what did i just do?

This right here…this is everything.  And right on time because I need a little hope right now.

102 year old Rosa Finnegan checked herself.  And though what she discovered left her feeling ashamed, she shared it anyway.  Nationally.  Nothing braver than that.  The self examination and the sharing alike.  And while I admire her and have teared up each time I’ve read the story, I can’t help but think “Damn, it took 100 years for her to ask herself ‘What did I just do?'” I am so not judging Rosa here.  I think she’s a hero. Not exaggerating.  I also understand that the racial climate into which Rosa was born in 1912 was much more “extreme” for lack of a better word.  Perhaps Rosa had much more racial bullshit to sort through than those of us born half a century or more later. So what’s our excuse?

I gotta say here, too, that Rosa isn’t a hero to me only because she was willing to explore her racial prejudice, but because she was willing to explore an aspect of herself that most of us would catalog as “bad” and then scramble to cover up, deny, suppress, ignore, or whatever.  So many avenues to attempt this kind of escape!  But the only way to freedom from this age old entanglement is through the honest investigation, the acceptance of what is found, and the willingness to shift to more holistic perspectives and behavior.  Without judgement, shame, or attachment.  Sound easy?  It is and it isn’t.  What do you do when you notice that someone isn’t white like you, black like you, mixed like you, straight like you, gay like you, rich like you, poor like you? How are your actions dictated by these observations? And are those really the things that define a you?  That define any of us?  I think not, but we sure do spend a lot of time identifying ourselves and each other by such measures.

At 102, Reflections On Race And The End Of Life

Rosa Finnegan celebrated her 102nd birthday on Wednesday. She was born in 1912 — the year the Titanic sank. She stopped working at 101 and now lives in a nursing home in Massachusetts. Time has gone by fast, she says.

Below are excerpts from Rosa’s interview, reported and produced by Ari Daniel and Caitrin Lynch.


‘Not One Bit Different From Me’

Let me tell you something that happened to me here two months ago. It’s going to be a little hard to talk about this because I’m ashamed of myself, in plain English.

One day, they came and asked me if I’d like to move to another room. And when I was taken to the other room, I saw Ada, a black lady sitting there in her wheelchair with her oxygen tank beside her. And we had a nice little chat and I left. But first thing I noticed was that she wasn’t white, like I am, which is the thing that stopped me from moving into the room with her.

And when I got back to my own room, I sat there and I said, what did I just do? Rosa, you’re not a nice person at all. I felt very bad about that, so every time I went by her room, I would go in and sit and talk with her. And I met all her family. There was always someone there from the family to be with her. If she had some cookies or candy or something, she’d always say, here, have some of this. I felt kind of warm every time I went in to talk to her. And we got to be friends.

When it comes right down to it, she is not one bit different from me. She believes in the same God I do. She has children, grandchildren. And one day, one of the aides came to me and said, Rosa, do you want to go in and talk with Ada, she’s very sick and I don’t think she’s going to make it. Well, I went in and I did the best I could. She was sort of semiconscious and I leaned over and said, hi, Ada, how are you doing? And I didn’t get any answer. And her son was sitting there. And I said, if she should come to a little bit, please tell her that I was here and that I’m thinking about her. He said, thank you, I will. That night, she passed away. I haven’t got over it yet.

Even as old as I am, you think you’re not prejudiced but all of a sudden, you really find out you are. How stupid I was. Because before you know it, it’s all over. Thank God, I had a chance to really get to know this wonderful woman.

The reporting of this story was supported by the Olin College Faculty Summer Research Fund.

heart energy burst

whatever happened to

the KKK?  I mean I know they still have rally’s and such, but to me that seems more similar to a Civil War reenactment than a gathering to further a cause.  As if they’re remembering the good old days when they had an influence.

So what happened to put the torches out?  Did skinheads take over?  Neo-nazis?  White Supremacists?  Are those simply politically correct terms for the KKK these days?  Not exactly.  Apparently the Klan got caught, convicted, and executed.  Once.  And the one time that happened, they backed off.

The legacy lives on however.  Maybe if the hoods and cloaks hadn’t been hidden away we wouldn’t be so shocked by the actions of Dunn and Zimmerman.  Or by the juries who could not bring themselves to name those actions murder.

kkk jesus saves

Here’s the case that supposedly stopped the Klan.  According to the internet, there are some who didn’t get that memo.  Seems as though we’ve taken a few steps back, unfortunately.  In this post-racial age, we don’t get convictions.

 Henry Hays and James Knowles were arrested.  Hays, convicted, was incarcerated in the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Alabama, while on death row. He was executed in the electric chair on June 6, 1997. The Associated Press reported that Hays was Alabama’s first execution for a white-on-black crime since 1913. Hays was also the only KKK member to be executed for the murder of an African-American during the 20th century. U.S. District Court Judge W. Brevard Hand sentenced Knowles, then 21 years of age, to a life sentence.  He avoided the death penalty by testifying against Hays at trial.

Donald v. United Klans of America

Popular Name:

Michael Donald Lynching Case

Shutting down the notorious United Klans
Nineteen-year-old Michael Donald was on his way to the store in 1981 when two members of the United Klans of America abducted him, beat him, cut his throat and hung his body from a tree on a residential street in Mobile, Ala.

Angry that an interracial jury had failed to convict another black man for killing a white police officer in Birmingham, the Klansmen selected Michael Donald at random and lynched him to intimidate and threaten other blacks. On the same evening, other Klan members burned a cross on the Mobile County courthouse lawn.

The two Klansmen who carried out the ritualistic killing were eventually arrested and convicted. Convinced that the Klan itself should be held responsible for the lynching, Center attorneys filed a civil suit on behalf of Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald vs. United Klans. In 1987, the Center won an historic $7 million verdict against the men involved in the lynching.

The verdict marked the end of the United Klans, the same group that had beaten the Freedom Riders in 1961, murdered civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo in 1965, and bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.

The group was forced to turn over its headquarters to Beulah Mae Donald, and two additional Klansmen were convicted of criminal charges.


19 again

Basically, I never want to hear about post-racial America again.  And I hope no one is left wondering why I would spend so much time and energy talking about race since things “are so much better.”  Because they aren’t.  We’ve just gotten comfortable pretending that they are.

Today would have been Jordan Davis’ 19th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Jordan Davis.


I don’t know what else to say about it right now.

This lady did:

How Keeping Our Sons Safe Makes It OK for Whites to Be Racists


The Jordan Davis case led some parents to give their kids “the talk.” But doing so absolves white people of their responsibility to unlearn stereotypes that scare them.

The slaying of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by a white man who didn’t appreciate his taste in music had some black people scrambling to give black boys “the talk” about how not to scare white people into shooting them…a lot of black parents who love their children are probably repeating it. I understand it.

But I don’t like it.

I don’t like it because as practical as it is, it inadvertently feeds the notion that black youths, and black males in particular, ought to capitulate to racist whites in order not to suffer at their hands.

And any white man who believes that black kids ought to turn down their music because he doesn’t like it, even if they are only sharing the same parking lot for a few minutes, isn’t seeking respect.

He’s expecting submission.

Any white store owner, or night watchman, who expects a black youth to take off his hood because it scares him, even though that black youth has no plans to do anything scary, isn’t asking for respect but for his irrational fears to be coddled.

Most of all, I don’t like it because we’ve been through this before.

In the 2002 book Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South, Charles Gratton recalled his mother’s instructions when she sent him to the grocery store. She told him, “If you pass any white people on your way, get off the sidewalk. Give them the sidewalk. Don’t challenge white people.”

Similarly, many black people who grew up during Jim Crow times remember being told not to look white people in the eye and to avoid doing things that might get them hurt or killed for being defiant or, as they would say back then, uppity.

A refusal to turn down music or take off a hoodie could translate into being uppity for whites like Dunn, who believe that black youths—who, like many of their white counterparts, are grappling with awkwardness and immaturity—owe it to them to suppress their attitude.

They don’t.

I get that it’s important to give black youths the advice they need to be able to live to fight another day, as Guns and others are doing. But we cannot forget the importance of fighting conditions, such as Florida’s “Stand your ground” law, that feed the idea that whites like Dunn can get away with fatally shooting a black youth like Jordan because he and his friends didn’t comply with their request.


Jordan Davis’ friends

We cannot forget, because something is horribly wrong when, more than a half-century after legal segregation ended, when we have a black man sitting in the Oval Office, Jim Crow-era instructions are being revived to protect black youths. These instructions have little to do with young black people being respectful to white strangers and everything to do with them being submissive to whites—with black youths giving white strangers permission to cling to fears about blackness by not being so, well, black.

And when we make black youths solely responsible for not frightening white people with their music or their style of dress or their swagger, we absolve white people of their responsibility to unlearn the stereotypes that are scaring them.

Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy, The Butler) did too:


i’m sorry but, no, they aren’t atlanta black star…

…They are biological parents of black and white children (if we’re going to identify by race) seeing as biological means they share the same DNA.  Doesn’t it?  Or does race really just mean status, leaving biology out of the equation altogether?  In that case, I guess the children are black because that’s how the world will perceive them whether their famous white parent is around or not.  Until all of that changes😉

8 Famous White Celebs You Didn’t Know Were Biological Parents of Black Children

February 13, 2014 | Posted by 


Bob Dylan


Mick Jagger


Ellen Pompeo


Justin Chambers


David Bowie


Peggy Lipton


Chris Noth

Robert-De-Niro-Children-600x321Robert DeNiro

curls are acceptable

Seeing as this is byeracial blog, it’s about time I posted about hair.  Not my own.  I really do love my hair and I suppose it’s the one physical characteristic that gives a clue as to “what I am.”  Nothing more interesting to report on that. However, this article below is much more about identity and not having a culture to fall back on than it is about curls and that is interesting to me.  More often than not, when you’re mixed, you really don’t have that soft place to fall.  The mixed experience has historically been ignored, making it nearly impossible to forge a cultural identity.  Good news:  We have the opportunity to transcend attachment to a cultural identity.  Bad news: This leaves us at the whim of the cultural identities projected onto us.


105_2119-1About a year ago, I wrote an article about how much I disliked being mixed because of my hair. These last few months, I realized that I didn’t embrace the natural hair life because of others and not me. I liked my curls and had already transitioned not knowing it. I still didn’t accept the fact that my curls were acceptable. In my mind, straight hair was the ideal. To be honest, I didn’t really know how to take care of my hair yet but the main reason I thought this was because of negative comments. Comments such as…”You should relax your hair again.”, “Your hair looks messy all the time.”, and the last and most important one was…”You need to stop trying to look black”. They always ended up going back to that one.

The race topic is one that strikes me the hardest when it comes to my hair. Many people believe that natural hair is just for blacks. They forget that the world is not simply made of blacks and whites. Many cultures and races have mixed. The end result of that is people like me. People who share features of both races or may only have features of one but who feel attached to both. I am a born and raised Dominican. If you spend a lot of time with Latinos or Dominicans, you will quickly realize that we believe we are a different race. It’s actually very confusing because there are a lot of forms that will have Hispanic/Latino as a choice for race and not for ethnicity. A lot of people will tell you that Latinos are not a separate race. This doesn’t stop us from feeling that way. The problem with this is that even though they have a lot of african heritage as well as native american heritage…they refuse to acknowledge it. It’s not a lack of education, but a lack of acceptance.

So what does this have to do with hair? If you’re black or if you’re Latino, you were most likely raised hearing negative comments about your hair. Now, you might be saying…”Well, I know. What’s your point?”. My point is that I didn’t have one or two races/ethnicity telling me I looked undesirable, I had three. This had an impact on how I felt about myself. Even though black naturals may get a lot of crap from relaxed hair women or women who naturally have straight hair… they still have natural sistas. I had and some times still don’t have a culture to really fall back on and say…”You understand what I’m going through”. The reason is that my skin is white and my physical features are mostly European. My hair is pretty much the only thing that lets you know that I’m mixed. This causes a problem because white people expect an image of me that I don’t quite complete, black people expect an image of me and Latinos/Dominicans expect a certain image of me. In comments and forums, I have received things like “Well, you’re mixed so you don’t really know the struggle”. In school, I was told my fro was a distraction (I never told anyone that). In the streets, I’ve been told…”Your skin is far too fair for you to wear your hair like this”(it was in a fro). You can take a guess at which races/ethnicity said each.

What I would like is for women to realize that you can’t really know someone else’s “struggle”. Relaxed women and natural women should stop trying to debate about what is the right choice, because guess what? It’s a personal choice. This also applies for big choppers and transitioners. It would also be nice if business people realized that curly/kinky hair doesn’t reduce our ability to work effectively. The last but the most is important is that I would like for people of all races to realize how much it hurts to be pushed away because of your skin color or your features. Usually when people think of racism, they think of whites against the minorities. The thing that most don’t realize though is that we judge each other just as much as other races do.

hair girls1

Keturah Ariel


And to include the boys…Something about the commentary on this photo of Pete Wentz reeks of nappy headed-ho…😡

white man afro: Pete Wentz ditches his straightener, looks unrecognizable


After a seemingly life-long love affair with his hair straightener, Pete Wentz has debuted a more natural, afro-esque head of hair. Gasp!

The emo rocker was launching a a new car or something, no-one knows for sure – all eyes were on his frizzy head pubes.

We’ve got to give the guy credit – he managed to get that thing poker-straight every day for years!

hair boys

you don’t even know me

I posted this video on the vlog the other day…

…and then I found this clip of Tia/Tamera’s brother, Taj, addressing the same issue.  And i love it!  Makes me wonder if males are less sensitive to these things.  I mean, I already wondered that, but now i re-wonder.  Skip to 4:00 to catch the clip…





Today would have been Trayvon Martin’s nineteenth birthday.  I wish I didn’t know that.  I wish there were no reason for me to know this information. I wish Trayvon Martin was some random guy in Florida that I would probably never have the pleasure of meeting, let alone wish a happy birthday.  But I do know about Trayvon Martin.  And I think about Trayvon Martin.  And I am grateful for Trayvon Martin.  Happy Birthday Trayvon Martin.

trayvon martin aviator

When the verdict was read, I felt it in the gut.  I’m usually not emotionally invested in trials.  I believe this was a first.  I didn’t even know I was invested until the “not guilty”.  I was stunned and disappointed and hurt.  And angry.  But mostly hurt I think.  Because Black men in America had just been given confirmation that their lives don’t matter.  Are not valued.  That’s the message I received.  You are not valuable.  And I guess that’s the message we’ve always received on some level.  Our country has relied on this notion of inferiority being taken for granted.  We don’t all believe it.  But we are working a system that is held together by it.

I’ve been meaning to start a series of “White Privilege is…”posts.  Both here and on the youtube.  So this is gonna be the first one:

White Privilege is going to the store for skittles wearing a hoodie and not being followed.  Or harassed. Or shot.  To death.


drunk history or re: mary ellen pleasant

Apparently three years have flown by since I first learned of and blogged about Mary Ellen Pleasant.  Whoa.

Anyway, I was truly delighted to come across this Drunk History segment on a Sunday afternoon #sharing.  I love that some funny creative knew of the story and decided to give it life as an inebriated tale.  The piece is actually longer, but this is all I could find on youtube.  If you have Comedy Central and On Demand you can find the entire tale in the “San Francisco” episode.  Highly recommended.

“Where was I at historic-al-ly?”


the only ‘black’ kid

Speaking of my Oakland County days, a few months ago I came across this photo on Abagond’s blog:

abagond stunned

When I saw this photo I saw myself in it.  Kind of.  For me, I could have been that speck of color in a group photo of friends going to a high school dance as easily as in posing for a family reunion photo.  And I suppose that’s the difference.  I don’t think I look much more awkward than the typical teenager in the photo below.  Not that I don’t look awkward, good lord the dress, but I’ve got nothing on the guy in the picture above.


Perhaps that’s because when (half the time) you’re the only “black” kid in your family as well, there’s less propensity to be so fraught with anxiety in similar social situations.

elkhart reunion

Maybe there’s an extra layer of ease that comes with the inner-knowing that, no matter who recognizes it or doesn’t, you belong.  Given, of course that one is able to hold on to the truth that she belongs amidst the many dissentient voices.

only black kid in class

1937-38 only black kidsonny-clark-class-1024x705can hardly imagine what it was like for this little dude in 1937