Being Mixed Race In America

On May 31, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Here are two radio treats. The first is from the Brian Lehrer show, and the second is from StoryCorps Griot.

The number of mixed race kids has risen by 50 percent in 10 years. Interracial relationships are also on the rise. Terry Zealand and Faye Zealand, co-founders of the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children, discuss their interracial relationship and how things have changed since they got together in the 60s. Listeners of the Brian Lehrer Show offer their experiences about growing up as a mixed race child or raising a mixed race child. Enjoy!

Click on the link to hear Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni share her feelings about self-identity and a story from childhood where she learned the power of a word in a profound way. Enjoy!

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I Like Your Hair

On May 30, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Simone and Nadia watch me. They watch my cues. They watch how I interact with people. They are always watching. Sometimes I forget how much they watch.

When I see naturals on the street, I pay them a compliment.

“I like your hair,” I often say.

I do this because I admire natural hair. Women with natural hair are comfortable with who they are, at least in my eyes. It feels good to give and receive compliments, and I’m probably a little loose with mine.

Paying a compliment is a way to open a conversation. Most of the time, the conversation doesn’t go any farther than the compliment and a thank you. Sometimes, we exchange hair knowledge, start dropping names of natural hair web sites and gurus.

I hadn’t given much thought to this habit of mine, until Simone and Nadia started complimenting black women all over town.

At the drive-thru. At the post office. At the grocery store.

This has been going on for months, and I just realized I started it. I compliment women with natural hair. Simone and Nadia compliment any black woman with hair.

Colored hair. Curly hair. Straight hair. Doesn’t look like it has been combed hair. Bed head hair. Mind of its own hair.

That’s why I didn’t get it at first.

Just the other day Nadia complimented a woman at the drive-thru window at a fast-food restaurant. Well, I relayed the message, because Nadia sits in the back seat.

“My daughter says she likes your hair,” I said.

“My hair is a mess, but okay,” the young woman replied.

Then Simone complimented an older woman as we walked in the post office.

“I like your hair.”

“Thank you!” she said, a smile spreading across her face.

Why should we stop there? I suggest women everywhere start giving each other compliments on their hair. Hey, we could change the world.  If your girlfriends, mothers and sisterfriends ask what’s going on, tell them it’s all my fault.


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Quote, Unquote

On May 28, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

I smell bacon.

Nadia, resident meathead, letting me know she’d like a piece of bacon for breakfast.

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go

On May 26, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

School has ended, and I am sad about it.

Best I can tell, I am sad there will be less learning in the summer. We will teach. It just won’t be in a such a structured environment.

I am sad our routine will change. There’s something very comfortable about a child going to school five days a week.

I am sad one-thirteenth of Simone’s education is over. Twelve more years seems like such a small number.

I am sad Simone’s going to day camp. How can she be old enough for day camp?

I am sad Simone is growing up. Proud but sad.

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Black Is Beautiful

On May 24, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Black is beautiful, Mom told me when I was little.

I don’t know why she said it. I don’t know whether she was part of the movement or simply repeating something she had heard. All I know is I believed her – and I still do.

I believed before and after a researcher wrote a Psychology Today blog post and tried to prove that black women are less attractive than other women.

I believed as I watched how friends and strangers digested the information. Some refused to post the article or any links to it. Others urged their friends to call the magazine and complain. At least one of my Facebook friends provided updates on her cuteness throughout the day. I wish I had thought of that.

Some people may think I am unattractive. They are free believe it. They are free to say it.  Here’s the catch: I don’t have to believe them.

Was the Psychology Today article interesting?  Yes. Was it worth discussing? Sure. Did it hurt my feelings? Nope.

Maybe Mom was telling me not to seek validation from others, because it comes from within. With any luck, I can pass on that lesson to Simone and Nadia.

ETA: Psychology Today editors apologized for publishing evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa’s blog post “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” Kanazawa is also under investigation by the London School of Economics.



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Just Because

On May 22, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

I see beautiful people. A lot of them in this video. A number of curlies, including a gorgeous young curly. Men, women, children of different races and backgrounds, singing the same positive message. Enjoy Kirk Franklin’s I smile.

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Quote, Unquote

On May 21, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

That’s when Daddy lost his temperature.

Simone, recounting her father’s reaction when she decided to decorate the bathroom mirror with soap while he was napping.

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Taking Care Of Mommy

On May 20, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

It happened slowly. I like to think that’s the way it happened.

Before I had children, I took care of myself. Nothing extravagant. I simply made my skin, hair and general health a priority. I had Simone and didn’t notice much of a change. I had Nadia, and I went on auto pilot.

When trouble arose, I’d see a doctor. But preventive maintenance? Not so much. I would treat myself to a facial or a pedicure or a new outfit for a special occasion. The girls came first, and that’s the way I liked it.

Until I started feeling tired all of the time. I crashed at night, and it was hard to get up in the morning. Lab work revealed  I had low iron. My doctor suggested I purchase some iron supplements. I did as I was told, but the pills were hard on my system, and I stopped taking them. I read on a hair site that some women take liquid iron. Aha! I’ve been mixing it in orange juice it, and it works well.

With more energy, I started to take a look at myself in the mirror. I had adult acne, and I had some stretch marks I hadn’t noticed. Oh, my. I got thee to a spa, and the esthetician scolded me.

You need moisture, not oil, she said. You need to wash your face with this stuff and that stuff every day and moisturize with this stuff and use a sunscreen. You need to come back for extractions. A lot of extractions. I resisted. I didn’t have time or money for all of that.

I decided to go it alone. When I didn’t get any improvement, I went to a different esthetician at the same spa. She delivered similar news in a more gentle way and offered some recommendations for an affordable cleanser, moisturizer and sun screen. I’ve been using all of them for a few months, and my skin looks much better.

I am using unrefined shea nut butter to take care of those stretch marks. I didn’t know they existed, until I tried on a bathing suit. I was mortifed when I saw my backside in the mirror. I had slathered butters on my tummy while I was pregnant, and I didn’t get any stretch marks there. I got them in some places I had neglected. Using shea nut butter is a slow process, but I think it’s working.

I didn’t let myself go. At least I hope I didn’t. As Simone and Nadia become more independent, I take better care of myself. Thank goodness.


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Ebony’s Special Report

On May 17, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

As I turned the pages on the June issue of Ebony, I realized I hadn’t revisited the May 2011 issue. I wanted to give everyone plenty of time to digest Mixed-Race America.

For so long, if you picked up a newspaper or magazine, changed the channel to a favorite television show or watched the commercials between the shows, there was absolutely no representation of mixed-race Americans or their families.

This year alone, there has been a New York Times series on multiracial families and Ebony’s special report. Television show writers are creating roles about interracial relationships, and manufacturers have realized that interracial families have money to spend on their products.

What does it all mean? Is it a form of validation? Is it all about money? Both? Something else altogether? Discuss.

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Interesting Read

On May 16, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Check out this Psychology Today research that uses science to explain why black women are less attractive than white, Asian and Native American women. After you pick your jaw off the floor, be sure to leave a comment.

Edited to add:

Ha! Since I posted this, it seems the article has been taken down. The Root weighs in with this essay, and here is NPR’s take on the issue. Psychology Today has a new post on the matter.

ETA: Psychology Today editors apologized for publishing evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa’s blog post “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” Kanazawa is also under investigation by the London School of Economics.

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