Archives for : Multiracial Families

Essence Magazine’s May Book Picks: A Meltingpot Dream

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

It's all about the books in this month's issue of Essence.

It’s all about the books in this month’s issue of Essence.

When you think of Ms. Meltingpot’s favorite things, you know books, Black hair, and multi-culti family life are all on the list right? Well, it’s like Essence magazine Books Editor, Patrick Bass was thinking only about me when he chose what books to feature in the May issue of the magazine. Seriously, I think he created this list just for me.

While I would read everything on the three-page spread dedicated to books, the two standouts that I think you too, dear readers, will enjoy are Loving Day by Mat Johnson and Finding Samuel Lowe by Paula Williams Madison. Loving Day is a comic novel about an interracial relationship gone wrong and Finding Samuel Lowe is the true story of how the Black/Jamaican author goes in search of her estranged Chinese grandfather (Note, there is also a movie about this amazing family).

But there’s more. I did say this month’s picks were tailor-made for me, right? That’s because there’s also a book about Black hair featured in all of this literary goodness.

Miko Branch, one of the two masterminds behind the Miss Jessie’s hair product line just released her first book, Miss Jessie’s:Creating a Successful Business from Scratch – Naturally. The book is part memoir, part start-up how-to. This issue of Essence features a personal essay by Miko, the younger of the two Branch sisters, where she discusses for the first time publicly, her sister’s battle with depression and untimely death. The book was finished before Titi Branch died so the story really is both of theirs and Miko is determined to tell it along with the importance of speaking out about mental illness.

So, I’m off to the book store, dear readers. Does anyone want to meet me there?


“Black and Blue and Blond:” Meditations on Color and Family

Happy New Year Meltingpot Readers!

I hope all of you are looking towards a productive and positive 2015. I am.

I know I kind of disappeared for the holidays, but in addition to playing Santa Claus and trying to make the season Merry and Bright, el esposo had surgery and is not allowed to walk without crutches for another four weeks. Hello single motherhood! Still, it was a great holiday filled with love and family.

And speaking of family, here’s a really wonderful essay penned by the writer Thomas Chatterton Williams about his coming to terms with his daughter’s pale skin and blue eyes. Yes, Williams is Black. Actually, he’s biracial, but still, he’s Black. So, it’s complicated and colorful and you should read it. And if you really enjoy his work, you might want to tune into The Mixed Experience podcast tomorrow morning at 9:00am hosted by my friend, Heidi Durrow. That’s Heidi Durrow, the woman who founded Mixed Experience History Month and the Mixed Race Film and Literary Festival. Tune in or download it if you can’t catch it live.

I’ll see you here again on Monday when I’ll be sharing my bloggy resolutions for 2015.


White Moms Sue Because They Got a Black Baby…

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Warning, contents may be Black!

Warning, contents may be Black!

Have you heard about this lawsuit? A White lesbian couple is suing the sperm bank they used to find a baby daddy for their now two-year-old daughter. The problem? The two blonde mommies wanted a White father for their child and the sperm bank screwed up and sent them some Black sperm. So, now they have a Black /biracial child and they have to raise her in their bigoted small town they call home and take her long distances to get a decent hair cut and worry about a life for her that will be filled with racists and bigotry.

Here’s a story from ABC news that provides all the details.

I don’t have anything new to say about this insanity, except I hope the poor child finds a good lawyer once she’s an adult so she can sue her parents for being stupid.

I’d like to hear other people’s opinion on this one. I can sympathize with these women who must have been shocked and perhaps even fearful about the prospect of having a child that would be different racially from them. But then I thought, everybody who rolls the dice in child rearing is taking a huge risk and we never know what we’re going to get. White people have given birth to Black babies naturally (see Sandra Laing). Healthy women give birth to babies with severe mental or physical disabilities all the time. What did these women really expect when they decided to create a life with an anonymous sperm donor who they only knew as a number on a test-tube?

Thoughts, dear readers? I’m so listening.


Meltingpot Book Review: Prison Baby by Deborah Jiang Stein

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

prison baby book coverA couple of weeks ago, I received a copy of Prison Baby (Beacon Press) in the mail from an editor who thought I’d like it. She was absolutely right, although “like it” wouldn’t exactly be the way I’d describe my reaction to the book.

Prison Baby is a memoir by Deborah Jiang Stein. Adopted as a toddler by White parents, Stein has an ambiguous, multiracial background, was born in a prison to a drug-addicted mother, and suffers from a number of emotional and behavioral problems, all related to her aforementioned background. So, you could call Prison Baby an adoption story, a racial coming-of-age tale, an addiction memoir, or even a saga of triumph over tragedy. The truth is, this slim volume manages to be all of those things and more.

I gobbled up this incredibly readable memoir in two sittings. The child of a literature professor, Stein is a powerful writer in her own right and she details her emotions and passions with such clarity, you actually feel like you’re inside of her head and heart at times. I won’t give away the arc of the story, but I literally could not finish my lunch as I was reading because I was sobbing along with Deborah as she explained a particularly painful part of her life story.

Despite Stein’s painful beginnings and harrowing journey to loving herself, this book leaves the reader with a sense of optimism, hope and marvel at the resiliency of the human spirit. She also forces the reader to reconsider her ideas about family, race, adoption, substance abuse and the lasting harm of psychological trauma. I know, it all sounds heavy and depressing, and it is in a lot of ways, but it is ultimately a book about love and its redemptive powers.

I enjoyed this book immensely and found it to be very inspiring. I will be continuing to follow Stein’s career and her work with female prisoners.

What about you, dear readers? Do you think you’ll pick up a copy of Prison Baby? Have any of you read it already? What did you think?

I’m listening.


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.


Snatching Blonde-Haired Babies In Europe

One of the children at the heart of the controversy in Europe.

One of the children at the heart of the controversy in Europe.

Hello Meltingpot Readers,
Did you hear the one about the blonde-haired Roma child who was removed from her family because she allegedly didn’t look like ‘those people.’ (emphasis mine). Yes, it seems that European police officers are engaging in their own brand of racial profiling by snatching blonde-haired Roma children from their families on the assumption that they must have been kidnapped. Those assumptions are of course based on two prevailing stereotypes, ‘gypsies’ steal children and ‘gypsies’ can’t be blonde as they are a dark and swarthy people. The end result is that many families across Europe – from Greece to Ireland – are being split apart and terrorized by law enforcement officials who think they’re protecting innocent people. Hmmm.

NPR’s Code Switch website had a story about the situation in Europe last Sunday and received so many comments (129 at last check), that the writer, Gene Demby, posted a follow-up story about how the same phenomenon occurs in the United States when families don’t match. Remember the White dad at Wal-Mart who was followed home by Virginia police because a concerned shopper said he “didn’t match” his Black daughters? Turned out his wife is Black. So, what this line of storytelling tells me is that color matters. It tells me that people want family members to match, or else be prepared for everything from annoying stares to having your children unjustly taken away. Man, that’s crazy.

But this also tells me that the book I’m currently working on, which is all about families that don’t match because of color, is really necessary. Stay tuned.

I’m curious, are you surprised by what’s going on in Europe? Why or why not? I’m totally listening.


p.s. And speaking of color and not matching, Yaba Blay’s gorgeous new book (1)ne Drop:Shifting the Lens on Race is now out in print. You can hear her talk about this amazing project on WHYY’s Radio Times. Recorded today! Go Yaba!

Wednesday Round-Up: A New Movie in “Black & White,” Mixed Race Riots and Questlove on Trayvon Martin

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

It’s Wednesday and I have three meltingpot items to share in this week’s round-up. So, let’s get to it.

1) Kevin Costner and Olivia Spencer are getting ready to start filming on a new movie called Black and White. The film is about a custody battle between the grandparents – Costner and Spencer – of a biracial child. You can read about the stellar cast and the production in New Orleans here. I will definitely be watching the movie when it comes out, obviously, but I hope it doesn’t fall into stereotypes and generalizations. The set-up already makes me a little bit skeptical – Costner plays the father of the deceased White daughter and Spencer’s Black son was a drug addict. Battle ensues. You see where this could obviously end up, right? I actually like both principal actors very much and have much respect for the writer and director. I’m remaining optimistic and for now am just happy to see someone in Hollywood tackling the kind of complex issues that real people face on a daily basis. What do you all think?

2) Here’s a nice little piece from the New York Times about the history of Black and Irish mixing in antebellum America. The big takeaway from the story is that free Blacks and Irish were pretty much in the same lot of lower class status, so they often married and had families together producing a lot of Mixie children. And many people did not like this mixing business. To most of us Meltingpot readers, this is not news. Nor is it startling that, wait for it, 30 percent of White Americans have African blood coursing through their veins (I would guess it’s even higher than 30 percent, but that’s just me). But still, it’s nice to see the story in Black and White. Ha! Pun intended.

questlove3) And finally. The roots drummer, Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson, broke my heart with this essay titled, “Trayvon Martin and I ain’t Shit” in response to Trayvon Martin’s killer being exonerated for his crimes. Questlove basically bares his soul and shares what it’s like to be perceived as a threat for one’s whole life. It’s a really beautiful essay albeit painful and tragic. To read more about Thompson’s life, check out his new memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove.

That is all, dear readers. Do you have any tasty meltingpot links for me this week? I’m listening.


Happy Loving Day! Kiss a Mixie, Eat Some Cheerios, Spread Some Interracial Love!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Today is officially Loving Day, the day the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage in the United States, thanks to the audacity of one couple, Mildred and Richard Loving.

What’s not to love about Loving Day? I have an extra special reason to kiss my kids and el esposo today. I might buy a box of Cheerios just because. And if possible, I’m going to try to watch a copy of the new newish documentary film about the Lovings and their legal battles that made my Kinky Gazpacho life possible.

How are you going to celebrate Loving Day? If you want some ideas, visit for a list of celebrations that are happening all over the country today and this weekend.