Monday, June 27, 2011

Time Outs and the Question of Culture in Discipline

Christina's kids goofing around. She chooses time-outs as
her strictest disciple rather than spanking.
By Christina Simon

In a recent post, Tara Kamiya, founder of the wonderful blog, Multicultural Familiawrote about the surprise she encountered when she got ready to open a day care, “Now as I complete my application to start a daycare in NY State I find out that ‘Time Out’ is prohibited and deemed as a humiliation technique frowned upon by the state.”

What? No time-outs? I consider myself a modern mom, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t use time-outs. My kids attend a progressive, private elementary school, where time-outs are used to have a kid sit outside the classroom when s/he is being disruptive. I use time-outs and they work for my kids. I don’t have a lot of other effective options when things are going downhill faster than a tumbling boulder. This is, of course, after using words to discuss the problem has failed miserably. 

Sometimes kids just need time away to get themselves together. Not too long, not isolated for long periods of time. Never missing dinner or anything drastic. Just a few minutes to calm down.

Tara makes another interesting observation,Childhood discipline is a cultural issue when you come right down to it. Coming from an African American background there was no talking, we were spanked and happy to survive.”

Race is one of a complicated mix of factors that influence parenting and discipline techniques. As a mixed-race kid (African American and white), I recall my African American mom talking about being spanked and it brought back terrible memories for her. She never wanted that for her kids. So, we were parented with words, patience and tolerance, with very few rules and certainly no physical violence. I agree with Tara, some traditional African American households do believe in spanking their kids. However, I’ve never spanked my kids and I never will.

We’ve all see the stereotypical “welfare mom” in the Walmart with her kids, slapping them around when they act up. Nobody wants to be that mom. Yet poverty doesn’t have a monopoly on physical discipline of kids. My husband, raised on the Mainline of Philadelphia, a wealthy enclave, was beaten with a belt by his dad. Driving home from a bookstore in Los Angeles a few years ago, I watched with horror as a white mom in a new Mercedes SUV turned around to her toddler strapped in the back seat and hit him in the face several times. I pulled up along side of her, told her I was watching her and followed her in my car for several miles, with my baby in the back seat. I was shaking. She flipped me off, but stopped hitting her kid. 

Clearly, no single ethnicity or income group has a monopoly on hitting their kids. 
Living in the liberal Westside of Los Angeles, parenting styles here tend toward child-centered, self-esteem boosting philosophies. Parents here, for the most part, would never hit their kids. We are too busy focusing on eating organic and finding the right “mommy and me” class. Hitting one’s kid here is simply not an option, with a few exceptions. I do know two moms who spank their kids. It’s definitely out of the norm for Los Angeles and it makes me cringe. Yelling and timeouts are, however, used frequently by parents in this crowd.

Regional differences in discipline occur, like regional accents. In some areas of the country, like the South, for example, discipline may be harsher than on the Westside of Los Angeles or the Upper West Side of New York. One of my friends who spanks her kids is Southern. I don’t have a problem with time-outs. “Go to your room” is sometimes my last resort when my kids are getting out of control.

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 Diaries Of A Mixed (Up) Kid, Mamapedia, Scary Mommy, BlogHer Syndication, Open Salon (Edior’s Pick Front Page), 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, A Hip Chick’s Guide To PMS, Pregnancy & Babies, Sane Moms and Macaroni Kids.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guest Blogger Rema: To Pass or Not to Pass

“What do you do when you don’t look like you’re ‘supposed to’?”  This is a question that I constantly grapple with. While I continually look for the answer, the one thing I do know is that no matter what you are, most people can’t get past what they see. I am black, white & Jewish, but to most people, I look Jewish/Middle Eastern or “just” white. For this reason, people will have any number of reactions when they find out about my mixed heritage:
  • “WOW! I would have never guessed!!!”
  • “No way! You totally look like my friend from _________.”
  • “Omg, are you serious?”… you get the picture.
Needless to say, these types of reactions are quite frustrating. For what its worth, I would like to address 3 points in this post: 

Photo of courtesy of Rema
1) On passing for white
I think it goes without saying that the good things in life are generally more accessible to white people. No matter how much Canadians love to boast that racism only exists in the US, it is simply not the case. Racism in Canada is just different because you will seldom hear outright racist attacks come from a Canadian. Instead, from the beginning, black children are generally viewed as troublemakers and unintelligent. It is also no secret that people are known to like, trust, and hire people that look like they do, so even if a young black person has successfully made it through the schooling system, landing a good job is the next challenge (and so on). Just look at the Presidents, C-levels, politicians and board rooms across Canada. Having said all the above, most certainly my life has been made easier by the sheer chance of having been born with white skin. I also get the sense that people want me to say that I’m white so that I don’t disturb their perception of what a mixed person should look like. So why not just pass for white and avoid the ridicule?

2) On asserting my beigeness
The fact of the matter is that I am very proud of my ancestry. It is a part of me, it is (in part) how I define myself and contextualizes the way in which I view the world. I understand why people have passed historically - it could literally mean life or death - but today we ought to be free to express & celebrate all of our backgrounds. Having said that, it is lonely to celebrate alone. In order to quell my perceived isolation I have long been searching for a place to belong to, especially in contrast to the stereotypical Gap advertisement of biracial, which I certainly don’t look like. To date, “beige” seems to be my racial Cinderella slipper and in particular, meeting and reading work by other beige people have helped tremendously. However, people are still reluctant to allow a white-looking person to claim a seat at the metaphorical “mixed-race table”.  I have a feeling that it may be due to society’s fetishization of mixed people. Many seem to feel that being mixed is more relevant, more exciting and more attractive than being “just one thing” and thus it is a highly coveted title. So if you don’t look the part, you need not apply. Frankly speaking, it just gets plain tired trying to expand society’s view of what it looks like to be mixed. So how now, beige cow?

3) On making choices
I have to admit that how to identify myself has never surfaced so violently for me than when choosing a partner. While some may think its cute that this white-looking woman runs around waving the beige flag, its a whole other thing when I “decide” on one race for a partner. In my case, my fiance is also mixed (black, Chinese & East Indian), but looks as black as I do white. I think Jennifer Adese says it best in her essay My Life in Pieces (from Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out); “Choosing, I think, has defined my and many other ‘mixed’ persons lives. From the day which we become cognizant (or for some of us are made painfully aware) of our difference from the majority of those around us we are thrust into a world characterized by the act of choosing. In my experience this choosing always had a companion riding side-saddle called “defending” - the act of defending the choices that we are forced to make.” 
Thus I march on defending my right to assert my rich racial heritage with the words of Rashida Jones as my armor: “I’m happy to challenge people’s understanding of what it looks like to be biracial, because guess what? In the next 50 years, people will start looking more and more like me.”  Beige for life!
By Rema
For more from Rema, visit her twitter Mixed.Me.CA

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Am I Wrong...for being mixed?

I speak on the problems of race in education, specifically the labels that we have to choose when applying for college or taking the SAT's. As a people, we are rarely counted. 

If you want to see me rant on the "tragic mulatto" image, skip to the last minute.

Know Our Culture: Our Popularity and Our Dilemmas

Over the past few weeks, I've come across a few websites and articles for the Mixed-Race population, and those wanting to learn about us. As a population and a culture, we're expanding. Not just in numbers, but in the media, in popularity.

Exploring the Popularization of Mixed Race America - An article by the Human Experience that speaks on this giant explosion of mixed race pride and popularity. With the new media, there has been positives and negatives. The article discusses all of these things and popular artists and writers that feature mixed kids.

Mixed and Happy - To get away from the "tragic mulatto" image, there is this website that lets mixed race people and interracial couples to post their love, celebrations, and positive news. My fiance and I posted our engagement there.

Mixed-Race Students Wonder How Many Boxes to Check - NY Times article. Something as simple as deciding which races to identify as may not be a big deal to other people, but to mixed-race college students it is a real moral issue. Though we can identify as more than one race now, it's still a problem of choice. Will choosing white and black or asian and black exclude us from getting the benefits of just a black student?

From personal experience, I can say yes. Because I identified as mixed: white and black, I did not get a minority scholarship, even if I grew up in a primarily black neighborhood or low-income household. But if I had only put black, I wouldn't have been true to myself. I would have felt like I was selling out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DOAMK in the News

After meeting Gerald Curry at the Maryland Writers Conference, he asked to interview the DOAMK writers for The Urban Voice.

Check it out!

To contact us for interviews, please email creator Aja Hannah at

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ignorance Isn't Bliss

I hate the saying ignorance is bliss, or what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Those sayings are far from the truth. Ignorance leads people to misunderstandings and someone always winds up hurt. For example, the middle school I went to was and still is full of ignorance. The majority of the students and staff are Caucasian. There were about 7 and a half black kids in my grade, 20 Asians, and the rest white. No Hispanics/Latinos. So about 28 white kids for every black kid. So obviously there was a lot of racial profiling.

Whenever someone did something bad, the teachers would immediately think it was the black students acting up. My brother deals with this all the time. He’s a tall, athletic, black-looking boy who appears older than he really is. Just recently, he went on a field trip to a Hispanic Supermarket and the teacher told them to buy something they haven’t tried before. So, my brother bought an energy drink with the funny name Neurogasm. Yes, this title sounds exactly like what you’re thinking, but he checked the ingredients before he bought it. It contained no alcohol, no carbonation, and no male enhancement products. So being the immature preteen boy he is, he bought it.

No harm right?


Immediately, the other white kids thought it was alcoholic and went up to the teacher to tell them my brother (one of the three black kids in the class) bought alcohol at the market. So the teacher reported this to the principal. Needless to say, my brother was called down and interrogated.

Now let’s think about this. How the hell would my brother even be able to buy alcohol since he’s not even 21, and secondly why is my brother the only one who is scrutinized for what he buys on a field trip? Because he’s black. Sorry to say, but its true.

Anyway, the principal checked the ingredients online, and everything checked out. No alcohol or drugs involved. So they just took the bottle from him and sent him back to class. Now, I wouldn’t be so upset if this was just one occurrence. But the damn white ass school is always trying to make my brother into the troublesome black student. His teachers and peers are always trying to make it seem like he’s the problem student, to fit him into the black racial stereotype even though he is just as white as he is black.

One time there was a rumor going around that he was having sex on the weekends with some random girl. According to gossip, he biked to her house naked on a motorcycle and when he got there, they had sex all day. Obviously this is fake, like most rumors are, and the school should have ignored them. But like always, they pulled him out of class and had him talk to the principal and counselors to stop him from having sex or make him use protection.

I’m sorry for the language but, what the fuck?! He was 11 years old! He told them it wasn’t true, but they still hadn’t fully believed him because, out of all their precious whites, it has to be the black boy who is having sex. It’s the blacks, which are highly sexualized and act on animal instincts. I went to that school and I know personally more white girls than blacks who were doing pretty sexual stuff.

Thus, to finish this rant, ignorance is not bliss. It leads to judgment of people based on their ethnicity, income, or background. And although people try to deny it, ignorance is everywhere, especially in societies with a majority of one race. 
By Cherish Hannah

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Living in Whitesburg: Episode One

It's come to my attention that, after only 9 months in Whitesburg, I've begun assessing the ignorance of every white person I meet. It's not a matter if they are prejudice or ignorant, it's a matter of just how much.

I mean, in every white person there is the white blindness, their white privilege where they lack knowledge of the colored struggle. (Note: I say 'colored' rather than minority because it's just a matter of time before we become the majority.) Then, there are those that take this white blindness further.

Example One: My neighbor and single black friend has been approached by a stranger with: "Hey, you know, I really like Maino." The same stranger, upon finding out black friend was graduating from college asked, "Are your parents proud? Oh, are they still together?" As if, because her parents are black, that they are not married. As if her parents would not be proud of their successful and educated daughter.

No, no. I'm sorry, white person. My dad left when I was a kid and my mom is a crackhead in the ghetto  so, of course, my successful education is only seen as worthless because it won't get me off the streets. (SARCASM)

It's not just her either. After mustering up the courage to ask me what I am, Whitesburg people then feel the need to know my parent's races. "So it's your mom that's white, right?"


I do not ask you what you are or where you come from, and I certainly don't ask what race your parents are. Back off WHITE PEOPLE and stop being so damn curious before I crush you.

Black Power.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mulatto: The New "N" Word

Part Two of the Mulatto series. Christina Simon wrote Part One.
Leave a comment or email us @

Mulatto or Mixed-Race?

Part One of a two part series on "Mulatto." Part Two is the site's first video blog.

Christina Simon: In an ongoing series on mixed-race identity, The New York Times reports that the term ‘mulatto’ is making a comeback among 20-somethings.

As a 40-something, I despise the term ‘mulatto’ and consider it offensive. The history of the word stems from our country’s legacy of slavery and racism when mixed-race people who were any part African American were ‘mulatto’. I’ve only been asked if I’m ‘mulatto’ a few times in my life. 

Recently, a friend emailed me because she got a request from a major television network that was looking to cast "mulatto twin infants" in a TV show. My friend, who is white, thought the term was offensive and wanted my opinion. I told her I think it’s outdated and racist. My friend politely emailed the casting associate and told her the term was offensive. Clueless, the girl said she’d looked it up on Wikipedia.

I understand some people think using a word takes away its power, rendering it less potent. Some African Americans think it’s acceptable to use the ‘N’ word among friends or in music lyrics.

Issues of race are too complex, too nuanced, for me to tell anyone else what words to use to describe themselves.

Just don’t call me ‘mulatto’. I’m mixed.

See Part Two

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, Open Salon (Edior’s Pick Front Page), 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.See Part Two