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Who’s More Black•ish, El Esposo or Ms. Meltingpot?

Black & Spanish = Kinky Gazpacho in my book.

Black & Spanish = Kinky Gazpacho in my book.

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

So, those of you who read my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho, know I have a deep fascination with all things Black and Spanish. It’s kind of been my way to make my relationship with el esposo into some sort of cosmic destiny thing. I like finding historical precedents in all things, including my own personal love life. So, when I fell in love with Spain and then with el esposo, I felt compelled to find some shard of Black culture in my adopted homeland. And I did. A lot actually. I discovered that the Iberian peninsula had been home to thousands of Black Africans for hundreds of years and as such there is quite a bit of African culture in Spain. Which has always made me think there must also be quite a bit of African blood running through the veins of the average Spaniard, including el esposo.

Which is just my way of saying that we finally did it. Last week el esposo and I spit into a plastic vial and sent our DNA off to a laboratory in California to be analyzed. I’m not really interested in tracking down my long lost cousins, I really just want to know if in fact el esposo actually has African blood in his Spanish veins and I also want to know just how much European blood I carry. I’m really interested because I want some kind of scientific explanation for why my three children are three different colors. I get how DNA works, I just want to see the percentages for myself so I can do the math. I predict that el esposo must have some real Black in him and that clearly I must have a substantial wad of Whiteness. More than the average Black American — which is approximately 20 percent I believe — I don’t know, but two of my kids are quite pale. Until the results come back, all I can do is speculate, but when I do know for sure, I’ll be sure to let you all know. Stay tuned.

Peace!

…And We’re Back: Back to School, Back in the USA, Back to the Grind

Look mom; I went to England and found these cool rocks! #SummerMemories

Look mom; I went to England and found these cool rocks! #SummerMemories

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

I’m baaack!! I hope you didn’t miss me too much. I missed you. Really I did. And I missed having an outlet for all of my crazy discoveries, opinions and cultural critiques that only you, my devoted readers would care to hear about. So, I’m picking up my proverbial pen and getting back to blogging.

This year –yes, I still think of the year starting in September — is going to be crazy busy for me. I’m working on my book manuscript for Same Family, Different Colors, teaching two new classes, getting ready to go up for tenure and of course, still playing mommy to my three kiddos. Can you believe I’m the mother of a teen, a toddler, and a ten-year-old who’s just stuck in the middle? It makes for some good stories, which, of course, I’ll be sharing here. And speaking of sharing, here’s when you can tune in for updates here on The Meltingpot.

I’ve created a very strict schedule for myself in order to get through my to-do list for the year and for the first time I’m going to try blogging at the end of the day. This may make for some blog posts that are riddled with grammatical errors and an overwhelming sense of despair, but that’s when I could fit it in, so we’ll see how it goes. Expect fresh posts on Monday and Wednesday nights, or just tune in on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

BTW, my summer in London was really great and my final week in Portugal was magical. I feel like it all happened ages ago, but really I only got back to the United States 2.5 weeks ago. The best part was seeing what great travelers my kids were. Three countries in seven weeks and they loved the whole adventure. Sadly, el esposo is scheduled for surgery (minor sports injury stuff that he’s put off for years) for next summer, so the only traveling we’ll be doing is back and forth to the physical therapist’s office. Spring break looks good though!

Thanks for coming back to the Meltingpot! Did anyone else do anything splendid this summer? I’m listening.

Peace!

My European Adventure is On Tumblr!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

I have not fallen off the face of the earth, I swear. I made it to the UK and it’s been great so far. But you don’t have to take my word for it here. I’ve started a Tumblr blog — just to capture the 57 days I’ll be abroad — as sort of a parenthesis from the Meltingpot. If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to and to follow along, please bookmark this link.

Cheers and thank you in advance for continuing to care!

A New Book in the Works!

Yes, I can!

Yes, I can!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Sorry for the silence. I have been busy. Really busy. But in a good way. Remember a few weeks back I mentioned I’d be making an announcement soon. Well, I can officially say it now as the ink is dry on the contract. I sold my book proposal to Beacon Press! I’ve hinted about the book here and there, it’s the one about color bias in American families. After writing about hair for all of these years, I’m excited to expand my area of expertise into skin color politics as well, and not just for Black people, either. I’m including people of all backgrounds and of all shades and hues into my research.

The book is going to part memoir, part investigative journalism and hopefully completely engaging as any story about human diversity generally is. At least to me diversity is always a cool topic to explore. So, what does that mean for all of you, my most faithful readers?

Well, I’m only one month into researching and you can see how many times I’ve posted here. So, rather than pretend that I will keep up with weekly posts, I considered going dark for 15 months, but I can’t bear to stay away. Instead, I will continue to update regularly on the first Monday of the month. Just enough to keep you satisfied, I hope.

But if you want more of me, please feel free to follow me on Twitter because I am always good for 140 characters or less.

And I think I’ll be creating a TUMBLR blog to document my trip to London and Portugal this summer, so if I do, I’ll post the link.

Thanks for caring, people. I do appreciate you.

Peace!

Flashback Friday: “Not the Nanny Syndrome Doesn’t Discriminate”

Is that your child? You wouldn't think so, but it is.

Is that your child? You wouldn’t think so, but it is.

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

In a few weeks I am going to have a big, exciting announcement to make. It’s about my writing life, so don’t think I’m going to tell you all the sex of my unborn child. That train has long left the station. In the meantime, I’ll give you a clue by linking back to this post I wrote in 2012 about that pesky situation of being mistaken for your child’s caregiver when you don’t look like your offspring, biological or adopted. It’s maddening. And it doesn’t only affect women of color. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote:

Get a group of women together who have children that don’t look like them and we can tell all kinds of hilarious stories, besting one another with the more outrageous comments people have thrown our way. And truth be told, sometimes they are funny. But a lot of times, those comments hurt. They hurt in a way I never expected. It’s not because I feel so insulted to be mistaken for a nanny. And it’s not even because I think people are being small-minded or insensitive by questioning my child’s parentage. At the end of the day, it hurts because there’s something visceral, I think, about wanting to see something of yourself in your offspring. It’s that simple and that complicated.

I have never been told, ‘gee your kids look just like you.’ And it’s not something I ever dreamed about hearing either. I’d rather hear, ‘gee your kids sure are smart/talented/healthy.’ But to be told over and over, your kids look nothing like you? Aye, there’s the rub. What’s more, I think that for women of color to be mistaken for the nanny, the underlying insult comes not from being mistaken for a domestic worker, but for not be respected enough to be mistaken for the mother. Ya dig?

To read the whole post, you can click here. And stay tuned to The Meltingpot for my big announcement in the coming days.

Peace!

Happy Anniversary!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Today el esposo and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. Yes, if you do the math, we partied like it was 1999 on April 3, of 1999. Three kids, several transatlantic flights, two houses, two returns to school, one new career and we’re still here. Together.

Marriage isn’t easy. Parenting isn’t easy. Throw in two languages, two different cultures. Two very different personalities and you begin to understand this Kinky Gazpacho life of ours. It’s not always fun and sometimes it’s really, really hard, but, dear readers, I can honestly say el esposo still makes me laugh and I still think he’s cute and he’s still my best friend.

El esposo & I, way back in the day.

El esposo & I, way back in the day.

Since it is our 15th anniversary, we’re actually going to celebrate, something we haven’t done since our first anniversary, when we went to Portugal. This year, I think we’re just going to go to the movies. We haven’t done that in years either. The last movie we saw together, I believe, involved a talking zebra and some circus animals.

What would you do to celebrate 15 years of marriage? Get a tattoo? Open a bottle of champagne? We’re not celebrating until Saturday, so send me your ideas. I’m listening.

Peace!

Guess Where I’m Going? : Ms. Meltingpot’s European Adventure

Hint! Hint!

Hint! Hint!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

I’ve been in a whirlwind of travel planning. Remember when I told you that I’d be spending the summer in London teaching? Well, everything is officially a go, so I had to buy my tickets this week and make it official. And while I am totally excited to spend six weeks with 20 college students for six hours a day, five days a week in a city as exciting as London, I know I’m going to need a real vacation at the end of it all. So, guess where I’m going? If you’re thinking I’m heading to the Iberian peninsula, you’re right. But if you think I’m going to Spain, you are mistaken.

I’m going to Portugal! *screams and cheers from her desk at work * For some reason, Lisbon is still my favorite European city. It’s the first place el esposo and I ever took a vacation together and where we returned to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. To me, Lisbon is romance and mystery and warmth and a hint of tropical. It is Black and European and multicultural. The food is amazing, the architecture is stunning, and the people are friendly. And my goodness, those holy custard tarts are ridiculously delicious. What more could you ask for? Oh, and all those castles. Pink castles, people. I’m taking all three niños too for the first time. I hope they adore Lisbon as much as I do.

Dear readers, if any of you love Lisbon, please let me know what you love the best and give me some ideas about where I should I go and what I should do. Especially with three kids. I’m totally listening.

Obregada!

Ms. Meltingpot is in a State of Grace

Just an image that reflects how I feel. But the work is by an artist named Ernest E. Varner

Just an image that reflects how I feel. But the work is by an artist named Ernest E. Varner

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Did you miss me? I missed you all. Really, I did. So much has been happening in my life, so many times I’ve wanted to write but literally couldn’t find the time for much more than a quick Facebook post or a tweet. That’s right, dear readers. I’ve basically only been able to dedicate 140 characters or less to writing these days. So, let me catch you up. But I warn you, I’m about to go a little spiritual and words like God with a capital “G” might come up. So, if religion and the like gives you hives, you might want to pass on this post. Otherwise, read on.

So, the week before Thanksgiving, my parked car was hit by a drunk driver who also hit seven other parked cars near Temple University. It was a total mess. My car had to be removed from the scene by a tow truck and the repairs still aren’t complete. Needless to say, the driver doesn’t carry enough insurance to cover the damage and all of the related expenses associated with the accident. But we still had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Then the week before Christmas arrives and babygirl comes down with a stomach virus that lands her in the hospital. Soon after, everyone in my family comes down with the icky illness, falling like dominoes, one after the other. Everyone that is, except son number two. But still, we had a pleasant Christmas. The barfing stopped for that one holy day, only to resume the following day.

Luckily, everyone in our little kinky gazpacho family seemed healthy enough to travel down to North Carolina to visit with my parents for New Years. We got into a rental car (remember my car is still in the shop) and headed south. Well, the universe wasn’t done with us yet. On New Year’s Day, my poor mother was taken by ambulance to the hospital with what we thought was a nasty case of the flu, but turned out to be far worse. I almost lost my mother, dear readers, but luckily she is projected to make a full recovery. It seems almost silly to add that the day after my mother went into the hospital, son number two finally had his battle with the stomach virus. At that moment, my mother fighting for her life in the hospital and my son lying in bed trying not to puke his guts out, I had a moment of despair. I wanted to ask God, the Universe and anyone else who might have some answers, what I had done to deserve all of this, all at once. But, dear readers, I didn’t have time for any sort of real reflection or even time for a good cry. Life kept handing me buckets of puke and desperate calls from the hospital, plus two other kids to take care of, so when was there time to cry? I figured I’d have my breakdown later, like when I was back home.

But guess what? The breakdown never came. Instead, I made it back to Philly and I felt an unexpected sense of calm. After all that, I didn’t feel the anger or disappointment or depression I had expected. In fact, just yesterday I had such a moment of clarity about what has transpired in these last few weeks, it made me want to write it all down. Here’s what I realized. Yes, my car was totaled by a drunk driver, but I wasn’t in it and neither were my children. Yes, my whole family got sick at Christmas time, but we were all healthy enough on Christmas day to enjoy the magic of the holiday. And yes, my mother almost died, but she didn’t die. She is going to be okay. Dear readers, what I think I’ve just witnessed is grace. Yes, an incredible showing of God’s grace. I have seen the worst life can offer, but have been spared experiencing it fully. It’s like I’ve been taken to the edge of a cliff but a benevolent hand has kept me from falling.

I don’t know about you dear readers, but I think God/The Universe wants me to use this life to do great things. I don’t think I’m here by accident. I have seen how fast and easy it is for this life to be taken away, so I’m here testifying that I’m not going to waste my time here on earth. Every minute should count for something. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to sign up for bungee jumping lessons, nor am I going to write a new novel every year. I just mean that I’m going to make sure I love the people I love. Hard. I will write the books I want to write. Well. And I will give myself permission to experience the things in this world that tickle my fancy. Now. Not later. Because clearly, later isn’t guaranteed.

So, this is really already too long for a blog post. If you’re still reading, thank you. If you have a story of your own to share that you think will make me smile, please share. I have a little bit more about the way I’m embracing this state of grace, but I’ll wait for the next post to tell you about it. Welcome to 2014, Meltingpot readers. I’m glad you’re here with me.

Peace!