our daughter to be introduced. During that visit we were in Atlanta for almost 48 hours out and about with our infant before we saw another inter-racial couple, even at the mall. It was very weird for me. I grew up in San Diego, CA with some racial diversity although in a neighborhood and school where the majority of the diversity was bussed in.

 

HAVE YOU FACED ANY OBSTACLES AS A MIXED RACE FAMILY?

Not particularly. 

WHAT ACTIONS HAVE YOU TAKEN TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT EACH OF YOUR BACKGROUNDS?

I have taken college classes in African American history so I am able to understand and share as things come up. She has books about famous African Americans she reads and studies. We attend an African American church.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE KELLY FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

HAS YOUR CHILD ASKED ABOUT RACE?

Yes, she has, (this will be my first blog post for you...glad this question jogged my memory)

 

DOES YOUR CHILD IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

She identifies as mixed. Pink and dark brown make her.

 

HOW DO YOU RAISE YOUR CHILD TO HONOR DIVERSITY IN OTHERS?

By being a role model of inclusiveness and kindness while teaching we all bleed the same color.

 

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR FORMER PARTNER?

It is not uncommon for African Americans to be born with extra digits/fingers or toes. During our first ultrasound the technician stopped with a look of concern. I asked if the baby had an extra finger (her father had been born with an extra pinky as did his son from his previous marriage) and sure enough, the tech said yes. I looked at the father said “Phew! Now I know for sure it’s yours!” which was not actually ever in question!

Characteristic from me, her intelligence of course! Physically we resemble one another to the point people call her my twin...with a good tan.

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOUR CHILD?  

Nothing more than mommy is light skin and daddy is dark skin and she is a combo

 

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR YOUR CHILD'S FUTURE AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?

My dream for all of my children to live a life where they are pursuing and walking in their purpose with conviction and joy. That they all embrace their dreams and turn them into reality with a Can Do attitude. It is my dream that they continue to view all people as equal and capable regardless of race or religion and that they have compassionate, kind, caring and loving hearts to touch society with and be role models. For my bi-racial daughter, it is my dream that she never falls victim to the question of her identity. She is who she is, her skin is not the definition of who she is just as it is not the identifier of mine. I pray that she be a role model of confidence and courage for other young women of all ethnicities. And most of all I dream they will all live outstanding, remarkable, fun lives living out loud, loving without abandon and taking action that results in positive change for the world, big or small.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE KELLY FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

You can follow Chris on FB | TW and her website www.chriskellywithlove.com


 

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The End of Anti-Miscegenation Laws: Loving v. Virginia and Interracial Relationships


Little Rock, Arkansas protest to keep anti-miscegenation laws on the books. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.Commons

Little Rock, Arkansas protest to keep anti-miscegenation laws on the books. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.Commons

On November 3rd, the new movie Loving hit theaters. The film features the story of interracial couple Richard Loving, a White man, and Mildred Jeter, a Black woman, from Virginia who defied anti-miscegenation laws by getting married. The film highlights their historic Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) case in 1967, which overturned anti-miscegenation laws nationwide. (It had previously been legal in all but 16 states.)

Seven months shy of the 50th anniversary of the SCOTUS decision, thinking of the film and the story of the Loving family, many may not understand the true importance of Loving v. Virginia and the extent to which the United States viewed interracial relationships at that time. Some may even take for granted how interracial relationships have become a societal norm and view the film as slightly shocking. Therefore, to better understand the historical context of the film, let us reveal the State of the Union at that time when it came to multiracial love.

Pre-Anti-Miscegenation Laws[1]

When digging deeper into the struggles of the lived mixed-race experience in the United States, it is apparent Western culture has worked hard to maintain a division of the races (Wilson, 1987). For over 300 years, more than half of the United States held strict anti-miscegenation laws to prevent different races from marrying, cohabitating, and engaging in sexual relations. Yet, prior to the creation of anti-miscegenation laws, racial divisions had already begun to take shape. Around the time of anti-miscegenation laws, elite white Americans created what is known as a “white racial frame,” where the “superior” racial group were white Americans while the “inferior” racial group were black Americans (Feagin, 2009). Since the creation of aforementioned “white racial frame,” this highly prejudiced point of view was strengthened during American social crises with immigration, slavery, and civil rights. Ultimately, the elitist “white racial frame” no longer applied solely to black Americans, but came to concern all persons of color as being inferior. Native, Asian, and Latin-Americans were all seen as being inferior to the superior white American race (p. 56).

The United States, unlike any other nation in the world, has used a black identity to create and maintain a divide between whites and non-white minorities. The one-drop rule, which delegates any person in the United States with any known African black ancestry, no matter how little or distant, is deeply rooted in American culture (Davis, 2006). The one-drop rule is truly unique because similar to anti-miscegenation laws, the one-drop rule resulted from United States experiences with slavery and racial segregation. According to anthropologists, for those who are multiracial and/or multiethnic, the one-drop rule is also known as the hypodescent rule, as mixed-race children are assigned to the status position of the lower status parent group (p. 17). Therefore, according to such racial hierarchy rules, any individual who is a person of color, yet mixed with white, will automatically be assigned the status of their parent who is of color. 

The Era of Anti-Miscegenation Laws

Anti-miscegenation laws in the United States first appeared in the mid 1600s, around the Chesapeake area of Maryland and Virginia, where many mixed-race relationships were occurring between white slave owners and black slaves (Davis, 2006). Anti-miscegenation laws proclaimed fornication between whites and Negroes was equivalent to bestiality, with 38 states adopting such laws (Brown, 2001). By the 1700s, anti-miscegenation laws, along with the one-drop/hypodescent rule, were not only meant to prevent marital unions based on race, but became the social definition of a black person in the South (p. 17). Alibhai-Brown explains how the word miscegenation [was] used to describe the products of relationships across racial barriers and [was] infused with the implication of something not quite the norm, something deviant (Alibhai-Brown, 2001).

The End of Anti-Miscegenation Laws: Loving v. Virginia and Interracial Relationships via Swirl Nation Blog

Anti-miscegenation laws were a clear way to curb a national fear of individuals and behaviors that seemed to be abnormal and deviant. In addition, anti-miscegenation laws were vital in maintaining Jim Crow segregation, allowing for racial “purity” to persevere (Davis, 2006). Despite the law and a general fear of blending races among elite white Americans in the United States during this time, sexual, romantic, and marital relationships occurred at significantly high rates between whites and blacks. The number of mixed-race children being born during this time steadily increased; however, children from mixed-unions were automatically placed outside of the existing social order (Brown, 2001).

Post-Anti-Miscegenation Laws

It was not until the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, which facilitated an end to Jim Crow laws. The well-recognized Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, handed down in 1967, was a momentous event in United States legal and cultural history. Loving v. Virginia, which overturned anti-miscegenation laws, making them unconstitutional, created a spark that lit a charged fire of demographic change throughout the U.S. (Bratter and Zuberi, 2001; Brunsma, 2005). Elam (2011) reinforces the notion that although Loving v. Virginia and other cultural transformations shaped by immigration trends have contributed to the United States increasingly multi-hued population, people of mixed descent are not a recent phenomenon: they have existed in often distinct, self-identified communities since the colonial era in the Americas, from Black Seminoles to Melungeons (p. 6). Up until the Loving decision, it is clear race mixing occurred, but it was a strictly managed affair, driven by force and power. Yet, such a power shift in American culture following the Loving v. Virginia case helped bring mixed-race identities and struggles out of the private sphere into the public sphere (Olumide, 2002). In addition, such a socio-cultural and legal endorsement of mixed-race identities and relationships eventually produced what has come to be known as the “biracial baby boom.” In the 1970s, approximately 1% of children were products of a mixed-race union and by 2000, that number grew to more than 5% (Herman, 2004; Brunsma, 2005).

Mixedness in the New Millennium

We then come back to present day where the growing mixed-race population is observed not just in the United States, but across the world. This has created greater interest in multiracial individuals and their lived experiences. A recent example of such interest is presented through The Pew Research Center June 2015 report, Multiracial in America: Proud, Diverse, and Growing in Numbers (Pew, 2015). The 156-page report is based off findings from 1,555 multiracial Americans across the nation, aged 18 and older, who were surveyed in regards to personal attitudes, experiences, and demographic characteristics (Pew, 2015). The report describes how the multiracial population is growing at a rate three times as fast as the total population, citing 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data which shows approximately 9 million Americans chose two or more racial categories when asked about their race (Pew, 2015).

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.Commons

As we approach the 50-year anniversary of Loving v. Virginia next year and hopefully continue to see more media stories of not just the Loving family, but other multiracial couples and families, there is trust in the multiracial community continuing to add to the history of interracial relationships in America. Yes, it has been a bumpy road. Nevertheless, it has been a road worth traveling for the sake of not being afraid to cross boundaries for love, for happiness, and for freedom.

Post was originally published on Multiracial Media


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PODCAST WITH MULTIRACIAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND DIRECTOR SUZIE STRONG


PODCAST WITH MULTIRACIAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND DIRECTOR SUZIE STRONG via Swirl Nation Blog

We are very excited that Alex of Multiracial Media recently interviewed photographer and director Suzie Strong for his podcast, Multiracial Family ManSwirl Nation Blog first featured Suzie as a Featured Multiracial Individual back in May. I personally met Suzie earlier this year when she showed her art in an art show that I was lucky enough to curate. Take some time to listen to the podcast here and get to know Suzie better! 

You can take a look at her work here and on IG.


More information can be found here

Ep. 92: Suzie Strong is an award-winning, Los Angeles-based photographer and director.  In her photography work, she specializes in creative portraits and fashion.  She directs and shoots feature films, short narratives, music videos, experimental shorts, promos and fashion shorts.
Suzie also has a fascinating multiracial heritage, with Lebanese, German, Irish, English, Spanish, & Native American roots.  Interestingly, her family immigrated to the United States through New Orleans, rather than Ellis Island, and her family culture and traditions mainly reflect the culture of New Orleans which Suzie calls “a beautiful quilt of many types of people.”  She adds: “Our home was always a southern island on the west coast. We also honored our Lebanese background with lots of Lebanese cooking!“
Listen as Suzie explains her Lebanese (and other) roots and the juxtaposition of those with New Orleans culture.  And, hear how her ancestry and heritage have informed her life and work.

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MULTIRACIAL #MCM: THE ROCK AKA THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE


MULTIRACIAL #MCM: THE ROCK AKA THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE via Swirl Nation Blog

Dwayne Johnson a.k.a. The Rock, is the Sexiest Man Alive, I've known it for at least 15 years and People magazine finally decided I was right;) This title ushers him into an elite group of physically appealing men that over the years has included George Clooney, Matt Damon, David Beckham, and Denzel Washington. 

Speaking of Denzel, he was the first and only black actor to hold this title back in 1996. So that would make The Rock (I refuse to call him Dwayne- he is way too sexy for that name) the first multiracial individual to hold the title since he is 1/2 Samoan and 1/2 black. 

Former People managing editor Landon Jones, who oversaw the 1996 Denzel Washington cover, said,

I’m proud we published the first [“Sexiest Man Alive” with a person of color]. I’m not proud we published the last.” 

I imagine all of the recent backlash in Hollywood, plus The Rock's timely movie release for Moana, moved the team at People Magazine towards this decision. Regardless it is impossible to deny he is a huge force in Hollywood as he is this year's highest paid actor pulling in $64.5 million in 2016. 

As we all know, representation matters, and I hope moving forward to see men of all races gracing not only the cover of this magazine, but across all mediums and platforms to accurately portray society. 

MULTIRACIAL #MCM: THE ROCK AKA THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE via Swirl Nation Blog
MULTIRACIAL #MCM: THE ROCK AKA THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE via Swirl Nation Blog

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ASIA WAKABAYASHI

I am so excited to introduce you to my friend, Asia! Asia and I lived next door to each other when I lived in Colorado, she became my friend and my daughter's babysitter. She is a very loving and caring person and I was so excited when she agreed to be featured on Swirl Nation. Please enjoy reading about her journey growing up black, Japanese, Native American, and white. 

xx jen 


Lukas is Wakabayashi (Asia for short). I've been 22 for a few years :)

  

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ASIA WAKABAYASHI via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

My mom is African American and Native American.

My father is Japanese, Polish, and Lithuanian.

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Greeley, CO

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

In the last year, so many people are moving here. There have been tons of Nigerians. There have always been a lot of Mexican Americans as well. I really enjoy all the ethnic stores and shops that have popped up in my neighborhood as a result. So many cute markets and grocers.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I was born in Denver, Colorado. My mother moved us to Georgia when I was in the 5th grade, the area we lived in had a larger African American population than Denver. When I was in middle school we moved to Richmond, Virginia. Richmond was very diverse and full of history. However, no matter where we moved I did not find any mixed kids that I felt like I could identify with.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ASIA WAKABAYASHI via Swirl Nation Blog

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

My parents were high school sweethearts, they met while in school. My dad lived near my mom's neighborhood and knew all of my mom's siblings.

 

WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?

My mom never felt accepted by my dad's family. She felt judged I think and never felt welcomed. I don't think my dad ever felt uncomfortable.

 

HAS YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF YOU BEING MULTIRACIAL?

Yes, I did go through a stage in high school where I felt like I didn't belong to either family. I was too dark for my dad's side, too light for my mom's side. The older my siblings got, the more I felt out of place when we didn't look alike.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

I think my family connects through food, on both sides. My mom always makes soul food, or food her grandmother made. My dad used to take me to sushi bars and show me his grandmother's Japanese dishes and such. My mother and father split when I was very little, so I've got to experience both sides separately.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

No, both of my parents spoke English. In high school I studied German and Japanese. During my junior year I had a Japanese exchange student who lived with my family for a week. It was a wonderful experience.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

I love the foods, maybe because that's how both parents connected me to my cultural background. They are polar opposites in ways, soul food compared to sushi. I love the connection I can make through preparing a dish.

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ASIA WAKABAYASHI via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT ACTIONS DID YOUR PARENTS TAKE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS?

Both parents encouraged me to spend time with family members. Through family I was able to learn first hand. Both were encouraging to me to explore each background.

 

DID YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?

No, it wasn't a huge deal that I was mixed. Both sides of the family always tried to make me feel welcome and included, I think sometimes talking about race can make people feel like outsiders when they don't fit into just one group. I was always encouraged to explore, but it was never a pressed issue.

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I identify as mixed, because that's what I am. I haven't found a box that I fit into, and I'm fine with that.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

No, I don't think I've ever not dated someone because of race. I go off of character. My significant other is Caucasian but I have dated a variety of races and ethnicities…

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

It means not fitting into one box, having the option to fit into a lot of boxes. I used to hate that there weren't other people like me, but I've grown to love it as I get older.

 DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

I do not, although I would love to have someone to commiserate with.

 

ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?

My biggest and most frequently asked pet peeve people ask me is, “Where are you from?”. This is what people say when they want to know what you're mixed with but don't want to ask it directly. Constantly, it's usually the first thing people ask. Its annoying because does it really matter?

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ASIA WAKABAYASHI via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?

I hope one day we can all mingle, without having to fit into ONE box. I hope everyone embraces the different cultures they might have.


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