Viewing entries tagged
race

WHY I STRIKE

10 Comments

WHY I STRIKE


My sister and I circa the late eighties

My sister and I circa the late eighties

This day is important to me. Today women are striking across the world in a display of solidarity. I recognize that not all women identify as feminists, although I don’t understand it. I also recognize that the majority of men do not identify as feminists, although I don’t understand that either.

I think back to my childhood and realize the privilege that I have always had. Part of it I was born into, my parents were both white and educated and came from families where they were loved. Growing up I was bossy (and still am) and no one ever made me feel bad about it. I was encouraged to be a leader, I was raised to be confident, and because of that support I achieved in school and in sports. I get my work ethic from my parents, they didn’t preach it, they just lived it every single day.

When it was time for college I had a couple years that I didn’t know what I wanted to be, or how to recognize my talents. I took that time to take a lot of women’s studies courses (sounds pretty Boulder-like right? ;) and then with my dad’s suggestion I found my passion in the world of marketing.

I went to art school and graduated early, I was ready to jump into the real world. I landed the job I wanted, again privilege followed me. I feel very grateful for the life I have had and I recognize that while I have worked very hard, there were so many factors that have been working in my favor ever since I was born.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the world of advertising was flawed. About a year into my career a coworker of mine got drunk and revealed his salary to me. We went to the same school, graduated at the same time, were hired at the same time, and had the same job- he made $10,000 more than me. I remember taking the information in calmly and then headed home to figure out how I was going to make this right.

So the next Monday I told my boss that I needed to talk to his boss. I gave them the facts, they came back with comments like “well, schooling and how long you have worked here all play into salary”. When I told them we were literally identical in all of those factors, they gave me the $10,000 raise. Keep in mind I was making $25,000 a year at the time so this was huge for me. But besides the bump in salary, it made me grateful that I was raised in way that made me comfortable enough to fight for what I was worth.

I moved up quickly in my career. I had a male friend tell me one time he wished he could bottle up the “cajones” I have. As I moved up I was often the only female creative in the room. It definitely has shaped the personality I have today. The environment was competitive, frat-ish at times, and has been full of uncomfortable moments with clients, coworkers and bosses.

 
Can you see the confidence? ;)

Can you see the confidence? ;)

Now, getting close to 40 I have been in this world for almost 18 years which seems impossible, but it is true. I am a long way from that young woman fighting for her extra 10k in a lot of ways, but in many ways much has stayed the same. I became a mom to a daughter just after my 26th birthday which opened my eyes to figuring out how I wanted to raise a strong female.

I teach by doing and fighting. It has just been the 2 of us for the better part of her life. She is my teammate, at my side all the time, so she sees the fight. She sees me when I am struggling, but most importantly she always sees me get back up. She sees that I am flawed like everyone else, but that I am fiercely devoted to doing anything and everything I can to make sure she succeeds. I have become the woman, the feminist, the boss, and the mother I am to show her what she is made of.

My hope for her and the people in her life is that they realize this is what it means to be a feminist. It means that she means as much to the world as the boy who sits next to her. It means that her brown skin is as valuable as my white skin. It means that all of the men in her life- her father, her grandfathers, and everyone else who loves her- want her to succeed and believe in her success as much as they would believe in a boy’s.

I recognize my life has been full of blessings and full of privilege. I am very grateful for everything that I have been given, the love that I was raised in, and the chances I was given to prove myself. That does not mean I don’t have something to fight for. I have heard this a lot lately, women in a position of privilege who don’t understand that one woman’s fight is all of our fight.

My dream is a world where we are all feminists, because we all recognize that your son is not better than your daughter. He doesn’t deserve additional opportunities or respect simply because of his gender. When women do better, we all do better.  Please find your own way of standing in solidarity today, I am striking with the knowledge that all women do not have that luxury, so I will strike for them too. Even more important is how each of us continue to carry out the spirit of today into each day moving forward.

Why I Strike by Jen Fisch via Swirl Nation Blog

10 Comments

1 Comment

BEING MIXED WILL ALWAYS BE ENOUGH: A CLAP BACK FOR THE HATERS


I strongly identify as a mixed-race Black and Latina female. I was raised by my parents to never choose just one or the other because I am both: all day, everyday. As passionately as I hold my racial/ethnic identity to be true, I have grappled with the fact that the world sees my truth as a falsity. I, Joanna Lillian Thompson, am proud to say I am the child of a Black man, born and raised on the ghetto streets of southeast Washington D.C., and a Central American woman from Nicaragua who came to the United States with nothing but a dream for a better life.

Left: My parents during their courtship in the 1980’s; Right: My parents a few years ago during a visit to Chicago.

Left: My parents during their courtship in the 1980’s; Right: My parents a few years ago during a visit to Chicago.

As a child, being mixed was not complicated. I grew up in the rather diverse suburb of Rockville, Maryland, right outside of the nation’s capital. There, commonalities between my friends and neighbors were highlighted more so than our differences. However, as I have gotten older and moved away from home to travel nationally and internationally to pursue my academic and career goals, I have found myself in more and more situations where my mixedness becomes a topic of interrogation. These situations are fueled by constant reminders of what makes me different from those who do not identify as mixed-race. Unfortunately, I am more than used to typical questions of “What are you?” or “What are you mixed with?” and statements like, “I didn’t think being mixed was a thing.” or “You don’t even seem Black and Latina.” Nevertheless, the questioning of my racial/ethnic identity has come to a point where it is not just a question of what am I, but a discrediting of my racial/ethnic identity all together.

 

This discrediting of my racial/ethnic identity recently came to a highpoint when a new friend of mine, who is Black and undeniably Pro-Black in her personal beliefs, frankly informed me that I am not “ethnic,” I have been “whitewashed” because it sounds like I was “sheltered,” like my parents “kept all the Black people” away from me, and I am “not like any other Black/Latina person” she knows because “other Black girls” don’t sound like how I do. The justification for my apparent display of no ethnicity, according to my friend, are due to characteristics I embody such as I am passive and am too nice, I talk properly all the time, I like baseball and hockey, I do not listen to a lot of “Black people” music, I am not urban, I say phrases like “okie dokie,” and I simply carry myself in a way that if you did not know me, you would not necessarily think I was Black or Latina. These characteristics, from how I act, to how I speak, to even what sports and music I like, have somehow, and unbeknownst to me, stripped away my racial/ethnic background. Ultimately, it has made me a White person.

Left: Me in my Alexander Ovechkin jersey at a Washington Capitals game; Right: Me after catching a ball from a pitcher during batting practice at a Washington Nationals game.

Left: Me in my Alexander Ovechkin jersey at a Washington Capitals game; Right: Me after catching a ball from a pitcher during batting practice at a Washington Nationals game.

When thinking about these characteristics, which seem to be perfect evidence to support the claim I am not “ethnic,” I believe what I like and how I act are merely consequences of the environment I was raised in and the spaces I continue to surround myself in. I was raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, which was a well-off suburb. Compared to most youth, I had a pretty amazing childhood which included an abundance of love from friends and family who were prosperous themselves. I do not say that to be conceited, but to simply acknowledge the varying levels of privilege I have been given in my life. My childhood included being excited for my first Backstreet Boys concert at the age of 13; yearly summer vacations to the beaches of Florida with my parents; attending different professional sports events, including soccer, because my father, that Black kid from the ghetto of D.C., worked as an equipment manager for the Washington Diplomats in the 70’s and fell in love with the sport, among other sports as well. My life includes both of my parents, whom have now been married for 34 years, and have always supported me in any way they can: financially, emotionally, spiritually, and just by being my best friends. Today, I live on the north side of Chicago where I am pursuing my PhD in Criminology, Law, and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago and have been extremely fortunate to meet people from different walks of life who are just as diverse as I am. Somehow, these wonderful characteristics, which have irrefutably shaped the eclectic person I am today, have simultaneously disqualified me from being genuinely Black and Latina.

Me as a child in Maryland

Me as a child in Maryland

Left: Senior yearbook photo; Right: High school graduation

Left: Senior yearbook photo; Right: High school graduation

Left: My parents and I at a Washington Redskins v. Detroit Lions football game in Detroit, Michigan; Right: My parents and I at dinner the day I graduated from college at West Virginia University.

Left: My parents and I at a Washington Redskins v. Detroit Lions football game in Detroit, Michigan; Right: My parents and I at dinner the day I graduated from college at West Virginia University.

Several questions have since risen in my mind from this new information on my lack of minority status. First, what does it mean to be ethnic? Second, what does it mean to be “genuinely” Black and/or Latina? Third, how does having a nice personality, liking certain types of music and sports, or being well-spoken as a POC essentially make you less of a POC? Sometimes I wonder, if I were to give into stereotypes, would that make me more genuine when it comes to my racial/ethnic identity? If I grew up on the same ghetto streets as my dad, if I struggled in the shacks of Nicaragua like my mom, if I had not been afforded good opportunities in the affluent suburb I grew up in, if I had a single parent to support me and wondered why one parent left, if I carried myself with a heavier and more aggressive swagger, if I blasted ratchet music 24/7 and spoke with more street slang, if I asserted a more visible pro Black/pro Latina way about myself, would all of that somehow qualify me as ethnic, would all of that somehow make me a bonafide Black and Latina female?

 

Personally, I cannot deny that I have struggled with questions of, “Am I enough?” and “Will I ever be enough?” This is because I have been, and most likely always will be, reminded that as “half and half,” I will never be fully Black or fully Latina. Yes, I could feel as whole as I wanted, I could shout it from every mountaintop and be proud of the reality I hold to be true, but the world will always see me as two parts of a whole, never two whole parts. The saddest part about these reminders is they usually come from my own people: Blacks and Latinas/os. My own people, who I assume will be the first to have my back in times when I am feeling inadequate, are the first to criticize and remind me that ultimately, I am neither Black or Latina.

 

And so, what happens now? Where do mixed-race individuals like myself, who are constantly being reminded of what we are not rather than what we are, go from here? Do we stop believing in who we are, whether our racial/ethnic identities are perceived by others correctly or not? Do we continue to convince our own people, the ones who give us the most pushback for not being enough that yes, we are enough and we should not be stripped of our racial/ethnic identity simply because we look different, sound different, or prefer to engage in different cultural interests? Do we try and establish definite connections for what it means to be “ethnic” or “genuine” as a POC so that at least we have “rules” to abide by when claiming a minority racial/ethnic identity? Or do we just not care, let the sensitivity and emotion all slide, and just deal with being accepted by some and not by others?

 

At the end of the day, I know I cannot give into the negative feelings I experience from discontent and questioning by others who feel I am inaccurately portraying the racial/ethnic identity I was born into. I know I cannot change people’s opinions, especially if those opinions are not grounded in anything definitive, anything aside from personal ideals. I also know the pride I have in my claim as a Black and Latina female is my truth, my reality, and that will never falter. Despite potentially not fitting into whatever cookie-cutter mold there is for being a “genuine” POC, best believe, no one can tell me that I do not fit into the history of what it means to be Black and Latina in America, because I do, I know I do. My place in history, as a strong Black and Latina, has been written and continues to be written; backed by a soundtrack of pop and hip-hop, a wardrobe of sneakers and sun-dresses, hooping to the basket on the court and sliding into third on the field, a personality that is equally passive and aggressive, and a swagger that is undeniably a lady in the workplace and a beast in the streets. Whether this depiction of who I am is evident to others or not, I know is it there. It is in my being, it is in my blood, it what wakes me up every day and puts me to sleep every night. And you know what? That will always be enough for me.


1 Comment

3 Comments

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD... TO THE SOUTH?


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

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

 

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

 

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

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

3 Comments

Comment

EMPATHY


I’ve been thinking quite a bit about empathy these days. It seems as though people are at each other’s throats more than ever and it’s clear that a lot of that anger is coming from what’s going on in our political world. As one Time article states, “Empathy - the ability to step imaginatively into the shoes of another person and understand their feelings and perspectives - seems to be in freefall.”

 

People are angry with one another because they can’t possibly understand why the other person voted for or against so and so, is ok with the travel ban or not, is comfortable with the President's relationship with Russia or not. And I think that’s completely normal. However, I have been thinking that all of this anger and resentment can’t be healthy. I’m not saying that having empathy for those who oppose your views will for sure make you any less angry, but it might. And it might help you to, at the very least, begin to understand why that person feels the way they do. I think from there, we can begin to move forward.

There will always be people with perspectives that we don’t understand. No matter how long or hard we try to understand, we may never fully grasp that person’s individual feelings or opinions. I would like to argue though, that in just attempting to do so, you will open up your ability to empathize. This can be true with general groups of people (think Republicans v Democrats), strangers in the store, and people you are really close with. Simply stating that you understand where the person is coming from or by showing that you are at least trying by actively listening (rather than trying to problem solve) can change the way you perceive the other person’s actions. It also shows that person that you care and that they are not alone and in turn they will likely be more open to being empathetic toward you.

 

Dr. Mohammadreza Hojat states,

“Empathy is a cognitive attribute, not a personality trait.”

That means the part of our brain that handles empathy can be exercised. The more you practice, the more empathetic you become. We are living in a very polarizing time and I’m personally finding it difficult to empathize with people who don’t share my views. It makes me angry that anyone would want to stop people from coming to our country based on their religion. However, I’m finding that the more I think about why a person might feel differently than I do and step into their shoes, I become a little less angry. In a time when there is a lot to be angry about, I’m interested in anything that will help!

 

EMPATHY via Swirl Nation Blog

Here’s a great TED Ed video that really helped me understand the difference between sympathy and empathy and check out the helpful and interesting articles below if you’re interested in exercising your empathy!

How Being More Empathetic Can Make You a Better Leader

Exercise Empathy


 

 

Comment

Comment

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

Comment

Comment

A LOOK AT 'LOVING'


In the last few weeks I've found myself paralyzed and heavy into my feelings. Everyone across America is dealing with a flood of emotions, but being multiracial adds and extra layer to the confusion.

I find myself gravitating toward my African American and Native American heritage even more as events unfold, but lingering in the back of my head is the fact that I'm a combination from several different worlds. What if somewhere deep in my Caucasian lineage, there are some hateful roots. Did one half of my family contribute to the history of hurt my other half endured? Even though I know my background doesn't affect my character, not all white people are on the regressive side of the issue, it still makes the matter of equality awkward at best. I have to remind myself, though, that things are not as divided and hateful as they seem on the news. Love is the majority and things are changing. 

Biracial relationships have never been a trend that people are wild about, and the children from those relationships have not always been welcome. We're here, though, and becoming more commonplace and less taboo. I think people have an easier time accepting another race than they do accepting another race commingling with their own. It's an angle of racism that doesn't make it to the forefront very often, but it's all I seem to be thinking about lately. While there are people who may hate me simply for being black, there are also people who possibly hate me even more because I'm a mixture of both black and white. Somewhere In my mental tailspin though, I realized that I need to be grateful. Right now, there is still ignorance and some people don't approve, but there was a time when it was actually against the law and a life threatening risk to love outside your race. I felt like I was missing appreciation for where we are now, because I was focused on where we need to be. I thought watching "Loving" might give me a little perspective. That and I really just needed to watch something other than the overload of current event updates on my social media feed.

A LOOK AT 'LOVING' via Swirl Nation Blog

I always want to watch historical movies, but I shy away because they upset, and stick with me. I'm an emotional lightweight, and I can only handle an occasional action movie outside of my romantic comedies. I figured this couldn't be as traumatic as some of the movies about slavery though, so I thought I'd probably be okay. I did get upset, but it wasn't anything that would give me nightmares. It was actually really inspiring to watch the story of the couple who changed the face of civil liberties with regard to interracial marriage. Despite the danger of defying the ruling by the State of Virginia,  they fought their case all the way to the Supreme Court where it was declared unconstitutional for any state to deny a couple the inherent right of marriage based on race. They were jailed, and banished from Virginia because they would not concede to the order requiring them to dissolve their union. They faced great opposition, but persisted and eventually succeeded, creating a monumental change during the Civil Rights Movement.

I loved Ruth Negga as Mildred; in part because she herself is Swirl Nation (Irish and Ethiopian). I wasn't crazy about the husband's portrayal, but then again I don't know the real figure behind the character. Also, there were parts of the movie that were a little slow. Any criticism I have, though, is completely muted by the fact that this was a true story. Their courage was pivotal to our country's history. I was born just 15 years after the ruling, and relatively speaking that's not even a full generation before me. Without the Lovings my very existence would be criminal. That realization alone gave me chills, and left me in awe of the entire movie.

"Loving" the movie, left me thirsty for more stories of people who paved the way for all the liberties I am able to enjoy present day. Recently our country may have taken a few steps back, and uncovered prejudices that hid but did not die, but we have still come such a long way. While it's possible to come across intentional obstacles, distractions, and delays, progress cannot be stopped. Rather than be consumed by what the media strategically shares, I choose to be encouraged knowing that love will prevail and change is inevitable. 

One day interracial and multiracial will be redundant terms used only in history books, because we will all realize that we are a nation full of immigrants and their descendants, and no one's heritage is linear. We all have relatives that mixed things up somewhere along the way, and that's what makes our country the beautiful melting pot that it is.

Multi cultural family.jpg

Comment

Comment

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

 

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

HONORING WORLD HIJAB DAY


HONORING WORLD HIJAB DAY via Swirl Nation Blog

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

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

More more information go to their website.

On social media share your photos using #Istand4Hijab #WorldHijabDay


Comment

Comment

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.


Comment

1 Comment

3 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN YOU MEET SOMEONE MULTIRACIAL


3 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN YOU MEET SOMEONE MULTIRACIAL via Swirl Nation Blog

As the world becomes more diverse, multiracial people are not quite the rare unicorns we once were. Even with more combinations of skin, eyes and culture constantly blending, though, it seems that uni-nationality people (pretending for a moment that's actually a real thing) still don't quite know how to approach or talk to "The Mixed". -That's my new term and I'm sticking with it. It sounds like the newest hit drama on NBC; already in it's second season, with rave reviews, starring yours truly.  

No matter what term you use as a description, there are definitely 3 things you should keep in mind when you meet someone who appears to be multiracial.

 

The question, "What are you?", is not welcome!

It's probably the single most frustrating question for us. I haven't taken a scientific poll, but I think I can safely say we all have an eye roll reserved for the occasion. Just don't ask, and spread the word so hopefully the question dies altogether. We are human! Whether well intended or not, the question implies that we're not. Add in the bewildered face people wear as they ask, and the feeling of being an outcast just grows. I am a woman, sister, daughter, writer, actress, mother extraordinaire if you must, but if you'd like to know my background simply ask me, "What's your background?" I am happy to unlock the mystery.

 

The touching of our hair isn't either

There seems to be a fascination with ethnic hair in general, but I've noticed an extra layer of "Oooh what's that" when it comes to hair that falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It comes in a variety of textures and sometimes the color seems out of place given the corresponding shade of skin, but it is just hair, and we don't like people touching it. If my curls are calling to you and the urge becomes overwhelming, again, ask. You may get a firm and passionate, "No!", but if you're not given permission, it feels like a violation. It's kind of like the hand on the belly bump phenomenon. Apparently, there's an unspoken rule, that if a woman is pregnant and her belly is visible, she becomes public property, and it's okay to lay hands. Well uh, I can assure you this rule was not written by a pregnant woman; I literally used to slap any strange hand that got close enough. Anyone who thinks it okay to walk up and touch someone's anything, hair included, has been seriously misinformed. If you didn't know, now you do.

 

Starring makes things awkward

Now, I have to give a disclaimer. I have seen a multiracial few that are an absolutely stunning display of artistic magnificence personified, and I couldn't take my eyes off them. There are people that beautiful and visually captivating, but they are not wax figures and there is most certainly a line. Whether gorgeous and statuesque or not, The Mixed are something like a puzzle. It drives you nuts if you can't identify where all their features come from and you just can't look away until you've got it; I've been there. Starring is understandable, but anything beyond a 5 second gaze starts to become uncomfortable. Even worse, if we've made eye contact and you still haven't said anything things go from awkward to concerning. We are approachable, I assure you (most of us anyway), and we don't bite. If you find yourself taken aback by someone it's okay, and actually preferred, to say something instead of just persisting with a stare.

 

If you've been following the dots and my entire rant seems to deal with consent and respect, you're right on target. It's in our nature to explore the unfamiliar, admire unique beauty, and try to dissect anything that we don't understand. Unfortunately, it has also been a part of our history to treat differences in humans, the same way we would a new cell phone. We don't bother learning about it from the manual, we just look it over and play with it. Great for technology, not okay with people. I don't think enough of the population realizes or cares that it's not okay, though. My hope is that as people learn better, they'll do better. 

 

The differences in our cultures and traditions are what make blending them so beautiful. Admire, inquire and enjoy when you come across a way of life different from your own. I don't have a drop of Greek in me, that I know of, but Mediterranean cuisine is definitely at the top of my favorites. As you become more worldly though, just keep a sticky note, somewhere in the back of your think tank, that reminds you, there is not a person in this world that is on display for your curiosity or entertainment. Multiracial individuals are not beautiful patchwork quilts for you to run your hand over. Their feelings are no different than your own, so make sure you're "Doing unto others..."

 

I have grown into a much greater sense of confidence when it comes to my blend, but that was not always the case. As a child I felt like a bit of a sideshow. Kids always wanted to play with my hair, or come up with a creative reason why they thought I had freckles with brown hair and eyes. I no longer care much if someone turns my face into a guessing game, but I'm sure there are still children and even adults, today, who haven't yet gotten to that place of self assurance. In a world of carbon copies, unique is not an easy mountain to climb. When you do meet someone who appears multiracial, the biggest thing is to show respect. If you're sensitive in your approach, I think plenty of The Mixed wouldn't mind sharing their story. 


1 Comment

Comment

“BROWN SKIN AND BLONDE GIRLS ONLY”, SAID MY DAUGHTER


It was the moment I dreaded. Today my daughter came home recounting her day with the casual tone she adopts when talking about homework.

But instead she told me she’d created a secret club.

“Oh?”, I said, intrigued.

“Yes, and it’s for girls only. And only brown skinned and blonde girls can be part of it.” At the mention of skin colour, my head turned. But, instead of the usual defensive lioness I’ve become so used to at the mention of anyone excluding her for being brown, I had to do a double take.

“What??? Why would you?… Who??….”, my voice tailed off. Realising she’d included blonde girls, I calculated that most of her friends were actually probably included- even with this strange entry requirement.

All except one. “Were all your friends allowed to join then?”, I asked carefully. “Yes”, she said. “Except N…”

My heart dropped. Just as I feared. One of her friends who didn’t play with her that often but who was often on the periphery of her little group was unfortunate to have brown hair.

My daughter was obviously oblivious to her error. In fact, she looked at me curiously to see why I might be so concerned.

What do you do and how do you say it? My automatic anti-racist, discrimination-hating, scary-Mum instinct was about to be unleashed where I lecture my daughter about everything that’s wrong with excluding someone because of their skin colour.

And yet I knew that if I scared my daughter with my reaction, what would be the impact on any future conversations about race? Would she want to bring up any more moments where race and skin colour come up and would she feel comfortable to know that she can ask anything- even if it is offensive?

Because keeping that conversational door open is one of the most important things to me. That she knows that she can ask anything of us- her parents- even if she suspects it’s not a comfortable subject for many.

We talk about race and heritage and colour because it’s there. Not because we want to make a big deal of it but because it’s there. And we don’t have a choice.

Fortunately, the people who make up my daughter’s entire world are all of different colours so I didn’t have to travel far to get her to understand.

“You do know that your rules mean that I couldn’t join your secret club”.

Armed with this new revelation, she seemed to pause and agreed quickly to change the rules so that blonde, brown and black hair, white skin and brown skin could be included.

In Shakil Choudhury’s recent ground-breaking book on diversity, he spells it out for us that our human brain is predisposed to be empathetic to those who are most like us. But as her immediate circle is made up of multiple skin colours and features, I knew that her concept of ‘us’ was unlikely to be limited.

So I didn’t harp on about the colour aspect. The incident that happened today could have happened to any kid, of any colour. For my daughter, it could well have been glasses, no glasses, brown hair, blonde hair or black hair, as long as her chosen friends were included.

In those next few moments, I chose to talk about exclusion as it happens to us all, not about colour specifically.

“Why would you want to exclude N***?”, I asked her.

“Is she mean?”

“No.”

“So, why?”

She didn’t really have an answer. Perhaps because it was easy to exclude N***.  And because her best friends were all blonde-haired or brown-skinned.

I continued. Today, you’re in control of the club but tomorrow, it may be those very same kids who exclude you because of your curly hair or your nose or your shirt or… your skin colour.

“How would you feel if…”

Pausing, she said she understood. And she felt bad, I could tell. She’s not a mean kid and I know she’s been known to stand up to bullies and other kids who turn on others. But what happened today, she was reminded of who she is and what she stands for. So proud was she of her ‘secret’ club and the fact that she’d come up with rules to make it even more exclusive (probably inspired by the recent episode of Peppa Pig), she’d forgotten how it felt to be left out.

Tomorrow she’ll go in and apologise to her friend. She’s done with secret clubs for now, she says. And she’s got a renewed incentive to be kinder and to ensure everyone gets included in her circle.  Because when encouraged to imagine themselves in the others’ shoes, children don’t need much encouragement to change their behaviour.

I hope that my daughter got the lesson. I certainly did not think I’d be having this conversation with her, especially at 5 years old. But, then again, I’m glad it happened and I can understand better when young children do make judgements and decisions based on skin colour. Later, it may become more sinister and I’m ready for those conversations. But it’s a reminder that in this racialised world, none of us are perfect and we’re learning along the way. Talking about race is not taboo, nor should we scare our children or run away from such conversations. Even when when they surprise us with the most unimaginable.


Post was originally published on Fariba's blog, mixedracefamily.com

Comment

Comment

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



 

Comment

Comment

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


 

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

THE BACHELOR BRINGS BIRACIAL TO THE SMALL SCREEN


Taylor Nolan, biracial contestant on The Bachelor

Taylor Nolan, biracial contestant on The Bachelor

Happy 2017 and if you are like most of America you may have started out your week with The Bachelor on Monday night. I’m not an avid Bachelor fan, but to appease my younger sister I indulged her whim to watch it. I’ve seen a handful of seasons and we all know the process: one man dates thirty girls and cherry picks his way to the love of his life in roughly two months. We got it, not a hard concept. The older and more #woke I get, my attention to the diversity, education and background the women selected increases rather than focusing on the man.

What got my attention this first episode was a biracial, black and white contestant named Taylor Nolan. In her introduction video, she listed a few key facts: she’s an entrepreneur, mental health counselor, graduate from Johns Hopkins, and biracial. Following her statement on being biracial she states

“Connections can be somewhat difficult for me. My mom is white and my biological father is black. Being biracial is very much um… white girls didn’t like because I was black and black girls didn’t like me because I was white. But I think I’ve really learned to love myself and be comfortable with who I am.”

 To be honest I had a very complicated reaction to this reveal. One, it felt like the most cliché label associated with being mixed. It’s a very blanket statement that I know we’ve all felt- disconnect and displacement, it just felt like an odd association to make in relation to her love life. Our social position and acceptance within our own cultures is different in my opinion than our connections with a potential partner. If she had somehow tied this to being in an interracial relationship it would have made more sense, but the way it was packaged, it felt more like a label to stamp her with, which is often what mixed people receive 100% from the outside looking in. At the same time, I understand and hope that there was more context to what she said, and it was edited because well, it’s reality TV.

ABC wants us to know a few things

  1. We have a mixed person who identifies as such (yay for diversity)
  2. I’m assuming since this was part of her introduction, if she lasts that will be further explored to some degree (maybe not since this is The Bachelor and not a PBS documentary)
  3. Her background with being unable to make a connection due to being biracial may be her “Achilles heel” in developing love with our Bachelor. Not sure. We’ll see.

In a 2016-2017 that has brought many mixed race and interracial relationship conversations to the forefront of media, I look forward to seeing how her position as a biracial woman will be explored as opposed to the other women if at all.


Comment

Comment

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.

Comment

1 Comment

SLAVERY IN 2016? AVA DUVERNAY'S DOCUMENTARY "13TH"


Ava DuVernay, Director

Ava DuVernay, Director

I don’t watch a lot of documentaries, but my two younger sisters desperately urged me to watch “13th” on Netflix, directed by Ava DuVernay. I knew she had directed Selma, so I figured the documentary would be pretty good. I truly had no idea just how good it would be.

 

The documentary is based around, and named for, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery. The amendment was ratified in 1865 and stated: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Somehow, I never really thought about the clause right in the middle of that sentence, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

 

DuVernay’s documentary focuses in on that clause and details how she, and many others, believe that it is the reason so many African American men and other people of color are currently in our nation’s prison systems. She interviews scholars, white and black, and others who substantiate this claim with very convincing evidence. They all agree that the clause has basically allowed slavery to continue under the guise of keeping “criminals” behind bars.

 

I’ve known for many years that our prison system is broken and in need of a desperate overhaul, but I truly didn’t realize the extent of it until I watched “13th”. I also didn’t realize the degree in which our prisons are systematically and calculatedly filled. Listening to the people interviewed talk about how vastly interconnected the prisons are to huge corporations and political organizations was mind blowing and also extremely disheartening; especially given our current political climate in the wake of the presidential election.  

“13th” is an incredibly powerful film and I think DuVernay excellently weaves her claim into the broader picture of current race relations in the US. It truly speaks to a lot of the issues African Americans and people of color are dealing with today and, in my opinion, is a must watch for everyone. Regardless of the opinions or conclusions you come to after watching, it assure you it will have made you think a little harder about why so many African Americans are imprisoned and why so many people of color are continually and systematically disenfranchised.


 

 

 

 

1 Comment

6 Comments

THINGS MULTIRACIAL PEOPLE AND OUR MONORACIAL PARENTS CAN'T STAND HEARING


"She's so pretty ... where did she come from?" is one of many obnoxious questions Chris Kelly is routinely asked about her Biracial (half White and half African American) daughter.

 

It got me thinking about the questions people have asked both my parents and me about my brothers’ and my ambiguous looks. And while I don’t believe all multiracial people and our monoracial parents experience all of these questions, my bet is that many can resonate with this list.

 

And before your White fragility forces you to express how insulted you are that I am addressing this, try and remove yourselves from the equation and think about how your invasiveness, your lack of imagination, your inability to think before you speak, your insensitivity and your ability to personalize everything affects us. Please.

 

Questions and Declarations Multiracial People are Tired of Hearing

 

You’re So Exotic!

THINGS MULTIRACIAL PEOPLE AND OUR MONORACIAL PARENTS CAN'T STAND HEARING via Swirl Nation Blog

People, please! I am not a Chia Pet! While you may think this is a compliment, it’s not. My appearance may be different from yours, but that’s all it is—different. It’s not exotic. I am the product of my parents’ relationship the same way you are. We don’t need to make it more or less than it is.

 

Can I Touch Your Hair?

No! If you’re still unsure why, refer to the discussion on me not being a Chia Pet.

 

Stop Fetishizing Us!

It’s not unusual for people to have a type when looking for a partner. I like men to be of similar height, weight and build. I also like them to be on the introverted and shy side. They need to be intellectual, funny, think outside the box and nonconformists. As far as what race they are, by the time I was in my 20s I was tired of men fetishizing me—White, Black, Latino, Hispanic and Asian men did this to me.

I fell in love with my husband because he never once saw me as more beautiful because my ambiguous looks. He is monoracial and like him, we’d both previously dated people who spanned the rainbow.

 

I Have a Friend Who’s Biracial. Do You Know Her?

While you may feel it’s safe to stick to your kind, I have friends who are both monoracial and multiracial. I don’t choose or not choose my friends based on that one commonality we have. Difficult though it may be to believe, we have other things in common that bring us together and moreover, I don’t know every Biracial person out there.

 

There is Only One Race: The Human Race

 This one is tricky because on the face of it, it’s true. The difference in human beings is far tinier than one might believe looking at obvious physical differences. And race is indeed a social construct, however, as long as people are treated differently based solely on skin color, we aren’t even close to making that claim yet.

Don’t get me started on examples, but I’ll give you a hint:

·      Cops using Blacks, Latinos, Hispanics and Natives as target practice

·      People of Color (PoC) incarcerated at disproportionate rates than Whites

·      Whites crossing the street when they see a PoC

 

I Don’t See Color

This one is particularly annoying. Really? You see no difference between the blue skies, the green leaves on trees, the yellow sun and so on? No, I didn’t think so. Admitting to seeing color isn’t the same as discriminating against or making judgments about because of color.

THINGS MULTIRACIAL PEOPLE AND OUR MONORACIAL PARENTS CAN'T STAND HEARING via Swirl Nation Blog

 

What Kind of Music Do Multiracial People Listen To?

Do I really have to explain why this question is stupid and obnoxious? We listen to whatever appeals to us, the same way monoracial people do. Are we swayed one way or another because we’re more than one race? That answer is very complex and relates to bigger issues of who we are on the inside vs. what you see on the outside.

 

Like monoracial people, I like the music I do because of the way I was raised, the environment (both in my home and outside my home) I was exposed to and my personality. I can listen to folk, hard rock, hip hop, salsa, classical and jazz and this variation may or may not have anything to do with my races.

 


Questions and Declarations Monoracial Parents of Multiracial Kids are Tired of Hearing

 

Are You the Nanny?

Author Sarah Ratliff and her father

Author Sarah Ratliff and her father

My mother was half Black and half Japanese and my father was White. We all got tired of people asking that same stupid question. It is actually possible my parents fell in love and made babies. The question is racist and grounded in colonization / imperialism. Would you think of asking a White parent of a multiracial / ambiguous looking child if she were the nanny?

 

And How Did You Meet Him?

This is a subtle one because the question doesn’t appear racist but when the emphasis is on the you and the him it is. The inference being my parents were in different social stratospheres. Had the question been, “how did you two meet?” it would be far less offensive because it assumes they are both equals vs. one having superiority over the other. It works in reverse if the question is, “how did you meet her?”

 

So You’re Into (fill in the blank) Women / Men? What’s Wrong With…?

Personality traits, temperaments and whether someone is introverted or extroverted are what attracted you to your partner, no? Why would you assume it’s different for someone who fell in love with a person who’s a different race?

That you feel the need to question someone else’s choices seems like a personal problem. Get over it.

THINGS MULTIRACIAL PEOPLE AND OUR MONORACIAL PARENTS CAN'T STAND HEARING via Swirl Nation Blog

Have You Thought About How Society Will See Your Children?

That’s usually code for, “I am a well-intentioned racist and I am uncomfortable with your choice to marry outside your race and have children with this person.”

Well, that’s a personal problem, ain’t it?

 

What are some of yours? 


6 Comments

Comment

MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH


With husband, poet Nick Laird

With husband, poet Nick Laird

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

 

OK, so backing up…

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

 

Can we say “baller”?

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

 

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

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

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

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

Zadie Smith:

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

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

Zadie Smith:

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

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

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

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


Comment

5 Comments

THE SALDANA SISTERS THEIR EQUAL OPPORTUNITY LOVE


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


5 Comments

2 Comments

WHEN "THE HATE" SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE


Don't you hate when you are minding your own business, just wasting time on Instagram and then BOOM! You are slapped in the face with hate. That's what happened to me this weekend. I saw this Banana Republic Factory Store ad sponsored in my feed. Normally I would ignore this ad because I am not a Banana Republic kind of girl and I also hate Outlet stores, but the multiracial couple caught my eye. Of course my first instinct, as the founder of Swirl Nation Blog and the mother of a biracial daughter, was "awwww how cute are they?!". But that was instantly me with a feeling of "oh shit, I bet the comments are full of ignorance." Unfortunately my feeling was correct. 

Over 3,000 people of course liked this photo so I don't want to discount that, but as usual those with the most hateful voices tend to also have the loudest. I am not one to engage with people on social media, especially in an argumentative way, but I was certainly tempted. Also since this is an ad, and not a post that will remain on the company's profile, I decided to screenshot the hate to preserve it for all to see. 

 
WHEN "THE HATE" SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE INTERRACIAL COUPLE ON INSTAGRAM via Swirl Nation Blog
 
WHEN "THE HATE" SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE INTERRACIAL COUPLE ON INSTAGRAM via Swirl Nation Blog

I have been the target of some social media hate in my day. All of the messages have been from insecure white men who feel like I "wasted my white genes" by having an biracial daughter. I've been asked why I "ruined myself" by dating black or multiracial men. These are always fun DMs to get. One was by a former high school classmate of mine, or at least that is what he said, I couldn't see his face because his profile photo was him in a KKK hood. Yup, this world is a scary place. 

Recently the hate has become more vocal. People are no longer hiding their racist views and with social media they can broadcast them to the world within seconds. As a mother with a daughter who is in middle school, it worries me what she may innocently come across when she's least expecting it. That's what happened here, just scrolling along, seeing what my friends are up to and BAM! Racist assholes trying to mess up my day. 

You can go through the whole chain below: 

 

Banana Republic is owned by the same company as The Gap and Old Navy. This Spring Old Navy got a lot of attention for their use of a beautiful mixed family which got endless attention from racists. As a company these brands have always been progressive in their use of interracial couples and multiracial families. I'm happy they do not back down to the hate and continue to share a diverse sampling of the human race. 

Instances like this remind me why we started Swirl Nation Blog. Sometimes living in Los Angeles it is easy to think that everyone thinks like I do. The latest election is a giant wake up call of course. Hate is prevalent and as @mshite2you says, is "trying to rise up again". Those of us who are involved and passionate about the multiracial community need to keep spreading love.

WHEN "THE HATE" SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE INTERRACIAL COUPLE ON INSTAGRAM via Swirl Nation Blog

The idea of sheltering my 12 year old daughter from racism and hate is attractive, but wouldn't do her any good. She needs to know her history and she needs to know the current state of race relations in America. And of course I hope if "the hate" slaps her in the face one of these days I hope she can be confident and strong in the face of discrimination. I hope outlets like this site will help her and other multiracial people feel loved, accepted and supported- for we are stronger when we battle back together against those who are filled with ugliness. 

I also hope corporate America will continue to represent diverse couples and families in advertising. I recognize this often brings them backlash to the companies, but I have noticed an increase in diverse casting choices the last couple years. The Cheerios commercial with the multiracial family probably got the most press and recently we featured the new Chase Bank commercial that follows an interracial love story. I wish everyone in this world was as smart as the kids in this video: 

Some wisdom from these kids: 

"Think about those people that are of mixed races, they probably feel horrible because of messed up people like the ones commenting." 
"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
"In real life there are family of all races." 
"It definitely will get people mad, but eventually those people will just realize it doesn't really matter."

So I want to thank Banana Republic Factory Stores, and all of the other brands that realistically portray America's families, don't back down to the hate.


2 Comments