We're continuing this week with the family of one of our other founders, Amal Gonzalez. I have known Amal since we both lived in Denver. A client of mine referred her to me as a model for a project I was Art Directing, I hired her, we got to know each other and soon became friends. Soon after that Amal met Luchi and their love story began!
Eventually they got married and moved to Luchi's hometown of Miami, which is where their amazing wedding was. They now live in Texas, where Luchi works as a soccer coach and Amal works in education so this week we're heading to Frisco, Texas to get to know the gorgeous 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 firstname.lastname@example.org!