I heart New York!

I am so f’in excited about this that I can’t even organize my thoughts. But I’m gonna try.  So yesterday, just like the first time I voted for Obama, I ran to the school where I vote to mark my ballot for…

photo 1

deblasio ask anything

Now, I must admit that though I do like what little I know of his politics and am not shy about my democratic tendencies, I was really voting for…

deblasio fam

For the guy who prompted a good friend of mine to text, “Are those his kids!?” as de Blasio delivered his sagacious acceptance speech standing amidst his family.

b655fddd6ba04c25420f6a706700a622

I voted for the man who once made the bold choice to give up some of his white privilege to live the life he wanted with the woman he loved.  For the guy with kids that remind me of me.  For the family that looks like mine did once.

-bill-de-blasio-speaks-on-571x360

 

photo 1

I voted for a future where people have learned to see this:

huddle_de_blasio_family_nym_img

and think “family.”  A friend of mine once wrote in a wonderful novel*, “What a family is should shouldn’t be so hard to see.  It should be the one thing people know just by looking at you.”  That is Truth. But for some of us it hasn’t been the truth of our experience.  And that doesn’t feel so good.

Now…maybe, soon… people will see this

New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio embraces his daughter Chiara during a campaign rally in Brooklyn, New York

or this 😉

photo 2

and think Father/Daughter, and not Age “Inappropriate” Interracial Couple?

I voted for the future I always wanted to be my present.  I left that school and I skipped up the block.  Just for, like, 17 seconds cuz I am 37 years old after all, but I just couldn’t contain the joy! I couldn’t have predicted that feeling either.  I think that even though we have the Obamas, it’s not quite the same and I figured it wouldn’t get any better than that.  It just did!   Thank you de Blasio Family and thank you New York City!  xo-Tiff

*The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

P.S. Here’s a fun, and totally non-political, article.  I love what Chiara says about seeing what other people have to go through.  She acknowledges her white privilege.  Yeah, we get a fraction of that too.

Chiara & Dante de Blasio: 5 Things To Know About New NYC Mayor’s Kids

Wed, November 6, 2013  by 

The newly elected NYC mayor’s teens are just about the coolest kids in politics — and their edgy fashion senses, trendy hairstyles, and enthusiastic participation in their dad’s campaign are just the beginning. Here’s what you need to know about Chiara and Dante!

Chiara de Blasio, 18, and Dante de Blasio, 16 are such stylish young adults that they nearly stole the spotlight away from their dad, Bill de Blasio, who was elected the new mayor of New York City on Nov. 4. Learn more about the new first kids of NYC!

5 Things To Know About NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Kids

1. Chiara and Dante are really smart! Dante is a high school junior at Brooklyn Tech, which one of the city’s elite public high schools. Chiara, is a sophomore in college at a private liberal arts school in northern California. She plans to major in environmental studies.

2. Dante’s afro is so cool that absolutely everyone is noticing! President Barack Obama even mentioned it at a Democratic Party Fundraiser in New York in Sept. 2013. He “has the same hairdo as I had in 1978,” Obama told the crowd before complimenting his look. “Although I have to confess my Afro was never that good. It was a little imbalanced.” Chiara loves switching up her own style, from sporting floral crown hair accessories to trying out dreads.

dante-de-blasio-barack-obama1

3. Dante was featured in his dad’s campaign ads, and his videos quickly went viral. Chiara also expressed that she loved being part of her dad’s campaign process. “I like understanding what’s going on better. In every way I think that I’m lucky to live the life that I live,” Chiara told NY Mag. ”I don’t have a lot of the problems that other people have. It’s very important for me to see what other people go through.

4. Chiara’s fashion sense is completely new for a first daughter of New York City. She has ear gauges, an eyebrow piercing, and a nose piercing.

5. Chiara has publicly said that her dad is not “some boring white guy,” and that his cultural awareness comes from his global projects and his own multi-cultural family! Chiara and Dante’s dad, Bill comes from German and Italian American backgrounds and their mom, Chirlane McCray is African American. “A lot of people could look at him and just see the color of his skin, but it’s so much deeper than that,” Chiara told NY Mag.

i am who i am that is that

It’s been a good long while since someone has asked me outright, “What are you?”  This dawned on me as I read the article below.  At first I figured it’s just because I’m not that ethnically ambiguous, visually speaking.  I have never thought of myself that way, though, and regardless of my self-perception I have been What are you-ed many times.  When I got to the point in the article about nationality vs. ethnicity my confusion was cleared up.  I have this conversation on a weekly basis.  Unless I literally do not engage with any “new” people.  It goes like this:

  • new person:  So, where are you from?
  • me:  Michigan.
  • new person: (usually awkward giggle goes here) I mean what’s your nationality?
  • me:  American.
  • new person: (usually frustrated sigh goes here) Okaaaayyyy, well where are your parents from?
  • me:  Kentucky and West Virginia.
  • new person: either a) gives up or b) says, Well, what’s their background?

I usually give in here saying something like, “My mom is black and my dad is white, if that’s what you’re trying to get at.” Believe me my smart ass retorts could go on forever, but who has time for this kind of bullshit conversation?  It’s true: I am not a puzzle to solve. In the past I have allowed these questions to make me feel less than the whole being that I am.  Now, they irk me. Please don’t confuse my discontent with the content of these chats with me preferring that there be no discussion.  As I said in the last post, we have to talk about it.  But with the intent to understand and connect, not to separate, stereotype or pigeonhole.  The difference is palpable.  I can feel the intent behind the inquisitions and the stares.  I no longer take it personally either way, but the pigeonholers lead me to a place of righteous indignation inside of myself that is not an optimal space from which to raise the vibration of love on the planet. So help a sister out here.  Ask yourself why it is that you want to know so badly?  Why, why, why, why, why?  I beg you to get real with yourself on that one.  I believe this will lead you to questions that are actually worth asking.  And if you’re brave enough to truthfully answer them, those answers may begin to remove the blinders that keep us immersed in the illusions of society.  The “right” questions and the honest answers will lead you out of the false self into your truth, the truth of the universe.  I’m all for asking questions.  But quality questions, people.  Progressive questions.  Unifying questions.  Not bullshit ones. And if you really must ask because you couldn’t possibly go on living without knowing which box somebody “belongs” in, please follow the advice in this article.  Especially that thing about accept the answer you receive.  Sat Nam.

i am who i am

I’m Not a Puzzle to Solve: How to Speak to Ethnically Ambiguous People

September 9, 2013 | by Kat Lazo My father is Peruvian, and my mother is Colombian, which I guess makes me ethnically ambiguous. I say “I guess” because in my eyes, this seems to be a pretty boring combination. Yet, to many people, I seem to be a hard puzzle to solve. But unfortunately for them, I’m not a puzzle. I’m a human being. And that’s the problem when approaching ethnically (or racially) ambiguous people with questions about their backgrounds: Many of the approaches are dehumanizing. I’ve had complete strangers act nice to me only to find out they were trying to win a bet as to guessing what ethnicity I was. I’ve had people stop in their tracks and shout “What are you?” as if I were an alien. I’ve had men refer to me as an “exotic animal.” I’ve had people question how American I am. All of which made me feel less than the whole being that I am. I understand where the questions come from. I have almond-shaped eyes, light olive skin, Inca facial features, and straight black hair, a combination that is curious to some people. I understand how my appearance can be foreign and interesting to many people. But that doesn’t mean that my appearance is up for public discussion. Questioning someone about his or her appearance is rude, especially if you haven’t established a relationship with that individual to begin with. But if can’t control your curiosity and you really want to know that badly, here are a few things to keep in mind when approaching people about their ethnic background.

It’s How You Ask

Stopping a complete stranger on the street to interrogate them –whether it’s about the tattoos on their body or their ethnic background – isn’t always the best approach. Why? Because you’re a stranger. People don’t owe anyone an explanation for why they look the way they look,especially someone that they don’t know. That being said, if you still feel the need to ask, don’t bombard us with a thousand questions. It’s overwhelming and insensitive. There’s also something offensive about thinking that you are entitled to ask so many questions. It’s bothersome precisely because you’re not entitled to it. Please stop asking “What are you?” It’s not the right way to ask about someone’s ethnicity, and it’s rude. Though it may be a result of ignorance as to how to ask, it makes the other person feel like an object or less than whole. It’s as if you are insinuating that we are something less than human. i don't feel like a personThe best way to ask is to be genuinely interested in getting to know a person and not just a slice of information about them. If you have a genuine conversation, it’s even possible that the person will disclose information about their ethnicity before you even ask. And if they don’t – or if they decline to answer your questions – remember thatthat’s okay. They have every right not to divulge that information.

Accept the Answer That You Receive

If you’re going to be so bold as to interrupt someone to ask such a complicated question, than be prepared for a complicated answer. Not everyone’s response is going to be as simple as you may have assumed. Remember that ethnicity is complicated in itself. It’s pretty rare that anyone in the Western hemisphere is 100% anything these days. And once you get an answer, please don’t continue pushing for more information if the response didn’t suffice your curiosity. Continuing to question someone after they’ve given you an answer is disrespectful. The answer belongs to them and them alone. The answer is not validated on whether or not it pleases you. Also keep in mind that for some individuals, perhaps those that don’t know their biological parents, ethnic background may be something deeply personal for them. In my case, I’m a mestizo (a person of both indigenous and European descent). So my dearest apologizes that when I disclose my parents’ nationalities, it does not necessarily appease your curiosity as to from where my almond-shaped eyes derive. But deal with it. Once answered, don’t keep pushing.

Expectations

If you’re going to ask such a personal question, leave your biases and stereotypes at the door. Stereotypes are bad, even the positive ones. Making generalization about an entire group of people is problematic because it limits them to exactly that – a generalization. A stereotype not only limits an individual’s personal growth, but it limits you from genuinely getting to know them. If you want to really get to know someone, leave the stereotypes at the door. “I’m Mexican.” “Oh, wow. I thought Mexicans were all really short.” Or… “I’m Filipina.” “You’re a lot prettier than most Filipinas.” These types of remarks are rude. The people being questioned have opened themselves up to answer your question, and you respond by insulting the very people he or she is associated with? How could that be construed as not offensive?

Case-By-Case Basis

No two people are the same, and therefore, no two people will respond in the same manner. Some will welcome questions and curiosity, whereas others may not. Personally, I find that I respond to people differently depending on how they approach me and depending on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I’ll play dumb. “What am I? Oh, I’m a human.” Sometimes I’ll take the opportunity as a way to teach others about my background. “I’m not exactly sure where my eyes come from because my mother has naturally almond eyes and my father’s country, Peru, has had a history of an influx of Japanese immigrants.” Or sometimes I won’t answer back because—well—I just don’t feel like it. And that’s okay. It’s my body, and I have the right to answer in any manner that I feel comfortable with – not necessarily an answer that makes you comfortable. And one of my choices is not answering at all. Remember: No matter how someone answers the question, it’s always appropriate.

Learn the Difference Between Nationality and Ethnicity

Other than “What are you?” the most commonly asked and irritating question I get is “What nationality are you?” To which, I give the proper answer: American. One’s nationality is the nation in which a person was born or is a citizen of. Another way to think of it is: It’s what’s on your passport. Ethnicity, on the other hand, isn’t as easily defined, but for the most part, it’s determined by a couple of factors, including country of origin, shared language, and ancestry. Hispanic, for example, is an ethnicity, not a race. One can be a Black Hispanic, White Hispanic, or Asian Hispanic. Ethnicity may be a little complicated, but one thing we know is this: It’s not the same as nationality. Precision of language matters. i am not-rumi I don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why I look the way I look. And it’s my choice whether or not to disclose – and not yours to force it out of me. Understand that if you are curious about a person’s ethnic background, chances are that you aren’t the only one. There have likely been plenty before you who have asked the same questions. Having to answer the same questions over and over again can get tiresome – for anyone. And having so many people question your appearance can make one feel less-than. So ask yourself why you care so much. Revaluate how important it is to attain this information rather than caring about the person themselves. The truth is, it shouldn’t matter. Because just knowing someone’s background won’t tell you who they are. But a genuine interest might.

throwback (and forth) thursday

I don’t even know where to begin with this.  It is my first official throwback.  I’m fairly certain it isn’t meant to follow a now vs. then format, but it looks like that is what I have created.  A couple of days ago i alluded to having had the best summer ever.  I did.  But it wasn’t all conventional summertime fun.  It was stuff that grew me out of the places in which i was stuck.  Believe me digging up the roots that were planted in infertile soil is likely to be uncomfortable to say the least.  It’s also likely to be the most loving and wonderful thing you could ever do for yourself – and for every one else for that matter.  Basically, I got a roadmap out of the illusion of my self and this world that I was lost in.  Does that make sense?  I’m trying to get into the habit of checking for understanding in all areas of my life.  Might as well include the blog.

Here goes:

lost

 

found

Let me be clear that these are not literal before and after pictures.  I did not start the summer off significantly larger than i am now, wearing glasses and hair that is… just… poorly straightened and….well, i could go on and on but i don’t want to be mean to me…

What these do represent however is that by the end of this summer I had completely lost the sad feeling that I had not grown up to be the person I was once on track to becoming.  The highest manifestation of myself, in other words.  I had lost my way.  Lost my way inside of myself.   It happens to everyone to some degree.  I am proud to report that after a little trauma and drama plus a truly magical trip to Maui, I am back in congruence with my true self.  Most of the time.  There are occasional flare ups of the old paradigm.  i sit quietly with them until they pass.  they always do.  i spend most of the rest of my time in absolute awe of everything.  For example, I was totally in awe when a friend on Facebook who has known me since I was a very little girl sent me a message that ended with, “When I watch you on FB, I’m always so happy to see that you’ve become the amazing woman that I expected you to become.”  I cried.  I had always thought how disheartening it may have been to some people who had known me to be such a bright, sparkly little girl, grow progressively more dull as time went on.  I don’t mean dull as in boring personality.  I mean it in terms of energy, twinkle, confidence, promise, conviction, and potential.  This is not about living up to other people’s expectations.  These expectations are the ones I set first.

I have so much more to tell you, blog.  So much.  Thank you for your patience.  You may have noticed that this blog is going through some changes.  It’s about time, I’d say.  The outer reflects the inner.  I’m trying to take this thing in a direction that is aligned with my vision for my life and humanity in general.  So, please bear with me while I sort this format out, and if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!  And by suggestions I mean, “It would be nice to have a playlist embedded here.”  Not, “Stop wishing you were white and denying your blackness” or any of that low level nonsense.  Please. Satnam.

save self from other self

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

re: carol channing or, more rumors of blackness

One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one that includes direct quotes from Carol Channing “admitting” to her blackness.  Actually, “part negro” is the way they put it back then.  Sign of the times, I’m sure.  What hasn’t changed is that people by and large are ignorant of Channing’s “blackness”.  I think maybe Carol’s a little ignorant about it herself after viewing this Wendy Williams interview in which Channing denies “it”, yet ultimately says she hopes “it’s” true.  Oh, the conflict.  I dug around for a little more info.  I came up with this gem.  Total rumor, but…

Via Some Random Thread

 

Carol Channing and Diana Ross were secretly COUSINS

channing

diana_ross

Carol Channing and Diana Ross were secretly COUSINS

My elderly neighbor, who lived in LA since childhood and spent decades working in entertainment has told me some scrazy stories, but the craziest is that Carol Channing and Diana Ross were actually cousins, and that Carol’s machinations were a big part of Diana’s ascension to lead status in the Supremes.

by: Anonymous reply 3 07/11/2012 @ 05:51PM

Carol Channing had a black grandfather so it could be true.

by: Anonymous reply 4 07/11/2012 @ 05:53PM

Channing’s from San Francisco and San Francisco lead the way with mixed marriages. They were all the same race marriages, just some white people marrying people not so white.

by: Anonymous reply 5 07/11/2012 @ 06:02PM

The legs, the smile…they do look a alike.

by: Anonymous reply 6 07/11/2012 @ 06:11PM

Channing with her parents:

 ChanningFamily

by: Anonymous reply 7 07/11/2012 @ 06:26PM

Channing’s only child, Channing Lowe:

carol and son, channing, 1965 house and garden september issue phot by john rawlings

by: Anonymous reply 9 07/11/2012 @ 08:41PM

They both have the same smile, teeth, and large eyes.

evidence piling up:

Carol Channing Soul Sister

by: Anonymous reply 12 07/11/2012 @ 08:46PM

Carol

Carol+Channing+png
by: Anonymous reply 13 07/11/2012 @ 08:47PM

Diana

diana-ross


by: Anonymous reply 14 07/11/2012 @ 08:48PM

On the “Diana Ross and The Supremes Greatest Hits” album, there is a liner note from Carol Channing commenting on her love for The Supremes.

what Loving and loving are all about

I don’t feel quite right about focusing more on Cheerios than on the Lovings yesterday.  Perhaps I did it because this is the 4th Loving Day that I’ve had this blog so felt that I’d covered that already. Or, perhaps I did it because I knew I had this one in store for today.  This article, written by the Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis (Ph.D/black woman married to a white man/woman of color and of God who stands for equal rights for all re:gay marriage) for the Huffington Post Religion blog, is all about liberty and justice for all.  On a good day I’m all about liberty and justice for all!  That there’s a place called “Middle Church” makes my heart swell.  I want to go to there.  I love knowing that Reverend Lewis exists.  I find inspiration in that knowing.  I love knowing what Mildred Loving thought and how she felt about life and love and equality, and am inspired by that too.

Let’s encourage one another to stop saying no to love.  Let’s encourage love in whatever form it arises.  Let us love that.

P.S. I also love that Willy Wonka meme, yet I have no idea what Mr. Wonka has to do with this, if anything.  That was my own find on the world wide web, not part of the Reverend’s article. Just for the record.

P.P.S. It is nearly impossible to be depressed and inspired at the same time, so let us also encourage one another to be inspired.  Or, even better, start living an inspired life yourself and watch the inspiration and the health of your community grow.

Making Love Legal

Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church

Posted: 06/07/2013

Central Point, Virginia. 1958: Richard and Mildred Loving jailed. Their crime: marriage. He was white. She was black. “We were married on the second day of June. And the police came after us the fourteenth day of July,” Mildred Loving said in the documentary “The Loving Story” (HBO, 2011).

An anonymous tip sent police to their house in the middle of the night. Making love was a crime, too, for people of different races. The police found them sleeping. They were arrested for “cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” Their marriage was illegal in 24 states in 1958.

Richard and Mildred pled guilty, and received a one-year prison sentence, which would be suspended if they left Virginia. They moved to Washington, D.C., sneaking home to see family and friends. Mildred wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy who referred her to the A.C.L.U. Richard told their lawyer, “Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

Love was not enough to mitigate the racial fear and hatred that resisted their union. It was not enough to unravel the complicated narrative of white supremacy that led to segregation, to Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws.

In Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision held that the prohibition of biracial marriage was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren and the other justices claimed that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival … Under our constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

No matter what society asserts about race, no matter what religious institutions teach about race and no matter the ethnicity of the couple, marriage is a basic civil right.

The Supreme Court changed the narrative, changed the story. And it changed the culture. According to Pew Research study of married couples (February 2012), the share of interracial couples reached an all-time high of 8.4 percent. In 1980, that share was just 3.2 percent.

The narrative of homophobia in our nation is also complicated and tragic. The culture has shaped it, religious institutions have often reinforced it, and fear feeds it. I believe that no matter what the culture asserts, adults have the civil right to marry, no matter their sexual orientation.

gay marriage is illegal so was interracial wonka

And I believe this is also true: Wherever love is, God is. The writer of 1 John says, “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.” I think it is important for congregations that teach “God is love” to also affirm the marriage of same-gender loving couples. They should have the civil right to marry and their love should be blessed in our churches.

On Sunday, June 9 at 6 p.m., at Middle Church, my white husband and I will celebrate Loving Day (celebrated nationally on June 12) and the landmark case that gave us the right to marry and live with each other. We will celebrate in hope that the Supreme Court will once again change the story, that it will rule on Prop 8 and DOMA in such a way that all couples have the right to marry in every state in our union.

Original gospel music by Broadway and television actor Tituss Burgess will be performed and there will be a renewal of vows for straight and gay couples. Burgess (Jersey BoysThe Little MermaidGuys and Dolls and 30 Rock), Alyson Palmer (of BETTY, whose music has been heard on The L-WordUgly Betty and Weeds), and Broadway’s Jenny Powers (Grease and Little Women) will solo at the event. Middle Church stands for the freedom of all couples to legally marry. During the commitment ceremony, all couples — no matter their ethnicity, or their gender or sexuality — can renew or make new vows to each other. We will celebrate loving, because we know for sure that love heals. Come and bring someone special with you!

Commenting on the similarities between interracial and same-sex marriage in 2007, Mildred Loving said,

I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry … I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That is what Loving and loving are all about.

Amen, and may it be so.

loving

…and then

It happens to be Loving Day which is what prompted me to finally get around to posting about the Cheerios.  Happy Loving Day! Interracial Marriage (black/white) has been legal for a grand total of….46 years!  That’s only ten more years than I have existed!  So in the grand scheme, if there is still a small to medium segment of the population who simply has not taken advantage of any opportunity to grow out of this debilitating mindset, well, that’s only to be expected… and it’s too bad for them… and absolutely ok with me actually.  Love people where they are, right?

4-up on 6-12-13 at 7.32 PM #5 (compiled)

4-up on 6-12-13 at 7.26 PM #5 (compiled)

Here’s a nice article that brings together the Cheerios and the Lovings.

Opinion: The importance of ‘Loving’ in the face of racism

Editor’s note: June 12 is the 46th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia,  which made interracial marriage legal in the United States.  Thousands of people nationwide celebrate that anniversary as “Loving Day’.  Ken Tanabe is the founder and president of Loving Day, an international, annual celebration that aims to build multicultural community and fight racial prejudice through education. He is a speaker on multiracial identity, community organizing and social change through design. 

By Ken Tanabe, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Racism is alive and well in 2013, and what’s striking is the recent notable examples aimed at interracial couples – or one of their children.

Even breakfast cereal commercials aren’t safe. A recent Cheerios ad depicting an interracial couple and their multiracial child got so many racist remarks on YouTube that the company had to disable the comments.

There is nothing out of the ordinary about the commercial, except that the parents happen to be an interracial couple.

But the truth is, racially blended families are becoming more ordinary every day, due to the 1967 Supreme Court decision that declared all laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional. 

Opinion: Two different marriage bans, both wrong.

Today is the 46th anniversary of that decision, and one in seven new marriages in the United States is interracial or interethnic.  Multiracial Americans are the fastest-growing youth demographic.

Number of interracial couples in U.S. reaches all-time high:

While the negative comments about the Cheerios commercial made it newsworthy, there were also many others who showed their support for the Cheerios brand.

Multiracial Americans of Southern California, a multiethnic community group, started a Facebook album for people to post photos of themselves holding a box of Cheerios. And in articles and in social media, supporters expressed gratitude to General Mills for depicting a multiracial family.

The weddings of two multiracial couples from high-profile families also prompted racist comments online. Lindsay Marie Boehner, daughter of House Speaker John Boehner, married Dominic Lakhan, a black Jamaican man. And Jack McCain, son of Sen. John McCain, married Renee Swift, a woman of color.

The reaction to these marriages is reminiscent of the response to the marriage of Peggy Rusk – the daughter of then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk – and Guy Smith, a black man. In 1967, interracial marriage was a cover story, several months after laws against interracial marriage were struck down.

Things have changed since then, but not enough.

In a 2011 Gallup poll, 86% of Americans approved of “marriage between blacks and whites.”  In 1958, the approval rating was 4%. But it makes me wonder: What do the other 14% of Americans think? Apparently, many of them spend a lot of time leaving comments online.

The election of Barack Obama inspired many of us to hope that widespread racism was a relic of the past.

And while he was elected to a second term, we must not be complacent when it comes to racism in our daily lives. We must seek out opportunities to educate others about the history of our civil rights.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wished that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  I wonder what he would think of our collective progress as the 50th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech approaches.

On June 15th, the 10th annual Loving Day Flagship Celebration in New York City will draw an expected 1,500 guests. And while many participants are multiracial, anyone can host a Loving Day Celebration for friends and family, and make it a part of their annual traditions.

We need to work collectively to fight prejudice through education and build a strong sense of multiethnic community. If we do, one day we might live in a nation where the racial identities of politicians’ children’s spouses are no longer national news, and cereal commercials are more about cereal than race.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ken Tanabe.

972137_587973641223951_425650949_n 390813_299940643381681_919990126_n

Mildred and Richard Loving

Peggy, Sidney, and Donald Loving playing, April, 1965

 Peggy, Sidney, and Donald Loving playing April 1965

now…

cheerios meme

Certainly you’ve heard of this, right?  The barrage of hateful comments left under the commercial featuring a mixed race family on Cheerios’ YouTube channel.  Comments so offensive that General Mills deleted and disabled them.  “It’s 2013!!!” is the gist of the typical response from “normal” people on the internet.  “I want to eat so many Cheerios right now,” was quite literally my response.  And I got a little choked up.  Not about the comment fiasco.  I stopped getting choked up about youtube comments years ago, thank God, and it comes as absolutely no surprise to me that hateful voices rose from the trollers. None.  So all I’m left with is this beautiful commercial, with this adorable child who makes some sincerely delightful faces depicted in a family that almost resembles mine in a way that I cannot recall having seen before.  Ever.  I am 36 years old.  I was in commercials as a kid.  I have never seen a commercial like this.  That is what is shocking.  That in 2013, this near-revolutionary advertising.  People took note, did double takes.  Heads were scratched.  Fears and tempers were flared.  Clearly this is long overdue.  So, thank you Cheerios!! Thank you for looking at your community and your consumers and seeing what is actually in front of you. And being “bold” enough to “endorse” it.  By endorsing reality, you make us face it and give us the opportunity to adjust to it.  Maybe even to like it You reflect me and all the others like me who had never experienced the normalization of our lives in a television commercial. This makes for a healthier society.  That makes for a healthier me.

And then there’s this! Maybe it’s not as bad as it seems after all.

Turns Out Americans Love ‘Controversial’ Cheerios Ad

Perhaps Racist YouTubers Not Representative of Country as a Whole

By: 
June 5, 2013

Last week, a new ad from Cheerios was deemed controversial when media outlets discovered that the racist contingent of the idiocracy known as the YouTube comment section trashed the ad for featuring a mixed-race couple and a biracial child.

But according to data from Ace Metrix, Americans like the ad. In fact, “Good for Your Heart” (called “Just Checking” on YouTube) tested the highest of six new Cheerios ads this year and garnered attention and likeability scores 9% and 11% “above the current 90-day norm for cereals.”

General Mills rightly decided not to be swayed by the rantings of deranged internet comments, telling USA Today that the supposed uproar would not affect future casting decisions.

According to Ace Metrix, the ad — created by Saatchi & Saatchi, New York — “appealed to all age/gender demographics with the exception of males over 50.” While that could be taken as a statement on racial attitudes, Ace Metrix noted that ads with babies tend to perform poorly with this demographic regardless of the race of the child.

The report, which surveyed over 500 consumers, went on to note: “The ad scored best with African-Americans, who collectively scored the ad a 721, followed by Asian Americans and Hispanics. While African Americans and Hispanics generally award advertising higher scores than their ethnic counterparts — the 721 score is 100 higher than average for African-Americans.”

And filtering verbatim commentary from those surveyed, those who specifically mentioned “couple” did so in a positive manner.

“I liked that the couple is mixed race,” wrote one respondent. “Good to see that on TV, but in a subtle manner.”

WordCloudCheerios

word cloud from Ace Metrix survey comments

confessions

1) This one’s a confession of sorts because since the Adam Lambert debacle I have not really watched any reality contestant type t.v.  And by “really” I mean never seen a full episode.  One can’t avoid bits and pieces.  Therefore, I am surprised to find myself sitting here on pins and needles so hopeful that Zendaya will win Dancing with the Stars.  The first time I watched an episode of DWTS was last night.  It happened because my mom told me about this biracial girl Zendaya who is just fantastic and a judge favorite, but may need extra votes because her parents were shown on camera and that could cost her the support of… well… “certain” viewers.  The only sad thing about that statement is that the concern is not invalid.  So I turned the show on and lo and behold… I think that if I had more time in my life I would become slightly obsessed with this girl because I just think she is spectacular and her parents are so adoring and even if it cost her votes I’m so glad that that reality is being televised!  In such a mainstream way.  So awesome! Makes me happy and brings me peace!  I kinda want to be her when I was 16.

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zendaya-parents-pic-nov-22

Zendaya-Coleman-Mother

zendaya_coleman_zendaya_and_val_dwts_season_16_cast_first_look_WoVb4RGt.sized

2) As in second confession…. In addition to Mental Health Awareness Month, May is also National Hamburger month.  Apparently I’m not one to discriminate because in the last 2 weeks I have had 3 cheeseburgers.  That’s 1/4 of my yearly burger intake!  In the last 2 weeks!  Clearly I am celebrating National Burger Month as well as MHAM and just thought you should be aware.  If burgers were alive they would probably be depressed because there is really no hope for a burger.  It will be eaten.  That would be beyond sad.

nation burger month may

SadBurger

happy?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so Happy Mental Health Awareness Month to you!

I intend to explore the impact of race on mental health, both individual and collective, in a few posts this month.  And, of course, how biracial factors into it.  Or, more accurately, how it factors into biracial.  All I know right now is that it does.

May the force be with me.

To kick things off:

Lately I’ve been pondering my dis-ease in the world and have come to think that maybe it’s why (on the whole) i don’t talk to people much.  As little as possible at least.  On a personal level, anyway.  Although I genuinely enjoy people, intend to love them even…but, my default mode is to just smile at them a lot…because eventually someone is probably going to say something that makes me feel invisible with an invalid life experience,  and that throws me right into the center of the dis-ease I walk in this world carrying.  This has led me to experience anxiety and depression.  I have experienced many things in the last 36 years, don’t get me wrong.  Many things in perfect alignment with the love, beauty, and sheer wonder of the Universe.  But if i’m honest, I will acknowledge here that the dis-ease has weighed heavier.  It has been my most constant companion, so constant I was not fully aware of it.  I just thought that was life.  This has affected my relationships, my endeavors, and certainly my happiness.  That’s most likely why I cherish my experiences of joy and freedom so steadfastly that I have a (bad?) habit of clinging to the past (perhaps missing my future.)  Nostalgia and I are super-tight.  I recently bought a latch-hook Smurf wall-hanging at a flea market.  It wasn’t all that cheap.  Totally cute,  but i don’t really want it.  I saw it and for a fleeting moment a spark of pure childhood joy was ignited and i impulsively purchased that thing.  Didn’t even try to bring the price down. (smh)
photo
Clearly I digress…what I was trying to say, I think, is that depression and anxiety have been a part of my biracial experience.  That’s why i speak so fervently about freeing the mind and spirit from the confines of racial identity and racial separation and a whole bunch of other issues we needlessly toil under the illusion of.  I am passionate about this for a few reasons.  The one I’ll give now is: because it has been my “biracial” american experience and i can only be as free from the shackles of it as is the “biracial” american community in which i live.   I don’t mean a literal community of “mixed-race” people*, but the diverse community of this country.  and yes, it extends to the global community as well because basically all i’m talking about is how we’re all the same thing.

please be well

*and on the other hand, that’s exactly what i mean because i believe that we are as a country and a species quite literraly a conglomerate of mixed-race people.  Given that on this other hand we’re still pretending that race has any real relevance.  Biological or otherwise.

mental health month calendar jpg

mental health month wellness calendar

signs

I think this list is cute.

For the record numbers 6, 9, and 16 do not apply to me at all.  I’m not sure if 13, 14, or 19 do either.  Not very important, just sayin’.

But especially not #6.  That is important.

Summer 2010 021

Not awkward, and I only “don’t look like them” if you’re only looking at color.

#2 “Growing up you experienced premature existential crises over not fitting in to one specific ethnic marker” is the one that strikes me as true in a bittersweet kind of way.  I am not sure if existential crisis was used here for humorous exaggeration, but I can genuinely relate to that.  Almost literally, but I would say racial marker, but who cares, so anyway…I am not saying that I would prefer to fit into any one specific racial marker.  I would not.  I would not prefer that anyone prefer to fit into or view themselves as exclusively belonging to any one specific racial marker.  I would really, really, really prefer that no one expect anyone else to fit into any one specific ethnic marker.

Then it wouldn’t matter that I don’t fit into one, but I look like I do, but I don’t meet the expectations set by the color, I mean, assumption.  It would be irrelevant that I don’t get counted on my terms, am rarely acknowledged or seen in the way I perceive myself. Which is kind of raceless.  But kind of not because, clearly, I’m so not raceless.  I’m race-ful. Biracial is two races.  Multi-racial is however many more than that. And that shouldn’t be difficult, but it is, so I’d like to get rid of the whole thing.  If two is nearly impossible (and not really allowed if one of them is “black”), then one race can’t be very healthy either.

Oh! Wait!  We can’t forget that everyone is multiracial in some real, dna-tested kinda sense.  So basically everyone is “mixed” therefore everyone is not allowed to be who they really are.  And the system is set up so that we are unconscious to this because it’s “normal” and so we believe in the status quo and we don’t even want to know the truths underneath all of these restrictions that we accept as natural and allow to heavily influence our lives.

Switching to a lower gear… It’s also worth mentioning that any early existential crisis(es) shaped me into the person I am, and that person is pretty cool, so I’m at peace with the challenges I faced.  As futile and unnecessary as I believe them to have been.  That is why  I am not at peace with things staying the same, or thinking staying small, or identities and lives being wrapped up in artificial boxes that must be checked to maintain the political, economical and social status quo.  The status quo needs to go.  That just came out  rhyming like that, sorry.  It’s just that there’s so much time and energy being wasted in the world on the wrong things.  In my humble and guilty opinion.  I still waste and misplace all kinds of energy.

19 Signs You Are Multiracial

DEC. 2, 2012

1. People speak to you in various foreign languages you do not understand.

2. Growing up you experienced premature existential crises over not fitting in to one specific ethnic marker.

troubled thoughts

3. People often ask, “WHAT ARE YOU?”  in tones which make you feel subhuman or extraterrestrial.

4. You hesitate before filling out the “ethnic background” section of tests/ questionnaires.

5. You feel mild guilt over not identifying with one of your cultures (i.e. you hate the food).

6. You feel awkward during get-togethers with one side of the family because you look nothing like your other family members.

7. Men (or women) use your questionable ethnicity as a means to hit on you.

8. You’ve been examined like you are some rare, exotic creature.

9. You can’t understand your grandparents’ language.

10. There is an undeniable clashing of cultures whenever the two sides of your family meet.

11. Your grandparents initially disapproved of your parents’ union.

12. Similar to a “gay-dar,” you’ve developed a “multiracial-radar.”

13. You were totally eating fusion cuisine way before Kogi came into existence.

14. Playing “guess my ethnicity” is a legitimate game.

15. You’ve lied about your ethnicity in the past just for the hell of it, or to avoid conversation.

16. Your last name doesn’t really look like it belongs to you.

17. You’ve been criticized for not being [insert ethnicity here] enough, or speaking [insert language here] well enough.

18. People you meet over the phone are surprised when they meet you in person.

19. You identify as a person of color, you just don’t know which.