We spent a lot of this year listening to your stories and exploring the best ways to connect. We will continue to post occasional long-form stories here, but we are moving to a mini-magazine format on Instagram. Follow us there, @MiXDLifeCommunity, for more great content from MiXD Life!
At MiXD Life, we are prepared to tackle difficult issues that come with mixed identity. At the same time, we believe you have to be able to approach life with humor. This week, we're sharing some favorite clips about the mixed experience from comedians who can relate. Enjoy!
Choosing a Race by Trevor Noah
Are You Asian Enough?
Things Not to Say to Someone of Mixed Race (note: there are one or two curses in this video)
I simply couldn’t win. So I would stand to the side, my skin naked and cracking, wondering what it would take for me to ever enjoy such topical pleasures. Years later, I discovered that both camps were wrong: when I failed to apply suntan lotion, my skin baked and died and scaled on my limbs to form a fine layer of (YES!) ash that begged for that slathering of Eucerin. Folks like me, it seems, can become ashy — so much so that there’s now an entire online world devoted to biracial kids and the battle against ash.
Thank you, David, for telling it like it is!
When we first started working on MiXD, it was a quest to create a community that we didn't think existed. As we did our homework, we realized there were dozens (hundreds, probably) of websites, Twitter hashtags, podcasts, and other resources for mixed people and families. But, it was a part-time job to find them, and that's why MiXD will soon release its Guide to the Internet for the MiXD Community! This post is a taste of what will be included.
If you're a mom, you don't want to miss Navigating Multiracial Motherhood One Day at a Time, which is hosted by Diedre Anthony who was featured right here on MiXD Life last week! (Side note: you can enter to win a copy of her book here now through 7/31!)
After you've read your MiXD Life article for the week (smile), head on over to My American Melting Pot for what creator Lori Tharps calls "cultural, colorful, and controversial" conversation.
You'll be missing out if you don't follow Multiracial Media, where you'll find great articles, podcasts, videos, and more, curated by Alex Barnett and Sarah Ratcliff, who both have personal connections to the community.
Today's guest post is from Diedre Anthony, a full-time school counselor, mother, and wife. In her blog, Are Those Your Kids?, she focuses on her experiences of raising her biracial kids in an interracial marriage. Her posts are filled with helpful tips about raising children, diversity, and curly hair as well as entertaining stories and anecdotes. She has been published by the Huffington Post, Babble & Red Tricycle.
I remember growing up on an Air Force base where interracial families were the norm. I attended school with both military and nonmilitary kids. I remember my peers asking biracial kids what they were mixed with, and the discomfort it caused them. I never understood their discomfort until having biracial kids of my own.Later that evening as I replayed the exchange in my head, my feelings changed to fury. A day that was supposed to be a fun shopping day left me confused and disheartened by one question.
I was 27. A new young mother who was utterly in love with her light skinned baby. I was shocked that people were so obsessed with the idea of our family not matching. I was used to people asking my husband and I if it was one check or two. I didn't associate their question with race--I thought they just asked because we lived in a college town and were looked young (after all black doesn't crack, right?)
Now as a seasoned mom of three, I don't get that question as much. Maybe it's because my girls actually look like me now. Or because in the summer, their skin is brown instead of tan. I'm not sure of the reason, but now I'm ready for it. I've realized that I don't owe anyone an explanation for my family dynamics.
My family's racial makeup is no one's business and I don't have to discuss it IF I DON'T WANT TO. As my children age, I know that this is something they will be faced with. Their peers will be enamored with their hair or features and they may have questions about why they look the way they do.
I never want my children to experience a moment when they are either unsure of how to identify or ashamed of who they are. One of the ways I work to instill confidence in my children is by having age appropriate conversations with them. We talk about the things they have in common with me and my husband. We not only discuss our physical features, but also mannerisms, likes and dislikes. We recently had a son and he is three months old. He is a little lighter than the girls, and they like to comment that he is close to their skin color.
My youngest daughter told a stranger the other day that one day his skin color will match. The lady looked stunned and wasn't sure how to respond. I laughed because to my children, these kinds of conversations are normal. We look at skin color as just one facet of who we are--it doesn't make us any better or worse than anyone else. This message is especially important to me given the climate in our country right now. There are so many hidden messages in the media that cause great concern for brown people.
I worry about the day my children will learn about black history in this country and associate it with me. We haven't had those conversations yet because they are too young. But one day, we will have them. Despite the difficult nature, it is my responsibility to raise world conscious children. No matter how the world chooses to identify them, I will raise them to know that they are biracial.
I will raise them to treat all people with respect, and to respect people whose ideas and lifestyles differ from theirs. Those kinds of lessons start when they are small. We started reading books with minority characters and diverse families before my children could even sit up. In my house, diversity is their normal. For some families, diversity is not their normal. They are in interracial families and struggle with having those deeper conversations about race and differences.
Today we feature findSisterhood, an app by women, for women that offers a "safe place to ask anonymous questions you have always wanted to ask other women without having to reveal your identity". findSisterhood was launched by Ana Pompa Alarcon Rawls, and as you'll read it was her mixed background that helped inspire her business.
MiXD Life: You’re in the business of connecting people. Why do you think it’s important for mixed people and families to connect?
I think the most important factor for myself is finding things we have on common. Whether it's the same language, being moms, political views, or being immigrants. I find that as soon as there is this thing we can connect over the first barrier is gone and we can connect on a deeper level. Finding other people who are mixed provides an instant connection!
MiXD Life: Before you go, tell us one fun fact about yourself!
Ana: My company from women by women was actually started by me and my husband together. He was the very first "sister" from findSisterhood.
You can download the findSisterhood app from iTunes and follow them on Twitter for updates!
People of mixed races, ethnicities, and nationalities come in all shapes and sizes, but we have some pretty special things in common. Let’s think of them as superpowers, shall we?
Cyndie Spiegel has a mission to empower 100,000 women by 2020. Her website’s tagline describes her as a “Brooklyn-based small business consultant, speaker, and all-around truth-telling powerhouse” - and after meeting her, we can confirm she rules at all of these things. She’s also half black, half white and Jewish. And she is just as clear, bold, and brilliant about her identity as she is about her business acumen.
Here’s what we discussed.
MiXD: Tell me a bit about your family.
Cyndie: My mom is white (German and Russian), and Jewish. My dad, who has passed away, is Black, African American from North Carolina. I was the first in my family to go to college and get a Master’s degree, although my amazing mom went back to school and received her Bachelor’s degree at the age of 60!
I grew up poor in New Jersey. We were raised Jewish until I was around 7 years old, when my grandmother passed. The rest of my mother’s family disconnected from us long before - they didn’t want anything to do with the Black (and poor) stuff we had going on. We stopped celebrating Jewish holidays, and I lost my connection to “whiteness,’ really. I often say I grew up in a black household with a white mother. We lived in a Black and Latino community, and always had someone staying with us (you have to pay the bills somehow!) I was surrounded by people of color and very few white folks growing up.
Today, I suppose I live a life of privilege; I’m educated, I travel. I built this life on purpose. I’ve seen both sides and made a conscious decision to go down a path that would bring me success. Poverty was never an option in my mind. And a part of me always wanted my mom to know that her choices were worthwhile afterall.
MiXD: How do you identify yourself? Do you go out of your way to share your mixed background, or do you let it come up organically?
Cyndie: I definitely identify as biracial. Since I live in NYC (Brooklyn), it’s been a while since someone asked me the “what are you?” question. For me, it’s obvious that I’m part black so it doesn’t have to come up explicitly. But, when I travel, people in other countries always ask, and when I say I’m Black they want to know what part of Africa I’m from.
Outside of the U.S., I find that people aren’t asking what your skin color is, they want to know where your family heritage is. The way we think about race is strange to them.
MiXD: How has your mixed race background influenced who you are as a professional?
Cyndie: In a lot of ways, and it’s not always positive. I once had a girlfriend tell me, “It’s not your job to cure racism.” She’s right and meant it with the best of intention. But, I have a platform, and I do feel responsible for being a mediator. That’s what I do for a living - I build communities. I coach women. I feel a lot of responsibility to be a unifier. Often times, that responsibility comes with guilt as well. To use my privilege, and pull the race card when I’m the only person of color in the room and it needs to be done. So, in some ways, it’s become my job to be neutral, and bring people together.
MiXD: What else do you want other people to know about the mixed race experience from your perspective?
Cyndie: We haven’t talked about love yet. I want people to know that choosing your partner needs to come from your heart. As mixed folks we have to love who we love and give ourselves permission for that. We have to respect love for what it is, and not tell ourselves we have to love a person of this or that background. Who we love doesn’t change who we are or how we identify.
And lastly, I think it’s so badass and important that MiXD is bringing people like us together. We are the future of what this country is going to look like; whether folks like that or not.
Sometimes you stumble across something by chance, and it turns out to be just what you needed. The Other Race is one of those things.
The Other Race is a 35-minute documentary by Terrence Flowers (AKA, The Mechanical Eye). The film features multiracial young adults adults talking about their experiences. There are two things about this documentary that stand out in just the first few minutes:
1) The intro: Terrence sets up the film by noting that the documentary is in response to the state of race relations in the U.S., and his perception that multiracial people are often caught in the middle of this tension. This is important, as mixed people often feel a responsibility to serve as a bridge, to mediate differences, and to step in when others don't. This is a theme MiXD has heard time and time again, and one that we'll write more about soon.
2) The subjects: The young people interviewed in the documentary are real. They are not among the privileged, like the biracial celebrities we put on pedestals and cite as mixed models. They are living the mixed experience in difficult circumstances, and they tell it like it is.
As the documentary goes on, you'll hear feelings and experiences that are all too common. The young woman who wanted to be like her white friends as a kid but learned she wasn't built like them. "I couldn't wear Abercrombie and Fitch, and I would never be that skinny." The person who felt Black people distrusted her because she wasn't as dark as them, and they were unapologetically skeptical of white people. Perhaps most telling, was the common experience of being told they were perceived as snobby, simply because they were biracial.
Watch the film and share your thoughts on our Facebook page!
There are a few things in this world that leave me speechless. A really good rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Some episodes of Black Mirror. Most political conversations on Twitter. But nothing paralyzes me like these little boxes:
For Latinx people, this is a complicated choice. A history of colonization and blurring of European, African, and Native American bloodlines mean that most of us don't fit into a clear racial category. And when you're half Latinx and half something else, you're mixed times two.
Some forms allow you to check Other. But, who wants to identify as "other"? Is there anything more isolating? A whopping 19 million Hispanics and Latinx people checked "some other race" in the census. How is it possible that the second largest demographic group in the U.S. doesn't have a box to check?
Other forms allow you to select multiple categories, which is cool. But, I'm still stuck because, as a person with Puerto Rican and Eastern European roots, am I white and Black? Nope. There's likely some Taíno, the indigenous Caribbean people, in my background - but can I really check "white and Native American" with a straight face? Don't think so. And I'm pretty sure I'm not Asian (although, I'll have to take a DNA test to know for sure - more on that later).
And then there are the forms that give you an out - a heartwarming box that says biracial or, even better, multiracial. Hooray! Now, I have a choice. I can answer based on skin color (white), genetics (multiracial), how people perceive me (white), or how I identify (depends on the day).
So, what box do I actually check? I'll save the big reveal for another article. For now, watch this 6-minute video on Latinx perspectives on race. Think on it. Then, let's discuss!