I love this family so much! I met them about 2 years ago when my daughter Kaia and Amanda landed in the same volleyball clinics. Soon enough Elizabeth and I spent every Saturday sitting on the floor at the Crossroads gym chatting about life, family and more. Eventually I got to know Mark and Elizabeth's mother as well and they are all incredible people. The girls are now on a club volleyball team together so we get to spend even more time together which makes me so happy! I know you'll enjoy reading how they merge their Portuguese and Persian traditions!
MEET THE FREITAS-EMTIAZ FAMILY
Elizabeth Freitas, age 52
Elizabeth is Portuguese. she was born in Azores, a small island off of Portugal.
Mark Emtiaz, age 56
Mark is Iranian, he was born in Tehran.
Amanda Emtiaz, age 12
Amanda is mixed, she was born in Santa Monica.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
We live in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles.
HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?
Met at a party in Los Angeles through a common friend where Elizabeth would not leave Mark alone all night (Mark’s version)….
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
Given our love and appreciation for each other, and that our family values were similar, our relationship did not have any significant obstacles.
WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?
We celebrate all traditions related to our current home, i.e. American traditions such as: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Holidays. In addition, we celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. Nowruz came into being over 4000 years ago, it celebrates the rebirth of the nature on the first day of Spring. We do a Sofreh Haft Seen which means the spread of seven Ss, it is a ritualistic spread containing seven elements that start with the letter “s.” For example, Seeb which means apple, representing natural beauty, or, Seer which means garlic representing health. Another part of the tradition of Nowruz is to visit family and relatives where the olders give fresh crisp money to the youngers, called Eidee, which is Amanda’s favorite part of Nowruz.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE?
As mentioned above, we celebrate Nowruz. We also celebrate Charshanbeh Suri with family and relatives, which means Wednesday Ceremony. It takes place on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz. It is an ancient Iranian tradition where people set up small bonfires and jump over them while repeating a poetic phrase which means I give you my yellow, representing pallor and sickness, and take your red representing health and strength. As you might imagine, Amanda and her cousins love this tradition, and the next day, they tell all about it to their friends at school. Another tradition that we celebrate is Easter Portuguese style. One of the traditions of this celebration is for Amanda and her grandmother “avo” to make Portuguese Sweet Bread called Masa Savada, they put a whole egg inside the bread which gets baked with the bread.
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?
Yes, that is one of the reasons we love LA.
DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME?
Elizabeth speaks Portuguese to her parents, through which, Amanda has picked up the language. Also, Amanda has a very close and special relationship with her grandmother, and as such, converses with her in Portuguese on regular basis. She also knows some Farsi, but, not at a conversational level. We certainly want her to know as many languages as she can learn.
ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?
Yes, they are very understanding and supportive of it. They love and appreciate each of us for who we are. Nonetheless, they are also appreciative of our multiethnic relationship.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR PARTNER'S ETHNIC-CULTURAL BACKGROUND?
We certainly enjoy the food; we also enjoy the Portuguese Fado which is the Portuguese Blues, as well as, a variety of Persian music.
DID YOU FIND BIG DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY YOU GREW UP VS. YOUR SPOUSE DUE TO DIFFERENCES IN RACE?
Interestingly enough, even though we are from two different cultures, our family values were similar.
WHAT IS THE MOST SURPRISING/UNEXPECTED THING YOU'VE LEARNED ABOUT EACH OTHER'S CULTURE?
Similarities in family values and the appreciation and the closeness of family members.
WHAT ACTIONS HAVE YOU TAKEN TO TEACH YOUR DAUGHTER ABOUT EACH OF YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
We speak to Amanda on regular basis about our childhood and tell her stories about our upbringing, which she loves. The stories are told in the context that we are all different and unique in our own ways, and that our country was built on embracing, respecting, and appreciating those differences. She loves the fact that she is a mixed race child.
HAS YOUR CHILD ASKED ABOUT RACE?
Amanda has never asked us specifically about race as pluralism has always been part of our lives, and as such, has become a natural part of her upbringing.
DOES YOUR DAUGHTER IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
HOW DO YOU RAISE YOUR CHILD TO HONOR DIVERSITY IN OTHERS?
As stated above, appreciation for pluralism has been an integral part of her upbringing.
WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER?
She sure is a perfect mix of both of us, and she completely recognizes that. Her social strength and desire to be around people all the time is from her mother, and her sense of curiosity comes from her father.
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOUR DAUGHTER?
In addition to enjoying her American traditions, she gets to enjoy valuable and fun traditions from two more cultures.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR YOUR CHILD'S FUTURE AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?
We hope Amanda grows up and lives in an America that embraces, respects, and appreciates the differences among us, as that is what has made this country so great. We hope that fear mongering and bigotry will find no place in our society as those are poisons to a society that seeks opportunity, justice, and happiness for its citizens.