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Archives for : Mixed Race Experience

Same Family, Different Colors: A Personal Story

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

If you have the time, please pop over to Newsworks.org to read my latest parenting column on what it means to be a member of a family with many colors. I will continue to blog over there on Newsworks about these issues in 2016, in anticipation of my new book coming out this fall. By the way, Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families

Same hands, different colors. My Family.

Same hands, different colors.

is already available for pre-order! You heard it here first. Thanks for reading as always.

Peace!

Mixie History in Maine: Malaga Island

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

I hope everyone had a colorful Fourth of July, if that’s your thing. I spent a lovely weekend celebrating a whole bunch of family achievements, from engagements to college graduations. We were in Buffalo, New York for the weekend, so we also took a moment to visit Niagara Falls. That was gorgeous.

It’s because we were on the road that this post is coming to you two days late and I apologize. I know many of you show up here on Monday morning looking for tasty new Meltingpot treats so it must be crushing to find last week’s post still hanging around. Shame on me!

A headline from the newspaper detailing the fate of the people from Malaga Island.

A headline from the newspaper detailing the fate of the people from Malaga Island.

No fear, I’m back. And with such an interesting story to share. I can’t take any credit for discovering it, but I am taking it upon myself to spread the word. Last week I mentioned in my post about Mat Johnson’s new book Loving Day, that I learned something new about Mixie History. What I learned was that there was a Mixed Race community that lived in the late 19th and early 20th century on an island off the coast of Maine called Malaga Island. The island was inhabited by Blacks, Whites and Mixed Race people living together despite the rest of the country’s fierce appreciation for segregated living, loving and learning. What happened to the people who lived on Malaga Island and their way of life is a tragedy that would have been forgotten if not for a pair of curious journalists who decided to tell their story in a very public way.

Please check out the website dedicated to telling what happened to the people of Malaga Island and remember that America’s history has never simply been a story of Black and White.

Have any of you ever heard of Malaga Island and what went on there? If so, how’d you hear about it? I’m totally listening.

Peace!

Author Crush #437: Mat Johnson & Loving Day

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Pardon my absence. I was in the woods of Northern Pennsylvania on a writing retreat all last week. It was absolutely exquisite and I made a lot of progress on my new book, Same Family, Different Colors. I also ate really delicious food, made great new friends and saw a big, black bear up close and personal. Yes, there was a bear who showed up twice during my stay making the experience all the more exciting. But I digress.

I'm loving this book and the cover makes me smile. Yay!

I’m loving this book and the cover makes me smile. Yay!

In addition to writing for almost 10 hours a day, I made sure to make time for reading during my stay at the retreat. I brought two novels with me, although I only made it through one, Mat Johnson’s hilarious, yet haunting – literally there are ghosts involved – new novel, Loving Day. The book is set in my neighborhood in Philadelphia and deals with a Mixed Race character who is struggling with his identity and parenthood. Does this book not sound like it was made for Ms. Meltingpot? It was like literary kismet. No joke. Not only was the book hilarious and inspiring, I learned about a fascinating aspect of Mixed Race history that I incorporated into my own book. Score!

Rather than me telling you why I love Mat Johnson and his work, why don’t you download the podcast from his interview with Terry Gross yesterday on Fresh Air. Listen to that and then you can go buy the book and tell me what you thought. I’ll be waiting.

Peace!

May is Mixed Experience History Month!

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Happy Monday! Happy May! Happy Mixed Experience History Month 2015!

May Is Mixed Experience History Month

May Is Mixed Experience History Month

If you’ve been a regular reader of the Meltingpot, then Mixed Experience History Month is nothing new. But if perhaps this is your first time traveling through our cyber world, then you’re probably wondering what we’re talking about. Well, my cool friend and famous Afro-Viking Heidi Durrow, the author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky and founder of the Mixed Remixed Festival, is the brains behind the whole Mixed Experience History month idea. She launched Mixed Experience History Month way back in 2007 in order to “claim a history” she felt she had been denied as a person of African-American and Danish heritage.

History is full of fascinating characters of Mixed descent, who too often have had their unique ethnic/cultural background erased or overlooked in the telling of their stories. Mixed Experience History Month is the antidote to such erasure, as every day in the month of May, Durrow profiles a historical figure of Mixed heritage on her blog. There are famous faces you might already know – think Alexander Dumas – and people you may have never known were Mixies, like Harlem Renaissance icon, Arturo Schomburg.

I am consistently amazed by the unique individuals Heidi finds to profile, from artists, to scientists to entrepreneurs. As a Black mother of Mixed kids, I am grateful that this treasure trove of resources is being created so my kids can see that the Mixed experience is nothing new in this world, and in fact, it has a deep and significant legacy.

Yes, May is more than halfway over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all take a moment, or the next 13 days, to marvel in Mixed Experience History Month. Thank you, Heidi!

Peace!

Yo, Is That Colorist?: Australian Newscaster Praises Light Skin Twin

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Lucy and Maria, more than just colors.

Lucy and Maria, more than just colors.

I think you all know I’m working on a book called Same Family, Different Colors where I’m looking at skin color variations in nuclear families and how those skin color differences affect family dynamics. Often times I’m hearing stories about minute variations between brown and browner, but every now and again there are extreme skin color differences that are impossible to ignore, both inside and outside the home.

Recently, a set of twins in the UK have made headlines because one twin has brown skin, brown curly hair and for all intents and purposes presents as Black. Her twin sister, on the other hand, is very pale with red hair and presents as White. While it is never okay to make anyone feel like a circus side show, it would be naive to suggest that the way the DNA was at play in these two girls is anything less than amazing. And as such, they’ve been in the news a lot lately, not to mention all over Facebook and other forms of social media.

Most recently however, they appeared on an Australian news program and the host made what seemed to be a remark that implied that the lighter twin was the lucky one. You can watch the video clip here and read more about the ensuing outrage.

What do you think dear readers? Was news host Samantha Armytage out of line? Was she being racist or colorist? Maybe she’s just stupid and insensitive? Or perhaps all of the above? Will we ever know? Do we even care? What I care about is that sisters, Maria and Lucy, get out of the spotlight and go on and live their lives in peace. Of course, I’d also like to talk to their parents for my book. I’m sure they have many stories to tell. But of course, I’ll be good and leave them alone. Funny thing is, the UK is chock full of Black/White twins so there’s probably somebody who’d like to talk to me. And more than likely, another set of twins will be born there soon enough supplanting Maria and Lucy’s fame, allowing them to happily become yesterday’s news.

Peace!

Mixie Music Monday: Introducing Seinabo Sey

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

My new music crush, Seinabo Sey.

My new music crush, Seinabo Sey.

Some things in my life are just constant. For reasons that must have something to do with the moon I was born under or the arrangement of the stars when I pulled in my first breath, I am drawn to the mixing of cultures.

So, I was in my car listening to NPR on Friday and caught the very tail end of an interview with a singer. I only heard 30 seconds of her voice but I immediately fell in love. Like instantly. But I didn’t catch her name, only that she was Swedish and had performed at SWSX. As soon I made it home I did a quick Google search with the tiny pieces of information I gleaned from the radio interview and soon met Seinabo Sey on the Internet. Based on what I just said before about being drawn to the Mixies of the world, I could only laugh when I discovered that Ms. Sey has a Swedish mother and a father from The Gambia. She writes her lyrics only in English because she never felt at home growing up in Sweden. Maybe this is why I am drawn to Mixies.

Anywho, if you’ve never heard of Seinabo Sey, I’m sure you will soon because she has a powerful voice and a unique story. You can tell everybody that you heard about her here on the Meltingpot first. Enjoy!

#LinkLove: Fresh, Hot and Tasty New Meltingpot Links

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Mater Mea is one of the new links over there on the blogroll. Trust me, it's worth the click.

Mater Mea is one of the new links over there on the blogroll. Trust me, it’s worth the click.

Please notice over there on the right, that I’ve added some new links to my “Tastes Like the Meltingpot” blogroll; HapaMama, Mater Mea, and Multiracial Sky. These are websites/blogs I love and I’m sure you will too. I’m always trying to keep it fresh for my loyal (and new) readers who, like me, are always looking for new voices and new resources on the multiculti/ pop culture/ parenting beat. So, take a look and enjoy the new offerings. And please note, that while Afro-Viking author, Heidi Durrow’s blog, Light-Skinned-ed Girl isn’t new, she’s just come back to regular blogging after a prolonged break. I’m excited to hear from her again.

And, one more link before I go; check out this 2012 story in the Washington Post about the almost extinct Punjabi-Sikh-Mexican American community in the Southwest United States. I know, what? Yes, there once was a thriving East Indian-Mexican American community in states like California and Arizona that are only now getting attention as they face extinction. Think chicken curry enchiladas and let your imagination run wild. Yum and Yummy! By the way, before this community fades into extinction, there is a kickstarter campaign meant to preserve the culture through dance. Yep, the story of the Punjabi-Mexican community has been recreated in a show called “Half and Halves: A Dance Exploration of the Punjabi-Mexican Communities of California.” I can’t make this stuff up. America’s meltingpot is just this delicious.

Peace!

Weekend Reads: “Half-Blood Blues” by Esi Edugyan

What I'm Reading Now.

What I’m Reading Now.

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

So, one of my 2015 resolutions is to read more for pleasure. That sounds crazy coming from someone who loves books like a fat boy loves cake, but as I reviewed 2014, I realized that the majority of what I read was for work. And I do have to read a lot for “work” – books, articles, magazines, student work – to stay on top of things. So, yes, most nights I fall into bed and am asleep in two minutes and I barely have enough time to breathe, but still I promised myself that I would read at least one book a month for pleasure.

I’ve chosen a great book for starters. It’s called Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. I admit, I first noticed this book because the author’s name is very similar to my son’s and I wondered if Esi was a man or a woman. Turns out Esi is a beautiful, Black Canadian writer with one other novel and several short stories to her credit. The other reason the book caught my attention was the title, of course. As I’d hoped, the book partially centers on a Mixed Afro-German jazz musician who lived through World War II. Half Blood-Blues alternates between past and present telling the musician’s story. I’ve only just started it but I love it already. I don’t want to read too many reviews because I don’t want to read with preconceived notions. But I do know the book won and/or was short-listed for many literary prizes.

I totally feel like I hit the jackpot with this one, considering I picked it up because the author’s name sounded familiar. The story has everything I love, multicultural characters, history, a European setting and Black Americans heavily represented. Score!

What are you reading this weekend, dear readers? I’m totally listening and taking notes.

Peace!