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Multiracial Mixed Family

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Half & Half


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by Kaia Fittz

 

There is my father, like dark chocolate. Like the midnight that comes after the daylight has gone to rest. His hair when grown out is a winding road in the midnight without any street lights lighting the way. Hair as dark as a silhouette in front of a sunset. Eyes as dark as the midnight sky, and when light is caught in them it acts as twinkling stars, ready to explode into something even more amazing. Smile as bright and wide as an explosion on a movie theater screen, making the audience gasp.

 

Then there is my mother, like white chocolate. She is the daylight that comes before the midnight awakes. Her hair is as straight as the sun's rays.Her hair is like the golden sun during the eclipse, blinding anyone who dares to look. Eyes as blue and bright as our very sky, and when light is caught in these eyes, all you can see is the most perfect cumulus clouds dancing, ready to move when night comes to reveal the moonlight. Smile thin but bright, like the crescent moon, giving anyone, even someone acting as the grinch, joy in their heart. 

 

And there I am, milk chocolate. Like the sunset connecting both night and day together, to create a beautiful twenty-four hour day. My hair is a winding midnight road with a streetlight at the very end. My hair is as thin as the sun's rays, but as dark as a silhouette. My smile like an explosion, so big that it makes my eyes disappear into face. I am like Goldilocks' porridge, not too this not too that, just right.

 

This piece was originally posted on kaiafittz.com


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE GONZALEZ FAMILY!

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE GONZALEZ FAMILY!


MEET THE GONZALEZ FAMILY: 

Luchi, age 35
  • Mixed White and Latino from Miami / Irish and German from his mother's side, indigenous Peruvian and Spanish on his father's side.
Amal, age 35
  • Black from Colorado / According to my sister's DNA test I am 60% West African (Congo, Togo), 15% British Isles (Scottish mostly), 15% Scandinavian (Finnish mostly), 7% Western European (French, Belgian, Dutch) and 3% Iberian Peninsula (Portuguese and Spanish).
Giordana, age 7
  • Triracial born in Miami
Liam, age 2
  • Triracial born in Texas
Yvonne, Amal's mom age 64
  • Black from Colorado

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

We met in Denver, Colorado at a nightclub.  He was playing professional soccer and I was modelling at the time - we were a match made in heaven.  

WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS? IF SO, WHAT WERE THEY?

Luchi is very machismo.  I am very stubborn and headstrong.  I had to learn to acquiesce at times.  We both needed to learn to compromise.  He learned to do some of the traditionally feminine duties around the house (not all, but some).  I learned it’s better using sugar to get what I want from him.

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME? ARE THEY CONNECTED TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL CULTURES? WHAT HAVE YOU PASSED DOWN FROM YOUR FAMILIES?

We celebrate Noche Buena, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day in our home. Noche Buena is a Latin Tradition.  Luchi’s family takes it to another level.  Food, music, dancing, and gifts at midnight.  The whole family joins for the festivities, like 40 people.  It’s great.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE? HAVE YOU ADOPTED THAT FEATURE/TRADITION IN YOUR OWN FAMILY?

Peruvian food...nom nom nom…  It’s the best cuisine ever.  Soccer.  My family, or the way we grew up, was to be very mindful of everyone around you and be kind to strangers.

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

I live in suburban Texas.  I was surprised with how much diversity is here, but sometimes I feel there is a pressure to be Texan.  My ‘hood is 64% white, 12% Hispanic, 11% Asian, and 8% Black. There are a lot of mixed race children in my area, mostly Asian and White. There is hardly any diversity in the Hispanic population, unlike Miami.

DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME? 

My husband’s first language is Spanish.  I can still barely understand German. We’ve failed passing Spanish on to the children.  Giordana was bilingual until we moved from Miami to Texas.  My husband and I now speak Spanish to each other when we don’t want the kids to know what we are talking about - now my daughter wants to learn Spanish because she is nosey.

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?

My whole family has been mixed up for generations.  Some of my great aunts and uncles decided to “pass” in the 1940s for a better life.  All three of my sisters married caucasian men.  I have mixed cousins.  My husband’s Latin family consider themselves white-Latin (ancestry predominantly from European Spain), so although his parents are from different countries, their mixture was more cultural than racial.  There was one extended family member who did not like our union because I am Black.  That person is over it now.

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

Again, Peruvian Food.  In Peru, you have this mixture of Indigenous, Spanish, African, and Asian and they figured out a way to combine the cultures into culinary experiences.  It’s the best thing ever.  Imagine fried rice with cilantro and peppers thrown in, it works. Sometimes cheesy and over-emotional, Latin music is typically dance-friendly.  I particularly like the Afro-Peruvian music and dances.  The songs are passionate with a good beat.

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

Racially, no, but ethnically, yes - due to Luchi’s Peruvian father and his growing up in Miami.  Luchi’s life was filled with soccer, Spanish, and comida Latina.  His friends in Miami were first generation Cuban, Colombian, Honduran, Uruguayan, Haitian, Trinidadian, Brazilian, Argentinian, etc.  He was exposed to all of these different cultures from an early age.  I feel his experience growing up differently has just as much to with where he grew up as it did with his father being from another country.  I grew up in Colorado at a time when most of the population was of European descent.  I grew up sledding, skiing, and going to the mall and movies to hang out with my friends.  My husband grew up playing soccer, the beach, and going to nightclubs to hang out with his friends.

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

There is a lot of racism in the Latin culture.  It isn’t covert racism.  It is in your face and somewhat accepted.  I remember I decided to work out while my husband trained with a Uruguayan coach.  I was running and my husband told the coach I was really fast.  The coach made a joke that I needed to be, so I could run away from the cops.

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

Giordana has either attended a Spanish-Speaking school or taken Spanish classes until she was 5. The kids eat everything from Lomo Saltado to Jambalaya.  They are exposed to music from both backgrounds.  

HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE? AT WHAT AGE? HOW DID YOU EXPLAIN IT?

Before moving to Texas, we lived in Miami.  Giordana never noticed she was different in Miami.  Everyone in Miami is brown from being in the sun.  Even her blondest, blue-eyed friend was a light shade of brown.  I remember the first time she brought up being different.  It was after a soccer huddle and she noticed her hand was darker than everyone else’s hand in the huddle. Not long after, she asked me what is “Latino”.  I had to explain to her Latino, Black, and White.  It was a fun conversation.

DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Giordana didn’t know there was a difference until “Latino” day.  After I explained she is also Black and I gave Beyonce as an example for being Black, she’s latched on to that.  I think she identifies as Black. lol

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

Our neighbor-friends are Muslim from Jordan, Giordana knows they do not celebrate some holidays and they speak a different language at home.  Giordana has actually asked the little girl to teach her arabic and arabic calligraphy. Giordana used to attend JCC in the summers and she knows how to greet people in Hebrew and about Jewish holidays. She likes learning about different people, places, and customs.

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER?

Both of our children look like both of us.  As a family, we are all the same skin tone. My husband and two kids have light brown hair. The boy and I have the darkest eyes. My husband has light brown eyes.  The girl has hazel eyes.  Giordana’s ears are exact replicas of Luchi’s ears.  Liam has my nose.

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOUR CHILDREN?

They have know idea what that means.

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

My dream is that stereotypes will be broken.  People will not assume things because their last names are distinctly Latino.  I need to think more about this question…


If you are interested in being one of our featured Swirl Nation families or individuals please email Jen at jfischyfischy@gmail.com!

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE KETTERHAGEN FAMILY!

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE KETTERHAGEN FAMILY!


MEET THE KETTERHAGEN FAMILY: 

Luke Ketterhagen, age 40
  • White from Wisconsin / German and Scottish
Kourtney Ketterhagen, age 48
  • Black from Michigan / African, Native American, Spanish, French, Scottish and a couple others I would have to ask my mother about! 
Prakash Ketterhagen, age 14
  • Biracial born in Pennsylvania
Mangala Ketterhagen, age 12
  • Biracial born in Texas
John Lloyd, age 75
  • White from Beverly Hills, CA
Maurice Mitchell, age 60
  • Black from Michigan
Luke and Kourtney

Luke and Kourtney

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

We met at an ashram in the Poconos and were married on the banks of the Ganges in Allahabad, India.

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

I’m 8.5 years older than my husband and world traveled. He’s a good Catholic boy from rural Wisconsin turned yoga teacher trainer. Let’s just say it’s taken some adjustments but we’re celebrating our 15 year anniversary in January 2016 so I think we’re over the rough years.

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME? ARE THEY CONNECTED TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL CULTURES? WHAT HAVE YOU PASSED DOWN FROM YOUR FAMILIES?

We study yoga philosophy but embrace all traditions. Halloween is our favorite holiday. Both of the kids attend Catholic single-gender schools. We’re a mixed bag!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR PARTNER'S CULTURE? 

As a black girl who attended high school in Texas in the 80’s I had my encounters with racism. It was always the Catholic kids who stood up for me. Both of us come from families who take in people who are struggling. We believe in actively helping those less fortunate.

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE? 

YES! We just relocated to New Rochelle, New York from Venice Beach. Finding a city with diversity was a top priority. We’re in Westchester County which is the 7th wealthiest county in the US (you know what I’m sayin’!) but New Rochelle is unique--20% black, 30% Latino and 50% white. We love it!

DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME? 

My husband speaks Spanish, our 8th grader speaks French and is learning Spanish and our 6th grader is studying Greek and has aspirations to speak seven languages--she wants to be an ambassador.

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILIES SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP? 

Yes, we are very much supported on both sides of our family and the kids spend summers with both families.

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

My husband’s father is a professor of religion and theology at a Catholic university and my mother-in-law was a hospice nurse for over 15 years until becoming a chaplain at a hospital. They instilled in their children a great sense of appreciation for this gift called life. My husband is a health guru and he cooks recipes he learned from his mom. His gluten-free pancakes are legendary. The Ketterhagen’s are terrible dancers but my side of the family has that covered.

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

They know their history--more on my side because our family has done years of research and has annual family reunions. We have slaves and slave owners in our DNA and know our ancestry from the Native Americans to Scotland to the Ivory Coast. My husband family doesn’t know much beyond the great-grandparents, but what we know, the kids know.

DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE? 

They identify as mixed. Our son actually identifies as himself. He couldn’t care less about race. I recently asked them about joining an all-black social club. Son wasn’t interested, daughter was open. Not sure if we’ll do it but I was curious about how they felt about it. We don’t place a big deal on the race differences so it’s been a non-issue for them. Our son was studying genetics in 7th grade and finally asked why he was so light when I am so brown. He thinks it’s cool when his friends see me for the first time and say later “Your mom is black?” It cracks him up!

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

Considering their elementary principal (who they loved!) was a gay white man with a black husband and a dog named Oreo, they’ve only known diversity. These are Obama-era kids!!! One of my best friends is a blonde haired blue-eyed lesbian that they’ve always known. One year she sent a Christmas card. The kids had been around her wife and their kids but it didn’t all click until the card came. Our daughter was seven at the time and said “She’s a lesbian?” I looked at her with surprise and she said deadpan “What Mom? Of course I know that word.”

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER? 

Our son is a pure athlete which he got from both sides. He can play piano with ease and has the kindest heart imaginable. He’s 14 but still very much a kid (like his Dad--in a good way!) Our daughter is a mini-me. She talks incessantly and is detail oriented. She has a ferocious sense of style and takes good care of her things.

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOUR CHILDREN? 

They feel they have the best of both worlds and are comfortable everywhere they go. We took them to India two years ago and are taking them to Cameroon in 2017. When we hang out with our Latino friends with large families, people who don’t know them assume they are cousins. They are racially ambiguous--can’t tell what they are!


If you are interested in being one of our featured Swirl Nation families or individuals please email Jen at jfischyfischy@gmail.com!


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BORGET FAMILY!

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BORGET FAMILY!


FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE BORGET FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

MEET THE BORGET FAMILY

Jennifer Borget, age 30

Black/African-American

Hubby, age 33

White- French/German

Big T, almost 3

Half of each :)

Lil’ J, age 5

Half of each :)

 

 

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Austin, TX

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

We met on a blind date in college at BYU. Yes, they do work!

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE BORGET FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Not really, only pertaining to our age maybe. We met when I was 18 and he was 22. We knew pretty quick that we wanted to get married (within 2 weeks). We got engaged officially after 4 months and married 2 months later. My parents were worried we were rushing into things, but 11 years later we’re as happy as ever!

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME? ARE THEY CONNECTED TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL CULTURES?

We celebrate a mix of traditions, some religious, some just fun family traditions. When we visit Utah in July we celebrate Pioneer Day which is a Mormon celebration. We like it because a lot of my husband’s family is in Utah and we get to see them all then and fun parades and events. Though we stand out there, it’s always a fun place to visit. We celebrate Loving Day every year as well, and talk about the importance of the day, and how it’s especially significant for our family.

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

It’s pretty diverse. There aren’t a ton of black families in the suburb we live in, but there are a few on our street, and several other nationalities: Asian, Hispanic, and white. It’s a lot more diverse than anyplace else we’ve lived, I love it!

 

DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME?

No! But I’m working on Spanish because of where we live. My daughter wants to learn too.

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?

Definitely. We haven’t experienced any issues from either side of our family.

 

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

So though my husband was born in Utah and lived there most of his life, his family moved to North Carolina for a decent chunk of his childhood. There, from my understanding, he was one of the only white kids. I’m not sure if that’s where he fell in love with black culture, but he definitely got some cred *wink*. Meanwhile I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta where things we split pretty 50/50 black/white. You could feel the racial tension. Both of us grew up LDS (Mormon) though, so I think a lot of our similarities meet there.

 

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

One that we get a bit at church because he went on a mission to the Caribbean is “Did he meet you on his mission?” NO!

 

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

We are starting to dive into family history. Beginning with people still alive, like my great-grandpa. We talk about the things he’s seen--Inventions he’s watch develop. We talk about where mommy grew up and where daddy grew up, things we did when we were kids. As they get older we’ll dive more into history, where some of our family came from. I hope to take my kids to France in a few years and we’ll definitely all be studying about France and their family history there before then!

 

HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE?

Not exactly. My daughter has asked about literal skin color a few times. But we don’t shy away from it either. When we read books about MLK and Rosa Parks, she classifies herself as brown and says daddy looks like the white people in the books. We talk about how things are different now compared to then, and how we should treat everyone with love. We also read books showing how there are SO many different shades of brown. That got her really excited. Just yesterday she also just realized that Princess Tiana is brown like her mommy.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE BORGET FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

 

DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

My daughter seems to identify as “in the middle, a little bit like everyone.” I love it!

 

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

I don’t shy away from her questions when she notices differences. I praise her for asking a good question and do my best to explain how God made us all as we are, everyone is beautiful and made especially that way. We do practice runs of how to treat people who are different than us, or have families that look different from ours, and she always passes with flying colors. *smile*

 

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER?

They both have our curly hair. I feel like their complexion is right smack dab in the middle. When they’re next to me they look closer to my shade, and when they’re next to my husband they look closer to his. They both have my husband’s big round eyes, but when they smile they look like mini me’s.

 

HOW DO YOU PLAN ON TEACHING THEM TO BE PROUD OF BEING MIXED?

I plan to teach them that they can embrace all sides of them. Growing up I sometimes felt insecure about the way I spoke or acted because of the way my mom (raised in Chicago) raised me. I never want my kids to feel out of place or uncomfortable in their own skin. I ALWAYS want them to know to be proud of who they are on the inside first, then also embrace and be proud of their heritage, and never place themselves above or below others because of it.

 

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

Oh man that’s a tough question but a good one. Part of me feels like I wish we could move past the differences so that we could stop bickering. But I LOVE our differences, and want the world to love and embrace all of them. In just four generations my line could look and be completely different. My great-great grandchildren could be 75% Chinese but have a full-black great-great grandma. That is so fascinating to me, and really goes to show that we’re all connected, or all will be some day in future generations. When we realize that and embrace and love each other for, and not in spite of our differences the world will be such a better place. At least, that’s my hope!

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE BORGET FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

Follow Jennifer and her family on her blog Baby Making Machine 

Instagram / Facebook


 

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE McCLURE FAMILY!

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE McCLURE FAMILY!

We were introduced to The McClure family through their adorable photos on their Instagram page and just had to feature them! Enjoy reading about this lovely family!

 

- Jen


MEET THE McCLURE FAMILY

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE MCCLURE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

Justin

White, Irish

Ami

Black, born in Nigeria 

 

Ava and Alexis, identical twins age 2.5

Biracial

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE MCCLURE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

 

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

West Orange, NJ

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

Ami (pronounced Ah-me, short for Aminat) was getting out of her car in Washington Heights, NYC and I saved her from some dude trying to hit on her. After she parallel parked this guy was “talking game” to her and I just walked up to her pretending to know her.

 

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

Not really. Her family is Muslim so there are some differences but no hindrances.

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

Hmm, we are not traditional AT ALL. Actually as Humanists, we are (especially from the head of the household- Justin) very much opposed to organized traditions, instead we try to embody and create traditions that mean something to us. If the tradition fits our family dynamics then we apply it to our household but overall we are very progressive socially and religiously.  We are both Humanists, void of religious creed or dogma, and believe human beings can create a better world separate from any belief in supernatural beings. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE?

We see things very differently (a good thing), because most people let the religion of a culture get in the way. I see her Muslim culture for what it is and leave the religious aspect. Her family makes great food and I appreciate their sense of community and loyalty!

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

Yes. We have muslims, jews, christians, and other free-thinking Humanists like ourselves.

 

DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME?

Justin speaks Spanish fairly fluently and Ami speaks her native Nigerian tongue because she was born there. It’s important to the family for the girls to know Spanish so that will be incorporated as they grow.

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?

Yes except for a few people here and there but Ami and I are both very strong personalities and believe that nothing gets in the way of our happiness. If anyone in our families had a problem with our love...that is their problem and can excuse themeselves from our lives until they embrace our happiness:) we do not let anyone get in the way of our joy.

 

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

Probably the food and Ami enjoys my southern hillbilly upbringing because it makes me unique (she says). I have a bit of a southern accent and embrace much of growing up in the south.

 

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

Sure, I grew up very very religious in the south (rural North Georgia) so that exposure made me naive and impotent towards realities of the world. Ami did not grow up embracing religion because her Mom is Christian and Dad Muslim so they didn’t even discuss spirituality.

Also growing up in the south we didn’t have many black people... as I grew and evolved I realized dating outside my race was more interesting than dating what I know.

 

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

Probably when I learned of her tribal marks. In Africa they give you tribal marks when you’re born (cuts with a knife). Probably for Ami was when she realized how country my family really is! I was born and raised in the same location where the movie Deliverance was filmed - we were very indigent and bucolic in upbringing.

 

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

We are tired of hearing…”Your girls are so gorgeous!” haha, kidding, we love hearing that. People always comment on the beauty of our family. This gives us gratitude because we know “being attractive” is simply luck. Nobody is in the womb of their mother asking for beautiful features..it just happens and has nothing to do with the quality or integrity of the person...so we are grateful for sure.

 

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

Well they are 2.5 years old so still very young, but as they grow we’ll let them embrace both sides of their parents. We are very big on offering choices and not telling our kids how to think and feel.

 

HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE?

Umm no, they can barely talk.

 

DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Identical mixed twins.

 

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

We raise them to see everyone as equal.

 

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

We just want them to be happy and to feel loved every moment of their life. We spend quality time with them and are present so they feel the attention and love. Race will not be talked about much in our house because it should never be an issue. Instead we will raise them to see outside of race and gender, instead focus on developing dignity of character and pursuing the passions in life they love and stand for.


You can follow The McClure Twins on Instagram

You can follow Ami here and Justin here and their company Facebook page here





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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY


MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY

 

Swetha Maddula Batambuze, age 36

  • Indian-born raised in the U.K.

Jonah Batambuze, age 37

  • First-generation Ugandan, U.S. born

Iyla Joy (daughter), age 2yrs 11-months

  • Mixed Ugandan/Indian born in U.K.

Ajani Jagan (son), 8-months old

  • Mixed Ugandan/Indian born in U.K.
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

We live one hour north east of London in a town called Peterborough.

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

My husband Jonah was studying abroad for a semester at University College Dublin, and I was visiting a childhood friend who happened to be living in the same dormitory.

 

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

Yes. I’m a first-generation Hindu from a semi-traditional family, and my husband is first-generation Ugandan from a Christian background.  Not only did we come from different religious, and ethnic backgrounds, but I come from a family of doctors, and my husband wasn't set on a similar career path.  Since my parents didn’t have any experiences of socialising with Africans or Ugandans they felt uneasy about our relationship.  What I’ve learned is it’s easy to form generalisations when you’re not familiar with different cultures.

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

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME? ARE THEY CONNECTED TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL CULTURES?

We celebrate common Hindu South-Indian festivals, and we also have the kids participate in Christmas and other Christian festivals from my husband’s side.  With my husband being from the United States we also participate in festivals/holidays that are celebrated in the U.S. that aren’t as big in the United Kingdom (Halloween, Thanksgiving.)

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE?

I really enjoy the rhythm of Ugandan music along with their dance.  We’ll oftentimes play the music aloud in our house and dance with the children and have a good time.  Music and dance can reveal so much about cultures once you investigate the deeper meaning.

 

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

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

Yes. The city we live within has people of various colours and religious denominations. And, is much more diverse than the communities that I or my husband grew up in.

 

DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME?

I speak Telugu, which is a South Indian dialect, (fluently) and I also speak English. My husband speaks English, but is not fluent in his mother tongue which is Luganda. We both want our children to speak multiple languages, and have textbooks to teach our children the basics. We both feel that our children knowing our traditions and cultures is important.

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?

Both sides of our extended families are extremely supportive of our relationship, and have been since our wedding.

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

As well as the music, and dance listed above I love the textiles and fashion from Ugandan culture. I love the use of bold colors and how the fabric is a true reflection of the culture. It feels as if there are 1,000 stories locked into each distinct piece of fabric.

 

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

Growing up Asian my upbringing was heavily focused on my education and academics. Extracurricular activities like music, and anything which could build up my CV for medical school applications was the first priority. I noticed my husband was given much more freedom to explore other interests and extracurricular activities when he was growing up.

 

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

The most surprising thing we learned about each other, is how similar both of our cultures are. Both cultures share similar ceremonies, with a heavy focus on respect for family.

 

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

There’s a complex within Indian/Asian culture regarding skin complexion, with lighter skin being seen as pretty. When our daughter was younger, I oftentimes heard relatives commenting on her skin tone which got under my/our skin.

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

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

We have made sure to take our children to both of our respective homelands (Uganda, India) to meet our respective families and experience our countries. We have also exposed them to our different religions by visiting places of worship (temples, church) and participating in festivals specific to our cultures

 

HOW DO YOU PLAN ON SPEAKING TO YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN ABOUT RACE IN THE FUTURE?

We’ve done a fair bit of traveling so far and our younger daughter is already becoming conscious of other countries, and geography. Our approach would be looking at a world map, and using flashcards to teach our children about the diverse religions and cultures.  

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

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER?

I am quite outgoing, outspoken, and loud, while my husband is much more reserved.  Our daughter has both of our characteristics and can be found running around yelling one-minute, and bashful the next.  Being South Indian I naturally have thick, black, wavy hair.  My husband has kinky afro-hair which makes for a perfect mix of our genes.

 

HOW DO YOU PLAN ON TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN TO BE PROUD OF BEING MIXED?  

By continuing to show both of our children the positives of both our cultures.

 

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

That our daughter is confident and successful in what she does, and always remains respectful of others differences. My dream for America is that there is less prejudice and that different races join together vs. fighting.

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

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

In 2014, our daughter Iyla was born, and we struggled finding vibrant products with stories which reflected our cultures. In the absence of finding these products, we created our own and KampInd was born.  The name KampInd reflects the merging of our Ugandan and Indian heritages.  Teaching our children about our cultures comes natural, and we want to share these stories with the world.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

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

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LETTERS FROM ADWOA, VALENTINE'S CARDS FEATURING BEAUTIFUL BROWN GIRLS


LETTERS FROM ADWOA, VALENTINE'S CARDS FEATURING BEAUTIFUL BROWN GIRLS via Swirl Nation Blog

We are LOVING this Etsy store called Letters From Adwoa! The online store aims to give young black girls Valentine's Day cards that feature their own likeness to pass out in class. As we all know representation is so important and these cards send a beautiful message! I love the comments in the reviews section of the Etsy page: 

I was totally blown away when these cards arrived. Also, when my daughter saw the cards she said "mommy is that me". Priceless moment!! Love theses cards that represent little black girls
Super fast shipping!!! Items just as pictured!! Thank you so much! My daughter and I absolutely love these beautiful cards! We can't wait to see what new designs you will have in the future. Hopefully you will offer some with little boys?!! Also children with locs 😉 (fingers crossed) will definitely be supporting again.

Etsy Store / Instagram

Personally I don't think Valentine's Day should be the only day each year we share cards such as these. Send the beautiful brown girl in your life one of these precious cards any time of year! 

LETTERS FROM ADWOA, VALENTINE'S CARDS FEATURING BEAUTIFUL BROWN GIRLS via Swirl Nation Blog

 

 

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE LAMBERT FAMILY


MEET THE LAMBERT FAMILY

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

Rick, age 38

Irish, Scottish, and English

Valecia, age 25

African American and Native American

Lorenzo, age 2

Irish, Scottish, English, African American, and Native American

 

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Richmond, VA

 

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

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

We met through mutual friends in 2012.

 

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

Are biggest obstacle was our age difference. We are 13 years apart in age, and in the beginning it was somewhat difficult because my wife’s family did not like it. Luckily, over time her family got to know me and accepted me into their family.

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

We have found that our cultures are mostly the same. We both grew up in a working class family with the same religious background.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE?

Her family is very close and she talks to her parents everyday. Unlike myself, I speak to my parents maybe once a month, see them even less. But now I am just as close with her family as she is, and I often go to them for advise as if they were also my blood relatives.

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

Our neighborhood and community is very diverse. We see a lot of mixed race couples and children. Two of my wife’s closest friends have mixed race children as well.

 

DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME?

We do not speak any other languages unfortunately.

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIRACIAL RELATIONSHIP?

Both of our families have been very supportive of our marriage. We both come from blended families. I have a biracial little sister, and Valecia has an Irish step-father, and a biracial younger brother. Our families are very accepting and supportive.

 

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

My parent’s love hunting, church, and the simple country lifestyle. Valecia’s parents are very into sports and cooking, and fishing.

 

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

We honestly don’t see much difference between our childhoods because of our race. Our only difference is that we grew up in different places, and she has a very close knit family.

 

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

We both get a lot of questions about our son’s race when the other isn’t around. But when we are out as a family, we get a lot of stares and whispers for mostly older people. But we also get a lot of compliments from younger people.

My wife has had a woman come up to her and asked if she was babysitting, and another situation where the flat out asked is our son was hers. I, on the other hand, have only received positive things from people about our son. People still ask about his race, but they always tell me how handsome he is. I have had a couple of situations though where people would assume that he is my grandson because of my age.

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

We make sure to expose our son to both sides of our family, and try to introduce him to other cultures as well. We have friends with many different backgrounds and cultures that we enjoy learning from and would want to expose our son to.

 

HAS YOUR CHILD ASKED ABOUT RACE?

Lorenzo is still too young to understand that there is a difference between us and our family. He also has not started talking in complete sentences yet.

 

DOES YOUR SON IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

We like to say that Lorenzo is our little panda bear. We also usually refer to him as simply mixed.

 

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

We will try to lead by example. We both enjoy experiencing different cultures and feel that that gives us better understanding and respect for those cultures and people. So we want Lorenzo to see this and want to have the same understanding.

 

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

Lorenzo Looks a lot like his father, but he mostly has his mother’s personality. He also has his mother's smile and eyes, but everything else about his appearance seems to come from me.

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

HOW DO YOU PLAN ON TEACHING YOUR SON TO BE PROUD OF BEING MIXED?

When Lorenzo gets older, we want him to be proud of all that he is, and understand that even though he may look different from other kids, he is still the same. Being mixed does not make him better than anyone else, but it also does not make him less either.

 

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

Our only dream for our son is that he grows up happy and respectful. We want him to follow his own dreams and paths, and also have compassion for others.

 

You can follow the Lambert family on social media. Snapchat: @Enzosdaddie and @Enzosmommie / Valecia’s IG / Rick’s IG / Lorenzo’s IG


 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY


MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY

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

Emma 33

Half Black American and half German

Cassie 33

White American

Genevieve 15 months

Genevieve is 1/2 German, 1/4 Swiss and 1/4 Black American

 

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? 

Boston, MA

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET? 

Cassie was my manager at a bakery called Kickass Cupcakes when we met.  I was instantly smitten.  She had just gotten out of a bad relationship and sworn of women so I didn't even come out to her till months after becoming friends.  A few months after that we started dating.

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

                                                                                                   

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

No

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

We love holidays and celebrate both German and American holidays which is what my parents did when I was growing up.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE?

We have adopted the American way of celebrating Christmas.

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE? 

Extremely.  Probably 80% of my daughter's friends have mixed backgrounds.

 

DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME? 

Yes we speak English, German, and ASL at home

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP? 

Yes

 

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

The food, music, and large family gatherings.  They are big on comfort food and 70's and 80's music.

 

 

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

Cassie lived on a farm in rural Indiana growing up, whereas I grew up as a city girl in Germany.  I think for me it was shocking how much I enjoy being out in the middle of nowhere.  It is so nice to sit in actual silence and go outside and see stars at night.  

For Cassie I would say it was definitely everything about going to the beauty salon from how long it takes to get my hair done to the small community formed there.

 

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

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

Are you her nanny?  

Daddy must be very light skinned.

 

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

Currently Genevieve is only 15 months old but because so much of the brain develops by age 3 we wanted to get started early.  Right now we are teaching her both German and English as well as observing holidays from both cultures and eating food from both cultures.

 

HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE?

Currently we are raising her to be trilingual (German, English, and ASL).  We also travel a lot and I hope that those two things will give her a first hand experience in cultural diversity.  It's hard to say exactly what we will say in the future.

 

DO YOUR CHILD/CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

Both Genevieve and I identify as mixed.  

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

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

Genevieve is still young and so far has only noticed that we are different because she doesn't have a dad.  I always tell her every family is different and how cool is that because life would be boring otherwise.

 

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILD/CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER? 

She has my eyes and nose and she has Cassie's sense of humor, IQ and sass

 

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

I look around and see that so many of her friends are also mixed and it makes me so happy. When I was younger I didn't know anyone that was more than one race besides my brother. I hope that America continues in the same direction as far as that.  I also hope we come to a place where everyone is treated equally regardless of race. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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“BROWN SKIN AND BLONDE GIRLS ONLY”, SAID MY DAUGHTER


It was the moment I dreaded. Today my daughter came home recounting her day with the casual tone she adopts when talking about homework.

But instead she told me she’d created a secret club.

“Oh?”, I said, intrigued.

“Yes, and it’s for girls only. And only brown skinned and blonde girls can be part of it.” At the mention of skin colour, my head turned. But, instead of the usual defensive lioness I’ve become so used to at the mention of anyone excluding her for being brown, I had to do a double take.

“What??? Why would you?… Who??….”, my voice tailed off. Realising she’d included blonde girls, I calculated that most of her friends were actually probably included- even with this strange entry requirement.

All except one. “Were all your friends allowed to join then?”, I asked carefully. “Yes”, she said. “Except N…”

My heart dropped. Just as I feared. One of her friends who didn’t play with her that often but who was often on the periphery of her little group was unfortunate to have brown hair.

My daughter was obviously oblivious to her error. In fact, she looked at me curiously to see why I might be so concerned.

What do you do and how do you say it? My automatic anti-racist, discrimination-hating, scary-Mum instinct was about to be unleashed where I lecture my daughter about everything that’s wrong with excluding someone because of their skin colour.

And yet I knew that if I scared my daughter with my reaction, what would be the impact on any future conversations about race? Would she want to bring up any more moments where race and skin colour come up and would she feel comfortable to know that she can ask anything- even if it is offensive?

Because keeping that conversational door open is one of the most important things to me. That she knows that she can ask anything of us- her parents- even if she suspects it’s not a comfortable subject for many.

We talk about race and heritage and colour because it’s there. Not because we want to make a big deal of it but because it’s there. And we don’t have a choice.

Fortunately, the people who make up my daughter’s entire world are all of different colours so I didn’t have to travel far to get her to understand.

“You do know that your rules mean that I couldn’t join your secret club”.

Armed with this new revelation, she seemed to pause and agreed quickly to change the rules so that blonde, brown and black hair, white skin and brown skin could be included.

In Shakil Choudhury’s recent ground-breaking book on diversity, he spells it out for us that our human brain is predisposed to be empathetic to those who are most like us. But as her immediate circle is made up of multiple skin colours and features, I knew that her concept of ‘us’ was unlikely to be limited.

So I didn’t harp on about the colour aspect. The incident that happened today could have happened to any kid, of any colour. For my daughter, it could well have been glasses, no glasses, brown hair, blonde hair or black hair, as long as her chosen friends were included.

In those next few moments, I chose to talk about exclusion as it happens to us all, not about colour specifically.

“Why would you want to exclude N***?”, I asked her.

“Is she mean?”

“No.”

“So, why?”

She didn’t really have an answer. Perhaps because it was easy to exclude N***.  And because her best friends were all blonde-haired or brown-skinned.

I continued. Today, you’re in control of the club but tomorrow, it may be those very same kids who exclude you because of your curly hair or your nose or your shirt or… your skin colour.

“How would you feel if…”

Pausing, she said she understood. And she felt bad, I could tell. She’s not a mean kid and I know she’s been known to stand up to bullies and other kids who turn on others. But what happened today, she was reminded of who she is and what she stands for. So proud was she of her ‘secret’ club and the fact that she’d come up with rules to make it even more exclusive (probably inspired by the recent episode of Peppa Pig), she’d forgotten how it felt to be left out.

Tomorrow she’ll go in and apologise to her friend. She’s done with secret clubs for now, she says. And she’s got a renewed incentive to be kinder and to ensure everyone gets included in her circle.  Because when encouraged to imagine themselves in the others’ shoes, children don’t need much encouragement to change their behaviour.

I hope that my daughter got the lesson. I certainly did not think I’d be having this conversation with her, especially at 5 years old. But, then again, I’m glad it happened and I can understand better when young children do make judgements and decisions based on skin colour. Later, it may become more sinister and I’m ready for those conversations. But it’s a reminder that in this racialised world, none of us are perfect and we’re learning along the way. Talking about race is not taboo, nor should we scare our children or run away from such conversations. Even when when they surprise us with the most unimaginable.


Post was originally published on Fariba's blog, mixedracefamily.com

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A UNITED KINGDOM


Last weekend I took my daughter to go see Hidden Figures (which was INCREDIBLE) and worthy of its own blog post, but I have to say I was already in tears before the movie even started because the trailer for A United Kingdom played...

Looks incredible right?! So I have never heard this story before, but it is the true story of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams. Seretse was Botswanan and an Oxford-educated student prince. Ruth was an English middle-class clerk. In 1948 they were married despite all of the obstacles and outrage it caused.  Their relationship became the focus of a crisis between Britain and Botswana’s neighbour South Africa, which was about to introduce apartheid.

Seretse Khama with his English wife Ruth, and their two children Jacqueline and Seretse Jr in September 1956

Seretse Khama with his English wife Ruth, and their two children Jacqueline and Seretse Jr in September 1956

Ian Khama, current President of Botswana, son of Seretse and Ruth

Ian Khama, current President of Botswana, son of Seretse and Ruth

The couple went on to have a daughter and three sons. Their son Ian is now President of Botswana. Both Seretse and Ruth have now passed, but from the trailer it certainly looks as though British acting duo David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike have done an incredible job of capturing their love story. 

Oyelowo said that he was attracted by the ‘epic nature of the love story, and the backdrop of the British empire, and what it was like to be a king in Africa just as apartheid was being signed into law in South Africa’. There is already Oscar nomination buzz about his performance. He was certainly snubbed in my opinion for portraying MLK in Selma. 

It is wonderful to see a diversity of love stories being displayed on screen, of course Loving being most recent, and now A United Kingdom slated to be released on February 10th, 2017. 

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are portraying the pair on screen

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are portraying the pair on screen

I hope everyone goes out and supports this movie, the multiracial community in particular! What a wondeful love story to share with the world.

A UNITED KINGDOM via Swirl Nation Blog



 

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SWIRL NATION BLOG IS 1 YEAR OLD TODAY!

SWIRL NATION BLOG IS 1 YEAR OLD TODAY! via Swirl Nation Blog

A year ago today JennKourtneyAmal and I launched Swirl Nation Blog! After many group phone calls and texts we got our baby launched and just hoped someone would want to read it! Since then we have been lucky enough to have almost 60,000 people make their way to our site. We can only hope they enjoyed reading what they found when they got there! 

Over the last 12 months we have been lucky enough to add contributing bloggers from all over the U.S. as well as the U.K and Puerto Rico. Their unique voices and perspectives have allowed the page to represent a wide variety of multiracial journeys. 

On social media we have worked hard to connect with the multiracial community, reaching out to others who are passionate about the topic and we feel so blessed at the many individuals and families who have agreed to be featured on our blog! We had fun heading to the 2016 Best Nine site to find out which of our Instagram photos got the most love, and here they are!

Our 2016 Best Nine from our Instagram page

Our 2016 Best Nine from our Instagram page

We are so grateful for everyone who has contributed to the growth of Swirl Nation, whether through writing blog posts, or subscribing to our newsletter, or liking our social posts! All of it means so much! In 2017 we will continue to share the Multiracial Goodness! We are always looking for more stories to share and people to collaborate with. 

Peace and love in 2017 to you all. 

xx The Swirl Nation Team

 

P.S. If you are just joining us as a Swirl Nation Blog reader, welcome:) We thought it would be fun to share a few of our very first posts from last January so you can see where we started, and then explore the blog more to see where we are now. So here is a little look back, click on photos to link to the original post...


 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY


MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY

 Kevin Thomas Jr, age 29
African American & Belizean/Garifuna
 
Nicholette Thomas, age 29
Polish, Italian, German
 
Lillian Thomas, age 5
African American, Belizean/Garifuna, Polish, Italian, German
 
Everett Thomas, age 2
African American, Belizean/Garifuna, Polish, Italian, German
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Buffalo, NY

 

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

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

We went to high school together at Hutchinson Technical High School in Buffalo, NY. We were friends first and started dating at the end of our Junior year.

 

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

More so when we were younger we heard a lot of negative things when we would walk around, take the bus, or go out together. We’ve literally had old woman yell at us and call my husband “O.J” in reference to O.J. Simpson. I guess they thought he was (allegedly) going to kill me because of our skin? Who knows. We used to get stared at all the time, you know… the basics of being in an interracial relationship.

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

Something that has been important to me is that our kids learn about their cultures. My mother-in-law is from Belize and is of the Garifuna people. This is very important to her and an integral part of who she is. I’ve made sure to try to learn some of her culture to pass along to our children. One of my favorite things from her culture is this DELICIOUS dish call Hadut. She taught me the recipe and technique.  It’s a fish based dinner and it is amazing. She gave us this big wooden mortar and pestle that we use to make the plantains in…. It’s a beautiful piece to have in our home and we get to make it using the traditional methods. I’ve also tried to teach our daughter some of the words from her native language. I’ll admit they are hard for me to pronounce but I’m trying with the basics (i.e. the words for head, foot, mouth, etc).

In my family we didn’t really practice culture specific traditions. I would say I identify mostly with being Polish though as those that raised me were the Polish side. As a child we did a bit more, in regards to traditions. We live in Buffalo, NY and it’s the Dyngus Day capital. As kids we would get Pussy Willow’s and hit each other with them (sounds weird I know), wear beautiful crowns that we got from The Broadway Market, and garnish our Easter meals with our Butter Lambs (also from The Broadway Market.) My mom picks up a crown for my daughter to wear for Easter as well. I’ve been trying to teach our kids about our Polish culture though as I want them to know about all of their makeup. Recently I’ve started to tell them about Pierogis and how they are from their mommy’s culture. They look at me like I’m crazy and have no idea what I’m talking about… but it’s a start.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE?

Oh! As I’ve said above I love my mother in law’s food! It is simply amazing. I’ve learned on dish and I want to learn more and incorporate it into our family. It’s so natural, flavorful, simple, but incredibly delicious.

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

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

It is but it isn’t. Buffalo, NY is very diverse, but unfortunately it’s still quite segregated by neighborhoods and towns. In our specific neighborhood we are on the border of the East Side of Buffalo and Cheektowaga. We specifically chose to live in that area so that we have access to a better school district for our children, but so our kids aren’t the only “brown” or “golden” (as my daughter says) ones in school. So far it’s been a good choice.

 

DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME?

We both know some Spanish but definitely wouldn’t call ourselves bilingual. My Mother-in-Law speaks Garifuna and English so I’ve tried to learn some of the words to teach some basics to our children. I follow a facebook page that shares/teaches the language so I can learn more. I recently learned “Buiti Weyu” which means… Good Day! Part of my daughter’s middle name is from my Mother-in-laws native language. While I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband’s maternal grandmother and my younger cousin both passed. We combined a Garifuna word that means “granddaughter” and part of my cousin’s name to create her middle name. It’s very unique and special to us.

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?

They are. My husband and I literally have grown up together since we were 16 years old so we are a part of each other’s families. I call his siblings my sister and brother and he calls my sister his sister. It’s all love with us.

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

Haha… like I’ve said above… the food!! It’s tastes amazing, it’s all natural and so flavorful.

 

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

The only real difference that I can think of is that my husband grew up in a two parent household. I grew up in a single mother household. This is opposite of what a lot of stereotypes would suggest.  He’s had both parents for his whole life and my dad left when I was 4 so we struggled but my mother kicked butt and gave us the best life. Even though we were low-income she worked hard to make us not feel like that.  He and I grew up in neighboring neighborhoods so we grew up similarly in regards to that so I can’t really think of too many other differences to be honest.

I would say though, that even though I am white, until high school I was the minority in school. My neighborhood was predominantly black so I feel that has had an impact on who I am for the better. This is from my perspective though… my husband might have a different viewpoint. I’m interested to ask him.

 

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

We are more similar than different. Love is love.

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

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

Ugh… I just posted about this on my fb page. There was an article titled (paraphrasing) “White parents who are the biological parents of Black kids.” That REALLY irks me. I get that society views those who have “brown” skin, and even “one drop” of black in them... As black. But! I grew my babies in my womb, I labored them, I almost died for them, I’ve breastfed them, and I’ve literally gave my blood, sweat and tears for them.  When people say things like that it makes me feel like I don’t count. I don’t like that. My children are mixed, multiracial, multicultural, biracial, etc. But they are not just ONE race/culture. They are both my husband and my children. They are unique, special, amazing, diverse little people and ALL of them counts.  

Also, my daughter has AMAZING hair. I hate when strangers think they can touch it. Just… no.

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

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

I should’ve read ahead… Sorry! We’ve tried to teach them some of their maternal grandmother’s native language, some about foods from our cultures, and one day we want to visit Belize to show them where their grandmother is from.

 

HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE?
My daughter has noticed it. I’d say she was around 3 years old. We just explained to her that some people are one color, some are another, and that we are all beautiful and special.

 

DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

According to my daughter, I am white, daddy is black, and she and her brother are “golden.”  :)

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

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

Whenever my daughter brings something “different” up she notices in others (i.e. maybe a male with makeup on) I casually just remind her that we are all different. I try to not make it a “thing” and react. I want people being unique and different to be a normal, accepted thing for them. I try to use everyday moments as teaching opportunities.

 

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER?

My daughter’s hair is AMAZING. It is incredibly long (almost to her knees when wet), and curly. I had really long hair as a child, but it was/is stick straight. My kids have my cheeks and my husband’s lips. They also have my hairline. We go back and forth with who we think they look like. We can’t decide!

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOUR CHILDREN?

My daughter sort of gets it. My son is definitely too young at this point but it is very important to me to teach them to be proud of who they are. I remind my daughter that she is amazing, and her differences make her unique and special. I try to teach her to love her curly hair and “golden” skin. So far I think we’ve been successful.

 

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

My dream is for my children to grow up loving who they are and being able to just be themselves. I don’t want them to have to “choose” a side and identify with one race. I would just love for America to understand that our beautiful, unique mixed babies are the future of the world. Love is love no matter the amount of melanin in our skin.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ADD:

You can follow me, My blog is themixedmamablog.com where I share tips, tricks, and tutorials for multicultural haircare. There will also be stories of our lives and the issues/situations we face as a multicultural family.

I also just launched an online store, TheMixedShop.com!  The online store brings natural/multiracial hair care products, diverse toys & books, and other specialty items all into one spot. 

I can be found on Social Media at: Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I also have an online FB group that is sort of an online support group for multicultural families from around the world to share stories, pictures, get advice, vent, and just have a sense of community. That can be found here: The Mixed Mama Community.

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

 

 

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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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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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‘She’s So Pretty. Where Did You Get Her?’

Um, from my uterus?


‘She’s So Pretty. Where Did You Get Her?’ via Swirl Nation Blog

As mother to a child of mixed race (mine happens to be half Caucasian and half African American), before her birth, I never put thought into things I would hear.

The first time someone, a stranger, asked me a question at the pharmacy, I was floored. Minding my own business standing in line holding my beautiful, golden baby, a woman asked, “Where did you adopt her from?” I stood in utter dismay. What? First of all, I didn’t. But more importantly, what in the world would make you think it would be okay to ask a total stranger such a personal question? Should I ask you when the last time you had sex was? I mean, isn’t that about the same level of intrusiveness?

When I owned a salon and spa, someone thought it would be totally legit to ask me if I had “spray tanned” my baby. And she was serious! Ummmm, ya, actually I did, that was following her lip injections and her perm. She is a year old. Seriously?!

I mean I get it, it can be confusing. But that doesn’t mean your mind needs to make your mouth move. I have friends who have biracial children. One in particular is Filipino and her first child is super pale, has bright red hair and blue eyes. I can only imagine the looks and questions. The questions that are not YOUR business!

One assumption that always gets me, and I am sure makes most of my African American male friends perhaps slightly uncomfortable when we are in public together, is when someone says to one of them, “Oh, your daughter is beautiful” ― except as Jerry Springer would announce, “He is NOT the baby daddy!”

Just because a white woman is with a man of color and the child is brown does NOT make that man the father. A nervous laugh always ensues when that question is uttered by yet another stranger. Immediately, the look on the face of my friend says, What do I say?

I typically will hop in with a thank you. I am beyond the point of explanation. Although at times I want to concoct a long drawn out story of how I was just about to break the news to him that, in fact, this is his child albeit an immaculate conception.

There are times when I am not immune to wondering. Just yesterday at the beach I was chatting with a mom who was speaking what I thought was Italian. Turns out it was Portuguese. She was Asian. That was confusing enough and then her child ran up and there was no resemblance. None. But I did not ask her if he was adopted or if she was the nanny or the aunt. The next child I see wandering to the playground was blonde, blue-eyed and with a fair complexion. Mom follows slowly behind, Hispanic in appearance. I think (to myself) little one must resemble Dad, until Dad walked up and NOPE! But once again, not my business. Love is love. Genetics are weird.

In a beautiful world where children are blessed by love whether it’s adoption or genetics, I encourage you to keep your thoughts and inquisitions to yourself. Does it matter where a child came from? Because ultimately they all came from the same place.

Just ask the woman who a couple of years ago made the mistake of asking me while in the checkout line at Costco. She caught me on a day where I had had enough. With seven years of experience now under my belt, when she looked at my daughter with the usual compliment of beauty and then at me with the worn out question of “where did you get her?” I looked her in the eyes and said, “From my uterus.” I have never been checked out of Costco more quickly by a shocked cashier.

Children hear what you say and we as adults don’t need to emphasize their differences in a world where differences are not positively embraced by everyone. Do you really need to know? Keep your words kind and your nosey thoughts to yourself unless you want to risk hearing the word uterus out loud in public.

Post first published on Huffington Post 


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When the Dust Settles: Post-Election Thoughts


When the Dust Settles: Post-Election Thoughts via Swirl Nation Blog

It’s Wednesday afternoon, the day after the election. I, like many others, have yet to fully recover from the shock of the results. I went to bed last night at 10:30, hoping beyond hope, that I would hear what I wanted to hear in the morning. My dreams were dashed when my husband came in at 12:30am and woke me up. He delivered the news that I had been dreading for a year and a half; the same news that many Americans had been dreading. We spent 30 minutes crying in each other’s arms. We cried for our mothers, sisters, nieces. We cried for people of color, the LGBT community, the disability community. We cried for America. We cried for the America that we thought we knew.

 

I woke up after a fitful few hours tossing and turning, replaying the last year and a half over and over in my head. How did this happen? How did we get here? I read several articles by people who predicted this and by people who were as angry and sad as I am. I needed to know that there were others who were in as much shock, pain and bewilderment as I was. I sulked around all morning and held back tears in front of everyone who asked how I was doing. The nurse at the doctor’s office and the cashier at the gas station. It felt like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from.

 

I came home and went straight into an hour of peaceful, inward focused yoga. As tried to breathe into my side body, lengthen and lift, and “find what feels good” (shout out to all my Yoga With Adriene homies!) I realized that I, and everyone in this beautiful country, am going to be OK. The yoga video I followed was focused on being grateful. And the universe spoke to me, as it often does during my time on the mat. “Be grateful,” it said. “To be alive. To have family. For the opportunity to be a part of the democratic process. For the privilege to travel. For the opportunity to meet and know people of different races, religions, and beliefs. Be grateful for the earth beneath you, the sun above you and the people you share this amazing planet with.”

 

Many of us are angry and just downright hurt. And as Hillary said in her concession speech today, “This is painful, and it will be for a long time.” It is hard to swallow the idea that we live in a place that would want someone who is openly racist, misogynist and mean spirited to lead the country. As a mixed race woman, this has shaken me to my core. I struggle to stay hopeful for our future. But I beg of you, everyone, do not lose heart. Do not give up. Do not move away. We are Americans. We are strong. We will continue to fight the good fight. We will continue to fight for equal rights for ALL Americans and ALL people of the world.

 

I know that if we keep our minds and hearts open we can make damn sure that all of the progress we have made in the last 8 years is not destroyed. Let’s also move forward. We can’t let fear and hate drive us into complacency. I appreciate that President Obama said, “We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.” It’s true and we all know it. The bottom line is, this is reality and we have to live with the hand we’ve been dealt. So let’s do our best to make sure we play our cards right.

 

When the Dust Settles: Post-Election Thoughts via Swirl Nation Blog

My hope is that we all learn from this time and that we come together as a country. I hope that the forces that seek to divide us fail and that we can all treat each other with respect, dignity and love. I do not believe in any of the same things that our next President believes in, but I do believe in love and it’s power to triumph over evil. I also believe in the power of the human spirit. And I believe that being an American is an honor and privilege. I am proud to be an American. I don’t wear clothes emblazoned with an American flag, I hate baseball and I’m not that into apple pie. Hell, I don’t even put my hand over my heart during the national anthem. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love my country. And no matter who is President, I hope that will never change.

 

For the people who are hurting, for the people who are scared, for the people who don’t understand - keep your chin up. “Don't get cynical, don't ever think you can't make a difference”, our current President said today. Ultimately, we're all on the same team.”


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Talking Identity with our Mixed Heritage Kids


Talking Identity with our Mixed Heritage Kids via Swirl Nation Blog

This week my daughter's teacher announced the children would be talking about identity and where they and their families are from. She encouraged parents to talk to our children beforehand so the children can positively contribute.

As the parent of a mixed child, I was excited that my daughter would be having this conversation in school. Her background is, at best, interesting and layered but at worst, it's complicated and confusing. So, as a person of mixed parentage myself, I have to admit my heart did skip a beat.

I remember being a teenager and cringing from those conversations about where I was from. Do you mean where do I live now? Where are my parents from? What culture do I identify with most? What languages do I speak (or, in my case, not speak well enough). When it came to my Iranian side, I often felt confronted about laying claim to a culture I knew so little about. And coming to England as a young adult, I couldn't have felt more like an outsider if I tried. What basis did I have for identifying with any of these cultures?

When it comes to my daughter, I wonder what she might say in such a conversation. First of all, would she remember all the places/races and cultures that make up who she is? Does she identify with all of her heritage? Of course, these questions of a 5 year old were bound to fail. But I couldn't help feeling conscious that I may not be doing enough to educate her. Or worse, that she may end up as confused or as pressured as I felt during these conversations.

When hubby originates from Nigeria, and I hail from Canada/ England and Iran, the story can be complicated. Particularly for a 5 year old who now lives in the UK but spent a good part of her short 5 years in Nigeria and Canada.

Her looks, race and accent will further put pressure on her to identify as either Black, Black British, African- British or just Naija. If her skin is darker, she may be questioned if she tries to identify as hyphenated or mixed race as people will argue her intentions. "Why don't you just admit you're black", I can see her mates saying.

By now, she can reel off the list of countries, and can even tell people a few words from Yoruba and Farsi. But whether she truly identifies with any of these (or all), I guess only time will tell.

I do plan to show her a map of the world and to help her identify where each of these countries are located. But what I've realised is that any depth of association to these countries lies in her relationships.

As long as Grandma and Grandpa, cousins, Aunts and Uncles are in her life, she will hopefully always feel connection to where she's 'from'. And yet, her everyday experience and friends will connect her more than anything to the UK. And I'm okay with that. Being mixed, the ultimate positive is that she has options.

One reader commented that by the time our little ones grow up, their world will be a blended mix of all different backgrounds and cultures. So perhaps her experience will be different than mine. All I can do is prepare her as best I can.


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Are Multiracial Families the New 'Normal'?


Are Multiracial Families the New 'Normal'? via Swirl Nation Blog

The other day I found myself on a 45 minute bus ride with my 3 kids and 4 of their friends. We were all sat at the back.

Their conversations were fleeting, from the lyrics of the wheels on the bus to more serious subjects like what they might order at McDonalds.

At one point, one of the girls turned to the other and they were comparing skin colours- three 5 year olds arguing about who was lighter, hoping, each in turn that they were the darker one.

It was all so innocent but lovely. Lovely that they hadn’t been touched by any of our pollutant societal thoughts about skin colour bias. Lovely that they referred to skin colour as they might any other body feature- like they would the hair on their arms or whose hands might be bigger. And lovely that they were all insisting they were darker so they could match.

Within minutes, a woman on the bus turned to me, as I wiped their mouths, told them off and cuddled the littlest on my lap. “They must keep you busy”, she said.

I smiled. Grateful to hear that in 2016 a family of multiple different skin tones and races can exist in someone’s eyes and be normal.

And although I have somewhat frequent encounters with people who ask whether my children are my own because of our different skin tones,  this experience has given me hope.

As I pondered the woman on the bus’ comment, I thought about correcting her. “Only three of them are mine”, I was going to say. But I stayed quiet, content in the knowledge, that the new ‘normal’ is us.


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