I met Nora 8 years ago through a mutual friend. At the time it was a much needed mommy night out for her and a night for me to entertain friends. I was elated to meet her from the start, she had such a warm vibe, great giggle and was such a beauty. We reminisced recently on the night we officially met. A large group of us went to a Denver club and, while neither of us are drinkers, we had a wonderful time chatting and dancing the whole night. We continued the night by going to eat pho, another Denver tradition that I shared with my friends. My boyfriend, Tchad, joined and drove us. He entertained Nora and Vandy (mutual best friend) by playing a Dave Chapelle video over the entertainment system and kept us all laughing the whole way to the pho restaurant.
At the restaurant, we shifted the conversation to Nora, Tchad and I speaking about the Qur'an and the difference between religion and spirituality. We became fast friends bonding over humor, religion, politics, world issues, history, family and being mixed. Our friendship stayed strong as I moved to another state and she later gave birth to her youngest daughter. I was blessed to be apart of her baby shower and was asked to speak as the celebration sharing how special of a friend, wife and mother Nora is. I consider myself fortunate to, not only have bonded with her, but also with her husband and four amazing children, who give the absolute best hugs! Her family history is deep and rich, I am honored to have met her parents and siblings as they shared their history, religion and home cooked meals with me. She is one of my dearest and closest friends, I hope you enjoy reading about her family.
MEET THE GRANGER-DAW FAMILY:
½ Korean (mom's side), other half is a mix of Cajun French, Irish, German and includes 1/16 Cherokee Indian (dad’s side, Jun’s Great Great Gma is full Cherokee). Jun was a army baby, born in Seoul, South Korea, Moved to Louisiana as a toddler, moved back to South Korea for half of Elementary school, then to TX. In Middle School he moved to Germany and finished most of Middle school then. Jun moved moved to Kansas for the first two years of High School to Colorado to finish out high school and where he still lives presently.
Nora Mariam, age 30
½ Cambodian mixed with Thai, East Indian and Chinese on my mom's side. Dad's side is mix of English, Welsh, Irish, and Swedish. Mom is Muslim born in Cambodia, had 15 bio siblings from same mother and father plus one adopted sister. When she was 14yrs old in 1974 the Khmer Rouge began. Her and her family were kicked out of their homes, put into concentration camps to work as slaves until 1979. At this point 7 of her siblings plus her father had been killed. what was left of her family escaped to the refugee camps and stayed there until 1981 when they were sponsored by a church in Minnesota to take refuge in the U.S.
Dad was born in Aurora, IL. Converted to Islam when he was 23 yrs old. At 26 yrs old he moved to CO and was looking for a wife. He and my mom were set up and had an arranged marriage in 1982. My mom did not speak english at the time, though they have now been married happily for 33yrs.
Isaac Malik NurMuhammad, age 11, multiracial
Aliyyah Bushra, age 8, multiracial
Safiya Yusra, age 8, multiracial
Amina Mysha, age 3, multiracial
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?
We met through a mutual friend while bringing in my car to his mechanics shop to get repairs.
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
Just really young and madly in love. This was never an obstacle though I was born Muslim while Jun was born Christian. When we met Jun was Agnostic and amazed me with his knowledge and love for Islam. One of the things that made me fall even more in love with him. He seemed to know more about this religion that I was born into than I did. ;/ He converted shortly after meeting me and we had our Nikah (Islamic wedding) on Aug 11th 2006.
WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?
All the islamic traditions are practiced and holidays are celebrated. One of our favorite times of the year is the Ramadan when we fast from sunrise to sundown. Then Eid is celebrated. We also celebrate holidays like Cambodian and Korean New Year, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE?
I love Korean food, and have began to cook many dishes in my house. Same goes for Cambodian food.
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?
Yes, My children go to a public school full of many different ethnicities One of the things I love my community for is the Masjid near my house in which my kids attend Sunday school and the youth group. My family also attends Juma prayers on Sundays. I am so very thankful for these programs through the Masjid as it is difficult to raise my children Muslim in the U.S. today with the attention and media portrayal of Islam.
DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME?
English primarily, though little bits of Korean and Cambodian here and there though neither of us are fluent in those. We do however speak Arabic when praying which is done 5 times a day.
ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?
Yes, very much so.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR PARTNER'S ETHNIC-CULTURAL BACKGROUND?
I’m absolutely in love with the Cambodian, Korean, Cajun and Islamic roots in both of our backgrounds.
Cambodia: Love the foods, traditional dress and cultural roots which are greatly influenced my East India. Love that one of the 7 wonders of the world (Angkor Wat) is in Cambodia. Also I feel a sense of pride for what my mom's generation of Cambodia overcame..
Korea: Love their culture, traditions, dress and food.
Islam: My biggest love in life. It's what has taught me love, compassion, beauty, knowledge and all things good in this life.
Juns family has so much Cajun French history and most of his family still resides in New Orleans LA.
My Great great great grandfather Joy Tarble was one of the first settlers of Aurora, IL. He was also a stonemason who built many of the town's buildings that are still there to this day and started work on the railroad systems in IL. Joy and his 3 sons (my Great great uncles) All served on the Civil War. My great grandfather Avery also served in WWl as a top ranking general. My grandfather worked as a scientist for Sears on the 52nd floor of the Sears tower until he passed. I still remember visiting him there as a young young child. So lots of history in IL to be pretty proud of. ;)
DID YOU FIND BIG DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY YOU GREW UP VS. YOUR SPOUSE DUE TO DIFFERENCES IN RACE?
Not too many beside the fact that Jun lived in so many different places vs me who was born in Boulder and lived in CO my whole life. Both come from asian mamas so quite similar upbringings.
ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?
Questions regarding terrorism and Islam.
WHAT ACTIONS HAVE YOU TAKEN TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT EACH OF YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
They spend lots of time talking to the grandmas ;)
HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE?
Yes, around 4 or 5 yrs old
DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOUR CHILDREN?
They are very proud of it!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR YOUR CHILD'S FUTURE AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?
I’ve tried and hope to teach my children that diversity is beautiful and one of the worlds biggests assets. As Islam has taught me, I hope they will grow up with the urge and desire to expand their knowledge and learn about the beauty in all cultures, races, and religions.
I would hope that more people in this world could find the beauty in all of god's creations as that is what I believe would truly bring peace. Love for all of the world's diversity.