Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day and thanks to all our veterans in the mixed melting pot called America!

We'll be up with new blogs later this week.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mixed Kids Gathering!

Want to celebrate your diverse heritage while meeting more mixed kids? We suggest attending the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival next month. 

Because of funding, we could not make the June 11 and 12 trip to LA from our hometown in Maryland, but guest writer and Beyond The Brochure blogger Christina Simon can and will be there. 

Even though we can't make it, we still encourage all of our readers to attend the festival. In our fractured world, it's not always easy to meet with people like yourself or to walk amongst such a diverse crowd. Imagine the stories, faces, and families.

As Christina Simon suggests in her blog on parenting, it's important to surround your kid with diversity and culture to make them feel comfortable and accepted.

It's also in LA so think of it as part of a great vacation. After the festival, go star searching or site seeing. Drive out to the ocean. 

Next year, we'll go. We're even thinking of submitting something to the festival, have a booth perhaps.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Christina Simon: Always Dating Outside My Race

When you’re mixed-race, aren’t you always/kinda/sorta dating outside your race unless you date a mixed-race person with the same exact background?

There was a mixed-race guy I knew in college, but we never dated. He liked white girls. I’m half white, half black. The black guys I went out with thought of me as black. Mostly. Sometimes they accused me of being too “white.” 

Now I'm married to a white guy. The coolest thing? He had a mixed-race girlfriend in college (African American and white). I LOVE that!
Christina Simon and her husband of 12 years, posing
with their son and daughter.
The only problem is that my husband became estranged from his parents when he dated his college girlfriend. She went to Harvard too, but that wasn't good enough for them. They wrote him a letter calling her the “N” word.  Then, they cut him off financially and took him out of their will. He didn't let that stop him and went on to make his own money in private equity.

My husband and I have been together 15 years, married almost 12 years. I doubt I’ll ever meet his family, but they’d hate me anyways so why even go there? Besides, I’d never subject my kids to their bigotry. 

So in the end, I married outside my race. And it’s crazy cool because I’m so f*cking in love with him.

Christina Simon is the co-author of “Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles.” She also writes the blog, about applying to private elementary schools in Los Angeles and the ups and downs as life as a private school mom. Christina is a former vice president at Fleishman-Hillard, a global public relations firm. She has a 7-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter. Christina lives in Los Angeles with her husband and kids. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and an M.A. from UCLA. Christina has written recent guest blog pieces for Mamapedia, BlogHer Syndication,The Mother Company, The Well Mom, Reading Kingdom, Girls Lunch Out, Front Page of Divine Caroline, The Twin Coach, A Child Grows In Brooklyn, ecomom, Power of Moms, The Culture Mom, Diary Of A Mixed (Up) Kid, Sane Moms and Macaroni Kids.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Love's Not Colorblind

As I am engaged and looking forward to future with my fiance, I reflect on how I got here and the relationship struggles that made me who I am today. One in particular stands out:

When my first real boyfriend (now ex) and I started dating, he told me "Don't worry. I told my mom you're part black and she's cool with it."

That should have been my first warning sign.

Aja and Ex at her junior prom. Ex's face has been
blurred out for his anonymity.

When his mother realized I wasn't some fling, she progressively broke down our relationship and my self-confidence. (Don't get me wrong, he did his share as well.)

She refused to invite me over and treated me coldly at the dinner table. She never left us alone and forced me to get on birth control. (She was so sure I'd get pregnant.) She threw out my gifts to him and even my necklace that I let him wear while I couldn't have anything of his.

To her, I was an animal and even a back rub for her son was sexual. She bought me outfits that were two sizes too large at Christmas. She let her dog chew up my $300 prescribed shoe inserts, said it was my fault, and didn't offer to replace them.

After we broke up, my ex told me that she had treated me so poorly because she didn't want "mixed grandchildren" as it would taint her pure white lineage. As a black person, I was outraged. As a mixed person, it only solidified my "no-place" feelings. (Just the year prior I'd been rejected by a black guy because it would ruin his all black family tree.)

Even though I was smarter than her son (better grades, AP and honors classes, National Honors Society member) headed to college, and had a real career in mind; I was still a poor choice for him because I had black in me.

When I confronted her, she said that just because she didn't want mixed children didn't mean she was racist. She had black friends. BLACK FRIENDS. As her son and a momma's boy, my ex backed her.

For you lovers out there: It's great to be proud of your heritage, but it's another thing to alienate a whole race romantically because you want to keep your family a solid color. True love is supposed to be blind, not selective.

Oh and "black friends" has never been and never will be a good excuse.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

All five of us and Mom

Mom and Aja
Mom and Aja and Passion
Happy Mother's Day to our mom. She had five kids and somehow still manages. As a non-mixed mother, she stood up for us and was willing to fight for equality. She didn't always get it, but not for lack of trying. Only as we get older do we truly appreciate her.

Send your photo of you and your mother to celebrate with us. You can even leave a shout out if you wish.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Passion's Point on Parenting and Racism in the Classroom

We used to get a lot of compliments.

If your child is multiethnic, parenting becomes a little more challenging as they get older. Sure when they're young, you'll have some parents remarking on the wonderful tan quality of their skin, or how nice and curly their hair looks when compared to other babies. But as they get older these attributes become the difference that make them stand out from their classmates and not always in the most positive light. If their heritage made them stand out when they were babies, you would be ignorant to assume it would stop there.

Even though we live in the new millenia, people are still trained by what their parents believe, who were trained by their parents believed, and so on and so forth. That being said, not everyone sees 'race' the same way.To some, being black or white makes absolutely no difference. To others, it's a world of change. 

Take our president, Barack Obama, as an example. People have been hounding him for a birth certificate to prove he was born in the United States as well as for him to prove how he possibly got into an Ivy League college. He is also the first black president and has a traditionally an Islamic name. You can't get further from white than that. Have past presidents been forced to prove their citizenship and good education? 

No; but a black man has to. As a parent of a multiethnic child, you have to be aware of this especially if you are not multiethnic yourself. And yes, you can totaly argue that what Obama is going through has some sort of merit...if you're white.

The first day of school. From left to right: Cherish, our father, Aja
Tia, and Passion. Here, Passion is in second or third grade.
From my experience, my mother (who was white) would rarely put any emphasis on something wrong being done to me because of my race. Once when I was in 3rd grade, a substitute teacher who was very old and white made all of the darker colored students sit toward the back of the class. She then refused to call on any of us, even if no white kid was raising their hands. By lunchtime, another teacher had seen what was happening and reported it. The clearly racist substitute had been removed and we had to spend the rest of the day with another class.

And when I came home and told my mom about what happened, she dismissed it quickly. Racist situations that your child finds themselves in may seem ridiculous, especially in this day and age, but you'd better believe it still exists. The worst thing you can do is dismiss it. Instead, talk with your child about it and let them know it was wrong and coming only from a place of ignorance.

By Passion Hannah

A Silhouetted Dream: How to Type Cast Those Without Type

Tia also exercised her talents in Color Guard and choir the
same year.

It’s amazing how three little words can be so hard to say- and it’s not “I love you”- instead these three words create an ache in your soul, and an emptiness in your heart. And sometimes, as difficult as it may be, we have no other choice than to say these words. I remember when it happened to me.

Disappointment crept its way into my world as I said it - “I give up.”

I used to dream of being the main character in my high school plays, to perhaps pursue acting as a second major in my University, and maybe even become a Broadway star. I didn’t give up because I didn’t have the talent. All my talent could not compete with this one factor- Type Casting.

After acing callbacks for Into the Woods and still not seeing my name on the list, I decided to inquire why I did not get a certain part. My theatre teacher, who evaluated the try-outs, said:

“You are a wonderful actress, and you performed very well… the only thing is that you just….” I could see her fumbling around for the least offensive words “… you are a very beautiful girl…” I already knew what she was going to say. She just had let me down softly “… you just don’t look the part.”

I didn’t need to ask her what the part looked like. It was Rapunzel for crying out loud, the white princess stuck in the tower with her long hair which was “yellow as corn.” It’s obvious that I do not match this description at all, but couldn’t they have put a wig on me? They were going to have to put a wig on anyone else who got the part because no one had hair that long.

But the other big factor: Rapunzel’s skin color was supposed to be very fair. Even if I stayed indoors and kept away from windows for months, my skin would be permanently tan because I am mixed. Then again, they could paint me white, right? It’s a ridiculous thing to consider; and it’s obvious that under stage lighting it would not look right. Besides it’s a lot easier and a lot less work to just pick the blonde white girl for the part even though she couldn’t hit all of the notes of Rapunzel’s song.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; I did get a part in this play - Cinderella’s Mother. Isn’t she white too? Yes definitely, and the girl playing Cinderella was white as well. But there was a catch. In this play Cinderella’s Mother was a tree. Yup. A tree. You can only imagine my enthusiasm when I learned this.

Doesn’t every kid dream of being that tree in the school play?

When I learned that there would be a hole in the tree so that my chest up to my face could be seen, I was a little more content with the idea (at least people would know who I am). But then a screen was put over this hole to shade the details of my face and bright light was installed within the tree. And in an instant, I was turned into a silhouette. You would not recognize that it was me in that tree. I was just a shadowy figure within the tree. And it made me laugh, how could I think they would let a mixed girl play the part of a white character? Shame on me.

And it was indeed shame on me. The saying “Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice shame on me” is a very accurate one. This was the second time I found myself in this situation. Before this occasion I had tried out for the play Huckleberry Finn. You’d think with black and white races I’d have had a chance. Wrong. I’m obviously not fit to play the part of a white (as mentioned above) and I couldn’t fit the part of any of the black women who were featured. My hair wasn’t dark enough or (for lack of a better word) nappy enough, and my skin is not dark enough.

There was only one character in that play that had no description. She had a few lines, and a small part. She had no name; instead she was referred to as “The Strange Woman.” A bonnet covered my hair and I wore glasses. But I could not, absolutely would not, have a big part in this play, or any high school play in the future. Type Casting does not work on a person who does not have one “type”.

And it was these two occasions that led to my admittance of those three dreadful words. How could I dream to be a part of something where I would be judged by my look and not solely my talent? I had to give up. Because I am mixed, I cannot have the part of the white woman and I cannot have the part of the black woman. There aren’t many high school plays or Broadway productions that are written for people of a mixed race. And when you are somewhere in between, then that’s where you will always be.

By Tia Hannah