Saturday, December 10, 2011

On the Spot: Campus Diversity

I put students at Seton Hill University on the spot when I asked them about campus diversity.

I know the sound quality sucks. The students' responses are gold though. I will do better in the future. I promise.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hafu Film project raises $10,000 in FIVE days

Congratulations to the Hafu Film project! They raised over $17,000 to finish their mixed-race documentary, and their initial goal in FIVE days. Now editing, music mixing and subtitling can be completed on the project. The filmmakers have recorded a special video for everyone that has donated and helped the project.

The project turned to IndieGoGo, a site for different artists in financial need turn to for help, as an outlet for people to donate. 

While their initial amount of $10,000 has already been met, you can still donate and receive gifts in exchange. If you donate $50, you will get a copy of the film on DVD! (I can't help but say that is a reason we at DOAMK donated.)

Their donation site will be open until December 11.

For more information on the Hafu Film project, visit

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


DOAMK and its sister site will be on hiatus until the editor (Aja) graduates from Seton Hill University this December.

We will try to continue to post if time permits.

Oh, and the man that proposed to her in April has since rethought it (preferring to flirt with other girls) and broke up with her on their four year anniversary.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Study: Mixed Marriages Increase Rapidly Since 1980

In western PA, love has begun to break down racial barriers in a community that is known to be culturally divided. Western PA is not the progressive west coast. It is not D.C. or New York, but still I can attest that each year I am seeing more mixed couples, more mixed children. I was wondering if it was just the culture or if this really was a growing trend.

A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family confirms that marriages between blacks and whites has increased exponentially since the 1980s (when my parents were married). It is still smaller than the number of Hispanics and Asian Americans marrying whites, but does that really matter?

What matters is that we're beginning to look past race, what matters is love.

A new study of interracial marriages in the United States since the 1980s suggests that the racial boundary between blacks and whites continues to break down, but is not yet close to disappearing. The study reveals that marriages between black and white populations have continued to increase while Latin and Hispanic Americans have turned to marrying their racial compatriots from newly arrived immigrant populations. 
Marriages between African Americans and whites increased rapidly between 1980 and 2008, outpacing the rate of unions between whites and other ethnic and racial groups, including Latinos, Asian Americans and American Indians. However, the total number of marriages between blacks and whites continues to be much smaller than those between whites and other racial and ethnic groups. 
“The number of marriages between whites and African Americans is undeniably increasing rapidly, but it is still a small number,” said Zhenchao Qian, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University. “Our results point to better race relations in 2008 than 1980, but we still have a way to go. The racial boundary is blurred, but it is still there.” 
In 1980, only 5 percent of black men married a white woman, but that increased to 14 percent in 2008. Still, by comparison, 38 percent of Asian American men and Hispanic men married a white woman in 2008. 
The study uses data from the 2008 American Community Survey, an ongoing survey of American households conducted by the U.S. Census bureau. The survey includes about 3 million people a year. The researchers also use data from the 1980 U.S. census. 
“Understanding changes in interracial marriages is complex because it involves two different factors,” said Qian, “the marriage market of who is available to marry and also individuals’ choices about who they would be willing to marry." 
Overall, while marriages between blacks and whites showed large increases between 1980 and 2008, there was only a slight increase in marriages between whites and Hispanics while the results showed that marriages between U.S. born and foreign born Asians and Hispanics increased rapidly between 2000 and 2008. 
This is due to the increase in immigration of Hispanics and Asians into the United States resulting in a larger pool of potential marriage partners from their own racial and ethnic groups. 
“With the enormous growth of the immigrant population, Asians and Hispanics now have more opportunities than ever to find a marital partner who shares the same cultural background. Such marriages reinforce their cultural identity,” said co-author Dr Daniel Lichter from Cornell University. 
“It used to be that race trumped everything, including education, when it came to marriage between blacks and whites; that is changing,” concluded Qian “For the first time, we found that highly educated blacks and whites were more likely to intermarry. That is very significant and is another sign that racial boundaries are blurring.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Earn Money For Mixed Kid Study

Susan Lambe is back with another study for mixed-race high school students looking to earn money for their participation. Here are her words to the parents:

My name is Susan Lambe, and I am a doctoral candidate at University of Massachusetts Boston’s Clinical Psychology program. 
I am conducting a research study about how multiracial high school students think about race and ethnicity. I am currently looking for participants and am writing to ask if your multiracial high school student might be interested. During this research study, your adolescent would participate in an interview and be asked to complete some questionnaires about race and ethnicity. The study would take about one hour. Depending on your family’s geographic location and availability, participation can take place either in person or via Skype and through online survey. He or she would be given a $20 gift card to via email as token of appreciation. 
If you or your teen have questions, and to determine eligibility, please email me at or visit my website

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cause of Month: Stop Discrimination Against the Unemployed

In this time of economic turmoil, you would think being unemployed would not ruin your chances of getting a job. After all, many good and strong workers have been laid-off due to budget cuts and downsizing, not poor work ethic or job performance.

Still, and are being used by employers to weed out those that are unemployed, keeping them from even getting an interview.

As a soon-to-be college graduate, this concerns me. Sure, I have had a work-study job these four years and stints in sales, but (aside from one internship) I have not yet had paying work in my field of choice (journalism and creative writing). How can I enter the job market confidently when I know men and women who have spent years as experienced professionals are not being hired?

I have signed this petition to ban sites like from listing these discriminatory ads. There are over 91,000 signatures, and with your help, will meet their goal.

Already President Obama has voiced his support, saying the jobless discrimination"makes so sense." Also,, another job search engine, has blocked discriminatory ads from their site.

This petition was found on

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Innovations to Combat Racism 2

What makes someone do poorly in school? In their career? In life?

I doubt it is the color of their skin. You can do the nature versus nurture debate all you want, but genetically we are the same. It is the picking out of our differences, that classification, that makes you believe we are different.

To truly identify and help those in need, we need to stop saying it is because of the waves in their hair, and focus on the way they have grown up. Culture is not race.

Idea 2: Survey by Location, Not Face

I've talked about them before, the full-of-holes standardized tests. When you first fill them out, you are made to put down information on yourself: female or male, age, and race. Most of the time, it is a "Choose One" scenario. This data is sent to colleges, graduate schools, parents, and surveyors. It is collected and, as whole community, judged.

The reason minority test scores are low isn't because they have a lesser ability to be educated. It is because statistically we are a minority. Less of us have good jobs and, in turn, live in the better neighborhoods. Less of us are privy to a great educations and teachers who motivate with high expectations (Pygmalion Effect/Self-Fulfilling Prophecy). Therefore, less of us do well.

Imagine you are a child living in the ghetto. You barely have enough to eat and you worry about your safety every day. Not even your home is safe. Are you likely to sit down and read a book that the teacher assigned, knowing full well she doesn't expect you to succeed? Or are you going to go out looking for something that will make you money, and put you in a secure place in the community?

It's simply Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, his pyramid. It is not that the child is Black or Latino. The kid could be White and in the Deep South, where he doesn't have the parental or extracurricular resources.

What we need to do is change the question to: "Where do you live?" or "Zip code" or "County" or "Income-Level / Class."

It's obvious that the poor communities do worse, but it isn't because they look different. It isn't because they are unwilling to be educated, that their culture dictates them to be that way. It is because they are poor. They need help.

Getting Assistance versus Losing Funding

But the school districts cry, "If they know it is us who do not produce optimum grades, then it is us who will lose what little funding we have."

Wrong. It is easy to blame others. It is hard to take responsibility, but the fallacy of one race being smarter or more academic than another needs to stop. We need to help these kids and make them feel secure so that they want to learn. And how can we do that if we cannot find them?

The areas that have lower-income families deserve more of the money so that they may produce better results. They need more resources to set these children on the right path. The higher-income areas can afford to do more fundraising, and more donations are able to be given to the schools.

Give the schools time-limits with set goals to make; similar to No Child Left Behind but more flexible, more specific to each area. For example, the kids within the "problem areas" that scored well on the test like those in Honor classes will not need to be tested. Also, find another way aside from standardized tests so that teachers do not teach to the test and nothing more. Perform closed interviews with students, asking how they feel about the changes and what they are learning. Create portfolios of assignments that demonstrate the growth in classes. 

We have new media technology, integrate that with video of the children at the beginning of the semester, midterm, and end. Let them keep a blog of their work and see how their academic writing develops. (This is, of course, for the older children who can write or blog. For privacy issues, blogs can be kept on secure .edu servers seen by those grading them, or make access password-coded.)

If the school districts cannot make the goals after the set time, then they do not receive as much funding.

Tax Dollars

"Well, I don't want my tax dollars to pay for hooligans. I don't want my son Timmy's education to suffer for them."

You make more money, you deserve better. I get it. I'm not saying divert a whole lot of money. Just enough to give the school some gently used computers or a few new books. Not Mac Labs or a new wing for the library. But, do raise the salaries of teachers that motivate their students, whose children get good grades. Not every teacher.

Honestly, you won't be paying for future criminals because you are working proactively. You are stopping the development of hooligans by giving them a future. That's one less person you have to worry about breaking into your house when you're in The Bahamas. 

Also, Timmy's education will not suffer. When distributed right, it would only be the "wants" that would lessen in fulfillment. His media class would work with iPads rather than the iPad2. The class trip may go from visiting NY for five days to visiting the free museums in D.C. for three. 

And if you're really worried, put him in private school.

America is a community of diverse peoples. We must help one another if we want our community to be better than the one next door and we will never accomplish that by being selfish.

Idea 1

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Innovations to Combat Racism

Race is an issue of classification and racism comes from those separations. Our perceptions of people are ingrained in us by our families, the media, and our own experiences. We cannot erase these differences--they are our parts to be proud of--and we cannot ignore them (that is colorblindness).

To stop profiling, you need to erase our subjectivity. You need technology, which shouldn't be so hard in our technological/wireless/social media world.

Idea 1: Automatic Police Radar

We already have speed- and light-cameras that tag your license plate and send you a bill. Why not the same for the radar guns in squad cars?

It would eliminate the claims of "profiling" in all aspects. It would simply act objectively, tagging speeders by the license plate and forwarding the information.

Owner versus Driver

With all of our checking-in and social media, the car industry should find a way to have the driver of the car "log-in" before driving. From there, the name is displayed on a cute LED screen near the license plate. (We can put MP3 jacks and all other gadgets into the car. Hell, we even have some that parallel park for us. Why not?)

When someone speeds and it registers on the gun, the officer types in the name before sending the report forward in cyberspace, all without moving from his speed trap. This would especially help officers that ride alone at night or in dangerous neighborhoods.

He or she doesn't know if the person is black or white, old or young. The process could even be set to auto-send the tickets when an offense happens so that the officer has no opportunity to waive a ticket.

(If the person is driving erratically or dangerously, they have to be pulled over. Obviously.)

First Offenders

So you've never gotten a ticket, but you've had some close calls. This new idea sucks. Tweak it.

When the information is sent to be processed, they look up your driving record and see that you've never been pulled over. You have a clean bill. The office, automatic or not, issues you a warning. And, honestly, you should really need only one. If it's an area you know the police to target, slow down.

For those that have repeatedly crossed the law, they get the full ticket and the points. (I'm sure some system of measurement/amount can be established either as a sweeping gesture or state-by-state, county-to-county.)

Perhaps it could even send information back to the officer if the person has outstanding warrants. They already have a system that does that, and I wonder that it could be linked up.

Just like a normal ticket, your cyber ticket could be taken to court and fought.

Invasion of Privacy

Having to log-in your name is an invasion of privacy, your argument.

There's the old sayings: When it comes to safety, some freedoms must be given. What about when cops pull you over for not wearing a seatbelt or for talking on the cell phone (D.C.)? These are to protect you, your passengers, and the drivers around you.

Also, don't you have a Facebook / Google + / Twitter? You're already putting yourself out there for the world, tagging pictures and checking-in anyway. You should really check our their privacy policy (who they give all your information to) and the terms of agreement that you clicked right on through when signing up. You'd be surprised.

Idea 2

Monday, August 22, 2011

Malcolm X & Who Is Actually Mixed?

"So...I think you're a separatist," my boyfriend said to me as he adjusts his tie in the bathroom mirror.

We're in a Cincinnati hotel, preparing for his brother's graduation, and my first instinct is to deny. As a person fighting for equality, how can I possibly be a separatist?

"You don't think I'm mixed," he said. "I'm Mexican-American. My parents and grandparents are from Mexico. We are the original mixed people, but you won't write about that."

He's right. The Latino/a culture stemmed from a mashing of peoples before and after the Americas were first "born." The natives mixed with the slaves and the Europeans. They mixed religions and beliefs to form something original and identifying. The same with the Spanish language.

Still, they are not who I think of when I think mixed. I think of first-generation or second-generation mixed peoples that do not have a common tie or identifier like nationality, religious beliefs, or language. I think of people who are the pioneers of their family tree, not one that is established.

But I do not know their culture well. I don't know if they have mixed-race issues, and I certainly cannot decide not count them just because of ignorance. (Racialicious explores the "Who is Actually Mixed?" debate better than I do.)

"You're like Malcolm X," he said. "You take up the fight for one group of people and think that is the people."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Calling for Participants: New Mixed Study

Susan Lambe Sarinana, a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts Boston's Clinical Psychological program, is looking for parents of mixed kids (mixed or mono) and mixed-race teenagers to participate in her new study.

In her own words for parents:
I am conducting a study on parenting multiracial youth (ages 3-22). Participation involved filling out an online questionnaire. If you [parent] participate, you will be asked questions about your thoughts on race, ethnicity, and culture, as well as questions about your multiracial child. You will have the opportunity to win one or two $100 gift certificates to
For teenagers:
I am currently looking for participants and am writing to ask if your multiracial teenager might be interested. During this research study, your adolescent would participate in an interview and be asked to complete some questionnaires about race and ethnicity. The study would take about one hour. He or she would be given a $20 gift card to as a token of appreciation.
If you have any other questions, you can email Susan at or visit her website Multiracial Youth Study.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Nature of the Hysterical Moment

Darcus Howe, a West Indian Writer and Broadcaster, was interviewed by BBC about the London Riots. He spoke on how the the police were treating the young people, especially blacks, with excessive violence. Even his grandson was stopped on the street, pressed to a wall, and searched for nothing more than walking.

The female interviewer kept interrupting him from speaking the truth, trying to tear down his credibility. Howe is finally bringing light to a confusing outburst of violence and hysteria. Mark Duggan, the man whose death sparked the initial riots, was killed in cold blood. The London police have admitted to excessive violence. And worst of all, she says to him (not asks) that "he has taken part in riots himself."

His response: "I have never taken part in a single riot. I've been part of demonstrations that have ended up in a conflict. Have some respect for an old West Indian Negro, and stop accusing me of being a rioter. [...] You just sound idiotic."

London looters and vandals on the streets are not right, not by any means. As the Washington Post pointed out, they are not holding signs, chanting, or letting their government know what they need. However, the people are fed up and taking action. As Howe said, "it is the nature of the hysterical moment."

I am afraid America will go this way. For the first time since I started working at 16, I cannot find a job and I am not alone. When I enter a restaurant or fast food place, there are adults, men in their fifties, working behind the counter. Just a few years ago, those jobs all belonged to young people.

Our debt is high and our hopes are low. We're at war fighting for someone else's democracy and independence when we need our own, from oil and from our petrified government. FOX and the far right keep us from progress. Why doesn't the first responders bill for 9/11 have healthcare for the cancer they developed from pulling the dead from the buildings?

And what's more, our President and the Democrats are using this as a sort of block. Do NOT throw a pity party. Stop looking at how your vote or your stand for something that is inherently right will affect your personal future, politicians.

Obama: I'm sorry, but you are black, you can never make everyone happy, no matter what you do. Stop giving ground when the right will not give back. At this rate, we will get nowhere.

I don't want Washington D.C. to turn into London, but I will not stand idly by if it does.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tasty or Distasteful? : Mulatto MooLatte

Well, hello MooLatte and your mother Dairy Queen. It's nice to see you're still working on being tactful.

About this...problem or (as I like to call it) digression from common sense: I think people go a bit overboard on how "correct" they need to be. Black, white, African-American, etc. I do offend people and I don't always apologize, but there are lines that I don't cross.

Dairy Queen's play on words for a drink is overboard.

It's like Timothy Noah from Slate said, "the name of a commercial product should never spotlight, even unintentionally, the physical similarity between that product's appearance (in this case, hue) and that of any class of human beings." *The article is actually very funny (JooLatte/JewLatte) and I suggest you read it as well.

As described in earlier blogs, mulatto is a dated term and it can be disrespectful. If you want to name the coffee how it looks, then say "beige" or "brown," or make some other pun like that. Black coffee is called so not because it has anything to do with the people, but because it is black in color. White chocolate is white.

Then again, we could all be wrong and self-centered, and in actuality MooLatte is called that because it contains an absurd amount of milk. You be the judge.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cause: Committee to Protect Journalists

We may take for granted our opportunity as people of America to write the truth, to spread our opinions all over the internet (and in the paper if we're lucky) whether the subject matter important or not.

This is not the case all over the globe. In the Philippines, journalists are killed for speaking out or reporting unfavorable news. And what about those journalists reporting from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan alongside our soldiers. They are not equipped with the same protection our soldiers are and yet they risk their lives so that we may know what is happening to our people and to the world.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) defends journalists worldwide, no matter their country of origin. They work with journalists who have had to flee their countries and the families of those that are killed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Blogger Anne Simon: How Race Helped Two Families Understand Each Other

Anne's beautiful, blended family loves to play and grow together.
Pictured are Anne's grandchildren, children, and husband.
Anne is on the left of the bottom picture.
She created her mixed-race family through
adoption and marriage.
My first husband and I were a white, Ivy League educated family who decided to adopt a black baby. It was the 1970s and the adoption of my son fulfilled a life-long dream of mine to adopt a baby who was a different race than our family.

When my blue eyed, blond haired biological daughter was just a year old, my first husband and I began the process of adopting our second child, expecting that the journey would probably take 1 - 2 years. My then husband had been fully informed of my "life list" before our marriage, and he seemed to embrace it. To our great surprise, four months later the agency called us and said they had a baby boy for us. We brought home my son, an adorable 4 month-old dark skinned African American baby boy. I had two babies under the age of 2, and my mother thought I had lost my mind - which was partially accurate.

We were Upper West Side New York City dwellers; my husband was just starting on Wall Street, and I was in graduate school at Columbia. We knew that we would not stay in NYC to raise our children and were very mindful of the importance, for our children (and our family), of finding a community of like-minded people and diverse families. We landed back in CA where I was raised. In the Berkeley Hills we discovered a cooperative nursery school where our close friends and neighbors included four other families with interracially adopted children.

This idyllic picture shattered a few years later. As was part of living in the 70s, we pushed boundaries in developing our families, and then we pushed them in our relationships. Four of the five couples ended up divorced, including us. I fled to a rural area 100 miles north of San Francisco to recoup my lost identity and raise my children.

Eight years later, I met a man who I would marry. He had lost his wife to cancer and was raising his two teenage daughters alone. His former wife was African American and he is white. Once we married, our family consisted of children (emerging adults really) who ran the entire spectrum of color. My biological daughter has fair skin and blue eyes. My son has dark skin. Merging two families is never easy, but I think the fact that we were (and are) mixed-race families is what helped us navigate the potentially tumultuous waters of step-parenting and merging two families; families in which one had suffered the loss of their wife/mother and mine, and the other had dealt with a bruising divorce and custody battle.

I actually believe that the issue of race was one of the most unifying elements in this successful merger of our families. My step-daughters could not dismiss me as just another white woman who didn’t understand their racial identity. Given the profound decision I had made when adopting my African American son - one that I knew was to change the complexion of my family forever (pun fully intended) - I was extremely relieved and gratified, privileged even, to grow my family by embracing my two mixed-race stepdaughters. 

Far too often, issues of race divide families, break apart relationships and destroy lives. In our case, I’m pleased to tell you, the complex issue of race made the blending of our two families easier. Our kids instinctively understood each other. Each of them also understood their future step-parent because I had adopted an African American son and my husband had married an African American woman. Both my kids and my husband’s daughters knew they would be accepted by their new step-parent and step-siblings.

Racism was one issue they would not have to confront within the new family. In that way, race helped our family bond in a unique and invaluable way. My husband and I have been married for 25 years and our families continue to love and accept each other. Issues of race brought our mixed-race family together, which is where we’ve remained.

Anne Simon is recently retired after 36 years as an independent school administrator and teacher. She also co-authored a book, Beyond the Brochure: An Insiders Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles. She lives with her husband and cares for her mother on their small horse farm in Virginia. She is a both a biological and adoptive mother, step-mother, grandmother, and foster mother. She enjoys driving her carriage with her horses, spending time with all of her grandchildren, gardening, swimming, and cooking, and she hopes to travel and write in the years to come. For more information about Anne, visit,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Poisoned in Ocean City

From left to right: Cherish, Darius, Aja on the beach at
Ocean City after The Incident.
Ocean City, MD
8:15 p.m.
110th Street

My younger brother, sister, boyfriend, and I walk to the bus stop. We're just starting our vacation and it's been pretty good so far. I'm taking my younger siblings to walk the boardwalk and ride the roller coaster. We punch the button at the crosswalk and wait. 

A small sedan comes through the intersection and a white boy sticks his head out of the backseat window. "Get a fucking green card!" he yells at us. 

Before we can react, he and his buddies have sped away. The light turns red and we cross the street. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt: maybe he was yelling at someone else, maybe he was drunk. But we were the only ones out and really there is no excuse for racism. 

We aren't immigrants! We aren't hispanic! Only my boyfriend is latino (technically), but he looks white as hell. Clearly the drunk kid was talking to my darker siblings and I. I want to turn around and chase him down. I want to beat his face in. Not for calling me out, but for saying it to my kin, the kids that I've protected since they were born. My little brother, who hasn't yet turned 13 but is somehow taller than me already, watches for my reaction silently. 

I laugh it off. What else can you do? 

We continue on to the boardwalk and pretend like it never happened except it still eats my brain. It's poisoned me and it burns. White people are twisting in front of me. They're all watching us, judging us, and suddenly I'm conscious of the fact that we're a group of minorities walking together instead of just a crowd of people. 

Now I'm not even identifying myself as person. Poison. 

On the bus to the boardwalk, my brother says something embarrassing and I jokingly tell him I'll slap the white off him. Just so the people around us know that he is like them. They look at me with queer eyes as if to ask if he is really white as...or perhaps it was about the familial violence (only now, I can't even think it's that.) 

My brother looks at me, completely serious, and whispers: "I wish you could. I'd welcome it."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Smithsonian's RACE exhibit: Eye-Opening and Depressing, Strange and Refreshing

By Passion Hannah

This month the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History opened the exhibit “RACE: Are we so different?” We (Tia and I) took the trip into D.C. to check out the exhibit because it features all races, including an emphasis on mixed heritages and their experience in America. 
Passion and Tia added their hands to the series of colors at
the touring race exhibit at the NMNH.
The exhibit was absolutely amazing. There was a section at the entrance where you could take a picture of your skin, and then it would become a part of a collage with other visitors’ skin colors. 
Your definition of what you are,
not the governments, not your parents,
not anyone but you.

The part that we focused on quite a bit were a series of photographs on a wall. People had handwritten what they felt about their race, and then under their statement was what they were mixed with. (For more examples of these photos, see our tumblr.) It was refreshing and strange to see so many mixed people. Just by looking at some, you wouldn’t expect them to have such diverse races. None looked the same, which was wonderful. Even if one had a similar heritage as another person, they both looked very different. 

Another stunning section was a short documentary called “A Girl Like Me”. It was quite eye-opening because so many of these African-American girls spoke about their journey with race, and how being lighter skinned or white was more appealing to them. 

Honestly, it was depressing to watch. These girls are beautiful, but society dictates that we must have light skin and straight hair to be beautiful. (For on that visit "Cute to be so dark" at Multicultural Familia.) They also recreated the “doll test” where kids were to chose between a black baby doll and a white baby doll. Most of them said the white baby doll was more appealing and considered it the “good” doll, where areas the black doll was the “bad” doll. When asked why one doll was good and one was bad, the kids said it was because of skin color. The kids were all young and black. It just goes to show how little progress the country has made with opinions on race. 

How would the U.S. Census have counted you through each
decade? On each person's shirt is the sad truth.

There were many other very interesting parts of the exhibit, and I recommend it to anyone who can take a trip to go see it. The new closing date for the exhibit is January 2nd. So, there is plenty of time during the summer, fall, and winter. Really, it leaves you with no excuse. 

On the day that we went, the atmosphere was a haze of awe. Regardless of race, you will be amazed at the stories that were being told. No doubt, it will change your perception of race.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Interview with Filmmakers of the Hafu Project: Lara and Megumi

Photo courtesy of
Hafu is the working title for a film in production about the changing ethnic community of Japan. With the ease of modern day travel and technology, the mixed-race population is exploding. Lara Perez Takagi and Megumi Nishikura have taken the challenge of documenting the multicultural Hafu experience of growing up in two worlds.

It's a big task and not many have tried to tackle it before them. "All I've ever seen is a news article or something online, but I've never seen something big scale like we're doing right now," Lara said, describing her reason for filming. "We're trying to touch as many topics as possible within what it means to be mixed race in Japan."

Megumi said that they will know they were successful when the effort doesn't end with them. "We want to make something that is the first step of many people exploring their identities through a number of mediums. It's difficult for any one piece of film or article or book to be the answer to the experience. Maybe people expect that of us, but we want to share small personal stories of four or five different individuals and contribute as one step forward. We hope other people will continue to explore this topic and the depth of understanding will grow."

For those of you still wondering: Hafu is defined as a person born from one parent that is not Japanese. In the audio clip, you'll here the word gaijin. Gaijin means foreigner, but is also considered somewhat rude or politically incorrect. It is the shortened term for gaikokujin which means foreign-country person or non-Japanese.

Megumi and Lara are no strangers to this word on the street. Lara said she blends in during gatherings because all that matters then is that she can speak fluent Japanese. However, if she is seen on the street or the train, sometimes people will stare as if she is a foreigner. Megumi, who grew up in Japan, remembers being teased as a child and wishing she could just fit in. "I wished that there wasn't this sense of separation," she said.

Their filming has taken them all across Japan, not just Tokyo, and as Lara said, "As long as we have the funding, we'll go anywhere."

The majority of their funding comes from donations through the website and during their events. After the tsunami, the Hafu film crew nearly cancelled one of these events, but instead decided to team up with a relief group to raise money for the people hurt by the tragedy and for the film. "Some people came up to us afterwards and were like 'Actually we want to give this money just to the production of the film' and to us that shows even in these difficult times there are people that want to see this film completed and  are willing to support us on top of what they've given to the relief efforts," said Megumi.

The deadline to finish is January and the crew hopes to have the film come out late 2012. They are also looking into doing a U.S. tour in the future, though nothing has been set in stone.

Not in this article, but in the audio:

  • Most touching experience
  • Why they decided to film
  • Explanation of the statistic: "One out of thirty babies born in Japan are Hafu."
  • Filming and working after the tragedy
  • Their time as Hafu in Japan (not included in the film)
  • Lara and her many languages
  • Thanks and other parting words
An audio option without captions; the paraphrasing might be distracting.

Fun Facts:

  • The longest they've spent filming in the field a week. Mind you, this is a week away from their regular day jobs. 
  • Lara does freelance interpreting and translating/proofreading in English, Japanese, and Spanish. 
  • Megumi produces other documentaries and describes the experience as "intense and challenging. I'll start thinking about one [documentary] while I'm working on another." Her next career goal is to work for broadcast, corporate stations like CNN and doing one-hour or so documentaries.
  • They plan to slowly turn Hafu into their full-time job.
  • As of now, the crew is still looking for a final character, an Asian and Japanese mixed-race person, to document the life of a Hafu who isn't immediately identified as not fully Japanese. 
  • There will be an online fundraiser for the film coming up. Make sure to visit the Hafu website for more information. People who donate more than $50 will receive a copy of the film once it comes out.

Audio Interview with Filmmakers Megumi and Lara

Beware: The video starts loud so turn your speakers down please.

An option without captions for those who find the paraphrased captions distracting.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cause of the Month

Check out our new section of the website. Every month, we select a cause that we support and post their graphic/banner/gif on the website to raise awareness. Our premier cause is: The Girl Effect, a group that works to keep young girls out of poverty and into a brighter, more educated future.

We plan to donate and, in the future, further our participation by holding events and fundraisers. For now, we hope you visit the website the first week of every month to see the new cause.

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.