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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ERIC MARCEL SCHIESSER


MEET ERIC MARCEL SCHIESSER, AGE 21

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ERIC MARCEL SCHIESSER via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

German and African-American

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Germany.

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Pretty much, yes..

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

Growing Germany wasn’t too diverse. I was the only mixed kid in class, the others were all white. Getting older this changed, due to the change in Germany which happened, we are a far more diverse country.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

They met when my mom was 19 and my dad was 22. My dad was an American soldier and came to Germany because of his work. That’s where they met. Pretty happy he was stationed in the part of Germany my mother lives in ;D.

 

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

My American grandma wasn’t really happy about my dad marrying a white woman in the first place, and some other things, but other than that not really :)

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ERIC MARCEL SCHIESSER via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ERIC MARCEL SCHIESSER via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Mostly. One of my relatives, though, told my mother one day: “Well that thing with the black guy you had was a mistake, we all make mistakes!’’ That was insane.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

I grew up with my mom because my dad died pretty early (when I was 4). So I’m basically 100% German. I don’t really like America that much actually. The country itself I like. The way people are proud of their country, I don’t.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Kind of. My German is perfect obviously. I do speak English better than most Germans do, I still don’t speak it perfectly. :D I speak French too.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

Basically everything (German). I’m proud of my dad and I love him but I don’t really celebrate American stuff (except for the music of course;).

 

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

This question doesn’t really work for me , because my dad died when i was 4.

 

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

Not really, we were just children. I think we discuss this too much. Discussing it all the time, is making it matter. I see the thing about wanting to respect your culture and your background, I do that too!! Nevertheless, always discussing this doesn’t make sense to me.

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I mostly identify as a black German. People often consider me mixed, but I prefer going with black German. The thing is I got a lot of features from my mom and also a lot of my dad. I’m pretty brown but also have very small lips, people just always struggle to put me in some box.

I’ve had black, black/white, Maori, Indian... and so on. I thought some time about how to consider myself, but in the end I thought it doesn’t matter at all, I am what I am. German and American. That’s it for me. As I said I’m living very German, yet I am American too genetically.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE? OR IF YOU HAVE A PARTNER WHAT RACE ARE THEY?

I don’t care at all. There are so many beautiful people out there, I don’t want to limit myself because of something like excluding someone. I don’t believe in the “taste’’ thing. If it  clicks, not if she/he’s white, black, b/w, whatever

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

It means that I’m me. I’m no different than a white or black person. We are all the same. (Yet I have to say that it comes with external struggles sometimes ;S)

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

I don’t unfortunately. My friends are mostly white or Turkish . Most German people are. But I’m always up for new friends;)

 

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

Looooooorrrrddd yes!

·      Are you adopted?

·      You are so handsome, you can’t be just black?

·      Is your mother only dating black guys?

·      You are so handsome for a black guy

·      Where are you from?

·      No what are you really?

·      Can I touch your hair? Or people just touching it without asking

·      Wannabe nigger

·      You mixed people always try to act black , but you are actually pretty nice (WTF??)

·      Imagine having a child with a white girl with blue eyes… omg .. your children would be so cute…. Yeah, right… the whiter the better ????!!

·       Chessboard

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ERIC MARCEL SCHIESSER via Swirl Nation Blog

 

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

That America understands that it is a country built up by immigration. We are all not just one thing. Just leave this stupid discussion about race and love each other, it shouldn’t matter. Not at all. But I really have to admit, that I think America’s not getting much better concerning this topic.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

You can follow me in IG


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN


SYLVESTER GASKIN, AGE 35

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

My mother is White. Her family is from Sweden and Ireland and immigrated to the US in the 1920’s. My father is Black, but his family is unsure where they originally came from. We think my paternal grandmother is from the Dominican Republic but I’m hoping I can do some more research on my father’s family so I can know for sure.

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Maryland

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

It has a large number of Black and White families, but little else from other communities.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I am a military kid so I grew up all over the place. Some areas were very diverse and others were entirely White. When I lived on military bases, there were plenty of other mixed kids, so I felt incredibly normal.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

They met in the military. Both were pretty young.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

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

From what they told me, there were tensions in the beginning. My mother’s family was not supportive of the relationship (they lived in a very conservative part of the Midwest), but my father’s family warmed up to my mom really quick. It wasn’t until after I was born that my mother’s family became somewhat more accepting of my Dad.

 

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

My father’s family has always been supportive. There was a lot of warmth from them, probably because they respected my mother and treated her like part of the family. My mother’s family was not as supportive, but as I grew older and went to college they did their best to keep their opinions to themselves.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

Most of the celebrations were connected to my father’s background, like eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Most of our family traditions were created by my mom and dad.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Our household was strictly English, though I studied Spanish in high school and Russian in college.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

Probably food. I was able to eat wonderful meals from both sides of my family. Grits, greens, kringla, Swedish meatballs...it’s those meal times that really connected me to my family.

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

My family took summer vacations to both sets of grandparents each year to see extended relatives and learn more about cultures and norms. My family encouraged me to ask questions about our ancestors and to take part in whatever customs they practiced (not many to be honest).

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

 

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

It wasn’t a major topic of discussion until I was in high school and learning how to drive. My father gave me “the talk” about dealing with the police and what to do in a traffic stop. The important thing I remembered was that I wouldn’t be seen as a kid with a White mother, but as a Black man that could be a threat.

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I do identify as Multiracial. I did identify as Black when I was younger, but I no longer wanted to deny both sides of my family. I feel very comfortable identifying as Multiracial.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

Race had no factor in who I chose to date. I was looking for a partner who treated me like an equal and could respect my background. In fact, I’ve been married to my partner for almost 7 years. Her family immigrated from Mexico to the US several years ago, so it’s been a joy to be a part of her family and for us to both explore what it means to be in a mixed-race marriage.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

It means that I’m proud of who I am and have the unique ability to understand what it’s like to be different.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

I have a small number of friends who identify as mixed, and we always share stories on how people try to racially identify us or people who are confused when we tell them our parents are of different races. What I’ve learned is that I’m not the only one and there are others who are trying to navigate a world that still struggles to respect mixed people like myself.

 

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

I’m tired of hearing that we are “mutts”, or we’re “confused” and have to choose an identity.

I also hate when people when they try to determine what race we are or tell us “you look like (insert ethnic group here)”.

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

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

I hope we can get to a point where we can respect everyone’s racial identity and understand that one race isn’t superior to others. We should be able to cherish everyone’s racial differences and respect the customs and traditions everyone brings to our country.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

It’s taken me a long time to understand my identity is a strength and not a weakness. I’m proud to identify as a mixed kid and nobody will ever be able to take that away from me.


 

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YOU ARE INVITED: #WHEREISBEAUTY SCREENING AT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL


The short film, #WhereIsBeauty, is about an introspective visual artist dealing with the pressures of social media embarks on a journey of self-discovery capturing everyday life through hashtags which unexpectedly transforms her perspective of beauty.

YOU ARE INVITED: #WHEREISBEAUTY SCREENING AT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL via Swirl Nation Blog

The countdown to the Pan African Film Festival has officially begun...  We hope to see you at one of the two screenings!

#WhereIsBeauty is screening at the 25th Annual Pan African Film Festival on Friday, Feb. 10th at 3pm and Wednesday Feb. 15th at 2pm. 

The screenings take place in Los Angeles at the Cinemark RAVE Cinemas 15 - 4020 Marlton Ave at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The mission of the Pan African Film Festival is to:

Present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes. We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

 

Please go HERE to purchase your tickets, festival passes and learn more about the festival.

 

Please JOIN the conversation and you can also follow the film on social media. 

IMDB / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

 

Here is a full list of films being shown at the festival.


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VIDEO KILLED THE INTERRACIAL RADIO STAR


It all started one night when I was sitting on my couch, listening to Terence Trent D’Arby. As a 28, going on 29-year-old, I was only a kid when his music was popular, but I still remember hearing his songs throughout the house as a child and watching his videos on MTV back when MTV actually showed music videos. As I listened to “Sign Your Name” (1987), one of Terence Trent D’Arby’s famous ballads, I decided to YouTube the video to further enhance my trip down memory lane.

 

* “Sign Your Name” – Terence Trent D’Arby (1987)

As I watched, the video portrayed the story of Terence, a mixed Black/White (Scottish/Irish) man who loved and lost a White French woman; their light-skinned, curly haired, brown-eyed child caught in the crossfire between the complicated love of two complicated adults.

Screenshots from official music video for “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’Arby

 

After watching the video, I immediately thought to myself…

“How many other music videos highlight multiracial love?”

 

Continuing my late 80’s, early-90’s nostalgic journey, I thought about the catchy “Jungle Fever” (1991) by Stevie Wonder from the hit Spike Lee movie Jungle Fever and its story of an interracial relationship between a Black man and a White Italian woman in 1990’s New York City.

“Jungle Fever” – Stevie Wonder (1991)

 

In the late 90’s, there was the sexy futuristic video for “If You Can’t Say No” (1998) by Lenny Kravitz, where Lenny, a mixed Afro-Black/White Jewish man professed his love and loss for Mila Jovovich, a famous Ukrainian model and actress.

 

“If You Can’t Say No” – Lenny Kravitz (1998)

 

And of course, the video for “They Don’t Know” (1998) by Jon B., who everyone said “sounded Black,” but was a White man who displayed his secret love for a Black woman.

 

“They Don’t Know” – Jon B. (1998)

 

As for music videos showcasing interracial love into the 2000’s, many of us may remember Justin Timberlake’s video for “Like I Love You” (2000), his first single as a solo artist after leaving N’SYNC. The video showed him, a White man, trying to win the affection of a Black woman.

 

“Like I Love You” – Justin Timberlake (2000)

 

There was also the ballad “Lost Without U” (2007) by Robin Thicke, which featured then wife Paula Patton, as they engaged in a sexy flirtation. This music video also recounted a love that was lost between a White man and a mixed Black/White female.

 

“Lost Without U” – Robin Thicke (2007)

 

And most recently, Adele, a White British woman pined over a love lost with Mack Wilds, a mixed Irish/Afro-Dominican man, in her video for “Hello” (2015).

 

“Hello” – Adele (2015)

 

Despite these videos showcasing love and romance between interracial couples, they are predominately just a visual that comes with generic songs about love and heartbreak. The actual topic of interracial love is not overtly sung about. There are some examples, however, as few and far between they may seem. Auburn, a Black female rapper from Minneapolis, has received negative feedback by rapping about her Asian boyfriends and using Asian men to portray love interests in many of her music videos. In her song “My Baby” (2013) Auburn states,

“I know people look at us and they wonder why we’re attached because our skin don’t match.”

 

“My Baby” – Auburn (2013)

 

Other noticeable songs from the 2000’s which explicitly discuss the intricacies of interracial love are “Long Way To Go” (2004) by No Doubt front woman Gwen Stefani and member of Outkast, André 3000. The two sang about how love is love, regardless of color, but how society still has a long way to go to fully embrace the notion of colorblind love.

 

“Long Way To Go” – Gwen Stefani feat. André 3000 (2004)

 

There is Alicia Keys “Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” (2009) which directly expressed what it was like to engage in an interracial relationship when such an idea was still very taboo.

 

“Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” – Alicia Keys (2009)

 

And lastly, Robin Thicke’s “Dreamworld” (2009) which has Robin dreaming of a world where he states, “There would be no black or white, the world would treat just treat my wife right, we could walk down in Mississippi and no one would look at us twice.”

 

“Dreamworld” – Robin Thicke (2009)

 

It is interesting how the videos for the songs I have mentioned which feature multiracial love are stories of love that was lost, stories of heartbreak and misery. The stereotypical tragedy of mixed-race plays out even in mainstream music. How come we do not see music videos where multiracial love flourishes? How come we do not hear more music about interracial love from a variety of perspectives, not just couples who are Black and White? Why are artists not singing about multiracial love in general? And why does interracial love have to be so difficult, even within the language of music, which is supposed to heal all when other remedies do not work?

 

The acceptance of multiracial and interracial relationships are higher than ever before, yet, popular music has yet to catch up to the claim. This all may be a moot point now that music videos are not what they used to be. Maybe a resurgence of the music video in the future will help propel interracial love into a new spotlight. Thankfully, interracial couples are still being seen in the media, from TV commercials to clothing ads. But it would be great to turn on a good song knowing there is a music video somewhere out there showcasing the beauty of multiracial affection, to see that multiracial love is not to be lost, but that it can be held onto long after the music fades.


NOTES:

*The original music video is no longer available in this country. The version of the video provided is a live version of Terence Trent D’Arby performing “Sign Your Name” live at The Roxy in 1988.

**Image from Google Images.

***Image from Instagram.

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


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

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

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

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

Pre-Anti-Miscegenation Laws[1]

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

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

The Era of Anti-Miscegenation Laws

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

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

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

Post-Anti-Miscegenation Laws

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

Mixedness in the New Millennium

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

  Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.Commons

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

Post was originally published on Multiracial Media


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MULTIRACIAL #MCM: THE ROCK AKA THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ABRAHAM BOOKER


Abraham Booker IV, age 29

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ABRAHAM BOOKER via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

Mother’s side - Grandma is Puerto Rican Islander & Grandfather was Irish, Polish, and German

Father's side - African American (Booker plantation), Cherokee, and Blackfoot Indian.

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Melbourne, Australia

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Highly Diverse! Truly a melting pot of cultures!

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I grew up in Minnesota where there was not many mixed kids.. I bonded with the other mixed kids of other high schools when we competed in sports. Sadly the lack of diversity led to identity depression through my early teens.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

My parents lived in the same apartment complex and were friends for awhile before my mom considered him a catch ha

 

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

Yes, my mother’s paternal side disowned her and my grandparents still to this day (30+years), however the second generation and third have been in contact with us! When my dad met some of my mom's family an aunty thought the touch of his skin would burn her!

 

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

Yes! We were always told/taught to embrace everything about us!

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

We as kids would always celebrate primarily the Puerto Rican traditions over the summers with grandma! Sadly, the European and African traditions were all lost and westernized. I love chats with my paternal grandad on our great aunts and uncles of the tribes and hearing such great stories from the Native side! (as well as stories of the slave times).

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD? IF SO DO YOU SPEAK MULTIPLE LANGUAGES?

I actually grew up nervous to speak Spanish given the fluency of my maternal grandmas side and the fact that growing up in my areas it wasn't used in the school system (I was fluent in Spanish at one point and learning French).

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

I enjoy hearing stories of great people from both sides of the family as it gives me courage and strength in my everyday! I also love the Spanish music and the stories of great bravery from my slaves and native ancestors.

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

My parents are big on always checking in with family and extended family and big on celebrating different cultures and backgrounds. We would go to many different festivals growing up and dad would expose me to all kinds of music!

 

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

Yes, As the oldest of 3, I had many questions and not a lot of people I could relate to so I would always search for people like me in the media or ask “how should I act or dress” I was very confused as my response usually was “ both I am both!?” So proud of my parents and how they raised Cory, Brittni and I around the 80s. I could never thank my parents Abe and Marie enough!

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I used to identify as a teenager as “light-skinned,” and then Brown American. Now I am simply human or jokingly mixed (my cousin wrote his thesis on this - Aaron Wilkinson)

 DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

No, there is beauty and ugly in all races.. My wife is Australian.

 WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

It is everything to me. A sense of pride. I can draw from so many different sides of history and empathize with several and link back to family not just on one side of a story!

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ABRAHAM BOOKER via Swirl Nation Blog

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

Not in the same sense of when I grew up (black/white) but may of several nationalities and speakers of many languages - which I found so amazing to know such beautiful people.

 

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

In a word YES - I don't understand reverse racism.

And living in Australia I don't understand why us Americans have to identify ourselves by a color. I hope in the near future we can move past such labels and appreciate actual nationalities instead of my black, white, etc friend.

 

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

For us to move away from stereotyping people by skin and class and only judge by the merit of one's character. Not all Middle eastern people are terrorists and not all African Americans are “gang bangers.” From someone looking outside into the USA now. I feel the American dream needs a re-awakening.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

I want to thank Jen and everyone at Swirl Nation for this opportunity as mine is only one of countless many! Please check out a 130 mile charity run I am doing next month and Very Special Kids! I have gone from a 300lbs D1 Defensive tackle at the University of South Dakota to a trim UltraMarathon runner in Australia :)

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ABRAHAM BOOKER via Swirl Nation Blog

 

 

 

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT


Wes Ocean Bent, age 32

 
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?  

I consider myself bi-racial and have always embraced my mother and father’s ancestry. When people ask about my racial heritage, I give them the full breakdown. My mom is African-American from Nashville, Tennessee, and my dad is English Canadian, born and raised in Ontario. The world may see me simply as an African American man with light complexion, but it’s important for me to recognize both sides.  

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

I recently moved to Los Angeles, California (in the past month).

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Definitely! I relocated to Los Angeles to have access to more cultural diversity.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? 

I grew up in Sonoma County, CA about an hour north of San Francisco. Sonoma and neighboring Napa are popular California Wine Country destinations. My hometown is also known for the iconic redwood forests and Snoopy (the famous Peanuts cartoon was created in my city). The population is mostly white and hispanic, however, there is a tight knit population of African Americans and many East Africans. I used to joke that I probably knew every black person in town. In high school I gravitated towards the black and mixed kids but our squad was pretty diverse.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT via Swirl Nation Blog

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

My parents met on a ferryboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was during the post-Vietnam War era, and my folks were definitely the free spirited type. They were both revolutionary in their own right and after they met were vocal about fighting for change in America. The rest is history…

 
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Yes, there were tons of obstacles. At the time it was almost sacrilegious for a black woman, raised in the segregated south, to marry a white man and have children. I remember when I was with my dad, people would often look at us with a perplexed expression, a white father with two black sons. They must be adopted, right? To this day, every time my dad and I go to the airport, the ticket agent asks my dad, “Is this gentleman with you?” He usually replies, “we’re together, don’t you see the resemblance.”

With my mom, it was usually the subtle nuances of pulling a child close or running to grab their purse. Most of her adult life, my mom has worn dreadlocks which probably intimidated some people, especially living in a predominately white community. I’ve heard her respond to people countless times, “I don’t want your purse, I’ve got my own money.” It doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I guess some things you just learn to deal with and move on, but it wasn’t as easy as a child.  

 

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

Fortunately, I’ve never had issues with my mother or father’s extended family and I’m extremely grateful for their acceptance and peace.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT via Swirl Nation Blog

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY? 

Growing up we traveled to Nashville almost every year around Christmas, some of my happiest memories. I still remember the smell of black-eyed peas, collard greens, turkey with all the fixings, and chitins. Couldn’t get down with those, but there was always more than enough. My aunts and uncles were usually in the kitchen cookin’, chillin’, laughin’. They shared stories, played spades, and had a good time. This probably sounds familiar to some. After all, these traditions are an integral part of the black experience. Soul food is rooted in West African cuisine and represents the traditions of our African ancestors. I love to cook, it’s a rite of passage to honor these traditions that were handed down by my great, greats. I’ve learned important lessons from these traditions: love the ones that are here, celebrate and honor the ones that came before, and reach for the stars.

I’ve been blessed to have two strong households. Despite the long distances, my grandparents and extended family were always within reach. My paternal grandparents lived an idyllic Canadian quiet life. They enjoyed farming, playing cribbage and being together--riding horses bareback in Nova Scotia. I have a cookbook from the last family reunion. I suppose cooking is a way that I stay connected to my mixed cultural heritage.

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

I speak English and some Spanish. My friends point out that I pronounce “theater” with a southern drawl. A throw back to Nashville.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND? 

I’ve always felt a visceral connection to the oldies and music of the Civil Rights era. Even as a youngster, I would listen to the Temptations, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Barry White, just to name a few. I enjoy the stories that are told through jazz, blues and folk music in the black community. You can hear the ache and pain of the movement, and hip-hop has been the latest instrument of change for my generation. Tupac got a lot of play in my house growing up too, partly due to close family ties. My parents didn’t approve much of Tupac’s explicit lyrics, but understood he was a byproduct of his environment and they could relate to his revolutionary nature.  

 

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

My mom traveled to Ghana, West Africa for 13 consecutive years. She would return home with hand carved drums, yards of kente cloth and wax print. In 2012, I finally had the opportunity to go myself. We stayed for a few days at the WEB Dubois Center in Accra and two weeks in Tamale a predominately Muslim community in the Northern Region of Ghana. Our final destination was Cape Coast, home to the oldest and largest slave dungeons in the world. It was definitely a surreal experience standing on the ground, where millions of West Africans were stripped from their homeland and shipped off across the Atlantic to foreign lands. It was a stark reminder of the sacrifices my ancestors have made to endure slavery and still have the will to fight for freedom. We’re so many generations removed from our African lineage, but traveling to Ghana was one the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. I’m a firm believer in Yoruba proverb, Sankofa which means, “you must reach back to reclaim that which is lost in order to move forward.”

On my paternal side I am a descendent of John Bent who arrived on Plymouth rock in 1638 and founded Sudbury, Massachusetts. There is an oil painting of one of our ancestors in the Harvard Medical School library. Peter Bent Brigham founded Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, Ma. Our family reunions honor other historically significant events that have shaped the Bent legacy as well. In the early 19th century Bent’s Fort was founded, one of the main trading posts in the Western United States prior to the Spanish American war. I’m proud of the pioneering spirit of my English heritage as well.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Yes, it was a regular topic in my mom’s household. In middle school, my mom and her friends started the Black Student Union when they realized there was no existing club on campus. We would meet a couple times a week, usually watch a movie on Black History and have an open discussion about race and identity.

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I’ve always identified as mixed, African American and English Canadian or black and white.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE? OR IF YOU HAVE A PARTNER WHAT RACE ARE THEY?

I’ve been known to have a type and race has probably played into it. I’m engaged and my fiancé is also multi-ethnic. Her mother is African American, born in Detroit, and her father is Ugandan.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

I think culturally when you think of the term, “mixed” you think of black/white or black/asian because it’s probably the most common. I also agree with those who identify race is a social construct. To this date I get tripped up on which bubble fill-in. I’m not purely African American or Caucasian. I usually circle “African American,” if no other choices but wish there was a “fill in the blank” option.  The question kind of rubs me the wrong way, next time I think I’ll just leave it blank.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED? 

My parents settled in Sonoma County, CA because it’s liberal and for the most part accepting of different races, religions and lifestyles. I met my best friend, Kenji in kindergarten; his father is African American and mother Japanese, both originally from the Bronx, NY. Kenji is just a good dude. He’s someone that I can call on anytime and confide in and say “I love you man” because that’s what brothers do. I met my good friend, Wes while attending Long Beach State University. We connected instantly on the whole biracial thing, quickly realized we both had a white father and black mother, which is fairly uncommon. He invited me to move to Brooklyn a few years later, and I had the opportunity to interact with people daily from various races/ethnicities and quickly realized I was part of a much larger multi-racial, international community.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT via Swirl Nation Blog

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

I get tired of people throwing around the N-word like it’s the thing to do. It’s overused in hip-hop lyrics and many people have become numb to it. It’s never been part of my vocabulary, and I wouldn’t be caught dead saying that word in my mom’s household.  

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET WES OCEAN BENT via Swirl Nation Blog

 

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

I have a dream that politics, police, and people of color will bridge the gap in understanding. There’s a huge mistrust and rightfully so. It doesn’t help the cause that innocent people are dying at the hands of police. I try to stay hopeful and prayerful but sick and tired of being sick and tired. Although, I have a faith in the millennials and the next generation, partly because this country is becoming more and more blended/ mixed. I have a dream that there will be more transparency in the justice system, with tactical reform policies and rehabilitation for minor drug offenses. There are a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos in US prisons, and it’s not a sustainable future.   

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

When I was growing up most of my curriculum was structured around popular white fairy tales, and experiences in American History, with little reference to black history. I guess with the exception to the month of February. My mom always laughed at the notion of a month dedicated to “black history month,” and made sure we were informed on the history that wasn’t being taught in school. She told us about her experience with the black liberation movement, joining sit-ins to confront racial segregation. We also read books on black historians, including George Washington Carver, Madam C.J. Walker, WEB Dubois and countless others who were an integral part of US History. We would go to Oakland regularly just to be around people of color, drumming sessions, kwanzaa celebrations, etc. I remember going to see Maya Angelou when I was 9 years old, and had the pleasure of meeting her.

Colin Kaepernick’s recent decision to take a knee in protest of the injustices is very relatable to my experience. One morning in 5th grade, I decided to sit out the pledge of allegiance and was sent to the principal's office. They called my mom down to the school and said, in order for me to stay in that school, I had to stand during the morning pledge. After a long dispute with the school administration, I stayed at the school and compromised that I would stand up, but it was my choice whether or not I wanted to recite the pledge. I applaud Kaepernick and all the other public figures that are coming forth to take a stand, unwilling to settle until there’s "justice for ALL."

 

You can get to know Wes even better and check out his photography on his website


 

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IN MY HEADPHONES: BRUNO MARS


IN MY HEADPHONES: BRUNO MARS via Swirl Nation Blog

I LOVE Bruno Mars, his energy is contagious and I think he's an amazing performer. Bruno is from Honolulu and his name is actually Peter Gene Hernandez. He is Multiracial, his father is half Puerto Rican and half Ashkenazi Jewish and his mother is Filipino and Spanish. At the age of two, he was nicknamed "Bruno" by his father, because of his resemblance to professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.

I was Hulu-ing SNL last night and was so excited to see him as the musical guest because my daughter and I have been singing 24k Magic constantly the last couple weeks.

The sound of 24k Magic reminds me of 90s break dancing and definitely has a big dose of retro in it. If you listen to it once, you can basically sing along almost every word the second time around! Billboard puts it far better than I ever could:

“24K Magic,” which corrals Grandmaster Flash, Zapp & Roger, Rick James and the whole of G-funk into three minutes and 46 seconds, while adding some modern ornaments (“Got to blame it on Jesus / Hashtag blessed!”) for good measure. Mars, who grew up impersonating Elvis Presley and started his career as a songwriter for other artists, has become a superstar thanks to a knack for channeling different pop eras through his warm, expressive persona. Yet only recently have his gestures to the past become so explicit that a new single can produce memories of several classics upon first listen.

His SNL performance did not disappoint! Why you mad? Fix yo face! is without a doubt my favorite lyric:) Here is his live performance and then the official music video for the song is below that. 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS


Phillip Christopher Roberts

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?
African American
Korean


WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Dallas, TX

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS via Swirl Nation Blog


IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Not that I know of, but I've seen majority of white people in my apartment complex.  To everyone's defense I go to work at 5 am, and come back at noon so I rarely see anyone!


WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I am from Killeen, TX.  It was really diverse there since it was connected to the biggest military base Ft. Hood. There were a lot of mixed kids there.


HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

My aunt actually introduced them to each other when my father was stationed in Korea.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS via Swirl Nation Blog


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

Surprisingly no since they weren't the super traditional Korean family. But most old school families think it's a dishonor to marry a person of color.


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

Another surprise here, my father's side of the family hates my mom and us and thinks that she isn't adequate to raise us. My mom’s side think we are amazing and can achieve a lot.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS via Swirl Nation Blog


DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

We celebrated my 100 day old anniversary which is a traditional Korean thing, but other than that were just the normal American family.


WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Not exactly. My mom never made me try to learn Korean but would teach me basic conversational pieces. She really pushed me learning English since she herself was learning it while I was growing up.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS via Swirl Nation Blog


WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

What I most enjoy is the food obviously, Korean food (not American Korean) is really healthy and I eventually turned into an athlete that does constant research on diets.


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

None. They were never specific, they taught me to respect everyone, my yes/no ma'am/sirs, no one is better than anyone, and be a good person.


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

Never, we didn't try to make it a point since we were already living it.


DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I always said I was black and Korean, but as of late I just say it shouldn't matter because I try my best to spread positivity to all.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS via Swirl Nation Blog


DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

No


WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

It's a very special thing. I have a lot of experiences that most people never get to see. You are honestly seen as 2 races and some things you should do or certain stereotypes. Since I'm Korean people say aren't you good at math, but I am also black so I get the “who's your favorite rapper” a lot.


DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

If we go down to the Census then no because most people have 2 mostly of the same parents. But like one of my friends is ¼ white so they never actually identify as white.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS via Swirl Nation Blog


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

Not really. I would say the good at math thing gets old but no nothing really.


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

I wish we could all have some sort of equality. It truly hurts my heart that I probably will have to tell my children to watch out where and how they play in the park because you never know what could happen.


ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

No, thank you for the questions but people can follow me on Instagram and Twitter or Facebook: Phillip Christopher Roberts 


 

 

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TO KNEEL OR STAND - IS IT A QUESTION?


TO KNEEL OR STAND - IS IT A QUESTION? via Swirl Nation Blog

If you don’t pay much attention to sports, chances are, over these past two weeks, you have been bombarded from the news, social media, and possible conversation over San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick. Ringing any bells? Perhaps you’ve seen as many messages of support such as #VeteransforKapernick and memes with the outline of his silhouette now proudly sporting a FRO. Maybe you’ve even seen his now best-selling NFL jersey flying off the shelves. It could be the latter in which you’ve seen posts, tweets, and comments calling him everything from un-American and un-Patriotic, traitor, and my favorite “not really being Black,” (since he is biracial) regarding his current stance in choosing to sit down/take a knee during the national anthem. If you scroll through some of the tamer social media posts, this doesn’t even rock the tip of the iceberg regarding how vicious people have been in their judgement of his protest.

 

The act of defiance has sparked national conversation regarding the history of the anthem and what it means to be an American in the 21rst century. The question many sports fans are wondering is…  How should our athletes behave regarding political statements? Is it too far? Is the flag so sacred that Kaepernick’s act is toting a dangerous line? It’s been pointed out that Kaepernick is not the first athlete to make a stance in times of social justice with revered athletes like Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson immortalized for their bravery in times of adversity. Athletes using their platform to make a statement has been one that many sports fans have been calling for in light of increased brutality and victimization of minorities in the past few years.

Kaepernick states: “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he said late last month. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

TO KNEEL OR STAND - IS IT A QUESTION? via Swirl Nation Blog

Despite pointing out several times that he has no mal intent or disrespect towards military members, many fans have pointed out the flag represents universal freedoms, beliefs, and ideals that reflect who we are as Americans. His jersey is being worn in support as much as people are buying it to stomp on it, burn it, and trash it to show their distaste for his stance. Celebrities, fellow athletes, musicians and politicians have even contributed thoughts on the statement that has caused an interesting ripple of effect of actions we’re now seeing at football games. J. Cole, Trey Songz, Chris Brown, Steph Curry, Kareem Abdul Jabar and Tina Knowles are just a few who have been in support of the athlete by wearing his jersey or offering thoughtful insight into the conversation at hand.

Kaepernick’s choice in taking a knee has caused unwavering doubt and conversation regarding those inherent liberties extended to all Americans-yet is not reflected in the current way our political and socioeconomic community has been. When prompted with questions regarding Kaepernick’s choice, President Obama stated: “He’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there is a long history of sports figures doing so.”

Coming from a firm and long standing history of military members in my family as well as residing in Fort Hood, Texas (the largest army base in the world)- I do understand the perspective that Kaepernick’s actions could be perceived as disrespectful. However; if he had completed the action without context or regard for his choice outside of social justice endeavors, I would be upset. That’s not the case. He has stated on many occasions this specific choice is not because he doesn’t respect or acknowledge the ongoing sacrifice of our military servicemen, but does want the sacrifices that are made in regards to our liberties and freedoms extended to everyone. Regardless of what your personal opinion is on the matter, we can all agree that living in the United States alone does not ensure those inalienable rights are granted to all, not in the least. If you don’t agree with me, I’d suggest looking to the left and right of you, turning on the TV, listening to the conversations we have on justice and race. Do the freedoms, liberties, and justice you hold close to you and think of regarding the flag ring true for everyone? If you have to think twice…you may want to reconsider how valid Kaepernick’s platform is right now and how to engage the true heart of that conversation.


 

 

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NOTEWORTHY BLACK, BIRACIAL INDIVIDUALS


This blog was of course created to celebrate Multiracial Individuals and Families, so we have started to compile lists of well-known people who are mixed race. First up is a list of individuals who are mixed with black- some well-known and others were a surprise to us!

There are TONS more, please leave us a comment with some other individuals and we will add to our list! Remember this list is specifically mixed people who are part black, we will be compiling additional lists for noteworthy individuals of other mixtures so feel free to leave those individuals in the comments as well! 

You can also consider this our Featured Multiracial Individual wish list;) 

 Barack Obama. Obviously we had to start with the leader of the free world! Barack was born to a Kenyan father and a white American mother. 

Barack Obama. Obviously we had to start with the leader of the free world! Barack was born to a Kenyan father and a white American mother. 

 
 Jennifer Beals. The actress was born to a black father and a white mother.

Jennifer Beals. The actress was born to a black father and a white mother.

 
 Frederick Douglass. The abolitionist was born to a black mother and white father. 

Frederick Douglass. The abolitionist was born to a black mother and white father. 

 
 Booker T. Washington. The champion for black rights was born to a black mother and white father. 

Booker T. Washington. The champion for black rights was born to a black mother and white father. 

 
 Kamala Harris. Harris is the California Attorney General and was born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father. She is the first female, Asian-American and African-American lawyer for the state.

Kamala Harris. Harris is the California Attorney General and was born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father. She is the first female, Asian-American and African-American lawyer for the state.

 
 Benjamin Jealous. The former NCAAP President has a black mother and a white father. 

Benjamin Jealous. The former NCAAP President has a black mother and a white father. 

 
 Maya Rudolph. The actress has a black mother and a white father. 

Maya Rudolph. The actress has a black mother and a white father. 

 
 Lenny Kravitz. The singer has black mother and a white, Jewish father. 

Lenny Kravitz. The singer has black mother and a white, Jewish father. 

 
 Lisa Bonet. The actress was born to a white, Jewish mother and a black father. 

Lisa Bonet. The actress was born to a white, Jewish mother and a black father. 

 
 Wentworth Miller. The actor was born to a white mother and black father. 

Wentworth Miller. The actor was born to a white mother and black father. 

 
 Rashida Jones. The actress was born to a white mother and black father. 

Rashida Jones. The actress was born to a white mother and black father. 

 
 Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock. The actor, comedian and athlete was born to a black father and a Samoan mother. 

Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock. The actor, comedian and athlete was born to a black father and a Samoan mother. 

 
 Drake. The rapper was born to a white, Jewish mother and a black father.

Drake. The rapper was born to a white, Jewish mother and a black father.

 
 James McBride. The journalist and jazz musician was born to a white, Jewish mother and a black father. 

James McBride. The journalist and jazz musician was born to a white, Jewish mother and a black father. 

 
 Jasmine Guy. The actress was born to a Portuguese mother and black father. 

Jasmine Guy. The actress was born to a Portuguese mother and black father. 

 
 Albert and Allen Hughes. The Directors were born to an Armenian mother and a black father. 

Albert and Allen Hughes. The Directors were born to an Armenian mother and a black father. 

 
 Faith Evans. The signer was born to a black mother and a white father. 

Faith Evans. The signer was born to a black mother and a white father. 

 
 Slash aka Saul Hudson. The guitarist was born to a black mother and a white father. 

Slash aka Saul Hudson. The guitarist was born to a black mother and a white father. 

 
 Bob Marley. The reggae legend was born to a black mother and white father. 

Bob Marley. The reggae legend was born to a black mother and white father. 

 
 Sade. The singer was born to a Nigerian father and white mother. 

Sade. The singer was born to a Nigerian father and white mother. 

 
 August Wilson. The playwright was born to a black mother and white father. 

August Wilson. The playwright was born to a black mother and white father. 

 
 Zadie Smith. The author was born to a Jamaican mother and white father. 

Zadie Smith. The author was born to a Jamaican mother and white father. 

 
 Malcolm Gladwell. The journalist was born to a Jamaican mother and white father. 

Malcolm Gladwell. The journalist was born to a Jamaican mother and white father. 

 
 Jordin Sparks. The actress and singer was born to a black father and a white mother.

Jordin Sparks. The actress and singer was born to a black father and a white mother.

 
 Derek Jeter. The baseball player was born to a white mother and black father. 

Derek Jeter. The baseball player was born to a white mother and black father. 

 
 Kimora Lee Simmons. The former model and business woman was born to a Japanese mother and black father. 

Kimora Lee Simmons. The former model and business woman was born to a Japanese mother and black father. 

 
 Alicia Keys. The singer was born to a white mother and black father. 

Alicia Keys. The singer was born to a white mother and black father. 

 
 Kelis. The musician was born to a black father and a Puerto Rican and Chinese mother. 

Kelis. The musician was born to a black father and a Puerto Rican and Chinese mother. 

 Halle Berry. The actress was born to a white mother and black father.

Halle Berry. The actress was born to a white mother and black father.

 
 Blake Griffin. The basketball player was born to a white mother and black father. 

Blake Griffin. The basketball player was born to a white mother and black father. 

 
 Jesse Williams. The actor was born to a white mother and black father. 

Jesse Williams. The actor was born to a white mother and black father. 

 
 Zendaya. The actress was born to a black father and white mother. 

Zendaya. The actress was born to a black father and white mother. 


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WHY JESSE WILLIAMS' SPEECH WAS A STEP FORWARD FOR MULTIRACIAL PEOPLE


WHY JESSE WILLIAMS' SPEECH WAS A STEP FORWARD FOR MULTIRACIAL PEOPLE via Swirl Nation Blog

So by now we’ve all seen, heard, possibly reposted, retweeted and bared witness to the glory that was Jesse Williams accepting his BET Humanitarian award last weekend. Unlike most trending topics, this speech is still wagging on the tips of people’s tongues. Whether you understood the context of the speech (I’m side-eyeing you Tomi Lahren), or don’t agree with it (really you 316 petitioners trying to get him fired) it made waves. Many are familiar with Williams from his long standing acting career on Grey’s Anatomy, but what many people didn’t know is that he is a black/white, a biracial man. Why is this important? Does it really matter? For those of us who have struggled to make arguments for political stances for either of the many cultures we may represent, it does.

You don’t understand. You’re not really black. You are privileged. You are white-washed. You are capable of “passing,” (when a person classified as a member of one racial group is also accepted as a member of a different racial group.) These are a few of many micro-aggressions I have been told in my life when it comes to making a stance on the politics concerning my ethnic background. It may sound absurd and you may think who cares, but when a multiracial person is bullied or challenged in their beliefs because they physically or ethnically don’t fully represent that culture 100%, it is. I was moved by Williams’ speech, and I know regardless of race it would have happened either way because he spoke with intellect, truth, vigor, and conviction that had me literally clapping in my living room.

In the heat of the twitter moment people were too busy quoting and praising for me to see any real harping on the fact he’s not 100% black. Then again, once the trolling finally stopped towards Mr. Timberlake, it didn’t take too long for the articles to start emerging about Jesse’s background. Some of the most telling articles thankfully showcased him owning his biracial identity and recognizing the privilege it has afforded him. In a past article with The Guardian he stated “I know how white people talk about black people. I know how black people talk about white folks. I know I am there and everyone speaks honestly around me.” There’s even been a video circulating on Facebook in which he discusses his European features and that he doesn’t ignore his privilege but instead uses it to bring awareness to racism and social injustice.

When I saw Jesse standing proudly and using his platform to speak towards the oppression of Black people, his people, who cheered and praised his eloquence, I knew it is indeed possible to speak about the injustices of my cultures without meeting constant strife. I admired him because he was bold, brave and relentless in empowering those around him to stand for a cause, and nobody questioned him, nobody booed him, nobody said “You’re not ____ enough.” I’m hoping despite the naysayers that will always feel the need to tower over multiracial people for not being 100% anything that this will at least give pause to the comments and allow us the space to speak our truth first. You won’t know what we have to say if you don’t let us say it. You won’t be able to hear our empathy and understanding if you can’t see past our skin tone. You won’t know that we want to help provide support and equality for every culture we may represent if you can’t move out of our way and allow us to walk with you.


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MULTIRACIAL #MCM JASON MOMOA


Who doesn’t love Jason Momoa? He is one of those universally sexy men. He is half Hawaiian on his father’s side mixed with German, Irish and Native American on his mother’s side. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen any of his movies and I have never watched Game of Thrones, but I can still be a fan can’t I?!

 

Unfortunately for the single ladies of the world Jason is taken by yet another sexy multiracial actor, Lisa Bonet. The pair have two children named Lola Iolani and Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha.


And in a beautiful display of multiracial sexiness here is Jason, Lisa, Lisa’s ex Lenny Kravitz and their daughter Zoe. They should basically be the Swirl Nation Blog spokespeople!  

MULTIRACIAL #MCM JASON MOMOA via Swirl Nation Blog

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MIXING IT UP: WHY INTERRACIAL DATING HAS BEEN PIVOTAL FOR MY GROWTH


Dating is one of the rights of passage I relished in growing up as a young girl, I always envisioned the act of dating itself more than necessarily what my partner was going to look like. I wanted the cute pictures to post in a locker at school, someone to hold hands with in the hall, and to go through every rite of passage with (well almost every one since I was saving myself for marriage). My crushes which were wide and varied ranged from mixed people like myself (my first boyfriend was Black/Korean) to boys of other cultures and races. I never grew up feeling limited to what my future boyfriend could be (outside of the fact my father had a no dating rule that was enforced to the harshest extent. However; like all teenagers I found my way around it.)

My mother is a Mexican woman with olive skin and light brown eyes (seemingly white unless you hear her speak Spanish) and my father is black. I grew up being the bi-product of an interracial household even if my extended family and friends didn’t necessarily reflect that in their own families. I never felt pressured to date a certain race or limited to what that specific person could offer me. My parents had their preferences, ideas and even thoughts expressed on certain cultures given their own life experiences, but I wasn’t raised to be fearful of dating someone outside my race. You may be thinking you’re mixed so you basically had 2 options for dating in the racial gene pool, but you’d be surprised to know my first serious relationship (as serious as high schoolers can be) was with a blue eyed half British/ half Puerto Rican young man.

As I graduated and continued on through college my relationship palette transformed from Nicaraguan, Honduran, Mexican, and most recently Black with my partners who varied in education, personality and “type.” I’ve always found that personally as an odd question to respond to when people ask me what my “type,” is because I realize as I get older I don’t have one. Some people have strict wants/needs physically in a partner, and even though I’d love to be with my current celeb crush (Michael B. Jordan) he’s not the model for how I choose the guys I date. At the same time, I do have a profound respect for women who know exactly what they want in their partner from height measurements to eye color. There’s a certain sense of security that comes from knowing exactly what you want in a partner versus me who sees dating as a buffet, “I’ll just try a bit of everything and see what I like.” You could think maybe this is a waste of time and effort on my hand, but it has been an interesting process thus far really deciding what qualities I desire in a man, but I can tell you with the upmost certainty a specific culture/race isn’t it.

MIXING IT UP: WHY INTERRACIAL DATING HAS BEEN PIVOTAL FOR MY GROWTH via Swirl Nation Blog

Interracial dating has taught me so much and I’m very thankful to have gotten the chance to experience it so heavy handed when I was a teenager. Dating someone outside of both my respective races taught me understanding and tolerance for other people’s cultures on an intimate level. I still remember the first time I had Puerto Rican food cooked by my high school sweetheart’s father. I can recall meeting his lovely British mother and listening to her accent that gave me a small glimpse of her life in England. My game changer who was Nicaraguan wore a beautiful gold necklace that had a charm of his country on it. He would tell me stories about his family in New York and how his culture influenced his love of dancing and music. In college, my Honduran boyfriend explained the uniqueness of his name and familial upbringing in Honduras when he was younger. A chance connection in Greek life showed me not every Hispanic is raised traditionally with Catholicism or in a Spanish speaking household.

Even though back then I wasn’t as confident in my own identity, I did try to educate my partner’s on my mixed experience and what that was like growing up. I exchanged Spanish with those who spoke it and was fascinated to learn different dialects and phrases separate from my own. I kept my mind and heart open to alternate upbringings in different countries and the politics of getting citizenship or even a visa to see extended family overseas. I advocate for dating outside of your cultural norms and questioning what your physically attracted and why. I understand and respect we all grow up differently and our love interests can be reflective of that. It’s a very common understanding I’ve known that some people like “to date what they know or grew up with,” and how influential that came be subconsciously when choosing a date. I challenge to date outside the norm, open your mind up to crossing boundaries that you yourself might have in place or that were created as a result of your upbringing. The world is such a big place with beautiful people to limit yourself in love. 

MIXING IT UP: WHY INTERRACIAL DATING HAS BEEN PIVOTAL FOR MY GROWTH via Swirl Nation Blog

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILIP

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILIP


I met Phil through my friend, Sabrina.  Phil… 

We were in Boulder, both attending University of Colorado, both majoring in Economics.  We were taking International Trade and Economics together and that is when I really got to know Phil.  We would study together, party together, and travel together.  Phil is that friend who doesn’t just “know” things, he becomes an aficionado.   He was Google, before we had smart devices equipped with Google.  I totally attribute his collection of knowledge to being well-traveled and his family background.  Phil has a wisdom that only comes from navigating life while straddling different worlds and cultures.

By all “appearances”, my dear friend looks white – milky-colored skin, blue eyes, straight hair. Phil explained to me his heritage and I realized why he was so wise beyond his years.  I met his beautiful family and instantly felt at-home because many aspects reminded me of my own.  From binge-watching “Queer as Folk” (before Netflix--Blockbuster, baby), to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, to sharing special moments at my wedding, Phil will always be one of my dearest friends. Please read about my lovely Phil and his background rich in culture below… 

xx Amal


FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILIP via Swirl Nation Blog

My name is Philip Richard Thomas and I am 34 years old.

 

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

My mom is half White and half Black. My maternal grandfather was from Minnesota and only ever ethnically described as Norwegian. My maternal grandmother was Creole, from Louisiana; this includes African, Native American, Spanish, and French ancestry.

My dad is White with some Native American blood. “Predominantly Welch” and “Cherokee maiden” are the phrases I heard most often describing that side of the family when I was a child. Over the years I have come to learn that my paternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother may have been full-blooded Sioux; but racism associated with the lineage led to lies about her heritage which have mixed into our oral history (“she was a quarter Indian”).

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Denver is much more diverse than the rest of the state of Colorado, and Capitol Hill is a pretty well mixed neighborhood, but it’s not nearly as diverse as other places I’ve lived (New York City, Miami, San Francisco, San Jose) nor as White as others (Boulder, CO; Scotts Valley, CA; Ithaca, NY).

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I grew up in open minded communities without a lot of diversity. Scotts Valley, CA is a small town about an hour south of San Francisco where I attended elementary and middle schools. I don’t recall much diversity and even experienced ignorant racism from some of the kids when they learned I’m a quarter Black. We moved to Boulder, Colorado shortly before I began high school. Boulder was 95% White when I moved there, but with a higher population than Scotts Valley, I found a bit more diversity. Boulder prides itself on being open minded, but the lack of diversity does not offer many opportunities to practice said open mindedness. I didn’t meet many mixed people I wasn’t related to as a kid; there weren’t very many mixed kids in the communities I lived in. As I grew up and moved to more diverse places I have found lots of other mixed people.

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

I’m pretty sure they worked together. It was the budding days of Silicon Valley, where they both grew up and found jobs in the new technology sector.

 

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

My White grandmother refused to attend the wedding of her youngest son to a black woman.

 

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

The same grandmother who would not attend my parents’ interracial wedding fell in love with newborn biracial me at first site (less than a year later). It probably didn’t hurt that I was an incredibly adorable platinum blonde with sky blue eyes. By the time I was old enough to understand, my grandmother and mother had a loving and respectful relationship which survived my parents’ divorce.

           

My father’s family never made any issue of my heritage; they were always supportive of any expression of non-white identity and never demonstrated any superiority. The Creole side of the family has generations of experience being multiracial and accepted me into the rainbow of shades without skipping a beat.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

As a child I noticed a cultural distinction between the White (Dad) and Black (Mom) sides of the family. At home, my parents accepted each other’s traditions so fully, I sometimes incorrectly identified which culture things originated in.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILIP via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILIP via Swirl Nation Blog

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Both of my parents only speak English. My mom’s mom spoke Creole, but did not teach her kids because my grandpa was afraid they would talk about him. My mom uses a few phrases in Creole and understands a few more; my siblings and I know a few of these.

           

My step-mom is from Bolivia, so we heard Spanish in the house from a young age and I had an easy time studying the language in school because correct grammar “just sounded right”. To this day, I am most at ease in her specific regional dialect of Spanish, even after becoming relatively fluent after living in Seville, Spain.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

I certainly love food and the foods specific to Creole culture are some of my favorites. I also enjoy the folk knowledge and superstitions my grandmother brought from Louisiana, like letting a spider crawl into your wallet so money will come to you. I love being Creole because the culture incorporates the richness of so many other cultures.

 

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

My mom made a point to make the racial connection when we learned about racial topics in school. I don’t look particularly black and was not often identified by educators (or anyone in general) as belonging to a minority group. When it came to topics of racism and slavery my mom made sure we understood that we were descended from Black, White, and Native Americans.

 

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

I never felt like we talked about race a lot; I now understand that it was a much bigger topic in my house than in others. Never completely fitting into the white or black box, we talked about how we did and did not fit into stereotypes of either culture on a regular basis. The fact that we are mixed is a major defining characteristic of my family and we enjoy discussing it.

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I very much identify as mixed. Because I look White to most people, I usually identify myself as a quarter Black. It’s fun to use “quadroon” in certain circles, too.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

My fiancé is white, but race was never a deal breaker in dating decisions.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILIP via Swirl Nation Blog

 WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

Being mixed means not fitting into any of society’s boxes just right; I’m too Black to be White and White to be Black. There are certain frustrations with not fitting in, but I like marching to the beat of my own drum. Being mixed allows me to cross between identities and experience more than one culture as an insider.

 

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PHILIP via Swirl Nation Blog

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

I find myself drawn to other mixed people and call many friend. I think we all find comfort in sharing common experiences, and I find that the unique experiences of straddling races and cultures provide an almost immediate bond when I meet other mixed people. I have learned so much about other cultures from my mixed friends. They have a tendency toward open-mindedness and can typically explain cultural nuance in a way others cannot.

 

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

I’m really sick of people trying to pretend that racism no longer exists or that it is somehow acceptably less than it was in the past. As someone who “passes” as White I hear the things people say when they don’t think others are listening; racism is alive and well in America. I also get very frustrated when other people try to decide my ethnic or cultural identity for me. I’m not completely White, but I’m not Black either, I’m mixed; and that’s a real thing with its own unique truth.

 

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

I dream of a day when race doesn’t matter in America. People in this country are taught to identify and focus on differences between people and race is the favorite difference. As a mixed race person I find a certain responsibility to help people understand that we are all part of the human race. 


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