Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Mixed Chick Easter

My boyfriend proposed over the holidays and I've been a bit busy to post, but I did make an Easter egg labeled "Mixed Chick" and it involves all the colors of the rainbow - or more accurately the dyes available.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our Tumblr Debut

Diaries of a Mixed (Up) Kid is now on tumblr. Follow us for updates on our favorite mixed people and quotes, and the latest news and studies. We've already featured the beautiful Kristin Kreuk and Devon Aoki. You can also see three of the four major writers!

Important Changes in Mixed Kid Life:

These articles/blogs/posts I feel are important for every mixed-race person to read and to know of. If we are to make our way in this world, we need to know our world, our people, and the events associated with them.
  • Touching story of a three-generation multiracial family - it started in 1941 when mixed-love was still very much taboo. Check out the section that shows where mixed-races are growing the fastest.
  • Minorities take over - The new census results say that by 2019 "white" will no longer be the majority in the US. Being mixed-race has risen as well and will likely become the majority.
  • Read the struggle of this mixed boy as he grew up in the foster care system, a system that until recently would pair black mixed-race children with black families despite the child's upbringing.
  • advertises its 2010 book that explores the portraits of a changing world and the faces of the new mixed generation.
  • Obama chose to check off only "African-American" instead of both "African-American" and "White" so NPR explains why he may have chosen just the one. Though it frustrates me that choosing multiracial is such a confusing or poor choice.
  • Halle Berry says she is not mixed and neither is her mixed-child because of the one drop rule, but as we've seen this rule can be very hurtful. You should accept all sides of yourself. Accepting the white or another race will not erase your pride for your black side. I hope Halle sees this before she alienates her child and goes back to being a role model for mixed people.
  • Multiracials on TV and advertisements - New ads promote a "racial utopia" of "narrative colorblindness" in a "socially desirable" world. But things aren't always as it seems. Mixed race people are not exempt from being racist themselves. Just because we are here does not mean racism is gone.
  • Mixed Kids end up crazier than single race - These are the sorts of studies that make people think differently of us. Perhaps we end up with a mental illness, low self-esteem, or bad behavior because of how people treat us, because we don't fit in and they don't have a place for us. You'd act out too if everyone rejected you. I think the Racialicious blog raises good points about this early 2000 study.

Christina Simon's Five Tips for Raising Mixed-Race Kids

In 7th grade, I had my hand slammed in a locker because I was mixed. By fourth grade, this race-based bullying had become a daily occurrence.

It’s 2011 and I have good news to report: my 4th grade daughter has never experienced any racial bullying. Though the subject is finally getting the news exposure it should, some of the coverage is about kids who take their own lives because of how soul-destroying the taunting is.

As a mom, I always listen to my kids whenever there is an incident at school or on the sports field that upsets them in an unusual way. My radar is finely tuned to the potential for mean girl or mean boy stuff to cross the line into comments about hair, skin color or other attributes that may signal race-based bullying. I read between the lines to hear what my kids are telling me.  

Because my kids are at a diverse, progressive private school, they haven’t experienced race-based bullying. Their school has mixed-race kids of many backgrounds, so thankfully it’s not an issue.  Our choice of school is one way my husband and I have tried to protect our kids from vicious racial bullying. I won’t let that happen to my kids if I can help it.  Middle school isn’t too far away, so I am hopeful that my kids will avoid most—if not all––racial tormenting.

Find Role Models
We are incredibly lucky to have a new generation of mixed-race leaders. Starting at the top, there is President Obama, a brilliant intellectual, family man and one of the best orators of our time.  During the primary, before anyone thought he could beat Hilary Clinton, my husband and I attended a small fundraiser for Obama. In person, he’s dignified and mesmerizing. The day he was elected, I could not have been more proud.

There are also numerous celebrities and high profile mixed-race marriages that we see regularly on TV and in celebrity and fashion magazines. Yes, we all know stars have their shortcomings and personal dramas, but now isn’t the time to discuss THAT issue. When I was growing up, there were very few mixed-race role models. Today, we have, to name just a few: 
a.    President Obama (Leader of the free world)
b.    Halle Berry (Actress)
c.     Rashida Jones (Actress)
d.    Seal and Heidi Klum (Singer, Supermodel)
e.    Selena Gomez (TV Actress/singer)
f.      Devon Aoki (Model)
g.    Soledad O’Brien (CNN Anchor)
h.     Kimora Lee Simons (Reality TV Star)
i.       Lenny Kravitz (Rock Star)
j.       Ann Curry (The Today Show)
k.     Maya Soetoro-Ng (Writer, half-sister of President Obama)
l.       Jennifer Beals (actress)
m.   James Blake (Pro Tennis Player)
n.     Derek Jeter (NY Yankees)
o.     Hines Ward (Football Player)

Point Out Common Attributes
Talking about mixed-race celebrities is an opportunity to show our kids “role models” who look like them. Talk to your child about a celebrity who may resemble him or her. If your daughter has hair or skin like a celebrity, point that out to your child. I often tell my daughter she looks like Rashida Jones, who shares my daughter’s light skin, freckles and hazel eyes. I also tell her that when she was a baby she looked a lot like Halle Berry’s adorable daughter. My daughter is thrilled when I point out these similarities and it often leads to a wonderful discussion about our family history, race and identity. This approach also works well if you have a friend, a co-worker or a neighbor who is mixed and has physical attributes similar to those of your child. 

There is nothing more alienating than growing up thinking you are “different” than everyone else in the world. And, there’s nothing better than being told you look like somebody else in this world besides your parents. When the movie “Flashdance” came out in the early 1980s, everywhere I went, people told me I looked like Jennifer Beals. I was overjoyed! Finally, there was somebody I could identify with and someone who other people thought I resembled. She’s also gorgeous and a successful actress. How could I not be happy about the comparison? To this day, I still read every article about Jennifer Beals because she was my first introduction to what it felt like to belong. 

The Moment Of Realization
Understand your child may have an “ah-ha” moment when they realize they are different. It might be a comment from a stranger, a new personal experience or a difficult time in their life that triggers the realization that they are different. Hopefully, this won’t come as a shock, but more as a moment of clarity—and pride. Exposing your child to mixed-race role models will help make “different” a good thing, a positive attribute and not something negative. My parents told me I was unique and I’ve always had that to fall back on during rough times.  Different? Maybe. Unique? Always.

Allow Self-Discovery and Labeling
I recognize that although we, as mixed-race people, have a foot in many worlds, we are defined by the external world based on our skin color. President Obama is half white, but most people perceive him as African American. Mixed-race individuals, during some point in our lives, may feel rejected by one or both sides of our heritage. Or, we may feel much more comfortable identifying as one race, rather than the other, either by choice or not. President Obama, as an example, recently marked “black” on the census instead of “two or more races.” Over time, that can change. Making new friends, trying to fit in, arriving at college or starting a new relationship may cause a person to explore aspects of their background they hadn’t focused on before. I consider this part of self-discovery and an aspect of growing up mixed.

Diversity Matters
If possible, live in a diverse neighborhood. I can’t stress this enough! Living in a neighborhood where everyone is homogenous—and different than your family––can lead to extreme feelings of alienation. If it’s not possible to live in a diverse community, try to send your child to a diverse school where there are other mixed race kids. After school activities like sports can also be important avenues for exposure. I’m learning I can’t pick my tween’s friends, but I can create opportunities for her to hang out with diverse friends. There’s no doubt in my mind that this helps foster her self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. Devoting time and effort to making sure your child is surrounded by diversity may take some effort on your part, but it’s well worth it. The benefits of feeling like one fits in and belongs are priceless.

Food As A Symbol Of Your Culture(s)
Food is such an important part of every culture. Every New Year’s Eve, I make Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas) and explain the tradition of the dish. (For the recipe, visit epicurious) The kids look forward to it all year. My family also celebrates some (not all) of the Jewish holidays. We make latkes and matzo ball soup for Hanukah while we usually serve ham for Christmas dinner.

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’s blog was just voted “Top 25 Parent Resources” by Circle Of Moms. She has written recent guest blog pieces for Mamapedia, BlogHer Syndication, The Well Mom, Sane Moms, The Mother Company, Diary Of A Mixed (Up) Kid, Eco Mom, Macaroni Kids, A Child Grows In Brooklyn, Power Of Moms, The Twin Coach and The Culture 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.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Guest Blogger Christina Simon: On Being A Second Generation Mixed Family

Baby Christina Simon and her parents

Growing up mixed made my typical childhood challenges more painful.  From as far back as I can remember people would stare at me and at our family. I always knew why they were looking.  It was because we were mixed, my mom told us. We were unique, she always said. Occasionally, black guys would smile knowingly at my mom and tell her my younger sister and I were cute. Elderly white ladies would shake their heads and make a “tsk, tsk” sound of disapproval.

As I got older, white people were always asking me, “What are you?” My smart-ass answer was, “I’m American.”  
“No, what are you?” they’d insist. 
“Mixed”, I’d respond. There was no need for African Americans to ask the question. They know from looking at me that I’m mixed.

Topanga, CA, where I was raised, was predominately white, with a few black celebrities. We didn’t have any mixed kids in our neighborhood. One of my 4thgrade classmates, a white boy, relentlessly called me racist names like “zebra” and the “N” word. I will never forget his meanness. One day, I could no longer take it. As the boy stepped off the bus, I jumped him from behind and we had a nasty fistfight. He never bothered me again. 

As I got older, I decided I’d be me, just as I am. It’s what I’ve always done to fit into both of my worlds. That’s what I hope my kids will do.

Christina Simon, her husband, and two beautiful children
Now that I’m a mom, being a mixed-race family isn’t without difficult drama. My husband’s family doesn’t accept that he married me, both because I’m not Jewish and I’m African American. My dad is Jewish, but not my mom. I’ve never met my husband’s parents and they’ve never met my kids. He is estranged from his parents and siblings, most likely permanently.

My kids are fascinated with this family division. They ask questions about my husband’s parents and why we’ve never met them. My husband tells the kids that his mother isn’t always a nice person and she’s not somebody we want to be around. We haven’t told them the real story yet. That will come later. It won’t be an easy conversation to have with the kids. I know I will feel extremely protective of them as we explain the issues involved with their grandparents’ rejection of their dad.

For us, with rejection came acceptance. When my husband’s parents stopped speaking to him, his aunt and uncle stepped in and became my kids’ grandparents.  They provide us with unconditional love and support. We are extremely close to them. 

Recently, I asked my kids if they could name any famous people who are mixed, African American and white. “President Obama and Lenny Kravitz,” said my daughter without hesitation. 

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’s blog was just voted “Top 25 Parent Resources” by Circle Of Moms. She has written recent guest blog pieces for Mamapedia, BlogHer Syndication, The Well Mom, Sane Moms, The Mother Company, Eco Mom, Macaroni Kids, A Child Grows In Brooklyn, Power Of Moms, The Twin Coach and The Culture 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.

New Blogger: Draining My DNA

You know when you really like someone and you would do anything to make them like you back? You might change your looks, who you hang out with, the way you speak, the way you laugh, you might even start to become “interested” in the things that you overlooked before. There is one major thing though that you will never be able to change about yourself and that is where you came from. In other words, it’s your DNA. 

Science was one of my favorite subjects growing up, so you see, I could know every little detail about my DNA and still be too powerless to change it for the sake of someone else’s affection. And it only took one boy for me to learn this, in the most painful way.

This boy was one of my best friends and I thought I was in love with him. I changed myself in every way to become more like someone he could see himself with. Every move I made was carefully calculated with him in mind. We had dated in eighth grade and he broke up with me the summer after, but I still had feelings for him. And I had never known why we broke up anyway, because we were still so close and shared everything with each other.

Every chance I could get I prodded him “Why?” It was an understandable question: we didn’t hate each other, our relationship was no different now than it had been when we were dating, we would talk on the phone for hours until one of us fell asleep, I was always there for him, and I knew I wasn’t the ugliest thing-in fact I had become more beautiful since the breakup. 

So one day he finally told me the reason. “I don’t want to have mixed children.” Naturally, I was offended so I asked him to clarify. “Because they will be picked on.” A million responses ran through my head. Why should a mixed child be picked on any more than a child of one race? What makes a mixed child so different? Why can’t it be personality that has to do with whether one is socially accepted or not? 

I couldn’t even refute his statement because I wasn’t sure if it was true or not. I had been picked on in school; he knew this, and now I thought maybe it was because I’m mixed. It is people like him, I’ve decided, who think that because someone is racially different than others that it means they will not be accepted. People like him oppress the people like me and it is the only reason why we feel so little as if we don’t belong. 

For hours after that conversation, I sat there thinking how I could change myself this time. But I came up with nothing. That night I dreamt of draining all of the blood out of my body, and refilling my veins with the blood of another singular-raced person. But it was only a dream, and still I knew even if it were possible it would not be the solution, because it would not change the DNA I would pass on to my children, they would still be mixed regardless who the father was. 

For years after that, his words haunted me. Every time I considered dating some guy I would wonder if it mattered that I was mixed. I would wonder if he liked mixed girls. And it sounds crazy, but I would try to find out if he had dated girls of all different races because it meant I had a chance.

I have since overcome this, but those words will forever bother me, and in the back of my mind my race is still my insecurity.

By Tia Hannah

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Proud Mixed-Race Parent

Mixed-race mothers know the mixed-race fight and The Mother Company has finally brought forward a voice on issues in parenting with racial diversity, a topic that needs more instruction and documentation.

I have to commend Christina Simon's article Where Did He Get Those Blue Eyes? about raising mixed kids. My own parents did a good job raising me, but they're not mixed. They just couldn't understand the problems or the rejection we'd face. Christina Simon knows:
"As a mother of mixed-race kids, I know I have two important tasks. First I want my kids to understand both sides of their heritage, African American and white (Jewish). Secondly, perhaps my most complicated challenge is to help foster a strong sense of self-esteem in my kids. Yes, they are different than non-mixed kids. But, I want them to know that they are unique and special, in part, because of their mixed heritage, not in spite of it. My hope for them is that they grow up able to comfortably navigate both of their worlds, embracing who they are as exquisite individuals."
Before this, I worried like her if I could shelter my kids from rejection, if I could do anything more for them than my parents did. After reading her story I realized I can't shelter them, but her story has told me that my experiences won't be wasted or unhelpful. I'll be able to empathize and understand. I'll be able to work with my kids to find the solution.

For more articles and studies on being mixed-race or raising kids in a race-conscious society, I recommend these articles:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rub Off The Black

My dad said they tried to rub that black off him. They were my mother's cousins who'd never seen a black man up close before. They grabbed his forearms and rubbed with their pink fingers because, they said, he had dirt all over him. He was dirty.

Today, people don't do that. Instead, they try to cake the dirt on. Not literally, but with their Scantrons and employee applications, with their black and white and yellow and red. They want to sort you away. They'll want you to speak black because you're not white. Oh no. Even though you grew up in the white suburbs and speak "proper" English, you're not white. You can't be with that hair and that nose.

But the blacks don't like the caked on look, the fake look. They're ready to dump the water on you and wash away that dirt, that fake black mask. You didn't come from the hood, you don't speak their ghetto nonsense. You can't say "nigga" and not be offensive.

So when they can't figure it out, they'll stare. They being everyone who has ever asked, who has even wondered this question. They being everyone that sees in color. They will stare until they pull together the courage to ask, "What are you?"

As if being mixed is some other species, some wild experiment turned loose. And never say "American" cause that will never be enough.

I wish I had the black to rub off of me.

Quiz: What Other People Think

Take the quiz on Annie Fox's blog or below to see if you worry too much about what other people think. It's mostly for teens who are struggling with self-image and fitting in, but I also took the quiz and I scored right in the middle.

So yeah, no one is exempt from wanting to get people to like them or feeling self-conscious. As a mixed kid, don't let it get to you if you don't fit in immediately. If you like this, read her book Middle School Confidential.


If my friends think something is funny, I’ll laugh even if I don’t get the joke. True/False

The worst thing is to do something embarrassing in front of people. T/F

If everyone’s seen a movie but me, I’ll say I saw it. T/F

If my parents think something’s a “good” idea, I’m suspicious. T/F

I hate making decisions cause it sucks to be wrong. T/F

I’m never the first person to give my opinion. T/F

I’ve dropped out of an activity I liked because none of my friends were into it. T/F

It’s risky to say how you really feel. T/F

If someone makes fun of what I’m wearing, I won’t wear it again. T/F

If my friends think something’s cool, I’ll try it even if I’m not sure I’ll like it. T/F

7-10 Trues: You worry what others think and it brings you down.With a boost in self-confidence and support from family and friends, you’ll trust yourself more and enjoy being you.

3-6 Trues: Sometimes it’s hard for you to stand up for yourself, but when you do it feels good. You’re getting better all the time at being your own person.

0-2 Trues: You hardly ever worry what others think because you’re self-confident and have a lot of self-respect. You may not know it, but people respect you for who you are.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Celebrate Mixed Kid Heritage

The blog Desfile da Mixed Kids recently had a fashion show featuring all mixed children, though I hate it when people say:"Oh, I want to have mixed kids because they are so beautiful" as that is no reason just to have mixed children. Think about the child and the struggles they will go through. This is not to say I'm against having mixed children. I am mixed and I will have ones of my own, but it's frustrating to be treated as if we are things, scientific creations or cute puppies.

Away from this rant: If you want to see some beautiful mixed kids celebrating their heritage, visit this blog. I can't read Spanish very well so I don't know the rest of the articles though I'd very much like to find a translation if someone can leave that for me in the comments.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lunch Room Segregation

Segregation was supposed to have ended years ago, yet races still want to separate themselves. Just look to the high school cafeteria to see how much segregation is still part of our lives. 

There’s the black, hispanic, asian, and white tables. The reason is simple; people hang out with the people they feel the most comfortable with. All the blacks understand each other: how difficult it is to manage their hair, their slang, and their street life. The Asians, Korean mostly, talk about fun times in their Korean church and they also have their own little asian community outside of school.

I have none of this. At every lunch I wonder where I fit in.

My hair isn’t beautifully straight like the Asians or chemically-straightened/braided like the blacks. I just have curly frizz and I can’t speak Korean or speak in slang. 

I have very little in common with each group. I usually sit with my friends, who are mostly asian, I try in vain to understand their inside, Korean-spoken jokes. Yes, I could sit with the blacks and I do feel most comfortable with them, but only because I look the most black. 

There I don't stand out to everyone else, but the black kids know the difference. They always remind me how “white” I act and how I’m not truly one of them. 

So really I fit in nowhere. I don’t understand why we place so much emphasis on race. I guess it’s just what we do. We separate ourselves that way and stick together. 

I wonder if there will ever be a mixed kids table. Then maybe I’ll finally fit in somewhere.

By Cherish Hannah