These are my personal ramblings on life through the lens of my multiracial/multicultural worldview... and probably other stuff too...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Musings on Mixed Race

I have been noticing a movement.  A rumble of indignation in the world.  Many people are demanding to be acknowledged as Mixed Race... not Black and White or Asian and White... or... or...

I guess that is what I am wondering.  Is the desire to be viewed within this specific category universal?  I wonder if people who are half White experience this more than people who are half Black and something other than White.  In my life, there was a momentary lapse of identity, but for the most part I always identified as Black.  My Korean identity was never nurtured or developed.  It was not difficult to avoid an identity struggle when one half of my identity lurked in the shadows.  I really only experienced one really difficult time in my life as a person caught between two worlds - the LA riots.  I had to defend Blacks to Koreans and Koreans to Blacks.  I am thankful that episode was short lived and not very traumatic.  So, based on my experience, I wonder what it is like for others like me - the Black/not-White biracial folks.  Is it easier to identify as Black?  Or are they feeling what (it seems) many Black/White or Asian/White or other White/??? are feeling?  A desire to embrace a Mixed Race identity rather than identifying more with one race or the other or with asserting that one is half of this and half of that.

I'm inclined to think that the experience is different for those of us who are not half White.  I think that there is a lot more baggage for those who are.  Especially if they are Black/White.  For me, there just wasn't a history of one half of my heritage having oppressed the other half of my heritage.  I honestly never really gave it much thought until I started reading more about the assertion of a Mixed Race identity.  Perhaps it really does represent a new way of looking at race.  Perhaps it is a way that we can honor the richness of heritage without focusing on the baggage that comes with it.  In counseling there is the idea of the creation of the New; creating a new story (Ivey, Ivey & Zalaquett, 2010).  In America, in the world, this is the creation of a new story.  It is a new way of looking at race.  Eventually we will be so intertwined within races, ethnicities and cultures that the only practical way to identify will be 'Mixed Race.' 

The truth is that despite the similarities of our many stories, we each experience mixed race identities in different ways.  Everyone has a unique experience.  While I identify as Black, I am very proud to be half Korean.  I am always looking for ways to infuse Korean culture into my life and now into my daughter's life.  I am biracial.  My daughter is multiracial.  We are Mixed Race.  We are part of the Highbred Nation.  And our numbers are growing.  I hope the world is ready to get with the program.

Ivey, A., Ivey, M. & Zalaquett, C.  (2010).  Intentional Interviewing and Counseling (p. 240). Belmont: Brooks/Cole.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another Perspective on Raising a Biracial Child

I read an article in Harper's Bazaar by Nandini D'Souza, who like me is a mother to a biracial daughter (  It is always interesting to be privy to someone else's story - especially one so near and dear to me.  Nandini is Indian American and her husband is Irish/German American.  Their beautiful daughter favored the father more in complexion and the result for Nandini has been interesting.  In her experience, others have brazenly questioned her tie to her child; others have assumed her role as a caregiver; others have ignored her in favor of addressing her husband; others have snapped at her as she parented.  I was dumbfounded reading about this.  She shared that she initially tried to be understanding, but eventually became aggravated and embarrassed any questioners, and then finally seemed to gain a better sense of how to navigate the murky waters of how others viewed her and her relationship with her daughter. 

While I am surprised that I have not had her experience, I am enormously thankful.  I can't say for sure how I would respond if someone were to assume that I were Bella's nanny.  I am not sure how sensitive and understanding I would be to someones lack of ability to be open minded or show care in their inquiries.  Bella is only 20 months, so I still have plenty of time to find out.  It was good for me to read Nandini's article; to know about her experience and how she handled it.  I think it will help me as I navigate the murky waters of how others might view me and my relationship with my daughter.  Perhaps I have already been sized up and questioned, but maybe the inquirer employed tact and discretion so that I remained unaware. 

I guess I get it.  I get that people are curious.  But I also think that we all have a responsibility to be appropriate; to not be offensive.  I need to use my words just as carefully as the next person.  In a world where biracial and multiracial is becoming more and more normal, individuals need to learn to understand and accept that families look different today than from years ago.  Nandini and her family are a part of the Highbred Nation and I like how she described the differences of her own brother's biracial children: "It's the difference between fluffernutter, peanut butter, and Nutella.  All different flavors, but all tasty."  Well said!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Princesses and Baby Dolls

One of the best things about the holiday season involved the thoughtful gifts that my daughter Isabella received from friends and family who love her so much.  I'd like to share two of these very thoughtful gifts that will contribute to her openness and understanding of the highbred nation...

One gift from Isabella's grandmother (affectionately known as 'Mimi') was this darling little doll from Corolle.  Calin Yang is a 12" doll with Asian features.  Isabella has dolls with White or Black or Latina features, but this is her first Asian doll!  I am really excited about the growing diversity of her collection of babies.  Currently, she is equally excited about them all. 

This is the Calin Yang doll from Corolle. Corolle

While Bella looks very different now, she looked a lot like this doll when she was born.

My sweet girl  the day she was born: May 2, 2009.  The best day ever!

Bella's aunt Kim (one of my close friends) gave her a wonderful book called: Do Princesses Have Best Friends Forever?


This is a really sweet book about best friends who have a playdate and do all kinds of fun and cool stuff.  It is not super girly, even though they are princesses.  It shows that girls can do whatever - princesses can get muddy and build stuff and have adventures and be good friends.  And I especially love that they just happen to be a little pink girl and a little brown girl - because princesses are diverse too!

I am so glad that we have people in our lives who will nourish Isabella's hybrid world.