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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET ERIC MARCEL SCHIESSER


MEET ERIC MARCEL SCHIESSER, AGE 21

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

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

German and African-American

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Germany.

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Pretty much, yes..

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

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

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

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

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

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

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

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

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

 

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

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

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

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

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

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

 

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

Looooooorrrrddd yes!

·      Are you adopted?

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

·      Is your mother only dating black guys?

·      You are so handsome for a black guy

·      Where are you from?

·      No what are you really?

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

·      Wannabe nigger

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

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

·       Chessboard

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

 

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

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

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

You can follow me in IG


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY


MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY

 

Swetha Maddula Batambuze, age 36

  • Indian-born raised in the U.K.

Jonah Batambuze, age 37

  • First-generation Ugandan, U.S. born

Iyla Joy (daughter), age 2yrs 11-months

  • Mixed Ugandan/Indian born in U.K.

Ajani Jagan (son), 8-months old

  • Mixed Ugandan/Indian born in U.K.
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

We live one hour north east of London in a town called Peterborough.

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

My husband Jonah was studying abroad for a semester at University College Dublin, and I was visiting a childhood friend who happened to be living in the same dormitory.

 

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

Yes. I’m a first-generation Hindu from a semi-traditional family, and my husband is first-generation Ugandan from a Christian background.  Not only did we come from different religious, and ethnic backgrounds, but I come from a family of doctors, and my husband wasn't set on a similar career path.  Since my parents didn’t have any experiences of socialising with Africans or Ugandans they felt uneasy about our relationship.  What I’ve learned is it’s easy to form generalisations when you’re not familiar with different cultures.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME? ARE THEY CONNECTED TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL CULTURES?

We celebrate common Hindu South-Indian festivals, and we also have the kids participate in Christmas and other Christian festivals from my husband’s side.  With my husband being from the United States we also participate in festivals/holidays that are celebrated in the U.S. that aren’t as big in the United Kingdom (Halloween, Thanksgiving.)

 

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

I really enjoy the rhythm of Ugandan music along with their dance.  We’ll oftentimes play the music aloud in our house and dance with the children and have a good time.  Music and dance can reveal so much about cultures once you investigate the deeper meaning.

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

Yes. The city we live within has people of various colours and religious denominations. And, is much more diverse than the communities that I or my husband grew up in.

 

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

I speak Telugu, which is a South Indian dialect, (fluently) and I also speak English. My husband speaks English, but is not fluent in his mother tongue which is Luganda. We both want our children to speak multiple languages, and have textbooks to teach our children the basics. We both feel that our children knowing our traditions and cultures is important.

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?

Both sides of our extended families are extremely supportive of our relationship, and have been since our wedding.

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

As well as the music, and dance listed above I love the textiles and fashion from Ugandan culture. I love the use of bold colors and how the fabric is a true reflection of the culture. It feels as if there are 1,000 stories locked into each distinct piece of fabric.

 

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

Growing up Asian my upbringing was heavily focused on my education and academics. Extracurricular activities like music, and anything which could build up my CV for medical school applications was the first priority. I noticed my husband was given much more freedom to explore other interests and extracurricular activities when he was growing up.

 

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

The most surprising thing we learned about each other, is how similar both of our cultures are. Both cultures share similar ceremonies, with a heavy focus on respect for family.

 

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

There’s a complex within Indian/Asian culture regarding skin complexion, with lighter skin being seen as pretty. When our daughter was younger, I oftentimes heard relatives commenting on her skin tone which got under my/our skin.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

We have made sure to take our children to both of our respective homelands (Uganda, India) to meet our respective families and experience our countries. We have also exposed them to our different religions by visiting places of worship (temples, church) and participating in festivals specific to our cultures

 

HOW DO YOU PLAN ON SPEAKING TO YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN ABOUT RACE IN THE FUTURE?

We’ve done a fair bit of traveling so far and our younger daughter is already becoming conscious of other countries, and geography. Our approach would be looking at a world map, and using flashcards to teach our children about the diverse religions and cultures.  

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER?

I am quite outgoing, outspoken, and loud, while my husband is much more reserved.  Our daughter has both of our characteristics and can be found running around yelling one-minute, and bashful the next.  Being South Indian I naturally have thick, black, wavy hair.  My husband has kinky afro-hair which makes for a perfect mix of our genes.

 

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

By continuing to show both of our children the positives of both our cultures.

 

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

That our daughter is confident and successful in what she does, and always remains respectful of others differences. My dream for America is that there is less prejudice and that different races join together vs. fighting.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

In 2014, our daughter Iyla was born, and we struggled finding vibrant products with stories which reflected our cultures. In the absence of finding these products, we created our own and KampInd was born.  The name KampInd reflects the merging of our Ugandan and Indian heritages.  Teaching our children about our cultures comes natural, and we want to share these stories with the world.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE BATAMBUZE FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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KAIA'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 than to try Mixed Chicks Hair products than your favorite Swirl Nation ladies? Here is Kaia's experience...

KAIA'S MIXED CHICKS HAIR PRODUCT REVIEW via Swirl Nation Blog

Name: Kaia (daughter of Swirl Nation founder Jen), age 12

Social Media: IG / TW 

What was the first Mixed Chicks products you tried? The Mixed Chicks Kids Shampoo and Conditioner.

Initial reaction? The shampoo was nice and gentle. My daughter has volleyball or conditioning pretty much every day of the week and gets super sweaty so she has to wash her hair every night, which can really dry out your hair. But the combination of the Mixed Chicks Shampoo, Conditioner and Leave-In Conditioner keep it moisturized and looking great! Every night she goes to bed with wet hair and it air dries as she sleeps and in the morning we spray it with the Tangle Tamer Spray to define the curls and just scrunch it up a little.

 

Why did you decide to try Mixed Chicks products out? I had always been curious about the products, so I was excited when we had the opportunity to try them through the Hair Stories series!

 

Does using a culture specific beauty product impact your beauty regime? I think it is great to know that a product is made with mixed hair in mind. Obviously not all mixed girls’ (or guys’) hair is the same, my daughter’s hair for example is pretty fine and has looser curls. Overall her hair is low-maintenance and easy to handle, it just needs the right mix of cleansing and conditioning which I think Mixed Chicks provides.

 

Are there other Mixed Chicks products you are interested in trying out? The Replenishing Oil would be great to try, I usually use Moroccan Oil or Coconut Oil Spray on her hair in the mornings so it would be great to see how that compares.

KAIA'S MIXED CHICKS HAIR PRODUCT REVIEW via Swirl Nation Blog
KAIA'S MIXED CHICKS HAIR PRODUCT REVIEW via Swirl Nation Blog
KAIA'S MIXED CHICKS HAIR PRODUCT REVIEW via Swirl Nation Blog
KAIA'S MIXED CHICKS HAIR PRODUCT REVIEW via Swirl Nation Blog

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET BRITTANI NOEL


BRITTANI NOEL, AS AN ACTRESS, I’D RATHER NOT MENTION AGE ;-))

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET BRITTANI NOEL via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

Hungarian & African-American

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Los Angeles

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Yes

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I was born & raised in LA, which is generally a diverse community. However, there were not many other mixed kids that I was aware of growing up…

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

My Mom met my Dad when she was here on a trip from Budapest, Hungary, visiting my Aunt who had immigrated here. She met him at a convention and says it was love at first sight. They didn’t speak any of the same language, but ended up getting married anyway!

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET BRITTANI NOEL via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET BRITTANI NOEL via Swirl Nation Blog

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

The language barrier for one. Mixed race couples were still not too commonplace, so I’m told my Dad lost a number of friends who didn’t approve of the relationship at the time. There were also some challenges in the family as well, but for the most part I wasn’t exposed to that directly.

 

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

My current extended family has been, yes.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

My parents were divorced when I was about 7, so my memories are mostly of celebrating Hungarian traditions, which was connected to my Mom’s culture. We embraced a lot of her traditions even when my parents were together; my Dad was flexible/open to it and my Mom’s family was very involved in our lives.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Yes, Hungarian and English. I speak both fluently, much to people’s surprise!

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET BRITTANI NOEL via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

I’ve always loved all things Hungarian, from food to the way we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, it always felt more festive to me. On the flip side, some of the cultural traditions were traded in for American ones. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, was an odd mesh of traditional Turkey dinner with a Hungarian twist and side dishes.

 

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

For the most part they weren’t too actively/openly concerned about it. There were bits here and there, but nothing on a consistent basis.

 

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

Not really. Sometimes my sister and I talked about certain feelings we had around the topic that we’d feel uncomfortable discussing it with anyone else.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET BRITTANI NOEL via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET BRITTANI NOEL via Swirl Nation Blog

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Mixed

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

Not actively, although the diversity of people I’ve dated has not been vast; it’s just naturally unfolded that way. My better half now is Caucasian/British with Irish and Scottish roots.

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

It means everything and nothing all at the same time. Everything insofar as having reached the epiphany that I had so many more feelings and complex emotions tied up around being mixed than I cared to recognize over the years, so it is, in a way, very much a part of who I am. And nothing insofar as feeling like it shouldn’t be quite so relevant; sometimes when I get asked the question one too many times, my instinct is to say, why does it matter what I am?

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

I do have a solid few mixed friends now! If I’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s no one way or right/wrong way of identifying with being mixed--- it’s such a vast and complex topic that is also quite personal.

 

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

I abhor the question “What are you?”--- the wording just feel rude, especially when it comes from random people that I don’t even know and out of nowhere!

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET BRITTANI NOEL via Swirl Nation Blog

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

For people to see people as people and move away from so much labeling. I would love to see the day that race finally becomes less of a hot-button topic.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

Part of my journey in coming to terms with certain mixed race issues has been to write a film about it so that we can all connect more openly and compassionately as this community continues to grow. My Kickstarter will be launching soon, so stay tuned!

 

You can follow Brittani Noel on her personal Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

 

And you can also follow her project The Other Short on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter


 

 

 

 

 

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LETTERS FROM ADWOA, VALENTINE'S CARDS FEATURING BEAUTIFUL BROWN GIRLS


LETTERS FROM ADWOA, VALENTINE'S CARDS FEATURING BEAUTIFUL BROWN GIRLS via Swirl Nation Blog

We are LOVING this Etsy store called Letters From Adwoa! The online store aims to give young black girls Valentine's Day cards that feature their own likeness to pass out in class. As we all know representation is so important and these cards send a beautiful message! I love the comments in the reviews section of the Etsy page: 

I was totally blown away when these cards arrived. Also, when my daughter saw the cards she said "mommy is that me". Priceless moment!! Love theses cards that represent little black girls
Super fast shipping!!! Items just as pictured!! Thank you so much! My daughter and I absolutely love these beautiful cards! We can't wait to see what new designs you will have in the future. Hopefully you will offer some with little boys?!! Also children with locs 😉 (fingers crossed) will definitely be supporting again.

Etsy Store / Instagram

Personally I don't think Valentine's Day should be the only day each year we share cards such as these. Send the beautiful brown girl in your life one of these precious cards any time of year! 

LETTERS FROM ADWOA, VALENTINE'S CARDS FEATURING BEAUTIFUL BROWN GIRLS via Swirl Nation Blog

 

 

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN


SYLVESTER GASKIN, AGE 35

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

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

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Maryland

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

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

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

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

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

They met in the military. Both were pretty young.

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

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

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

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

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

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

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

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

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

 

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

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

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

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

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

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

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

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

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

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

 

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

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

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

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SYLVESTER GASKIN via Swirl Nation Blog

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

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

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

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


 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE LAMBERT FAMILY


MEET THE LAMBERT FAMILY

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE LAMBERT FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

Rick, age 38

Irish, Scottish, and English

Valecia, age 25

African American and Native American

Lorenzo, age 2

Irish, Scottish, English, African American, and Native American

 

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Richmond, VA

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE LAMBERT FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

We met through mutual friends in 2012.

 

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

Are biggest obstacle was our age difference. We are 13 years apart in age, and in the beginning it was somewhat difficult because my wife’s family did not like it. Luckily, over time her family got to know me and accepted me into their family.

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

We have found that our cultures are mostly the same. We both grew up in a working class family with the same religious background.

 

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

Her family is very close and she talks to her parents everyday. Unlike myself, I speak to my parents maybe once a month, see them even less. But now I am just as close with her family as she is, and I often go to them for advise as if they were also my blood relatives.

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

Our neighborhood and community is very diverse. We see a lot of mixed race couples and children. Two of my wife’s closest friends have mixed race children as well.

 

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

We do not speak any other languages unfortunately.

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIRACIAL RELATIONSHIP?

Both of our families have been very supportive of our marriage. We both come from blended families. I have a biracial little sister, and Valecia has an Irish step-father, and a biracial younger brother. Our families are very accepting and supportive.

 

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

My parent’s love hunting, church, and the simple country lifestyle. Valecia’s parents are very into sports and cooking, and fishing.

 

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

We honestly don’t see much difference between our childhoods because of our race. Our only difference is that we grew up in different places, and she has a very close knit family.

 

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

We both get a lot of questions about our son’s race when the other isn’t around. But when we are out as a family, we get a lot of stares and whispers for mostly older people. But we also get a lot of compliments from younger people.

My wife has had a woman come up to her and asked if she was babysitting, and another situation where the flat out asked is our son was hers. I, on the other hand, have only received positive things from people about our son. People still ask about his race, but they always tell me how handsome he is. I have had a couple of situations though where people would assume that he is my grandson because of my age.

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

We make sure to expose our son to both sides of our family, and try to introduce him to other cultures as well. We have friends with many different backgrounds and cultures that we enjoy learning from and would want to expose our son to.

 

HAS YOUR CHILD ASKED ABOUT RACE?

Lorenzo is still too young to understand that there is a difference between us and our family. He also has not started talking in complete sentences yet.

 

DOES YOUR SON IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

We like to say that Lorenzo is our little panda bear. We also usually refer to him as simply mixed.

 

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

We will try to lead by example. We both enjoy experiencing different cultures and feel that that gives us better understanding and respect for those cultures and people. So we want Lorenzo to see this and want to have the same understanding.

 

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

Lorenzo Looks a lot like his father, but he mostly has his mother’s personality. He also has his mother's smile and eyes, but everything else about his appearance seems to come from me.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE LAMBERT FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

When Lorenzo gets older, we want him to be proud of all that he is, and understand that even though he may look different from other kids, he is still the same. Being mixed does not make him better than anyone else, but it also does not make him less either.

 

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

Our only dream for our son is that he grows up happy and respectful. We want him to follow his own dreams and paths, and also have compassion for others.

 

You can follow the Lambert family on social media. Snapchat: @Enzosdaddie and @Enzosmommie / Valecia’s IG / Rick’s IG / Lorenzo’s IG


 

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

The mission of the Pan African Film Festival is to:

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

 

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

 

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

IMDB / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

 

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


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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY


MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

Emma 33

Half Black American and half German

Cassie 33

White American

Genevieve 15 months

Genevieve is 1/2 German, 1/4 Swiss and 1/4 Black American

 

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? 

Boston, MA

 

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET? 

Cassie was my manager at a bakery called Kickass Cupcakes when we met.  I was instantly smitten.  She had just gotten out of a bad relationship and sworn of women so I didn't even come out to her till months after becoming friends.  A few months after that we started dating.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

                                                                                                   

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

No

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

We love holidays and celebrate both German and American holidays which is what my parents did when I was growing up.

 

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

We have adopted the American way of celebrating Christmas.

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE? 

Extremely.  Probably 80% of my daughter's friends have mixed backgrounds.

 

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

Yes we speak English, German, and ASL at home

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP? 

Yes

 

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

The food, music, and large family gatherings.  They are big on comfort food and 70's and 80's music.

 

 

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

Cassie lived on a farm in rural Indiana growing up, whereas I grew up as a city girl in Germany.  I think for me it was shocking how much I enjoy being out in the middle of nowhere.  It is so nice to sit in actual silence and go outside and see stars at night.  

For Cassie I would say it was definitely everything about going to the beauty salon from how long it takes to get my hair done to the small community formed there.

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Are you her nanny?  

Daddy must be very light skinned.

 

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

Currently Genevieve is only 15 months old but because so much of the brain develops by age 3 we wanted to get started early.  Right now we are teaching her both German and English as well as observing holidays from both cultures and eating food from both cultures.

 

HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE?

Currently we are raising her to be trilingual (German, English, and ASL).  We also travel a lot and I hope that those two things will give her a first hand experience in cultural diversity.  It's hard to say exactly what we will say in the future.

 

DO YOUR CHILD/CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

Both Genevieve and I identify as mixed.  

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Genevieve is still young and so far has only noticed that we are different because she doesn't have a dad.  I always tell her every family is different and how cool is that because life would be boring otherwise.

 

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILD/CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER? 

She has my eyes and nose and she has Cassie's sense of humor, IQ and sass

 

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

I look around and see that so many of her friends are also mixed and it makes me so happy. When I was younger I didn't know anyone that was more than one race besides my brother. I hope that America continues in the same direction as far as that.  I also hope we come to a place where everyone is treated equally regardless of race. 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SHUHERK FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

 

 

 

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET KANDIA CRAZY HORSE


Kandia Crazy Horse, age 45

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET KANDIA CRAZY HORSE via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

Native American (my Nation’s always been in what’s now Virginia & surrounding territory) / African / Scottish

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Manhattan

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

I live on what was Alexander Hamilton’s farm, also once known as High Harlem, and it’s a rapidly gentrifying area of Upper Manhattan. Harlem was originally built as a suburb for German emigres, but quickly became the Black Mecca of the nation. When I first moved to this neighborhood, it was majority black & Dominican - with some other groups from so-called Latin America mixed in. Increasingly, whites from richer areas downtown & Brooklyn are moving in & the local businesses are changing to cater to them as a result. There’s unfortunately still a lack of services & certain infrastructure present to support the population that has been here for many decades & it’s causing tensions.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I am from the South, Virginia & Georgia; I also grew up for a time in the Latino barrio of Washington, DC, Adams-Morgan, which was an island of Aztlan amidst what was then known as Chocolate City - before I moved to Africa. In the deep South with my grandparents, where I lived for 4 months each year, there were only our kin & other black folks. Prior to gentrification, Adams-Morgan was predominantly Latino with a sprinkling of black revolutionaries including my parents & their friends -- the area had been utterly changed due to white flight a few years before I was born -- and thus my first language was Spanish & my primary identity was Chicana or Latina. As a babychile, I literally thought I would grow up to be Chicana round about age 20 & look just like Frida Kahlo in the women’s dress from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico.

 

Then, between age 8 - 20, I moved to Africa, living in various countries from Bamako, Mali in the Sahel to Accra, Ghana; living in Francophone & then Anglophone Africa, where initially my mother was a U.S. Ambassador (the 3rd woman of African descent to be so named in American History), I socialized with the international set, many expats, & attended the Lycee Francais for 8 years; but I also always knew many native Africans from the given country we were based in, as well as became early on what they now term Afropolitan. I was like Lupita Nyong’o or Michael Kiwanuka before they existed, but that was extremely complicated because I was a black American of southern roots which always confused people (and still does).

 

So again, I grew up with many children from Central & South America, then from West & East & Southern Africa, as well as Europeans, before going to boarding school in New England -- the only place yet that I’ve experienced culture shock, amongst the Mayflower descendants & other Yankees. At the progressive and then private schools I always attended, I also knew the first publically recognized/free boom of biracial (primarily black/white or black/Native American/white but also some black/Asian due to the VietNam War which was still raging when I was born) kids that had a certain new style upbringing and access due to the Civil Rights Movement and, like me, being the first born of my family not under Jim Crow. I socialized with all of these biracial kids & tended to be their lone black friend, but I didn’t have the exact same experiences as them because I was darker skinned than my Afro-Native mother & grandmother -- not as obviously Creolized -- and because I was reared abroad rather than in the States belonging to the Links, Jack & Jill, summering @ Oak Bluffs & apart of other “Old Freedom Bourgeoisie” lifestyle happenings. So, actually, the majority of the time, my twin sister & I could only identify with our own circle of two.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

I no longer recall the details; but they were both 1960s revolutionaries from the South & pan-Africanists who had been living in Africa (separately, then together) since 1960. I always inquired -- before my mother went to the Spirit World -- & have repeatedly been given the answer that the sisters & brothers who cared about Africa and their progressive Third World coalition-building concerns back in the 1950s & 1960s were initially very few, so all the now famous people of the Movement -- most of whom my parents were friends with or knew from actions -- and my kin involved in the revolution were relatively tight compared to the apathy, disunion and mutual hatred of the post-racial black community today.

 

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

Yes, my grandmother (being redbone, Native American/African/Scottish) did not like my father, blamed him for the dilution of our blood/change of hair, stopped speaking to my mother for over a year when she cut her hair & etc…

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

Not entirely. My mother subsumed her Native identity under the black one dominating the 1960s, only to return to it before she walked on. Because of her color, she was always claimed by Ethiopians (Amharas) as one of them & she spoke fluent Amharic, lived in Addis Ababa etc. When I first moved to Mali, the natives there that were Fulani considered me one of them. I always knew I was Native from birth, but was not raised on the reservation & grew up abroad away from American culture point blank; so I have had to find my own way along the Red Road once I left home.

 

I now live mostly immersed in Indian Country, but I still honor my African roots as well as the Scottish ones via my music, which is Native Americana/Black Hillbilly/mountain music derived from the blend of African-Native American-Scotch-Irish in the Southeast where I hail from. There were some issues when I married my ex-husband, who is of Danish descent with some Albion contribution; but then again, I have always lived & socialized amongst an extremely diverse population & was educated with kids from France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain etc & I formerly worked at the United Nations -- so there would have been too much hypocrisy to completely condemn certain choices I have made in life.

  

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

See above responses. We mostly observed southern traditions & then many diverse cultural practices from different nations in Africa, especially Yoruba (we were supposed to be born in Lagos & have dual citizenship) & Ashanti.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

My parents were not raised with foreign languages (although my mother particularly gained knowledge due to her work, as well as being fluent in Amharic & Swahili) & my Native tongue has been dead for at least 300 years. Yet my sister & I were raised on foreign languages from the start; I have been educated / fluent in Spanish, French, and absorbed some Bambara, Arabic, Sotho, Twi, Tamashek, German, Turkish, Tsalagi...

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

On most days, the Music, for music is my grand passion & the only constant in my very complex & turbulent life. All of these other aspects you cite, have waxed & waned or even been taken away from me, but the music has always remained no matter where I was in the world. No doubt, this has contributed to me becoming an artist. Even before I was a singer-songwriter, for most of my existence I have (only) made connections with people based on music. Of course, I do dress in Native American style adapted to my particular Taurean sense of adornment & love my regalia…& never turn down a chance to have some stone ground grits OR great frybread!

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET KANDIA CRAZY HORSE via Swirl Nation Blog

 

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

Even though my parents were upraised in segregated, mostly southern areas & culture, we were exposed to the whole wide world from the beginning. Aside from being deeply steeped in African history, we’d been to all the major & minor D.C. museums before we were 5 years old, and consistently exposed to many cultures beyond our multilingual education. My parents were in the Movement & traveled a lot, so we spent even more time with our southern grandmothers, learning our heritage & pre-1960s traditions. We were taken to marches, actions & diverse cultural events -- I first came to love bluegrass, mountain music & the Song of the Plains Indians from toddling after my mother at the Folklife Festival & similar programs.

 

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

Yes, all the time -- it was the Revolution & then the long era of always trying to re-attain the Movement that had disintegrated

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I identify as Native American. Ultimately, there’s not really such a thing as a “black Indian;” but due to racism & historical miscegenation laws, there’s a lot of blood quantum & enrollment issues that plague Indian Country unto this day. Still, I always honor all sides.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

Again, my ex was Danish-American. My preference has always been Native American men, but have only recently been meeting them in significant numbers, due to being raised abroad. At least since I was age 7 or so, there’s never been more than 1 or 2 -- African or black American - boys in any of my classes/grades, so dating black guys or only black guys has never been a luxury afforded me -- & frankly, the few black folks there were around, especially in boarding (high) school, mostly did not cotton to us having such a nontraditional, “weird” upbringing; they were not pan-African nor conscious nor what the millennials now call “woke” -- the black & Afro-Latino kids denigrated us for growing up in Africa, even at the heights of Native Tongues hip-hop/Acid Jazz/London’s second Summer Of Love/early 1990s Black Renaissance heyday.

 

With biracial black/white guys, I have always had to be just the friend, usually their only black girl-friend who their mothers tended to wish we would date but they all chose white women to partner with & have children with. I have dated an Aztec in the past.

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

I was raised around a diverse set of cultures, never given the choice to just remain solely in the Black Community, so I just see the world always that way rather than being wed to blackskin chauvinism -- despite being born into the height of that sentiment. Ultimately, I am myself, with all the complexities that entails & I am starting to be middle-aged, so I am just becoming ever more deeply rooted in what that is.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

See above; due to my liminal position in society, I was privy to a lot of the issues & growing pains & internal self-hatred of kids from the boom of interracial marriage in the 1960s/Afrohippies/AffirmativeAction/growth of the black middle class. It’s all given me a unique perspective, as I have watched the post-racial viewpoint rise & lived amidst Obama America plus the social media debates of “mixed chicks,” “team dark skin vs. team light skin,” Black Women’s Empowerment, & seen the natural hair movement return. These gleanings have fed into my social choices & certainly informed my activism.

 

Yet I have really mostly learned from my own personal sojourn, as a child of multiple roots growing up on both sides of the Atlantic; being an Afrohippie & aging Deadhead who spent years on the road traveling between concerts & Coastopia; having covered the next wave of southern rock as a (black female) rock journalist & music editor in an extremely white male English-speaking field; and now abiding as a Native Americana/black hillbilly/Cosmic American Music artist in the country & Americana genres which do not generally accept black, Native, and other artists of color. I continue to be misunderstood & not accepted in different social/cultural scenes, and yet still I rise. And I Sing.

 
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET KANDIA CRAZY HORSE via Swirl Nation Blog

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

If I had a dime for every time someone non-black touched my hair growing up…& I wish that within Indian Country there would not be so much privileging of the white-passing over the black, considering that here in the East, most of the surviving nations are tri-racial & we need unity now in this era of Standing Rock - I have been part of the Dakota Access Pipeline & Algonquin Pipeline resistance for months, doing activism primarily in Indian Country all of 2016 -- more than ever.

 

Also: folks should stop telling me there are no/they never heard of a black country singer; I have recorded 2 country & western albums, Stampede & Canyons, & been writing lots of songs for the next few I hope to get a record deal for, including a song for our precious water protectors of Standing Rock - “Mni Wiconi (Water Is Life).” And I lead a diverse, black and white, Native Americana band called Cactus Rose that is based in Harlem - yes, Harlem-on-the-Range. I also associate with some of the Federation Of Black Cowboys members, who sometimes tend to be “Afro-Native” and includes some hillbilly musicians -- like my friend AR of Ebony Hillbillies.

 

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

I am for complete liberation of Turtle Island & all that entails.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

Just everyone -- but particularly my sistahs -- try to finally get over the hair; the battles waged over it are not productive & we have so many more important issues to tend to for our survival (although I understand that, as a woman, beauty is a central reality). I was born into “Black Is Beautiful” & believed that would never change, only to see the gains of that era whittled away bit by bit to the sad state today wherein black men & women are mostly at war with each other. None of this infighting has yielded ultimate positive results nor progress has it? We shall never return to some glorious, isolated City of Zinj -- I know only too well -- in the Motherland; we need to try far harder to all get along, never forgetting nor abandoning our Roots, yet all truly learning how to live & love together, as Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, & all my most beloved Bold As Love artists of the 1960s & 1970s strove to articulate.


You can learn more about Kandia on her website and IG

 

 

 


 

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A UNITED KINGDOM


Last weekend I took my daughter to go see Hidden Figures (which was INCREDIBLE) and worthy of its own blog post, but I have to say I was already in tears before the movie even started because the trailer for A United Kingdom played...

Looks incredible right?! So I have never heard this story before, but it is the true story of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams. Seretse was Botswanan and an Oxford-educated student prince. Ruth was an English middle-class clerk. In 1948 they were married despite all of the obstacles and outrage it caused.  Their relationship became the focus of a crisis between Britain and Botswana’s neighbour South Africa, which was about to introduce apartheid.

Seretse Khama with his English wife Ruth, and their two children Jacqueline and Seretse Jr in September 1956

Seretse Khama with his English wife Ruth, and their two children Jacqueline and Seretse Jr in September 1956

Ian Khama, current President of Botswana, son of Seretse and Ruth

Ian Khama, current President of Botswana, son of Seretse and Ruth

The couple went on to have a daughter and three sons. Their son Ian is now President of Botswana. Both Seretse and Ruth have now passed, but from the trailer it certainly looks as though British acting duo David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike have done an incredible job of capturing their love story. 

Oyelowo said that he was attracted by the ‘epic nature of the love story, and the backdrop of the British empire, and what it was like to be a king in Africa just as apartheid was being signed into law in South Africa’. There is already Oscar nomination buzz about his performance. He was certainly snubbed in my opinion for portraying MLK in Selma. 

It is wonderful to see a diversity of love stories being displayed on screen, of course Loving being most recent, and now A United Kingdom slated to be released on February 10th, 2017. 

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are portraying the pair on screen

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are portraying the pair on screen

I hope everyone goes out and supports this movie, the multiracial community in particular! What a wondeful love story to share with the world.

A UNITED KINGDOM via Swirl Nation Blog



 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STEVEN D. MCKIE


Steven D. McKie (My middle name is only a letter), age 26

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STEVEN D. MCKIE via Swirl Nation Blog

 

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

I’m French-Canadian Abenaki American Indian, African American, Italian, and Scottish!

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

San Francisco, CA

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

No, goodness no.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I grew up in North Augusta, SC. Just a stone's throw from Augusta, GA -- where I was born. I grew up being the only light skin person in any of my classes. Aside from a few African American classmates, I was all alone until 8th grade when we moved to VA.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STEVEN D. MCKIE via Swirl Nation Blog

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

Out with friends at a dance club/bar? If I remember correctly. They met in Georgia.

 

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

Dad was black and from a mixed background himself, my Mom was lily white. They were raising mixed children in the 90s in small town in SC, so yeah, plenty of issues regarding race (from both their respective families)

Steven and his uncle

Steven and his uncle

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STEVEN D. MCKIE via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Definitely have never heard anything negative. Then again, most on my Mom’s side don’t really speak with us. Mostly just the black side of our family that keeps in contact, even then only somewhat.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

Neither of my parents were ever religious. We never had any traditions outside of Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, and Christmas. Pretty much celebrated whatever was the standard, Christian norm. Though, we never set foot in church.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

The social culture of my African American side I am very proud of. I try not to pigeon hole myself down to one race though. All of me is equally as good.

 

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

Nothing, just that racist kids were rude to me because their parents don’t know any better. And, that one day it wouldn’t be that way.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STEVEN D. MCKIE via Swirl Nation Blog

 

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

My Dad made a lot of race based jokes; but that’s only because he loved Richard Pryor and Steve Harvey :)

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Just say I’m mixed, and what it is I’m mixed with. Just another American, with a fancy pigment.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

For the longest time it definitely did. My GF of ~5 years is actually white.

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

It means being flexible and that I’m gifted with the ability to be a social chameleon.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

Kind of? I have a lot of friends from all over the world. Only a handful of actual mixed friends.

 

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

“You look basically white, so you’re white to us man.” I….what...ugh. Moving on.

 

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

I dream of an America flushed with mixed-race babies. Racism is something that can be made a moot point if everyone, and their grandma, is mixed. It’s an inevitability. Until then, we’ll just enjoy paying less for sunscreen.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

Never let anyone tell you you belong to a particular race or culture. If you are mixed, you are uniquely you. Not white, not black, not latino, not Chinese. You are an amalgamation of millions of years of selective breeding. Congratulations, you probably have some of the best genes in your friend group. Embrace it, stand together, and work to spread cross-cultural awareness.

 

You can follow Steven on Twitter / LinkedIn


 

 

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PAIGE RENE ROGERS


Paige Rene Rogers, 25 years young

 

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

My father Chad, is African American and I have honestly never dug deep into my father's history. He never really talked about where his family originated from but my mother on the other hand was always told by my grandmother where she was from. My mother Shelly, is part Irish/English hence where the red hair comes from :)

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Littleton, Colorado

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

I live just south of Denver which I would say it feels pretty diverse being a big city and a lot of people migrating here. Littleton on the other hand is not as diverse and has a lot of old money in the small area.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PAIGE RENE ROGERS via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PAIGE RENE ROGERS via Swirl Nation Blog

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I was born in Lansing MI and went to school there through 5th grade. My elementary school was very diverse and most of the kids in my class were mixed. Then I moved to good ole Mason MI where I then noticed I was the only mixed person in my class. I was 1 of 5 mixed kids in the entire school.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

My mom and dad met at a stop light when my dad rode his motorcycle, my mom loves a guy on a motorcycle. They pulled over and traded numbers!

 

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

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PAIGE RENE ROGERS via Swirl Nation Blog

I would say yes, my mom's mother Yvonne was not a fan of my father because he was black. After my mom had my sister and I, my grandmother began to understand that we were her grandchildren no matter what color we are.

 

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

Absolutely! My aunts and uncles also grew up in a very diverse community so I think they were pretty used to seeing mixed children.  

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

Um, not really. Both sides celebrated the basic american holidays and events. Nothing too special on either side.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Nope, good ol’ English. My sister and I came up with our own language that we still use today but my mother likes to call it baby talk...

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

5 years ago I found the plant based diet and I have been vegan ever since. Before I told my family I no longer ate meat or dairy I loved my grandma Rogers cooking! It was very fatty and delicious but I knew it was not the best for my body as I got older and learned more about food.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PAIGE RENE ROGERS via Swirl Nation Blog

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

I don’t think my parents ever thought about sitting me down and explaining to me why I am different than most of my friends in Mason. I am also okay with that because it forced me to see that there is nothing different about me and my friends besides my skin color and I never saw that as an issue. I was most interested in learning about my background to stop confusing myself LOL!

 

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

No, not at all.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PAIGE RENE ROGERS via Swirl Nation Blog

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I identify myself as black when people ask me and I honestly just think I say that because that is what I have been taught to say. I feel like if I were to say “white” people look at me like I am lying. It really is a challenging question because society tells you to say one thing but then you look at yourself in the mirror and you see something completely different.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

I am currently engaged to the love of my life who is white, Chase. When Chase and I lived in Florida it was like the 60’s all over again. Sometimes people would stare when we went to dinner or ask us weird questions like “What do you 2 even have in common?” It was something I had not seen before and it was pretty uncomfortable at times.

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

Bing mixed doesn’t have a whole lot of meaning to me because I see it as 2 people who fell in love created me. I am a human being with great skills and an open mind. I do not see color, I see people. Being mixed to me is show humanity that people of different races can come together and ignite love.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

My in-laws are mixed and I learn from them all of the time. It’s fun to hear stories from their past and how similar they are to mine. I have learned that LOVE is LOVE from all of them, no matter what color, sexuality or gender you are, you’re allowed to love WHO YOU WANT and be WHO YOU WANT.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PAIGE RENE ROGERS via Swirl Nation Blog

 

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

It is definitely never said anymore but when I was in high school kids used to call me a zebra or an Oreo and now that I am older I understand how rude those comments actually were.

 

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

My dream would be to forget about race over all but I know that’s a hopeful dream. But really, I want people to understand that it is okay to have a relationship with someone who is not the same race as you. It should not be this scary encounter or even uncomfortable. We are all HUMAN beings and that is the sad part. Sometimes we can’t even get along with our own species all because of the color of our skin….hmmmm

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

I am a proud mixed woman, business owner, daughter, big sister, soon to be wife, personal trainer, yoga instructor and a leader. I am damn good at my job and building connections within our community for our business. I am a people person and color will never stop me from being ME.

 

You can follow Paige and her business on their website / business IG / personal FB / personal IG

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET PAIGE RENE ROGERS via Swirl Nation Blog

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SWIRL NATION BLOG IS 1 YEAR OLD TODAY!

SWIRL NATION BLOG IS 1 YEAR OLD TODAY! via Swirl Nation Blog

A year ago today JennKourtneyAmal and I launched Swirl Nation Blog! After many group phone calls and texts we got our baby launched and just hoped someone would want to read it! Since then we have been lucky enough to have almost 60,000 people make their way to our site. We can only hope they enjoyed reading what they found when they got there! 

Over the last 12 months we have been lucky enough to add contributing bloggers from all over the U.S. as well as the U.K and Puerto Rico. Their unique voices and perspectives have allowed the page to represent a wide variety of multiracial journeys. 

On social media we have worked hard to connect with the multiracial community, reaching out to others who are passionate about the topic and we feel so blessed at the many individuals and families who have agreed to be featured on our blog! We had fun heading to the 2016 Best Nine site to find out which of our Instagram photos got the most love, and here they are!

Our 2016 Best Nine from our Instagram page

Our 2016 Best Nine from our Instagram page

We are so grateful for everyone who has contributed to the growth of Swirl Nation, whether through writing blog posts, or subscribing to our newsletter, or liking our social posts! All of it means so much! In 2017 we will continue to share the Multiracial Goodness! We are always looking for more stories to share and people to collaborate with. 

Peace and love in 2017 to you all. 

xx The Swirl Nation Team

 

P.S. If you are just joining us as a Swirl Nation Blog reader, welcome:) We thought it would be fun to share a few of our very first posts from last January so you can see where we started, and then explore the blog more to see where we are now. So here is a little look back, click on photos to link to the original post...


 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET XAVIA OMEGA


Xavia Omega, age 34

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET XAVIA OMEGA via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

African American / Native American / Irish / German

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Rochester, NY

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Yes, I picked this suburb in particular because as a community they strive to support diversity.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I was born in Denver, but mostly grew up in Rochester. The only mixed kids I was around were my siblings and there were a brother and sister that rode my bus.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

My dad owned a martial arts studio and my mom was a student.

 

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

I don’t know much from my father’s side, but my mother’s side did not approve. They have always been loving of her children though.

 

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

As supportive as they can. Unless you are proactively educating and exposing yourself, I think it’s difficult to gauge what’s supportive for someone, if their background is so different from yours.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

Unfortunately, I was never exposed to traditions that related directly to the cultures I come from. It was something that made my identity struggle a little more intense.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

No. If someone is speaking Spanish I know enough words to get a general sense of what they’re talking about but I am not fluent.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

I enjoy the urban culture of my African American side. I love the music and clothing styles.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET XAVIA OMEGA via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET XAVIA OMEGA via Swirl Nation Blog

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

There weren’t many discussions and I feel that’s a reflection of the generation. We never talked much about anything.

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

This has been a thorn for me for many years. When I was younger I never felt white enough to fit in there but I never felt black enough either. As I grew up, though, I began to identify as black; because I have never experience the privilege of a white girl but I have experienced much of the prejudices that come along with being a person of color.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

I’ve always been attracted to black men but race isn’t something I consciously consider. My current partner is black.

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

Being mixed means that I get to enjoy being from more than one place. Even though I don’t know much about some of the cultures just the fact that I can not only explore them, but that they are a part of who I am as well, is exciting.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

Not a lot. I don’t think it’s as unusual as it was growing up so it’s not really something we talk about. I wouldn’t say I’ve learned anything related to being mixed, other than the fact that there are a lot more people who are mixed than I thought when I was little.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET XAVIA OMEGA via Swirl Nation Blog

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

“What are you?” Drives me nuts, because it sounds as if something other than human is an option.

 

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

I don’t want it to stop being a part of the discussion because I feel like there is so much beauty in each culture to be shared. But, I do dream that one day it won’t hold any more weight beyond that.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET XAVIA OMEGA via Swirl Nation Blog

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

Growing up, being mixed was something I got teased about quite a bit. It wasn’t familiar for a lot of people. I think it’s such a beautiful thing to see our diversity celebrated on so many platforms now, including Swirl Nation.

 

You can follow Xavia on social media her blog / FB / IG / TW


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SEESTONE-RAMIREZ FAMILY


MEET THE SEESTONE-RAMIREZ FAMILY

 

Annabella, age 22

Ecuadorian

African

Chinese

Swedish

Chris, age 22

Mexican

Leonardo, age 3

All of the above

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SEESTONE-RAMIREZ FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Provo, Utah

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

No. I live in a predominantly white neighborhood and community.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I grew up in Palo Alto California which was fairly diverse. There were definitely a lot of other mixed kids around and my three best friends of 16 years are all mixed.

  

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

I grew up with my mom's family. I did not know my dad or his side of the family until I turned 18. It was always obvious that I was mixed, but no one else in my family is. I was the only one with brown eyes and most of my family has straight blonde hair. They were always supportive, but it was never really talked about.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

I only ever celebrated with my mom's side. Just recently I have been getting to know my dad's side of things.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

No. I only speak English. I am often mistaken for someone who speaks Spanish though.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

When I met my dad he took me out to eat Ecuadorian food. It was amazing and I have loved it ever since. I have done a lot of research about my ethnicities and I would like to be more in tune with my dad’s side of things culturally.

 

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

When I met my dad he told me how important it is to know about my background on his side. My mom never really talked about it growing up.

 

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

I did not have many conversations about race in my house because I didn’t really know that in other places in the country it wasn’t normal to be mixed. Where I grew up most people were either mixed or something other than white.

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I usually identify as being Ecuadorian and White (Swedish).

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

Race never had a play in who I dated. I ended up with a man who is full Mexican.

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

I absolutely love being mixed. I love that no one looks like me. I don’t mind that people guess or ask what ethnicity I am. I am proud of being mixed. I love having the different cultures in my blood.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SEESTONE-RAMIREZ FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

Yes. I think all of my friends are mixed. I have learned that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what our skin colors are. If you are dark, then you are blessed. If you are as white as paper, you are blessed. I think that whatever you look like, you should own it.

 

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

I think my only pet peeve is when people ask if my hair is real. It is just kind of disrespectful in my opinion. I have worked really hard on my hair, so I love when it is complimented but I do not consider “I love your hair! Is it real?” as a compliment.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SEESTONE-RAMIREZ FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog
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HAVE YOU FACED ANY OBSTACLES AS A MIXED RACE FAMILY?

My fiancé has experienced a few instances of profiling in our town. He is Mexican American and he has gotten pulled over for no reason and he gets some dirty looks when he is with me and see that we have a son together. I’m not sure if they assume I’m full white or not. My son is one of two Latino students in his pre school, but so far we have not experienced any obstacles there.

 

HAS YOUR CHILD ASKED ABOUT RACE?

No. I don’t think he is old enough to understand.

 

WHAT ACTIONS WILL YOU TAKE WHEN YOUR SON IS OLDER TO TEACH HIM ABOUT EACH OF HIS BACKGROUNDS?
Once we have the money, my fiancé and I are planning to travel. We want to show him (and ourselves) our different cultures. We will go to my fiancé’s parents house for Christmas eve and show our son the traditions of his family, while we will go to my parents for Thanksgiving and show him mine. I think that it is all about balance and teaching him to love and respect all cultures.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SEESTONE-RAMIREZ FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

I think first is to teach him not to judge other people especially based on skin color, religion or culture. I think starting young and teaching him this will allow him to grow up respecting other people and cultures.

 

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

Our son has my eyes and eye color. They are large and light brown. He has tanner skin and it gets pretty dark in the summer. He has my curly hair, but it is also really thick like my fiancés. I am very short (5’0) but it looks like he is getting my fiancé’s height. (6’0).

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SEESTONE-RAMIREZ FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

I think that my dream is to have a world where color doesn’t matter. That we celebrate our differences in skin color, hair, eye shape, culture, etc. instead of judging each other.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

Being mixed shows a coming together. We are all so unique and beautiful. We need to celebrate that instead of bashing each other so much!

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE SEESTONE-RAMIREZ FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

You can follow Anna on IG and also her business account where she created custom, hand painted letters for kid’s rooms and nurseries!

Image is from Anna's Etsy page, click photo to go to page! 

Image is from Anna's Etsy page, click photo to go to page! 


 

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PODCAST WITH AFRO-LATINA ACTRESS CHANEL BOSH


PODCAST WITH AFRO-LATINA ACTRESS CHANEL BOSH via Swirl Nation Blog

Swirl Nation contributing blogger, Chanel Bosh, was recently interviewed by Alex of Multiracial Media for his podcast where they discussed the unique experience of growing up Afro-Latina and growing up around the world in a military family.

Please take some time to listen to the podcast here and get to know Chanel and her story better! 


Ep. 95: Chanel Bosh is African-American and Puerto Rican.  She is a proud Afro-Latina. She’s also a military brat, who grew up in various parts of the United States and the World, experiencing how different it was to be multiracial domestically and internationally.  Hers is a fascinating story of exploring and discovering identity at a young age.
Chanel also is an actress and writer, known for The Colonies (2015), Back to School Blues(2015) and Tomorrow (2014) who has much to say about the challenges faced by multiracial actors and actresses during the casting process.
You don’t want to miss this conversation!
And, for more on Chanel, please check out her iMDb page and her Instagram page.

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SARAH RATLIFF


Sarah Ratliff, age 49

I am just shy of turning 50 years old (on December 22).

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SARAH RATLIFF via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

I am Black and Japanese on my mother’s side and German, Dutch and Irish on my father’s.

 

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Utuado, Puerto Rico.

 

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Not in the way you probably imagine. Puerto Ricans are like most in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Comprising West African, Taino Indian and Spanish, Puerto Ricans are mixed but unless they’ve mixed with something other than another Puerto Rican, most don’t consider themselves mixed.

 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I grew up in New York City in an extremely diverse area. All racial and ethnic makeups you can imagine--both monoracial and multiracial--as well as various religions. It was great! Back then I wasn’t raise to identify as mixed, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable having ambiguous looks. My first boyfriend was half Japanese and half Russian Jewish. I was raised to identify as Black. I hung out with kids who were every race and ethnicity, but I tended to align myself with Blacks and Puerto Ricans.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

Over the phone. It was 1958 and my mother was working for a prestigious company (still pretty shocking they hired a woman, let alone an “other” woman for the position. She was supposed to write an article about W. Eugene Smith (photographer who’d been with Time / Life for a long time). My father represented Smith. They talked for months over the phone and eventually the conversations turned personal. They fell in love and met and my father got the shock of his life when he realized she was Black. They broke up once or twice over it.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SARAH RATLIFF via Swirl Nation Blog

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

The biggest two were the fact that while it was legal in New York State for them to be married, society hadn’t accepted interracial marriage. Imagine this was nearly a decade before the Loving vs. the state of Virginia, the outcome of which overturned anti-miscegenation laws on a federal level. The other was that my father’s father had been a Nazi sympathizer. He disowned my father for marrying my mother. My brothers and I never met him.

 
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SARAH RATLIFF via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Ah well that’s an interesting question. I am not sure. My mother was an only child. My father had one brother who had two kids. I am not sure how my cousins felt about my brothers and me while we were growing up. They’re both about a decade older than I am, maybe more. My cousin Karen got married when she was 20 and I was 7, so she’s 13 years older. We were in different worlds because of age. I never knew if she was racist when I was growing up. I doubt it. I really do. Now she is very supportive. Her sister? She was always weird, but I don’t think she was racist. Her evidence is that she married an Argentine man but they’re mostly White, so that’s not an indication. I don’t think she was, but as I said, she was always weird. First she was into Scientology and then she became born again and said homophobic things so I don’t have a relationship with her.

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SARAH RATLIFF via Swirl Nation Blog

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

No, my parents raised us in a Black home but only kind of. It’s complicated but has a lot to do with the fact that my maternal grandfather had been living in the US illegally. So while Japanese would have been the ethnicity with different traditions to celebrate, we didn’t because my mother didn’t grow up with anyone of them. In fact, she didn’t really admit to being Japanese until long after my grandfather died. She feared being deported (my maternal grandmother was born and raised in the US and the Black side of our family goes back to at least the late 1700s).  

The notion of being raised with the traditions and cultures of Black vs. White is an interesting one in the US because try as I might, apart from distinguishing between foods and history, I am not sure what the differences are. Privilege doesn’t count as a culture. I’ve thought about this a lot over my lifetime and I am not sure what the differences in culture are. Unless we’re talking about where the respective peoples emanate from--Nigeria, Germany, etc. I am not sure what the differences are.

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

My mother spoke German (unrelated to marrying my father), French and Latin. She made sure we were raised to speak French.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

Because I have never allowed my races and ethnicities to define my tastes, nothing. I love music, food, culture, clothing, etc. from various countries in the world. I was raised to be a Catholic / Episcopalian and I am an atheist today. I can listen to music from everywhere, figure out how to dance to it, etc. I love food from every corner of the globe. I can fit in with every group of people. You could plop me down in the middle of the Congo, Japan, Uraguay, Australia, Egypt, you name it and I could figure out how to adapt.

 

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

To be respectful and open-minded. They also taught us to have healthy skepticism, bordering on paranoia. I question everyone’s motives, but in particular White people’s. I do operate off the assumption that most White people are even a little racist--even if they’re unaware of it. Although the majority aren’t KKK card carrying members, in my 50 years of living, I have seen that most have bias toward PoC in some form or another. Being the complexion I am allows me to see people for who they really are because most White people don’t realize I am not White or that I don’t identify that way. They let their hair down with me because they think I am one of them. Their reactions when they realize I was one of them--you know, those people--well, then it’s my fault they said those things. LOL

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SARAH RATLIFF via Swirl Nation Blog
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SARAH RATLIFF via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Constantly just as I do now.

 

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Since the summer of 2015 I have been identifying as multiracial. Prior to that, meaning for 48 years I identified as Black. I am still struggling with the Japanese because two reasons: I wasn’t raised that way and because I have found many Japanese people to be racist toward Blacks and other PoC. It wasn’t only my experience with my first boyfriend, but it’s happened enough times in my life that I have seen a pattern. Responses to Ariana Miyamoto’s capturing the Miss Japan Universe are accurate or similar to my experiences with Japanese people.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

My first three boyfriends were Japanese and Russian Jewish, Chinese and Puerto Rican. From there I only dated Black men but this is also a little problematic because there’s an elephant in the room in the Black community that emanates from slave days. Because of so much mixing (slaves owners raping slaves) thus producing lighter and lighter complected Blacks, the slave owners gave preferential treatment to them and made the darker ones work in the fields. The field workers were treated like holy hell. I don’t think this resentment was ever truly forgotten.

I have had many Black men fetishize me because of my light complexion while Black women sometimes took up deep resentment before I even opened my mouth. I can’t stand that kind of man, and with the women I have historically been very patient and won most of them over. At some point I stopped dating altogether. I met my husband and he transcends race. He was raised similarly to me in the sense that he doesn’t allow his race and ethnicity (he’s Black) to define his tastes in anything.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET SARAH RATLIFF via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

I am still a work in progress. Ask me in ten years. It’s still very new to me. By and large it’s a good thing. I can see things from multiple perspectives but unfortunately I haven’t moved past the judging of White people and their privilege stage yet. I can on an individual basis, but not over all. I am working on that.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

I have never really thought about it. In the same way that I don’t allow race and ethnicity to define my tastes, I don’t allow either to define who I seek out as friends. Admittedly since I have been more active in the multiracial community I have made more multiracial friends, but I still don’t allow myself to seek people out based on race. I learn from everyone--even the White people I keep at arm’s length because I am certain they have some kind of bias in them.

 

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

Exotic. If I hear that one again, I may go insane. Generalizations about race are annoying. I also can’t stand it when people (mostly White) tell me there’s only one race--the human race. Yeah, that’s nice but until White people are being used as target practice by the police and always assumed to be stealing, killing, raping or taking drugs, then we can talk about that one race crap.

 

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

Because I live outside the US (which by the way I left because of the racism), I think globally not just in terms of the US. I live for a day when race, gender and sexual orientation are non-issues.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

What you’re doing with this blog is great. Thank you!


Sarah Ratliff is a corporate America escapee turned eco-organic farmer, writer, activist, serial entrepreneur and the co-author of the book Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide. Much of her writing focuses on racial equality, feminism and politics. Sarah publishes a site called Multiracial Media (partnering with stand up comic and host of the Multiracial Family Man podcast, Alex Barnett). Multiracial Media is a platform of artistic expression for the multiracial community. 

For more information about Sarah and/or to see samples of her writing, please visit her website.

 

 

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FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY


MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY

 Kevin Thomas Jr, age 29
African American & Belizean/Garifuna
 
Nicholette Thomas, age 29
Polish, Italian, German
 
Lillian Thomas, age 5
African American, Belizean/Garifuna, Polish, Italian, German
 
Everett Thomas, age 2
African American, Belizean/Garifuna, Polish, Italian, German
FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Buffalo, NY

 

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

We went to high school together at Hutchinson Technical High School in Buffalo, NY. We were friends first and started dating at the end of our Junior year.

 

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

More so when we were younger we heard a lot of negative things when we would walk around, take the bus, or go out together. We’ve literally had old woman yell at us and call my husband “O.J” in reference to O.J. Simpson. I guess they thought he was (allegedly) going to kill me because of our skin? Who knows. We used to get stared at all the time, you know… the basics of being in an interracial relationship.

 

WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?

Something that has been important to me is that our kids learn about their cultures. My mother-in-law is from Belize and is of the Garifuna people. This is very important to her and an integral part of who she is. I’ve made sure to try to learn some of her culture to pass along to our children. One of my favorite things from her culture is this DELICIOUS dish call Hadut. She taught me the recipe and technique.  It’s a fish based dinner and it is amazing. She gave us this big wooden mortar and pestle that we use to make the plantains in…. It’s a beautiful piece to have in our home and we get to make it using the traditional methods. I’ve also tried to teach our daughter some of the words from her native language. I’ll admit they are hard for me to pronounce but I’m trying with the basics (i.e. the words for head, foot, mouth, etc).

In my family we didn’t really practice culture specific traditions. I would say I identify mostly with being Polish though as those that raised me were the Polish side. As a child we did a bit more, in regards to traditions. We live in Buffalo, NY and it’s the Dyngus Day capital. As kids we would get Pussy Willow’s and hit each other with them (sounds weird I know), wear beautiful crowns that we got from The Broadway Market, and garnish our Easter meals with our Butter Lambs (also from The Broadway Market.) My mom picks up a crown for my daughter to wear for Easter as well. I’ve been trying to teach our kids about our Polish culture though as I want them to know about all of their makeup. Recently I’ve started to tell them about Pierogis and how they are from their mommy’s culture. They look at me like I’m crazy and have no idea what I’m talking about… but it’s a start.

 

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

Oh! As I’ve said above I love my mother in law’s food! It is simply amazing. I’ve learned on dish and I want to learn more and incorporate it into our family. It’s so natural, flavorful, simple, but incredibly delicious.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?

It is but it isn’t. Buffalo, NY is very diverse, but unfortunately it’s still quite segregated by neighborhoods and towns. In our specific neighborhood we are on the border of the East Side of Buffalo and Cheektowaga. We specifically chose to live in that area so that we have access to a better school district for our children, but so our kids aren’t the only “brown” or “golden” (as my daughter says) ones in school. So far it’s been a good choice.

 

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

We both know some Spanish but definitely wouldn’t call ourselves bilingual. My Mother-in-Law speaks Garifuna and English so I’ve tried to learn some of the words to teach some basics to our children. I follow a facebook page that shares/teaches the language so I can learn more. I recently learned “Buiti Weyu” which means… Good Day! Part of my daughter’s middle name is from my Mother-in-laws native language. While I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband’s maternal grandmother and my younger cousin both passed. We combined a Garifuna word that means “granddaughter” and part of my cousin’s name to create her middle name. It’s very unique and special to us.

 

ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?

They are. My husband and I literally have grown up together since we were 16 years old so we are a part of each other’s families. I call his siblings my sister and brother and he calls my sister his sister. It’s all love with us.

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

Haha… like I’ve said above… the food!! It’s tastes amazing, it’s all natural and so flavorful.

 

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

The only real difference that I can think of is that my husband grew up in a two parent household. I grew up in a single mother household. This is opposite of what a lot of stereotypes would suggest.  He’s had both parents for his whole life and my dad left when I was 4 so we struggled but my mother kicked butt and gave us the best life. Even though we were low-income she worked hard to make us not feel like that.  He and I grew up in neighboring neighborhoods so we grew up similarly in regards to that so I can’t really think of too many other differences to be honest.

I would say though, that even though I am white, until high school I was the minority in school. My neighborhood was predominantly black so I feel that has had an impact on who I am for the better. This is from my perspective though… my husband might have a different viewpoint. I’m interested to ask him.

 

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

We are more similar than different. Love is love.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Ugh… I just posted about this on my fb page. There was an article titled (paraphrasing) “White parents who are the biological parents of Black kids.” That REALLY irks me. I get that society views those who have “brown” skin, and even “one drop” of black in them... As black. But! I grew my babies in my womb, I labored them, I almost died for them, I’ve breastfed them, and I’ve literally gave my blood, sweat and tears for them.  When people say things like that it makes me feel like I don’t count. I don’t like that. My children are mixed, multiracial, multicultural, biracial, etc. But they are not just ONE race/culture. They are both my husband and my children. They are unique, special, amazing, diverse little people and ALL of them counts.  

Also, my daughter has AMAZING hair. I hate when strangers think they can touch it. Just… no.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

I should’ve read ahead… Sorry! We’ve tried to teach them some of their maternal grandmother’s native language, some about foods from our cultures, and one day we want to visit Belize to show them where their grandmother is from.

 

HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE?
My daughter has noticed it. I’d say she was around 3 years old. We just explained to her that some people are one color, some are another, and that we are all beautiful and special.

 

DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?  

According to my daughter, I am white, daddy is black, and she and her brother are “golden.”  :)

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

Whenever my daughter brings something “different” up she notices in others (i.e. maybe a male with makeup on) I casually just remind her that we are all different. I try to not make it a “thing” and react. I want people being unique and different to be a normal, accepted thing for them. I try to use everyday moments as teaching opportunities.

 

WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER?

My daughter’s hair is AMAZING. It is incredibly long (almost to her knees when wet), and curly. I had really long hair as a child, but it was/is stick straight. My kids have my cheeks and my husband’s lips. They also have my hairline. We go back and forth with who we think they look like. We can’t decide!

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOUR CHILDREN?

My daughter sort of gets it. My son is definitely too young at this point but it is very important to me to teach them to be proud of who they are. I remind my daughter that she is amazing, and her differences make her unique and special. I try to teach her to love her curly hair and “golden” skin. So far I think we’ve been successful.

 

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

My dream is for my children to grow up loving who they are and being able to just be themselves. I don’t want them to have to “choose” a side and identify with one race. I would just love for America to understand that our beautiful, unique mixed babies are the future of the world. Love is love no matter the amount of melanin in our skin.

 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ADD:

You can follow me, My blog is themixedmamablog.com where I share tips, tricks, and tutorials for multicultural haircare. There will also be stories of our lives and the issues/situations we face as a multicultural family.

I also just launched an online store, TheMixedShop.com!  The online store brings natural/multiracial hair care products, diverse toys & books, and other specialty items all into one spot. 

I can be found on Social Media at: Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I also have an online FB group that is sort of an online support group for multicultural families from around the world to share stories, pictures, get advice, vent, and just have a sense of community. That can be found here: The Mixed Mama Community.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL FAMILY: MEET THE THOMAS FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

 

 

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PODCAST WITH MULTIRACIAL HAIR STYLIST AND ENTREPRENEUR SYLVIE VAUGHT


PODCAST WITH MULTIRACIAL HAIR STYLIST AND ENTREPRENEUR SYLVIE VAUGHT via Swirl Nation Blog

We are very excited that Alex of Multiracial Media recently interviewed hair stylist and entrepreneur Sylvie Vaught for his podcast.

Sylvie and her family were one of the first families we featured on Swirl Nation Blog back in January!

Please take some time to listen to the podcast here and get to know Sylvie better! 


More information can be found here

Ep. 94: Sylvie Vaught is is African American, Choctaw Indian, Irish, and Russian/Romanian Jewish.  She is a multiracial woman in a multiracial family who has experienced multiracial life in Canada and the United States.  Currently, she works as a hairstylist, with a particular sensitivity and affinity for multiracial hair.
Sylvie is also a a co-founder of Blow Me Hair App a Los Angeles and Orange County based on-demand beauty that connects available hair stylists with clients interested in a professional blowout or up-do in the convenience of their home, office, and hotel.

 

 

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