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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!

Colorism By Another Name is “Shadeism:” A Movie Coming Soon To A Film Festival Near You

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

The Conference on Colorism

The Conference on Colorism

Not a lot of time to write today, but I still wanted to share. Last week I had the opportunity to attend an amazing conference on colorism. It was held at Washington University in St. Louis and featured an amazing gathering of scholars from around the world who all research and/or advocate against colorism. I learned a lot.

The last agenda on the conference schedule was the screening of a film by a young Canadian filmmaker named Nayani Thiyagaraja, who produced a documentary about colorism amongst her own friends – a diverse group of ethnic Canadian young women. Originally a short she posted on YouTube, the film has been expanded into a full-length documentary that will soon be screening at a variety of film festivals. The movie is called Shadeism: Digging Deeper. You can watch the original short below. And stay tuned to the website for updates on the full documentary.

#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!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: The Movement is Gaining Momentum!

Not just a logo, a movement!

Not just a logo, a movement!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

It should come to no surprise to any of you loyal readers that the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is one that feels more personal than political to me. How could I not be completely supportive of a movement that supports diversity in children’s literature? As a lifelong reader and a parent with three “diverse” children who devour books like candy, any action meant to diversify the publishing industry has my vote and my voice. That’s why I’m so excited that there is real momentum behind this grassroots organization to really make a difference in the world of kiddie lit.

Check out this article on Flaovrwire written by journalist Sarah Seltzer that defines the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement and catches us up on where they stand and what their goals are for the future. Hint, there’s a 2016 conference in the works. I am excited and remain truly hopeful that this is the beginning of something significant.

Peace!

A Multicultural Version of Frozen: Kinda Sorta in a Song

Alex Boye and Lexi Walker get Frozen, with an African twist.

Alex Boyé and Lexi Walker get Frozen, with an African twist.

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Do you have a small female in your household who is obsessed with the song “Let It Go,” tends to run around the house with a blanket draped around her shoulders like a cape, and bangs on closed doors screaming, “Elsa, Elsa, let me out?” I do. And it’s quite comical bordering on annoying, especially since my small female has never even seen the movie Frozen in its entirety. She thought it was too scary. But boy does she dig that song. And apparently at preschool, there is a pint-sized Frozen scholar who fills babygirl in on all that she’s missed by not actually viewing the film.

Needless to say, when el esposo‘s sister posted this video on Facebook the other day, I was thrilled and slightly confused by this African, world music, Frozen mash-up. But the Ms. Meltingpot in me was intrigued. Have you seen this?

So, as it turns out, talk about a Meltingpot story, the man behind that music mash-up is Alex Boyé, a British man of Nigerian descent who became a Mormon and now uses his music to spread the gospel and introduce the world to African music. Talk about a meltingpot mission. You can read about Boyé’s interesting life here and hear more of his music here.

You’re welcome.

Peace!

If You’re in the Chicago Area…Check Out the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference

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Hi Meltingpot Readers,

If any of you live in or near the Windy City, you might want to check out the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference happening this weekend, November 13 – 15th at DePaul University in Chicago. Even though it sounds like a completely academic-y thing to do, it’s totally geared towards audiences beyond those who toil in the Ivory Tower. While many of the presenters are indeed university scholars studying the mixed race experience, there are plenty of panels featuring artists, educators, community activists and even parenting experts. Not to mention, the conference is being co-sponsored by Mixed Roots Stories, an organization dedicated to exploring the mixed race experience through the arts. Mixed Roots Stories will be bringing live entertainment, films and artwork to the conference. I so wish I could be there. But just because I can’t doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage. Did I mention the entire three-day conference is free?! And walk-in registration is available. For more details and registration information, please visit the website.

If anyone decides to go, please feel free to leave a comment and tell us how it went. Thank you and you’re welcome.

Peace!

“Love the Skin You’re In,” Says Elmo and Lupita

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

After Monday’s depressing post about skin whitening soap, today I bring you better news on the same topic courtesy of Elmo and my new girl crush, Lupita Nygong’o. They have a simple message: Love the skin you’re in. Way to go Sesame Street for offering this tiny tidbit of self-love empowerment in a world where white skin is held up as pure and perfect, dark skin is demonized and skin lightening products can be found on grocery store shelves. I hope some little brown girls are watching this, some big brown girls too. Enjoy!

Do you love the skin you’re in? Do you even think about your skin color on a daily basis? I’m so listening.

Peace!

#We Need Diverse Books…

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Not just a logo, a movement!

Not just a logo, a movement!

Have you seen the social media campaign advocating for children’s literature with more diverse characters? While I’ve known since forever that colored folks are woefully underrepresented in kiddie lit, including YA fiction, it seems that the rest of the world is now taking notice as well. Better late than never, right?

Here’s a recap of how the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started from the Los Angeles Times. And here’s an article from Entertainment Weekly that I am quoted in that was written after award-winning author, Walter Dean Myers penned a New York Times Op-Ed about the pathetic number of books for children that feature characters of color.

I’m happy that this issue is capturing the attention of so many, including the mainstream media, but one thing I think we’ve forgotten to do is highlight all of the great books already out there that do feature characters that look like me and my kids and my friends. Not to mention, the stellar authors who have made this their life work. In all of this protest, we should also be celebrating the great books and authors already on the scene.

So, dear readers, what are some of your favorite books for kids -– big kids or little kids — that feature non-White characters? I’m listening and taking notes. And if you don’t already, follow me on Twitter where I’ll be tweeting some of my favorite kids’ books, and maybe some of yours, throughout the month of May.

Peace!