Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Honeysmoke, a mother of two and blogger is calling all mothers

She is looking for moms who are raising biracial and mulitiracial children for a survey she'll conduct in 2011 for a book she's working on. She's already had some pieces in print, and is inviting you to join her on this mothering journey. You can sign up at her site: http://www.honeysmoke.com/, and read her post.

Next Biracial/Interracial Playdate is December 14

The next playdate is Tuesday, December 14 at West Town Mall's play area. To view the details or join the group, visit knoxmoms.com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Marmon Silko

"I will tell you something about stories . . . They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death"--Leslie Marmon Silko. Learn More.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't ask a colleague this...

I really wanted to share this arcticle because it hits home in so many ways. It's called "8 Things NEVER to Say to a Mixed-Race Colleague" by Yogi Cole. The first question the author discusses is appropriately,
"What are you?"

The last time I was asked that question (in a way that bothered me), it went something like this [names and details changed]:

Boss: Belle, I'd like you to meet our newest "insert job position," Jane.
Me: Hi Jane, nice to meet you--
Jane: What are you?
Me: (smiling) American.
Jane: Where are you from?
Me: I was born in California, but I've lived in Tennessee so long I'm pretty much just Tennessean.
Jane: No, I mean, what's your ethnicity?
Me: Just plain old American.
(on and on... everyone getting uncomfortable)
Jane: Well, the reason I'm asking is because my daughter is in India, and I thought maybe you were Indian.
Me: I'm not Indian.

Now, under different circumstances, I would have gladly and politely answered her question. Several factors meant I wasn't going to cooperate---the most important one being that she had just met me. So, she came into the office, met everyone else (white), then met me and basically "othered" me in front of everyone. You could've heard a pin drop. Read the article.

--Thanks for Topaz Club for sharing this article

Upcoming Interracial/biracial playdate

The next scheduled playdate is coming up this coming Monday, Nov 15, 10-11 a.m. at Knoxville Center Mall.

View the playdate, and join the Knoxmoms.com group here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Knoxville play group details

Well, I decided to go ahead and set up a new playgroup! I named it "Biracial and Interracial," and you can check out the details on Knoxmoms.com.

The first playgroup is set for Wed, Oct 27, 2010, 4:30-6 p.m. at Knoxville Center Mall.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Diverse playgroups for families

Today I posted on Knoxville Mamabelle about playgroups and where to find them:

If you are ever wondering what there is to do around town, you should definitely check out some of the many listings. One of my favorite sites for event listings is KnoxMoms.com headed up by Ali James. Knoxmoms has tons of event listings, playgroups and ways for families to connect. I highly recommend subscribing to their well worthwhile weekly email newsletter. Believe me, you will never wonder what to do on a rainy day once you have loaded your mommy toolbox with the Knoxmoms site.

Additionally, I have to remind readers about all the many activies offered by our outstanding Knox Co. library system. The library's calendar of events allows you to toggle your view between libraries and types of programs, childrens, adults, etc. Library events are often listed on Knoxmoms, as well.

Finally, especially if you've just had your first child and want to connect with other parents, I'd urge you to join a playgroup. You can find playgroups on Knoxmoms, Knoxville Mommies, Knoxville Mother's Center, and so many more and by networking at many events moms frequent, such as library reading times.

In addition to playgroups, Knoxville Mommies has message boards and public events as well.

So, get out and find some fun! And feel free to contact me if you'd like more information.
But, what if you are looking for a playgroup with biracial or interracial families? So far, I haven't found one. A friend of mine tried to organize a group, but it has now been inactive for over a year, so I'm still looking for an alternative or looking to form a group myself. If you are also looking for a group, please contact me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Langston Hughes

Hughes' work includes many poems about race and also some about being of mixed race, however, I've chosen a not-so-famous poem for this entry:

Dream Dust

Gather out of star-dust
And splinters of hail,
One handful of dream-dust
       Not for sale.

Learn more about Langston Hughes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Building a library

One of the things I've been working on over the years is gathering books on biracial/mulicultural experiences and books by authors of the same description. I look forward to posting more about my reading adventures in the future.

Recently, I purchased these four books.

I have read "What Are You" but didn't have a copy of my own. I especially like this book. It's geared more toward young adults, too, which makes it a perfect addition to your bookshelf if you have biracial children, but this book deserves its own post, later.

"I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla" is a parenting book for parents of black and biracial children (I'm assuming only biracial children of African American decent, but I don't yet know), but I include it here because it's been long regarded as an excellent book on parenting.

My bookshelves are generally arranged by topic, and much of what I have is shown below.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Response to Paula Patton's Comments

I came across an article that I can't get out of my mind, "Are Biracial People Black? My Thoughts on Paula Patton's Comment" by Stuart McDonald.

Patton's comment in an article that appeared in Women's Health magazine is basically that she doesn't like the term "biracial," and feels that people who use it for themselves think they are somehow better than African Americans.

In the article, McDonald hits on what I consider to be very important foundation of discussions about race. He writes, "When Patton say that she identifies herself as Black “because that’s the way the world sees me,” we see the idea that race is nothing more than a social construction very clearly."

Instead of me plagiaphrasing his article here, instead I'll direct to please read it here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Interracial marriages in our history

My husband and I have been doing a little genealogy research lately, which is made easier thanks to sites such as ancestry.com and others. By talking with family members we have found several instances of interracial marriage in our pasts, some in the 1800s.

On my husband's side, he learned that his great great grandmother had biracial children and her husband, his great great grandfather, then, had biracial stepchildren. This great great grandfather, who was white, married his great great grandmother, a white woman who had been married to a black man previously. Apparently, her family was not happy about the union and had pressured her to divorce him. Her children from her previous marriage then, were half siblings to my husband's great grandmother, and were uncles and aunts to his grandfather. The families stayed in touch at family reunions into the 1950s and 60s. My husband learned this information during a conversation with his last living great aunt last weekend. Amazingly, no one had mentioned this information to him before despite his marriage to me. On another note, his grandfather, a brother to this great aunt, was of the few older folks in my husband's family to not say anything negative about our marriage (that we know of). So, in some ways it makes sense given this history.

Both our histories indicate marriages between whites and Native Americans. For example, one of my husband's great great great grandparents had such a union, married in 1855, a white man and a Cherokee woman. Details of their union are now lost, due most likely to the negative stigmas associated with being Cherokee at that time, and also just because we so often forget to pass on our stories to our children, their children and children's children. We have a letter written from a cousin to my husband's great grandmother stating, "our grandmother would have been about two years of age when they marched the Cherokees to Oklahoma... someone could have hidden her out--some did hide out we know." She goes on to say how she wished she'd thought to ask questions when she was young while those with the knowledge were still living. Some of this information we have because of A. Randolph Shield's research in "The Families of Cades Cove 1821-1936." Cades Cove is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where my husband's great grandmother was born.

On my father's side, my great great great grandfather (black) married my great great great grandmother (1/2 white and 1/2 Native American). This grandmother's parents would have been married in all likelihood, in the early 1800s. According to my grandfather, the two did not seem to encounter problems from their families about their marriage, and in fact, were a bunch of scoundrels!

We each have two sets of grandparents (four), eight great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents, 32 great great great grandparents, 64 great great great greats, and so on. The many stories that make up who we are are practically infinite! A piece of history is lost each day we put off asking a few questions of an elder in our family. Listen to their stories, record them, and re-tell them.

Alex Haley's family passed on a few stories... which led him to eventually write "Roots."

From Haley's essay, "My Furthest-Back Person"

[The griot] seemed to gather himself into a physical rigidity, and he began speaking the Kinte clan's ancestral oral history; it came rolling from his mouth across the next hours...It was as if some ancient scroll were printed indelibly within the griot's brain..."

"About the time the king's soldiers came, the eldest of these four sons, Kunta, when he had about 16 rains, went away from his villiage, to chop wood to make a drum... and he was never seen again..."

Goose-pimples the size of lemons seemed to pop up all over me...my Grandma, Cousin George and the others told of the African 'Kin-tay' who always said he was kidnapped near his village--while chopping wood to make a drum...

I showed the interpreter, he showed and told the griot, who excitedly told the people; they grew very agitated. Abruptly then they formed a human ring, encircling me, dancing and chanting... women carrying their infant babies rushed in toward me, thrusting the infants into my arms conveying, I would later learn, 'the laying on of hands... through this flesh which is us, we are you, and you are us.' The men hurried me into their mosque, their Arabic praying later being translated outside: 'Thanks be to Allah for returning the long lost from among us.' Direct descendants of Kunta Kine's blood brothers were hastened, some of them from nearby villages, for a family portrait to be taken with me, surrounded by actual ancestral sixth cousins.

Let me tell you something: I am a man. But I remember the sob surging up from my feet, flinging up my hands before my face and bawling as I had not done since I was a baby...

Alex Haley Heritage Square

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Essie Mae Washington-Williams

"I am every bit as white as I am black, and it is my full intention to drink from the nectar of both goblets."--from "Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond."  
 Learn about her on Wikipedia

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bill of Rights

One of the best resources I found as a young adult was Dr. Maria Root's bill of rights (below) for people of mixed heritage, which is now a permanent page on this blog.

Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage


Not to justify my existence in this world.

Not to keep the races separate within me.

Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.

Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with my physical or ethnic ambiguity.


To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify.

To identify myself differently than how my parents identify me.

To identify myself differently than my brothers and sisters.

To identify myself differently in different situations.


To create a vocabulary to communicate about being multiracial or multiethnic.

To change my identity over my lifetime--and more than once.

To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people.

To freely choose whom I befriend and love.

© Maria P. P. Root, PhD, 1993, 1994
There's far too much I could discuss about her list than I could ever encompass in one post. Because of my upbringing, I don't have many concerns in the second and third section, but in the first section, several have been important.

My existence, for example. When I was a child, people would ask me if I was adopted or ask me if I considered myself to be black or white (never accepting "both" as an answer). Later, more often people would ask questions such as "what are you?" and so on.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Loving Day!

Mildred and Richard LovingImage via Wikipedia
On June 12, 1967, Mildred and Richard Loving won their Supreme Court battle, which legalized interracial marriage in America.

According to wikipeida, "Loving v. Virginia, was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States."

The young couple actually married in 1958, but had to do so in Washington D.C. When they came back to Virginia, they were arrested. The American Civil Liberties Union took up their case and fought it to the top.

Richard Loving was killed in an automobile accident in 1975, and Mildred died of pneumonia in May of 2008. Upon her mother's death, their daughter, Peggy Fortune, told the Associated Press: "I want (people) to remember her as being strong and brave yet humble — and believed in love." (Wikipedia)

The final sentence in Mildred Loving's obituary in The New York Times makes note of the June 2007 statement noted above to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia. Part of the Washington Post’s obituary read: “A modest homemaker, Loving never thought she had done anything extraordinary. ‘It wasn't my doing,’ Loving told the Associated Press in a rare interview a year ago. ‘It was God's work.’" (Wikipedia)

This case hasn't had much attention until recently. In fact, the founder of Lovingday.org stumbled upon the court case while looking for something else. He soon founded the website and it's mission statement is "to fight racial prejudice through education and to build multicultural community." Loving Day celebrations now occur all over the U.S. and it's time for Knoxville to have one too!

This year's celebrations list include Atlanta, GA as our closest location, however, over the next year, I will be busy planning Knoxville's first Loving Day celebration.

For those interested, their story was made into a film called  "Mr. & Mrs. Loving." Though my husband and I enjoyed the film, according to wikipedia, Mildred Loving disputed its accuracy. No surprise there!
Meanwhile, look over the Loving Day site. Notably, the incredible last laws to go. I will post more about the Lovings in the future.

Below image via lovingday.org from a Loving Day celebration:

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Biracial Knoxville" google search

What finally pushed me to start this blog when I've always wanted to do this? Every so often, I type in a google search "biracial knoxville" or "interracial knoxville," or I scan the listing in Metro Pulse wondering if anyone has started a group or club devoted to these topics. Nothing is ever there. We are not in a place like Atlanta, Chicago, or California where groups have formed.

But, this last time I googled "biracial knoxville" an article popped up that intrigued me: "My Worst Fear as a Mother-to-be? A Burning Cross on our Front Lawn" by Colleen Oakley published here on LemonDrop.com.

In the article, the future mom wonders what life will be like in an Appalacian city like Knoxville. She worried about racists, diversity and her child's mental well-being. All valid concerns shared by me as well.

Immediately, I was reminded of why I needed to do this (start a place where biracial Knoxvillians can connect): we are here, we want to connect, but we can't just run around going up to strangers at the grocery store. As I look over Oakley's article again, I notice she writes, "Whenever I see another interracial couple, I resist the urge to run up to them and say, 'Will you be our friends?'"

I don't necessarily have anything original to say; I'm not a future novelist, nor am I an expert on the biracial identity, interracial relationshiops, but maybe, just maybe, I can instigate some small thing here in my town: a book club, a play group, a picnic or even a Loving Day celebration in 2011.

And to Colleen, let's schedule a playdate for the little ones!

No more glancing at each other from behind our shades, interracial Knoxvillians. Let's break down barriers, meet, discuss and connect.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lenny Kravitz

"Confusion makes people uncomfortable. They can't put their finger on me."
--Lenny Kravitz

Monday, May 31, 2010

Knoxville MamaBelle is dividing

I am moving the "biracial" from Knoxville MamaBelle to here: this change has been overdue. It was time to create a separate outlet for topics related to being biracial, mixed, blended... on interracial marriage, relationships, families, and so on. Over the next few weeks I'll be working to get this blog up & running.