Sunday, June 3, 2012

To Offend Someone from Detroit

I call "Fives" when I'm leaving a seat that I want to mark as mine. Today, I ran into a girl who calls this "Rosa Parks" and found nothing wrong with saying so while myself and an African-American guy was in the room.

I don't know what was more offensive: the fact that her upbringing didn't see something wrong with that, or that she had the lack of forethought to say it in front of me and my friend from Detroit. I was so upset that I gathered up my stuff and left on the spot.

My Detroit friend told me that's why he spaces out sometimes so that he doesn't have to hear ignorance like that. In any case, I told our boss and she said we'd talk to the girl (who had left by that time) on Monday about her choice of words. I'm hoping this will all be squashed then, and that the girl just didn't understand how offensive she was being.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Minorities: A New Majority - US Census

According to the National Journal, minorities are the new majority! Well, our babies are anyway. In the official 2011 Census for America, minorities make-up 50.4% of all children born in the States.

The places with the highest minority ratios:

  1. Hawaii (77%)
  2. D.C. (65%)
  3. California (60%)
  4. New Mexico (59.8%)
  5. Texas (55%)
Hispanics were the largest group, followed closely by African-Americans. However, Asians were the second-fastest growing group. 

It is estimated that by 2042, minorities will become the real majority. Total minorities still come in at 37% of the population. So why, if we have more babies, will it take so long?

The answer is simple: Young people are more diverse, but there aren't as many young people being born as there are older people. We have more adults (who are less diverse) living past 65, and less young people having so many kids. (It is unclear whether this relates to drops in teen pregnancies, access to birth control, education, and healthcare, or a natural choice because of the declining economy.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Curly Girl Hair Care Tips from DOAMK

We've gotten a lot of questions in person and online about how to handle curly hair like ours. Here's the thing: all mixed people are different. We don't splice the same genetics. 

Still, there are some exceptional products, tips, styles, and beauty parlors that have worked well over the years. We know that even having a lead can really take the stress away.


Here is Passion on her YouTube channel bitesizepassion with some of her best tips and products.

Other tips and websites:

  • Always go to a stylist that is either Ouidad or Deva Curl certified. You can find out who is certified on those websites.
  • Find your hair type, reviews, and products on
  • Try a variety of products and try to stick to ones with less synthetic chemicals and more natural ingredients.
  • Don't wash your hair everyday. If necessary, just add more conditioner or wet it slightly.
  • Forget the comb. Your fingers will know the nuances of your curls better and not shred them.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Racial Tensions in Roommates & Mamle Kabu

A roommate situation is supposed to be like this. So why (when black and white are together) does it many times end up like this?

Charm School. Of course there's fighting on this smut show.
In Mamle Kabu's short story Human Mathematics, the main character Claudia watches as her black/Ghanian roommate hits her white roommate because the white girl had put the trash on Ghanian's bed, a sign that said to Ghanian she was no better than trash. It was all a misunderstanding and Claudia ends up caught in between the two. She's friends with both girls. She's also half-Ghanian and half-white.

Before her friends are suspended, Claudia desperately wants to ask Folake, the Ghanian, why she had lived up to the stereotype. Folake responds that she's not normally violent but that she must have her dignity too.

I can't say how many times I've encountered a similar situation. Normally, I look down on those folk who act niggerish, who throw fists at the scuff of a shoe instead of talking it out or letting it go. I've never resorted to fists, but lately I have gotten close.

After a particularly rough disagreement with a white acquaintance of mine (who I found was a tad ignorant), I had a dream that I called her some rather nasty bunch of names before striking her in the face.

Even after I woke up, I felt really good about my actions, and I wondered if I was really better than the stereotype. I can't say. Like Folake, there's something to be said for dignity especially when it comes to race.

When it comes to housing arrangements, it is illegal to base them on race. However, I must say I would have rather lived with black girls or someone that "got" me when I dormed in college. My first year was awful. I had nothing in common with my white, native PA, highly Catholic roommates.

My dorm house, the Dechantal.
We had nine girls in one suite, three girls to one small room.
They always hung out together, and though I was never asked to leave, I never felt welcome to bond with them. I felt like I couldn't even study in my own room. They thought less of me because I had sex (even though it was only with my long-time boyfriend). I found out they had spread false rumors about my sexual habits. They didn't like me because I wasn't Republican (and it was the year of the 2008 elections). Even though we were in the same major and honors society, they wouldn't study with me. I felt like they thought I was inferior.

The girls, especially one, would speak to me condescendingly and give me cutting looks. She'd move my things around (on my own desk) because I wasn't neat enough. I didn't know how to handle it. When people had a problem with me, I was used to them just getting in my face about it. I did not like this new approach, which I affectionately termed the "undercover bitch" approach.

I would visit other friends dorms, friends from foreign countries and other backgrounds, where I fit in better. I found that "undercover bitches" applied more to white people than minorities. Even though it wouldn't have been lawful to put me with them just because of my race, I wished they had. Maybe even if they paired me with someone else from Maryland would have worked.

Though I never did break one those two roommates, I felt like I was losing my dignity. After that, I resolved never to let someone push me around, not because I was inferior and certainly never in my own house again.

In the end, race and heritage cannot be changed. When someone belittles you for it or believes you to be lesser, there will reach a breaking point. I think the stereotype exists because there is more against the minorities than there are for the Caucasian. And yes, mixed people are looked at as minorities even when we are more white than anything.

For the full short story Human Mathematics, pick up Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Black with a Black Friend, White with a White.

"Was it false and deceitful to be black with a black friend and white with a white one? And to be yet a third, perhaps "brown," person with friends who were neither black nor white? Did it make me two- or even three-faced?"

This conundrum comes from Mamle Kabu's main character Claudia from her short story "Human Mathematics" which appeared in Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience.

Where is line between who you are and who you make yourself to be?

When I was young, I had a hard time fitting in. By middle school, I had decided enough was enough. I desperately wanted friends and so I changed the person that I was to someone that fit in better. Part of that meant being whiter around my white friends and blacker around my blacker friends.

On the cheerleading team in high school. White with my white friends.

I also gained some Vietnamese friends with whom I was "brown" as Kabu called it. "Brown" was actually more of a shade of grey since I acted neither black or white, and more politically correct.

In high school, I joined the sprint team on track, where I learned how to speak more black-like. While I was still made fun of for how "white" I sounded, my new accent did at least impress my white friends when it slipped out.

I became a commodity, a comic relief.  I was that weird girl who was two people in one. I started to question if this person was really me. Had I played another personality so long that I no longer knew?

While I have no definite answer on the questions in the opening quote, I can say this: Being who you really are means being who you want to be. And being who you want to be can change with time, friends, and places. It's not bad unless it makes you that way, as if you have something that you have to hide.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Neela Vaswani: Stability of One Thing

"In my youth, I longed to have what I mistakenly perceived as the stability of being 'one thing,'" wrote Neela Vaswani in her comments at the end her short story, which appeared in Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience.

One thing. As a mixed kid growing up in a suburban neighborhood, I had wished for it too. I wanted to fit in somewhere, in one area. I wanted to be white like my friends so that I wouldn't be the darkest one, the oddball, in every picture.
At my elementary school before a concert. I never could figure out how to arrange my face on command.
My parents always said my gift was that I could cross the boundary lines, but that gift many times left me straddling two worlds than belonging to either. Should I hang out with the black kids or the white kids? And if I act out of race lines, will they make fun of me for it? (Sometimes yes)

I've grown up now. While I still straddle the lines of race, I've decided to embrace those differences rather than try to hide them or awkwardly smash those pieces of me together. I don't kowtow to racial lines anymore.

I'm in a stage of exploration and exhibition. I'm being me, all of me. And I don't care who sees it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blood Ties and Black People

I never really met my extended family growing up. Living in suburban Maryland, we were geographically and economically distanced. When I received this phone message the day of my graduation, it was the last thing I had expected.

I am the first to graduate from college in my family, and it wasn't easy. Uncle Lenny is a man I know nothing about. I may have met him once as a toddler and yet it seemed the distance I'd felt from him and the rest of my family was impossible. His message nearly brought me to tears.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Loving Couple Documentary

Tomorrow, Valentine's Day, HBO will celebrate the love between the first interracial couple. The Lovings were jailed and tried (Loving vs Virginia) because they would not divorce.

Like many of our readers, we wouldn't be alive, our parents would not have married, if these two had not stood against their nation and became a symbol for equality.

For more information on the Lovings, their story, or the documentary, visit

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sh*it Mixed Kids Say

The "Shit ___ Say" is really getting around. Last week I found some targeted to mixed kids. Like all of the series, its somewhat offensive, racist, and true.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why February? Black History Month

Who Knew? came out with a short, quirky video on why Black History Month is celebrated in February. And, no, it's not because it's the shortest month.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Skin As White As Yours

"People pay hundreds to get your hair, you know?"

It's a phrase I've heard since I've had enough hair on my head to warrant it. I pull at the curls awkwardly behind the register. After all these years, I still don't know what to say.

"Uh, thanks."

The middle-aged customer nods encouragingly. "You are welcome." She says each syllable as if she has given me some great compliment. 

Now I've talked about before how my hair is a great pain. So has my sister. And while everyone appreciates compliments, please understand that I am losing patience with this one.

It is not as if I have chosen to have this hair. It is not something I have worked on to get this way. If you like the way I do my make-up or pick out my outfits, then I would be more apt to acknowledge the statement.

But at this point in my life, you are pointing out that my hair is different and worth hundreds in chemical products to recreate, and that I somehow got lucky because of genetics. That is not a good compliment. 

It's like me coming up to you, staring you in the face, and saying, "You know blacks would pay millions to have skin as white as yours."