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THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD... TO THE SOUTH?


THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD... TO THE SOUTH? via Swirl Nation Blog

As mentioned in previous posts, I’m an NPR addict.  We have a local broadcast called The Texas Standard that highlights all-things-Texas.  Every day, I mostly learn about what the new presidency means for the state and I think they talk about tacos every show, with a once-a-week argument about chili or tacos being the state food.  I will admit, I don’t get as excited for this show, as I do for THINK or Fresh Air, but love their travel tidbits and random Texas History.  When the show brought up The Underground Railroad in Texas, I naturally thought slaves were making their way north, but I was wrong…

 

In the 1850s, Nathaniel Jackson, a white slave owner from Alabama, left his plantation for the Rio Grande Valley, bringing his black wife, and former slave, Matilda Hicks, their bi-racial children, and freed slaves.  Jackson Ranch was established in 1857 and served as a refuge for runaway slaves making their way down to Mexico.  The family built a church, a cemetery, and served vital roles in their little south Texas community for generations.  The Jackson’s heirs still live today, many of whom mixed with the Mexican-Americans in the town.  Lots of multi-racial goodness, but unfortunately, very little information about this revolutionary family.

 

In 2005, a lovely historical marker was dedicated to the cemetery for all to learn about this brave family.  I never heard this story, and it makes me wonder how many others are out there just like it.  If you know any, please share, and we’ll do a post on it.

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD... TO THE SOUTH? via Swirl Nation Blog

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LIAM'S MIXED CHICKS HAIR PRODUCT REVIEW


You Never Forget Your First Time…

Swirl Nation bloggers had the opportunity to sample the Mixed Chicks Hair product line and give us feedback on how the products worked in their hair. Mixed Chicks Hair products were created by Kim Etheredge and Wendi Levy whose collaboration of love developed products for multiracial men, women and children who had curly/textured hair types.


Who better to try Mixed Chicks Hair products than your favorite Swirl Nation ladies? Here is Liam's experience...

Before Leave In

Before Leave In

Name: Liam, age 3 (son of Swirl Nation founder Amal)

 

Social Media: IG / TW 

 

After Leave In

After Leave In

What was the first Mixed Chicks products you tried? Mixed Chicks Kids’ Leave-In Conditioner

 

Initial reaction? Yay

 

Why did you decide to try Mixed Chicks products out? Giveaway

 

Does using a culture specific beauty product impact your beauty regime? My son’s hair has never been challenging.  Being from a mixed racial background myself, I have a pretty good grasp on his type of hair; however, from my experience, to have the shine and definition for my curls and his curls, hair-wetting, every day, is almost mandatory.  Every once in awhile, we might have that lucky day where we could get away without wetting our hair and still have the brilliant, just-washed look.  With the Mixed Chicks Kid’s Leave-In Conditioner, my son can go three whole days – THREE- without me having to re-wet his hair and he still has defined curls.  This definitely saves time.  I don’t know the price-point of the products used, but if you could only buy one of the products, I would say invest in the leave-in.  Also, from a mommy standpoint, I love how you can easily “lock” all of the bottles without pushing down and turning (inadvertently dispensing product). My kids like to pour shampoo in the bath to make bubbles… whole bottles… that’s a lot of screaming and money.

 

Are there other Mixed Chicks products you are interested in trying out? For the 3-year-old, no.

LIAM'S MIXED CHICKS HAIR PRODUCT REVIEW via Swirl Nation Blog
Day Two

Day Two

Day Three

Day Three


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HONORING WORLD HIJAB DAY


HONORING WORLD HIJAB DAY via Swirl Nation Blog

Today, February 1st is World Hijab Day. One of our founders, Amal, is supporting in her city of Dallas, TX. During a time when hatred and anti-immigrant sentiments are at an all-time high, the movement, now in its 5th year is more important than ever. 

The overall mission of WHD is to create a more peaceful world where global citizens respect each other. Particularly, WHD focuses on fighting bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice against Muslim women. This is most crucial in these times where Hijab is being banned in some countries while in other countries, Muslim women are being targeted and harassed verbally and physically. We must stand for Muslim women's right to cover. There are many ways to show your solidarity and it is not too late to participate!

More more information go to their website.

On social media share your photos using #Istand4Hijab #WorldHijabDay


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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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MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH


With husband, poet Nick Laird

With husband, poet Nick Laird

This remarkable woman just came out with another novel and I’m so excited!  She was the featured guest for Fresh Air on NPR about a week ago and I sat in a parking lot for the full-hour interview. 

 

OK, so backing up…

I read White Teeth, very late, right before I became pregnant with my daughter in 2007.  I couldn’t put the book down.  Zadie Smith is so lyrical, so RAW.  Being mixed-race herself, she writes from a deep place about growing up mixed-race.  She examines immigrants and their children and the tug and pull of longing for a homeland while making a home in a new land; a new land where your neighbors are from all over, doing the same thing.  She is witty, truthful, and a great storyteller.  White Teeth, her debut novel, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the 2000 Whitbread Book Award in category best first novel, the Guardian First Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize, and the Betty Trask AwardTime magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

 

Can we say “baller”?

Since her debut novel, Smith has written four more novels, countless stories, and essays.  She’s brilliant.  And this is really a Woman Crush for me – I know I wrote about Rose Bertram before, but I don’t know much about Rose Bertram, except she’s very attractive, is dating a hot soccer player, and has an amazing Instagram.  Rose could be quite the erudite, I just don’t know; however, Zadie Smith finished White Teeth while in her final year at Cambridge University...

 

A little more about this woman du jour (taken from Wikipedia):

Zadie Smith was born as Sadie Smith in the north-west London borough of Brent to a Jamaican (Black) mother, Yvonne Bailey, and an English (Caucasian) father, Harvey Smith.  Her mother had grown up in Jamaica and migrated to England in 1969. Their marriage was her father's second. Zadie has a half-sister, a half-brother, and two younger brothers, one of whom is the rapper and stand-up comedian Doc Brown and the other is rapper Luc Skyz. As a child, she was fond of tap dancing; as a teenager, she considered a career as an actress in musical theatre; and as a university student she earned money as a jazz singer and wanted to become a journalist.
 

Her interview on Fresh Air made me fall in love even more – it can seriously be its own post.  She is so intelligent and insightful.  A couple excerpts:

On a poll that found that about seven in 10 Donald Trump supporters thought life in America was better in the 1950s

Zadie Smith:

This is a very interesting point for me because that kind of historical nostalgia is only available to a certain kind of person. ... I can't go back to the '50s, because life in the '50s for me is not pretty, nor is it pretty in 1320 or 1460 or 1580 or 1820 or even 1960 in this country, very frankly. So that's what interests me — the historical nostalgia that is available or not available to others.
I am also historically nostalgic, and the left is also historically nostalgic, and as tempting as it would be to apply the solutions of 1970s semi-socialist England to present problems, I don't think that's possible either. I think the idea is that you find some way to restate the things you find valuable in the past — if you find them valuable — in a way that people can live with, in a way that's livable in this contemporary moment.

On how being biracial allows her to blend in with different cultures

Zadie Smith:

I think people of my shade all over the world will have these experiences: You might go to Morocco and people will believe you Moroccan; you might go to Egypt and be confused for an Egyptian; you might find yourself in Bangladesh and people are talking Bengali to you. It's an interesting mind state, one I've always found very enjoyable, actually. ... I guess ... the movability of the identity is interesting, whereas I suppose a white person is white wherever they go. They're kind of stuck with it, whereas I find the interesting interpretive quality that my shade creates in others curious — sometimes funny, sometimes upsetting, sometimes alarming.
 

And I haven’t even mentioned her beauty and style.  I’m providing photos for that…

MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH via Swirl Nation Blog
MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH via Swirl Nation Blog
And she can hold her own standing next to a model and fashion designer

And she can hold her own standing next to a model and fashion designer


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THE SALDANA SISTERS THEIR EQUAL OPPORTUNITY LOVE


So, some people got heated over the above photo of Zoe Saldana and her sisters

From accusations of self-hate, to entitlement, people (presumably black men) were not happy with the sisters’ romantic choices:

Jen forwarded this to me because I come from a family of four girls and every last one of us married non-Black men.  With the exception of my younger sister, we ALL equal-opportunity dated – Black, White, Latino, Asian, and every mixture of all of those…

My oldest sister married her first love at 18.  He is white.  They have three beautiful children.  My brother-in-law married my sister knowing she had a terminal illness and he would have to take care of her.  He took care of her until she died, and I can assure you he still loves her very much. 

My older sister had a child with a black man.  Things did not work out and she raised my niece as a single mother until she met her current husband.  He is white.  They have two children together and he takes care of my niece from my sister’s first relationship like she was his own.

My little sister fell in love with her husband.  He is white.  They have one daughter together and his daughter from a previous marriage.  I am so happy for my little sister to be married to this man because he’s just a REALLY good guy.

They are ALL really good guys.  I totally notice they are white – they are like, white, white, super-, like “OMG” white; but I KNOW in my heart they didn’t marry these men because they are white.  They married them because they are good guys and treat them really well.  I know this because I married my non-Black husband.

I didn’t have a “type”.  I was so equal opportunity, with one exception: my dates needed to be tall – the taller the better.  When I met my husband, while wearing heels, he was shorter than me.  I did not want to like him.  I still think he did some Santeria/Voodoo on me because I can’t control my love for him.  I’m crazy for him.  Literally.  I risked having short offspring to be with him.  No one can make me laugh like him.  No one can make me as mad.  I love his short little Latino ass.  I love him to the moon and back, and I can tell you, with sincerest honesty that I didn’t go out looking for a non-black man to marry because I hate my race.  I was looking for a man to make me feel this way.  We’ve been together for twelve years, married for ten of those years, and we have two very lovely children who are being raised to be proud of both heritages.  (oh, and by the way, I’m his first black relationship… he wasn’t purposely seeking me because of my race either)

So please stop with this “they date outside their race because they hate themselves.”  I’m sure Zoe and her sisters don’t hate themselves.  Although I agree there has been a lot of messed up stuff that has gone on throughout history to make us Black people feel bad about ourselves, I am sure that is not why Zoe Saldana and her sisters are with these men. 

If you love black women, more power to you.  I have a secret, the Saldana sisters aren’t the only black women in the world.  In America, many black women are single.  Sadly, statistically, black women are least likely to marry than any other woman of another race in America.  Unfortunately, black women represent the largest percentage of single mothers in America.  Over half of black women over the age of 18 have had some college, so they are educated.  You are complaining about these THREE women… get over it.


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IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE


IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE via Swirl Nation Blog

The new album from Lebanese composer and oud player, Marcel Khalife, is purely magical.  I close my eyes and can feel the desert breeze caressing my sun-scorched face.  I cannot help keeping time to every drum beat with my hips and tears fill my eyes from pure love, passion, longing…

IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE via Swirl Nation Blog

I don’t speak Arabic.  I know the curse words, but even those I say incorrectly.  You don’t need to know Arabic to feel the emotion in the words and rhythms of Khalife’s songs.  If you are not into world music, or venturing out of your normal realm of familiar music, this album might not be for you.  If you love dreamy melodies and songs that tell a story, this album could be for you.  The story, the drama, is in the music, and it is meant to be felt.

Andalusia used to be home to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  For centuries, they lived in peace together.  This album conjures that optimism and reminds us it is possible.  Although Khalife is Christian, his lyrics come from the late Palestinian-Muslim poet, Mahmoud Darwish.

In melding faith, culture, and language, Khalife also brings together jazz, classical, and traditional Middle Eastern sounds to this album.  And true to his message of remembering a time when faiths lived together in harmony, the combination of music genres works together to create something beautiful.

The album feels like an opera, you might want to listen to one song alone, but you know the experience is richer if you listen to the whole album – beginning to end. 

My favorite way to experience a culture is through food, but if the food is not readily available, music is the next best thing.  Music humanizes, it transcends boundaries, so let the dream begin, and be transported…


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Multiracial #WCW: Devon Aoki


So I was watching Fergie’s video MILF (#goals, btw) and noticed Devon Aoki in the video.  I didn’t even know the woman had a kid, so I went down the rabbit hole of what is the Internet and caught up on this beautiful girl’s life.

MULTIRACIAL #WCW: Devon Aoki via Swirl Nation Blog
MULTIRACIAL #WCW: Devon Aoki via Swirl Nation Blog

A little background, I first saw Devon Aoki on the cover of Vegas magazine on one of my first visits in the early 2000s.  She was a tiny thing with almond eyes, blonde hair, and full, heart-shaped lips that sloped downwards.  On this particular cover, I think her freckles weren’t covered up.  She was a doll.  Seriously, she looked like a porcelain doll I had when I was a child.  I was totally intrigued and wanted to know her background.  This was before “googling” was a thing (can you believe it?), so I had to actually read the article.

 

Devon Aoki’s father, Hiroaki Aoki, is Japanese and the founder of Benihana.  Her mother is Pamela Hilburger, a woman of German and English lineage.  Devon began modeling at 13 and was the face of Versace at 16.  She moved on from modeling to acting.  Most people probably remember her from 2 Fast 2 Furious, but the only movie I’ve seen her in is D.E.B.S.

 

MULTIRACIAL #WCW: Devon Aoki via Swirl Nation Blog

Aoki is all grown up now.  She’s married and has three (THREE!!!) kids.  She is still just as beautiful and adorable and her three kids definitely have the pretty gene.  She is totally a MILF – Mom I’d Like to Follow… Get your head out of the gutter…


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INTERRACIAL ROYAL FAMILY


STRANGER THINGS: INTERRACIAL ROYAL FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

I finally finished all seasons of Downton Abbey.  I am both happy and sad it ended, but I’m already on to my next binge-worthy obsession: Stranger Things.  What I loved about Downton is the juxtaposition between the service class and the aristocracy and how that changed over the course of time.  There was one story line over two episodes that dealt with interracial love, and I love the creators of Downton for taking that chance.  Other than that, we hardly saw any person of color in the whole series.  This made me think: have things changed since the late 1800s regarding the aristocracy and race?  Although there is evidence of biracial, illegitimate children of royals – the Prince of Monaco’s biracial son with a flight attendant comes to mind – you do not hear much about biracial royal families in the modern age.  Only one royal family, that I know of, has broken this barrier: The Royal Family of Liechtenstein. 

 

The family is very private, but this is what I could find out about the family.  Prince Nikolaus Maria of Liechtenstein is the second son of Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie.  He married Angela Gisela Brown, now Princess Angela of Liechtenstein, a fashion designer of Afro-Panamanian descent in January 2000. The marriage obtained prior consent and had full support of the groom’s family.  Being that there are very few royal families left in Europe, some people were not fans of bringing a non-royal into the elite class; however, other Royals welcomed the change. They have a son together, Prince Alfons Constantin Maria of Liechtenstein, born on May 18, 2001 and he is in line to the throne.

 

Prince Alfons was such an adorable little boy.  He should be 15 years old now, but I couldn’t find any recent photos of him.  This is the most current photo, a compilation of the Royal Families of Liechtenstein:


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FREDI WASHINGTON


“To prove I don’t buy white superiority I chose to be a Negro.”  -- Fredi Washington

“To prove I don’t buy white superiority I chose to be a Negro.”  -- Fredi Washington

Before I moved to Germany in first grade, I fondly remember going to my Grandma’s house after school and watching old movies with her.  The routine was always the same: walk to Grandma’s house from the bus stop, watch the afternoon movie (always a classic), change into play clothes and either pester the dog – Spike – or my Shetland Pony named Star Dust (or get in to some other shenanigans a six-year-old can get in to on a farm).  Every weekday, it was the same until we moved.  I credit my Grandma for instilling in me my love of old movies and the current romanticism I have in owning a farm.

 

Old movies – the glamour, the costumes – I love how everyone seems to break out in song and dance (tap dancing, even) at the same time in a dreamy choreographic number.  I love when people are introduced and they say, “charmed I’m sure”.  What does that even mean? I don’t know, but I love it.  What I don’t like about old movies: the shortage of minority roles and the typecasting that went to the few available roles for minorities.  At one time in my life, I seriously wanted to be an actress and I always thought, I love this period movie, but I would obviously be cast as the slave…no fancy ball gown and wig for me. Womp, womp.  I can’t deny, I love a good classic – Mildred Pierce, Gone with the Wind, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  The first two movies employed the same stereotypical black characters: slow and simple; or sassy – all servants or slaves.  The last movie employed a white person, Mickey Rooney, playing an Asian man, horribly, again, degradingly having an atrocious overbite, eating with chopsticks and complaining about Western ways.  Although I love these movies, these characters remind me of the really bad roles available for minority actors and actresses during that time. 

 

One movie I remember watching as a child was Imitation of Life, the 1934 version.  Being that the movie was made in 1934, I assumed the lead character, Peola, was a white actress portraying a light-skinned black woman trying to pass.  I mean, Mickey Rooney was portraying an Asian man in the 1960s, so why not?  It turns out, Fredi Washington, the actress, was black.  Gasp.  Now, Mrs. Washington was actually one of those unapologetically black actresses that took part in the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights movement.  After learning this, I had to dig deeper.

 

Fredericka Washington was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1903, the eldest daughter of five children.   Her mother died when she was eleven and she was forced to help take care of her younger siblings.  Her father remarried and the family moved up to New York during the Great Migration.  She began as a chorus girl in Harlem, even dating Duke Ellington and becoming friends with Josephine Baker.  She made the rounds in early Black movies before landing her most memorable role in Imitation of Life in 1934.  Fredi was born very fair with light brown hair and bluish-grey eyes, many people at the time thought she was Caucasian.  Many Hollywood executives asked her to “pass” as white to get better opportunities and roles, but she didn’t.  When asked why, she answered, “Because I’m honest, firstly, and secondly, you don’t have to be white to be good.  I’ve spent most of my life trying to prove to those who think otherwise… I am a Negro and I am proud of it.”  Imitation of Life was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture that year, but it did not win.

 

Fredi Washington went on to form the Negro Actors Guild in 1937, an organization that fought against stereotyping and advocated for broader roles for Blacks.  Fredi, herself, had trouble finding roles – too light for “black” roles; and miscegenation laws prohibiting her from being cast with a white leading man.  Fredi became a theatre writer and a film consultant on 1953’s Carmen Jones (another favorite of mine) and Porgy and Bess.  When asked again why she didn’t “pass” to get better opportunities, she replied, “You see I’m a mighty proud gal and I can’t for the life of me, find any valid reason why anyone should lie about their origin or anything else for that matter.  Frankly, I do not ascribe to the stupid theory of white supremacy and to try to hide the fact that I am a Negro for economic or any other reasons, if I do I would be agreeing to be a Negro makes me inferior and that I have swallowed whole hog all of the propaganda dished out by our fascist-minded white citizens.”

 

In 1975, Fredi Washington was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.  She died in 1994. 

Fredi Washington via Swirl Nation Blog

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BOOK REVIEW: "THE GILDED YEARS" BY KARIN TANABE


The lead character’s real picture from the late 1800s

The lead character’s real picture from the late 1800s

While reading TheSkimm, I stumbled on this book review:

 

“The Gilded Years” by Karin Tanabe
Based on the true story of the first African-American woman to ever go to Vassar College. The catch? No one knew she was African-American. After befriending the school’s Serena van der Woodsen, she has to work even harder at keeping her secret. Think: “Gatsby” meets college meets an impressive beach read.
 

My favorite book genre is historical fiction, my favorite era to read about is early 20th century, and I’m obsessed with women becoming modern and the struggle of Blacks post-slavery and pre-Civil Rights.  This book was perfect.  I have so little time and reading a book is very far down on my list of to-dos, so I rarely make time for this, but making time for this book was worth it.  I didn’t submit blog posts (sorry Jen!!!), to make time to read this book.  Luckily, it is a quick-read.

 

Because this book is based on history, resist the urge to google the lead character’s name.  Information about her life is available online, but the twists and turns of her story won’t be as sweet if you read about her life before finishing the book.  I am impatient, so I did google her, but I’m famous for not minding spoilers.

 

The lead character straddles between different worlds – Black/White, rich/poor – to seek a better future for herself that would be denied her if she did not pretend to be someone she is not.  It also addresses guilt amongst black people who aren’t “representing” and the pressure to be the poster child for a whole group of people.  The author, Karin Tanabe, put considerable time and research into writing this book.  She is a Vassar graduate and searched archives, even using real newspaper headlines printed in the late 1800s in the book.  Definitely read the afterward when you finish the book to gain more insight into how this story was discovered and uncovered.  The descendent of the lead character is doing further research on her family to determine if they are related to Thomas Jefferson, so I don’t think the story ends with this book.

 

One of the reasons I love reading about this era is the description of the times.  I love reading about the clothing, décor, and social activities.  The innocence of courtship and the chivalry of the men are always appealing to me.  I grew up reading Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, so a gloved-hand grazing a man’s arm is so much more up my alley than the explicit sexual encounters you’ll find in Fifty Shades of Grey.

The lead character’s real picture from the late 1800s

The lead character’s real picture from the late 1800s

I highly recommend this book and look forward to hearing what you thought about it in the comments below! You can purchase the book HERE.


 

 

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OUR RESPONSE TO AZIZ ANSARI'S 'WHY TRUMP MAKES ME SCARED FOR MY FAMILY'


OUR RESPONSE TO AZIZ ANSARI'S 'WHY TRUMP MAKES ME SCARED FOR MY FAMILY' via Swirl Nation Blog

I was just reading the New York Times online and came across Aziz Ansari’s essay, Aziz Ansari: Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family.

 

I’ve been trying to stay away from writing about current politics on Swirl Nation, but after so much xenophobic rhetoric being used in the presidential campaign, I feel it is appropriate to finally address it.  We live in an increasingly multicultural world, and an even more increasing multicultural country.  America was founded on immigration.  People came to this country to escape religious persecution, economic and social troubles, and the pursuit of happiness.  So when a presidential candidate feeds off of fear, condones violence, and comes from a place of negativity to advance his agenda, especially when he is utilizing negative racial, ethnic, and even female stereotypes to do so, it truly worries me.

 

In Ansari’s essay, he expresses his fear for his family in this country.  Aziz Ansari’s family are practicing Muslims.  He cautions his mother to stay away from mosques and partake in prayer at home.  He knows that many Americans, when thinking about Muslims, do not see Nobel prize-winning teenager Malala Yousafzai, but a bomb-wielding Jihadist.  And this is what is so troubling when you have a presidential candidate, or anyone, lump a group of people in to one category and perpetuate these negative stereotypes.  Ansari writes, “According to reporting my Mother Jones, since 9/11, there have been 49 mass shootings in this country, and more than half of those were perpetrated by white males.  I doubt we’ll hear Mr. Trump make a speech asking his fellow white males to tell authorities ‘who the bad ones are’, or call for restricting white males’ freedoms.”  Think about that for a moment.

 

Ansari isn’t the first celebrity to express concerns regarding Donald Trump’s speeches.  Louis C.K. wrote a letter voicing fear of having a bully for a president. He compared him to Hitler, writing “Please stop it with voting for Trump. It was funny for a little while. But the guy is Hitler. And by that I mean that we are being Germany in the 30s. Do you think they saw the shit coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all.”  Jenn sent me a particularly moving clip of Brandon Stanton, curator of the popular website Humans of New York , reading a letter he wrote decrying Trump:

I’ve previously written about language and the words we choose; and how words can be dangerous.  Please listen to the words Donald Trump is using.  He chooses the words he uses, so when he says:

"Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!" –Donald Trump, tweeting a humble brag about the Orlando shooting massacre, June 12, 2016
 
The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!" –Donald Trump on Twitter, Cinco de Mayo, May 5, 2016
 
"I think the only card she has is the women's card. She has got nothing else going. Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she would get 5% of the vote. And the beautiful thing is women don't like her, ok?" –Donald Trump, victory press conference, New York, April 26, 2016
 
"Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don't know. I don't know -- did he endorse me, or what's going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists." –Donald Trump, refusing to condemn former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and noted white supremacist David Duke, who endorsed Trump for president, February 28, 2016

 

"It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” –Donald Trump in a tweet quoting fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, February 28, 2016

"We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated." –Donald Trump on his performance with poorly educated voters who helped him win the Nevada Caucus, Feb. 23, 2016

 

"There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees." –Donald Trump, encouraging violence at his rallies, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Feb. 1, 2016
"For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian. … If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS' ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened." –Donald Trump, in response to remarks by Pope Francis saying that "a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian." (February 18, 2016)
"That was so great. Who was the person who did that? Put up your hand, put up your hand. Bring that person up here. I love that." –Donald Trump, praising two audience members who tackled a protester at his rally in South Carolina, Feb. 16, 2016
"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay? It's, like, incredible." –Donald Trump, speaking at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa as the audience laughed, January 23, 2016

"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." –Donald Trump campaign statement

"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever." –Donald Trump, insulting Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly over questions she asked during the first Republican primary debate
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems...they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists." –Donald Trump
"Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?" –Donald Trump on Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina

 

I could have posted many more insane quotes he’s made, from dating his own daughter to confusing 7/11 with 9/11 and denouncing John McCain as a war hero because he was caught; but his appeal boils down to fear-mongering, racism, and sexism.

 

I’ve tried to write this whole post being as civilized and level-headed as possible, but this is where I need to stop, or the remainder would be expletives…  However, on a funny note, this is what I imagine a state of the union would be like if Trump was president:

“South Carolina, wassup?”


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET MELISA ALVAREZ

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET MELISA ALVAREZ


FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL MEET MELISSA via Swirl Nation Blog

Melisa Brooke Alvarez, 33 years old

 

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

My Father is Spanish, Mexican and Native American (Navajo), and My Mother is Norwegian and Creole.

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

I currently reside in the beautiful tiny town of Campbell, California.

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Very Diverse. It’s the typical California Silicon Valley melting pot. People from all over the world, from every culture, race and religion live in my neighborhood.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I grew up in the same town I live in now, although I haven’t always lived here. My paternal side of the family has very deep roots in Campbell. In fact, I live across the street from what was once the High School that my Grandparents met and fell in love at. I feel like most kids around here, even when I was a child, were mixed to some extent, but I definitely had plenty of mixed friends.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

My parents met at work. Memorex in the 1980’s. My paternal grandmother was their boss.

 

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

My Dad’s grandmother NEVER accepted my mother. I don’t know if that had to do with race, or if she really was just a cantankerous bitch that people say she was. My dad was the first born grandchild, and a clear favorite, so whoever he had married would have been up against a large amount of scrutiny. My mother’s family has always loved and supported my father. They welcomed him with open arms and plenty of nicknames. But think you have to remember this was Bay Area, California in the 1980’s. This is a liberal place now, and it was then too. My parents used to spend their days roller-skating around the hills of San Francisco, listening to music and smoking pot.  I would imagine not everyone had such an easy road. I know that my maternal Grandmother (who was a black woman that married a white man) ran into obstacles in regards to race, her children, and her marriage in society, but we’ve always been a very accepting family on both sides.

 

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

Yes. They have to be. They all are too :)

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

We are not so much of a tradition based cultural family. My mom has always been very clear with me and my brother that even though we may not look black, we are black, and that culture is ours to cherish. Music is a huge part of any celebration we have, especially Jazz and R&B. My Dad’s family used to be very big on Catholic traditions, but as the older generation has passed away, those traditions have also fallen away. I’m not sure if that answers your question, fully, but we just don’t have a formal way of being all together anymore.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Nope. Maybe the occasional scrap of creole from my mother. My Father’s paternal grandparents didn’t teach any of their children to speak Spanish, as at the time in Campbell, being mexican, or speaking spanish was very frowned upon. None of my father’s aunts or uncles, or cousins speak Spanish.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

MUSIC. Music is the great love of my life. Everything from sweet sad jazz standards to Fetty Wap. I love that on both sides of my family music is ALWAYS on. We’re always experiencing life with a soundtrack. There is not one memory I have of a family get together where there was no music playing. And the music was always somewhat culturally significant. Sade. Nancy Wilson. Donny Hathaway. Nina Simone. Both of my parents have STACKS of vinyl.

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL MEET MELISSA via Swirl Nation Blog

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

I can’t recall them ever taking any actions, but I think that’s because I grew up where I grew up. San Jose has Juneteeth festivals and Cinco De Mayo Parades. It was the perfect place to grow up with these cultural roots.

 

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

Not in a way that remember other than just to be proud of who I am and where I come from. To be proud that I’m a part of so many cultures.

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I identify as a multi-racial heterosexual woman.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

It doesn’t. I currently am dating someone and they are white, but it wasn’t a factor in choosing them, and isn’t really something I even think about as a qualifying factor.

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

Being mixed means to me that all you really need in life is love. Look at what love created! This whole new person with all of these roots and histories and ancestors who never dreamed of the possibilities that I have available today. Love is colorblind. And that is amazing!

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

You know, I don’t really know if many of my friends are mixed. I guess that’s terrible, but I just don’t even ask people, if it doesn’t come up, I’ll never know. I have two very close best friends and one is white and the other is black.

 

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

I hate hate hate being asked “What are you?” I’m a human being. End of story. I’ve been asked that question in so many ways over the past 30 years, that I just have no patience for it.

 

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

I would love for Americans to realize that love is blind to so many things. Gender. Religion. Race. Get comfortable in that space, because opening up to that reality will change so much for us as a society.

I understand that when you’re on the top that equality FEELS like oppression, but feelings aren’t reality. Come from a place of compassion and love towards your fellow human and we can all be amazed at the world we can create with that love.


You can connect with Melisa on Twitter


 

 

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MULTIRACIAL #WCW ROSE BERTRAM


I first saw this photo of Rose Bertram while trying to find a new hair color for myself:

I thought she was beautiful, but filed her photo away to reference for future hair-color and thought nothing more of it.  About two months later, I stumbled upon her Instagram.  OK, so I basically stalked her for the whole day.  I am such a creeper.  I had to know more about this beautiful creature.

From Wikipedia:

Rose and her mom 

Rose and her mom 

Stephanie Rose Bertram, or simply Rose Bertram, is a Belgian model. She was born in Kortrijk, October 26, 1994, to a Belgian father and a Senegalese-Portuguese mother. She has two sisters. Stephanie lives in Paris with her boyfriend, the Dutch footballer, Gregory van der Wiel.

If you don’t want to be jealous, don’t follow her on Instagram.  If you want to see how a really beautiful person with lots of money and a hot, rich boyfriend live, follow her on Instagram.  That all being said, she seems to have her priorities straight and she is having incredible fun.  Enjoy the gallery of this gorgeous woman.

Rose and her boyfriend

Rose and her boyfriend

Rose and her little sisters

Rose and her little sisters


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET LAUREN

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET LAUREN


FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL MEET LAUREN via Swirl Nation Blog

Lauren Thomas-Brewster, age 32

 

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

Norwegian, Creole (African-American, Spanish, Natchez and French), Sioux and Welsh

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Broomfield, CO

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Not at all.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I grew up in Scotts Valley, CA , San Jose, CA and Boulder, CO. Scotts Valley was the epitome of small town living with little-to-no diversity. Everyone assumed I was of Central American or South American descent and started calling me “negra” when I tried to explain to them what my background was. That caused more than a few playground fights. San Jose had a lot of diversity although there were not a lot of other people I could relate to because I didn’t find a lot of people who were as “mixed up” as I was. In Boulder, CO, I was an outcast because no group would claim me. Nobody knew what Creole was, I only knew 1 Native American and I wasn’t “white enough” or “black enough” to be accepted without jumping through huge hoops or doing some sort of song and dance (literally) to prove myself.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

I believe they met at work.

 

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

My paternal grandmother was very opposed to my father dating my mother at first because my mother was an anomaly to her. It wasn’t until my paternal grandmother met my Creole maternal grandmother and fell in love with her outspoken personality that the relationship was given my paternal grandmother’s blessing.

My maternal family did not have any objections because my maternal grandparents were some of the original people to marry outside of their races in the 1950s. If my grandfather and grandmother had been run out of town for loving each other across color lines, how could they judge their daughter for loving someone outside of her race?

 

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

I think it has been a hard concept for certain members of my extended family, but most people have been very accepting of me. They do their best to see me as a person and not as a race, but there have been a few uncomfortable moments when racial jokes are shared in front of me and they stare at me to see if I’m offended before they laugh.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

My parents did their best to raise me as an American and not force me to choose to be Anglo-American or Native American or African-American/Creole.

 WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Both of my parents spoke English. I would occasionally hear Creole words mixed in with English when I visited my mom’s family, but I had no idea what I was hearing until probably my teen years. My dad married a Bolivian woman after he and my mom divorced, so I did hear a lot of Spanish in the home, making Bolivian an “adopted culture” of mine. I am not fluent, but can understand and speak Spanish at an intermediate level.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

I identify most with my Creole background. Every time I step foot in the state of Louisiana or meet another Creole person, I feel so alive and comfortable. The food that is seasoned to perfection, the music that moves your soul and your feet at the same time, the southern English mixed with the broken Spanish and the butchered French...there is nothing like it!  Nobody ever questions how white you are or how black you are, they just tell you how they’ve know “dem Robertsons” for years and how you look just like “so-and-so.” I’ve never felt more accepted than when I’m in the presence of another Creole person or around people who appreciate the Creole culture.

 

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

I don’t have a lot of memories of my parents teaching me about my background. I tried to absorb as much of my culture as possible when I would go and visit members of my extended family. The most I learned was when I decided that I wanted to attend college in Louisiana. I must have been a Sophomore or Junior in high school when my mom and I took a trip to visit all the colleges I was interested in. She went out of her way to take me to all the important Creole landmarks so that we could learn about our culture together.

 

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

The conversations were few and far in between. When we did have conversations about race, they were either hilarious or extremely emotional. I remember a time that we tried to explain our background to my little brother who must have been between 3 and 5 at the time. He decided that he wanted to “give his Creole quarter back.” While it was his juvenile misunderstanding of his genetic makeup being a 25 cent piece of change, it may also have been wisdom beyond his years of what difficulty he would have in the future being multiracial.

The hardest conversations about race were with my older brother, my cousin and my mom. While we are all multiracial, we all have had very different experiences dealing with other people’s perceptions and acceptance of us. It always boggled my mind reaching out to them in an effort to speak to someone who had experienced the same racism that I had, only to find that they experienced racism in completely different ways.

 
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL MEET LAUREN via Swirl Nation Blog

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I either identify as mixed or as African-American/Creole. Unfortunately, I have been judged and shunned so much by Caucasians and Native Americans for not being “pure,” I find it easier to “pass” as African-American/Creole.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

My husband is African-American and most of the man I have dated in my adult life have also been African-American. Part of that is my personal preference, but a larger part of that is that my mixed features do not always make me attractive to other races.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL MEET LAUREN via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

To me, being mixed means getting used to awkward looks and the harsh question “what are you?” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin and find myself less likely to jump through anyone’s hoops to gain their acceptance, but that wasn’t always the case. For so many years, being mixed meant a daily journey to figure out which race I felt closest to and then hoping that the race I picked that day was going to welcome me into their club. “I’m feeling white today, so I better straighten my hair and put on a cardigan so they don’t question me.” Now, the biggest part of being mixed is making sure that I educate my children on who they are and that I teach them that their uniqueness makes each of them worth more than diamonds.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

The majority of the mixed people that I call friends are also my family. My cousins and siblings may not understand my journey completely, but have experienced “multi-racism” issues just like I have so we are always there to support one another. The few friends that I have outside of my family that are multiracial make it a point to remind themselves (and me) that it’s about who you are inside, not on the outside. I have noticed that the majority of my mixed friends identify more with their African-American heritage due to racism from the other races they are mixed with being so much harsher. I guess it is easier to swallow the sentiment that “you're not black enough” when the other statements you hear are flat out repulsive.

 The friend who has taught me the most about how to survive as a multiracial American is considered “Blaxican.” She is proud of all of her heritage and volunteers in activities in both the black and Mexican communities equally. She makes it a point to educate those who judge her instead of being offended or angered. I can only aspire to as amazing as her at representing the multicultural community.

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL MEET LAUREN via Swirl Nation Blog

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

My biggest pet peeve is the question “what are you?”  I don’t get how people don’t see that the phrasing of this question is so rude! It can make the sweetest of people want to teach you what the five fingers said to the face! And the statement that my children and I are “culturally ambiguous.” It makes me feel as if there is something wrong with us or that we are unwanted. In general, the comments that I could do without are those that make it seem like I am not doing enough to embrace one race/culture or the next. At the beginning and end of everyday, I am multiracial. I’m not here to constantly prove my allegiance to each race individually because, no matter what I do, I will always be letting at least one whole race down. As a grown ass woman who is multiracial, I am here to love myself, to raise accepting children and to embrace the emerging multicultural/multiracial country that we live in.

 

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

My dream is that we all accept each other as Americans instead of an African-American or an Anglo-American or a Native American, etc... I enjoy the traditions and cultural uniqueness of each race, I just wish that everyone else felt that same way. I don’t think that any race or culture needs to let go of their traditions or that we each have to participate in each other's traditions, but, at the very least, we should be open minded and sensitive to things or people that are different. I think that, as humans and as Americans, we all need to live and let live. Before you know it, multiracial people will be the majority and I look forward to that day! In the meantime, I am so appreciative of how TV shows are more frequently showcasing and mainstreaming multiculturalism so that my children do not have to feel the same amount of exclusion that I did growing up.


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THUG OR DOUCHEBAG?!


Richard Sherman is often labeled a "thug", while Johnny Manziel is labeled a "douchebag".

Richard Sherman is often labeled a "thug", while Johnny Manziel is labeled a "douchebag".

1. thug

[THəɡ]

 

NOUN

1.     a violent person, especially a criminal.

synonyms: ruffian · hooligan · vandal · hoodlum · gangster · villain ·

[more]

criminal · tough · bruiser · hardman · goon · heavy · enforcer · hired gun · hood

2.     historical

a member of a religious organization of robbers and assassins in India. Devotees of the goddess Kali, the Thugs waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travelers, in a ritually prescribed manner. They were suppressed by the British in the 1830s.


I started this post with the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary definition because I want you to gain some context to the story I’m about to tell.

My good friend, a very educated and intelligent friend, told me her new neighbors are always “thugging it out” in the pool area.  She said they are always loud and filming with their cell phones.  She also said they probably think she is racist.  Her new neighbors are black; my good friend is white.

This really bothered me.

I asked her if they were doing anything illegal.  She said no, they were just being “annoying”. I also asked her what they were doing that was so “thuggish”.  She said they were loud and shooting rap videos with their cell phones.  Naturally, I thought, “OK, they were not doing anything violent or criminal (the definition of “thug” above). Why is she using the term “thug” to describe these people?”

WHY didn’t she just say they were being “DOUCHE BAGS”?


1. douche·bag

[ˈdo͞oSHbaɡ]

NOUN

1.     a small syringe for douching the vagina, especially as a contraceptive measure.

2.     N. AMER.

informal

an obnoxious or contemptible person, typically a man.


I mean, it sounded like they fit definition #2 of douche bag.  So why did she not use “douche bag”? Why did she use “thug”?

It brought me back to Richard Sherman and the 2014 Super Bowl.  An aggressive athlete, acts aggressively (does job) in aggressive sport, and makes aggressive comments.  He is black.  He is acting like a thug.  The word “thug” was mentioned 625 times on television following the Seattle Seahawks win ( http://cbsprt.co/1n4vvE ), but then I read the recent headlines about Johnny Manziel’s situation and the word “thug” isn’t mentioned anywhere – not even in the comments section.  Serena Williams argues with a linesman at a tennis match and she is labeled “trashy”, “classless”, and a “ghetto thug”; however, John McEnroe can regularly yell at refs his whole career and he is up to his “bad-boy antics” again.

I touched on this with my “Ghetto” post on Justin Bieber, but the words we use are so powerful.  The more we associate words that connote violence and crime with a race of people, the more we associate these behaviors with a group of people subconsciously.  The worst that can happen with a douche bag is he might offend your nostrils with bad cologne and hit on you.  Thugs can hurt you.  Why did my friend choose the more vilifying word to describe the behavior of the group of black men, when I know she would have never used the same word if they were white?  Pay attention to the media – left, right, middle.  Think about the words they choose.  Then ask yourself why?  There is a reason why we choose certain words over others – the English language is vast – and always remember, these words are chosen.

“Trashy”, “Classless”, “Ghetto Thug”

“Trashy”, “Classless”, “Ghetto Thug”

“Bad-Boy Antics”

“Bad-Boy Antics”


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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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SWIRL STYLE: 6 DEGREES OF HAPA


6 DEGREES OF HAPA via Swirl Nation Blog

I was recently asked to check out Naomi Takata Shepherd’s clothing line and website, 6 Degrees of Hapa.  Loving all things multicultural, I was excited to peruse and learn more about this lovely lady; but then I thought, “what is Hapa?”  My favorite restaurant in college was named “Hapa”.  I went to a university with many Hawaiians and I heard the word mentioned from time-to-time.  I had a vague understanding of the word, but I wanted to learn more about the history and usage of this expression.

 

Hapa is a Hawaiian pidgin word that literally means “half” – hapalua.  It began as a derogatory term to describe mixed-race children that resulted from the union of local Hawaiian women and the newly-arrived plantation workers from Japan, China, the Philipines, and Vietnam.  Hapa went from being a disparaging name for those mixed with native Hawaiian and anything else.  Because these Hapas continued to mix with each other, they integrated into local Hawaiian culture and became “kama’aina”, or local.  After the influx of mainland whites after World War 2, a different population came about – half “kama’aina”, half white (haole).  This mixed race population was then called “hapa haole”, or Hapa, for short.  Eventually, with all of the mixing with mixing, Hapa started to mean any mix.  The word Hapa was carried over from Hawaii to mainland USA, but here, it means half-Asian/Hawaiian/Pacific-Islander.  To the new generation, it is no longer a derogatory term, and the label is worn proudly.  I welcome anyone to add to the history of the term Hapa and their personal feelings about it in the comments below, as I am definitely not an expert.

 

This brings me back to Naomi Takata Shepherd.  Naomi’s mother is Japanese-American and her father is an all-American mix of different European heritages.  She decided to identify as Hapa after she learned of the term at age 11.  She never felt quite right identifying herself as half-this and half-that, but she felt very comfortable being whole Hapa.  Seeing the Hapa population underrepresented in our culture led her to begin her clothing line, 6 Degrees of Hapa.  And don’t think you have to be Hapa to wear the clothing that features pictures of Spam Musubi, Waves, Shaved Ice and other Hapa paraphernalia.  The reason for the “6 Degrees” is that we all know someone who is Hapa and the line was created to promote cultural diversity.

One particularly noble words of wisdom about being mixed-race from Ms. Takata Shepherd:

“People will try to put you in a box because they may not be used to being around people who have diverse backgrounds.  You don’t have to settle for what they decide you are. Your identity is up to you.” 
Amen.

If you are interested in learning more about Naomi Takata Shepherd and shop her line, please visit her online store.

You can also read Naomi's posts as Swirl Nation Blog contributor here


To learn more about the Hapa community, one of our other contributors, Alex Chester has a great blog called Me So Hapa


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE COHEN-WITTINGHAM FAMILY

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE COHEN-WITTINGHAM FAMILY


In January 1992, my family moved to a little Colorado Springs suburb.  I just finished spending six years in a foreign country, immersed in another culture.  Everything about me was kind of non-American.  Yes, I spoke English, but my clothes were weird, I listened to Take That, Massive Attack, and Nenah Cherry, I was a serious close-talker, and I pronounced things oddly.

When I arrived for my first day at Rudy Elementary, I was awkward with a bad semi-afro.  I was a weirdo.  Unbeknownst to me, there were two cliques at my school that eye-balled me as I walked in.  They negotiated who “got me”, and Sabrina’s group won.  This is how I met Sabrina Cohen.

The next few years were filled with group school projects and gossiping.  I remember listening to the Digital Underground “Sex Packets” CD at her house when I was way too young to be listening to it.  Sabrina moved to Boulder in High School and I moved to a town that shall not be named; however, we kept in touch.  When I transferred to University of Colorado at Boulder, it was like we didn’t skip a beat and our friendship picked up where we left it.

After graduating with honors from CU, Sabrina went to Law School out East.  She graduated and practiced for a short time in Boston, then became a clerk of courts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  We still kept in touch.  Although we’ve never made special trips to see each other, we always seem to connect at the most random times --from Boca with Rhoda (her grandmother), to Boston while shooting a commercial for feminine products—we get to connect when it is most important.

Sabrina is just beginning a beautiful family of her own and I am so pleased to introduce her, her lovely husband Creing, and baby Aria to our readers. 

xx Amal


MEET THE COHEN-WITTINGHAM FAMILY

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE COHEN WITTINGHAM FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

Sabrina Cohen, age 35

Jewish, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Greek and Mongolian descent

 

Creing Wittingham, age 27

Jamaican, Japanese, English, African, and Filipino  

 

Aria Wittingham, age 20 weeks

A mix of us

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE COHEN WITTINGHAM FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Swampscott, MA

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?  

We swiped right on Tinder, and he actually seemed normal and on the site to meet someone instead of looking for a one-night stand.  

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE COHEN WITTINGHAM FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

There were sometimes communication issues because Creing is from Jamaica and I am from Colorado.  So we got frustrated with each other due to our different ways of communicating.  I also hate when he sucks his teeth.  Lol.    

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

Creing cooks healthy, organic meals that he grew up with in Jamaica.  He also watches futbol, and Aria already has taken an interest in watching it as well.  Also, on weekends, I make us french toast using the recipe that I learned from my mother.  

 

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

I enjoy the reggae music.  He has introduced me to the sounds of many new reggae artists.  Also, I enjoy his food dishes.  For example, Jerk Chicken, Ackee and Saltfish, Fried Plantains, Blue Mountain Coffee, rice and peas, Callaloo and Gizzadas.  We have adopted all of these traditions into our family.

 

        

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE COHEN WITTINGHAM FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

No, we live in a small town in Massachusetts where the majority of the residents are older and white.  

 

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

My partner speaks Patois.  He will teach it to Aria.  I say some words in Yiddish (mostly bad words), but I am not fluent.  I will teach the words that I do know to Aria.  

  

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?

Yes, my parents love Creing as their own son.  I have not met Creing's parents because they live in Jamaica.  However, I have spoken to his mom on the phone and she is very friendly and happy with our marriage.  

 

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

I enjoy the food and music the most.  I do not know how to cook.  My husband prepares delicious, healthy meals that I love.  It is wonderful to eat tasty food that is both organic and healthy.  I have always loved Reggae music, and it is nice to share that love with someone.  In addition, my husband as showed me new artists and taught me things about the music.  I love learning, and I learn from him everyday.  

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE COHEN WITTINGHAM FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

We have major differences in how we grew up, but I think the differences are more due to me being from Colorado and him being from Jamaica.  I guess it could be considered race related because the majority of the population in Jamaica is Black, but many of my black friends that grew up in Colorado also grew up differently from my husband.  My husband grew up in a small town in Jamaica.  For the first eleven years of my husband’s life he did not have running water.  He used to walk miles to go to school.  He also spent a part of his childhood living with his grandparents.  On the other hand, I grew up in a house with my parents.  My walk to school was short.  He was forced to grow up quicker than me.

 

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

It was unexpected that my husband grew up with no running water and used to carry gallons of water on a bicycle.  He was surprised to learn that there are hierarchies in the Jewish religion and other Jews look down upon ones who are not like them.  I am at the bottom because I do not practice.  

 

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

I know we did experience blatant racism in NYC.  People often would stare at us on the bus and subway and whisper.  Aria is so young now, that no one has made any ridiculous comments regarding her.  My husband commented the other day that people may wonder if he is the help or Aria’s father because she is not very dark and has my hair.  However, we have been lucky so far.  

 

 

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

Aria is so young now that only now we play different music for her.  When she is older, my husband will teach her about the Rastafarian religion, and we will introduce the cultural aspects of the Jewish religion.

 

DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

We identify Aria as mixed.  Although my husband jokingly calls her the “Black girl.”

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE COHEN WITTINGHAM FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

We plan to teach her about different cultures and express that she should judge a person by how they treat you and others, not on how they look.  We also will choose books honoring many different cultures.  

 

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

In appearance, my daughter is a definite mix between myself and my husband.  Her personality is similar to me in the sense that she is feisty and bossy.  She is stubborn like my husband.  

 

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

We plan on telling Aria that she is mixed with our love for one another.  We also want her to embrace that she is unique and does not have to look like everyone else.  

 

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

My dream is for Aria to not experience racism and to always look at people the way she does at this moment.  She just sees someone to cuddle with and hold her, and has no knowledge of race, beauty, etc.  However, this is an unrealistic expectation.  So I hope that Aria is comfortable in her own skin and embraces that she is a mixed child.  I hope that children are taught to focus on similarities rather than differences here in America.  

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY MEET THE COHEN WITTINGHAM FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

You can connect with Sabrina and Creing on Instagram


 

 

 

 

 

 

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IN MY HEADPHONES: SADE LOVE DELUXE


If you read my bio, you know I spent all of elementary school in Germany.  Seeing and experiencing Europe were primary goals my parents had for us kids, so we traveled a lot.  The preferred mode of transportation: by car.  I have many memories of our road trips.  I have many memories of listening to the same four cassette tapes over and over: James Taylor, Steely Dan, and two albums by Sade.

I will admit, as a child, I did not fully appreciate Sade’s music.  I knew I liked her velvet-y voice, but I probably heard the song “Your Love Is King” one thousand times between the ages of 6 and 12.  I always felt it was a compliment when my parents’ friends would say I looked like a little Sade.  My mom started having my hair relaxed when I was eight years old and I always wore it like the songstress: pulled back in a low ponytail. It wasn’t until we moved to the United States, the invention of the compact disc, my dad’s discovery of a 1988 album, and the release of a new album, that I learned to fully love Sade.

At 12, I was just beginning my angst-y preteen/teen-aged years.  MTV and BET ruled my universe.  I alternated between listening to Arrested Development and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  However, in the background, my dad was listening to this song that I secretly loved by Sade: Stronger than Pride.  Her voice, the percussion, the sweet guitar towards the end that has nuances of pain.  The song resonated with me.  I had never been in love, but the song vicariously let me feel the struggle.

Sade’s Stronger than Pride (Audio):

That summer, Sade released Love Deluxe.  I loved every song on this album.  The videos for this album were in constant rotation on MTV and BET, so it was ok that I liked Sade (I was 12, so I cared what people thought).  Who can forget her “Ordinary Love” video?

Sade was also so beautiful.  I loved her hair.  Again, her voice.  I was beginning to grasp what she was singing, the metaphors, the pain.  It was also the first time I correlated artistry with music.  Half-Nigerian and half-English, Sade Adu moved to the UK at 4 from Nigeria and has always been aware of social issues and sings about them.  In 1992, Sade juxtaposed first-world problems with a Somali woman’s real problems in her song “Pearls”.  I always remember these lyrics when I complain about something trivial:

 

“She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives a life she didn't choose
And it hurts like brand-new shoes

Hurts like brand-new shoes” 

 

Eyebrows on fleek in 1992:

IN MY HEADPHONES SADE LOVE DELUXE via Swirl Nation Blog

Love Deluxe was so deliciously 90s.  I loved it. 

It would be 8 years before Sade would release another album.  Lovers Rock would become the wedding song of 2001.  I did not listen to the whole album.  By then, I was knee-deep in The Postal Service, Air, and Zero 7.  I also didn’t listen to her follow-up album, Soldier of Love released in 2010.  Writing this post has reminded me I need to re-visit the works of Sade and Love Deluxe will always have a special place in my heart.


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