Monday, September 26, 2011

Have you joined Be The Match?

Be The Match is the new name for the National Marrow Donor Program. Why am I writing about it here?

Everyone's help is needed, but if you are a non-white, or if you are multiracial... YOU are needed even more.

For example:
Right now, the chance of finding a match on the Be The Match Registry is close to 93 percent for Caucasians, but for African Americans and other minorities, the chances can be as low as 66 percent. The tissue types used for matching patients with donors are inherited, so patients are most likely to find a match within their own racial or ethnic heritage. There are 9 million people on the Be The Match Registry, but only 7 percent are African American.
Wait a minute?-- "[P]atients are most likely to find a match within their own racial or ethnic heritage. What does that mean for the multiracial community? It means I better get registered!

From MixedMarrow on Facebook:
Only 3% [of register minorities in the database] are mixed race. Because not all mixes are the same combination, the actual pool of donors is lower than 3% because of the variety of possible mixes in the registry. Race holds a critical role in finding a marrow match. DNA must be similar between the donor and the recipient in order for a match to occur. For mixed patients, their monoracial parents and relatives will not match them and siblings only hold a 1 in 4 chance. Not only is race a factor, but genetic makeup of which antigens are passed down from each parent makes finding a match that much harder. Finding a marrow match has been compared at times as having the odds of “finding a needle in a haystack” or “winning the lottery.”
If this affects you as strongly as it does me, I urge you to act on your feelings and not wait another day. Registration is easy, and if you are of mixed heritage, your participation is needed so badly, that the registration fee will be waived.

If you are multiracial, biracial, visit mixedmarrow.org to get started and receive your kit. After you fill out information and do a simple cheek swab, you'll mail it in and be registered. It's as easy as that!

My cheek swab for Be The Match

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Goodreads group

If you're on goodreads and are interested, check out a new group on goodreads.com focusing on biraical, mixed race literature--http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50567.Biracial_Mixed_Race_Literature!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fresh Air Fund still needs host families for Summer 2011


A couple weeks ago I was contacted by someone from the Fresh Air Fund. FAF, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877.


They are currently still in need of 200 host families for this summer. Host families are volunteers who open their hearts and homes to children from the city to give them a "fresh air experience." Participating children are often from families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open, outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes.


This program's purpose tugs at me because I live here--in beautiful Tennessee on purpose. A few weeks ago, I walked onto my porch and accidentally scared away a deer who had been eating less than ten feet away. I regularly see wild turkey, bunnies and numerous wildlife right here at my own home, and I don't live in the mountains. Some of my favorite memories as a child are of running freely with my dog through the woods and creeks near my home. 


Unfortunately, however, Tennessee is not on their list, so I can't be a host, but the Fresh Air representative was hoping I could still spread the word about their efforts and need for host families. If you know of someone who could host and lives in the areas below, let them know about the program.



For more information, visit their site.



Monday, August 1, 2011

Natural Hair product giveaway on Curly Nikki

Curly Nikki is having a giveaway a day for many FANTASTIC hair products, many for natural, curly and/or kinky hair styles. Go here to see the list and enter to win for today... anytime between now (August 1, 2011) and the next 30 days.

You can also keep in touch on Facebook.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hair Flower Giveaway and an Etsy Treasury


I have a giveaway for this blog! But first, the details.

Several months back I started making hair flower clips. I love flowers (who doesn't?), and so I decided I might as well list them on Etsy.

As I began poking around, I discovered how to make treasuries (a group of listings from different sellers). I searched "biracial," multiracial, interracial... adoption, mixed, diversity, etc and decided to make a treasury for Richard and Mildred Loving of some amazing work from Etsy artists--discover these sellers! You won't regret spending some time viewing their work: Richard and Mildred Loving Treasury on Etsy.


Related, I had also been thinking about making a "multiracial" flower of sorts.

I'm hoping to find a flower that comes in at least three shades of brown that I can reassemble into one flower. And I haven't found that perfect flower yet, but these pictured below are what I have so far in the works.


They are small and versatile and great for those who aren't necessarily comfortable with a large hair flower. What I love about brown flowers too is that they naturally tend to look good in natural hair colors and with many skin tones. These would also make a great gift for someone if you win them but don't want them for yourself.

Wear them separately or together... both are yours if you win!




To enter, simply leave a comment on this post! I do so love giveaways! This giveaway ends on July 10, 2011. If you are an anonymous poster, be sure to leave some contact info or I will have to choose someone else. I will use random.org to determine a winner. Odds of winning should be pretty good.


My Etsy store is www.etsy.com/shop/ishasflowergarden and considering what I just wrote about liking giveaways, you might consider a Facebook "like" as well, www.facebook.com/ishasflowergarden.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Loving Day Knoxville Celebration


Richard and Mildred Loving didn't set out to do anything dramatic--they were merely two humans in love, but the State of Virginia saw it differently. In 1967 on June 12 (Loving vs. Virginia), the Supreme Court ruled anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional. With that decision, the Lovings and interracial couples of all shades were free to love and marry whom they chose. A day worth celebrating!

A location and time have now been set for a Knoxville celebration, June 20, 2011, 6 p.m. at a local, family-friendly restaurant. To RSVP or learn more about this event, contact me.
To keep in touch for next year's event, like "Loving Day Knoxville" on Facebook.

To learn more about the Loving vs. Virginia decision or to see our even listing, visit lovingday.org.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Diverse Reads at Author Cynthia Leitich Smith's Site

Every time I make an Amazon book order, I make sure to get free shipping. I often use the opportunity to add to my collection of children and young adult books with interracial themes since that's the biggest empty spot in my library. What's even better is when I can find lists that include books where the families just happen to be interracial since mine just so happens to be. What's important is for my family members to be exposed to not only stories about some of the challenges they'll face but also where the stories are just that, stories. Naturally occurring interracial stories. So hard to find lists of those, but the below author has some listed.

In my search a couple days ago, I found this link to several good lists of interracial children's and young adult's books at CynthiaLeitichSmith.com. Smith is a New York Times bestselling author and has won awards for her writing. Learn more about her on her Website and check out the "complete site map" and expand to find lists. It'll look something like this:


One of her books:

RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2001) (Listening Library, 2001) 
"The story of Cassidy Rain Berghoff, who reconnects to her family and community after the death of her best friend through the lens of a camera. Ages 10-14. For this book, Cynthia was named a 2001 Writer in Children's Prose from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers (among other honors)."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tennessee's mixed race population up by 74%

Check out the article "Complexion of Tennessee Changes," in the Tennessean. According to the article, Tennessee's multiracial population is at about 1.73 %, with the national average being 2.92%. What's significant for Tennessee is that the increase is up by 74% from the 2000 to 2010 Censuses.

The most common  mixes chosen on the 2010 Census for Tennesseans were white and black, Asian and white and American Indian and white.

Military service and time spent on a college campus were two factors contributed to the changing demographic. The article also notes the historic Loving vs. Virginia decision, which legalized interracial marriage in the U.S. Another very important factor is that some folks may have chosen one race in 2000 but decided to choose more than one in 2010.

Thanks so much, Shannon, for sending me this article!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

May Playdates

If you're interested in playdates in the Knoxville area, please send me an email at knoxvillemamabelle (at) gmail (dot) com, so that you can recieve updates/reminders via e-mail.


I also post them on the biracial & interracial group at knoxmoms.com, and playdates are usually once/month.

There are now two playdates scheduled for May! One at Victor Ashe Park and one at New Harvest--see you soon!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Derek Jeter

"I think everyone is ticklish. You just gotta find the right spots," --Derek Jeter. (source) Learn More.


from Wikipedia.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A recent loss

I was all geared up to announce my pregnancy two weeks ago, but we came home from the ultrasound in tears instead. I do want to share what I ended up writing. I'd post it here, but since I don't post as often on Biracial Mamabelle, I don't want it to be lurking on the home page for so long.

You can read it here: I'm Not Going to whisper About Miscarriage, and I'll share here also, the quick painting I did for a visual of how I was feeling (below).

My quick attempt at a visualization. The sky (soul) holds the rage while the sea (physical body) peacefully accepts the death and recovers quickly. The figure stands still and releases the anger in screams.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ouidad Hair

I have so much to say about hair that it's about time I got started! And forget about writing a five page post about it either... one thing at a time. That's why it's taken me so long to get started, in fact. I was trying to find a way to say everything: the struggles I went through, the systems I tried, the products, the politics and finally where I am with it now. 

One thing I did this past fall was go to a salon for the second time in my life. (I only got highlights the first time.) What I really needed and wanted was a good cut and maybe a few ideas. I was looking for someone who would cut my hair in a way that helped my hair not look so thin and also enhance my curls. All I could do on my own was trim and put in layers (the kind that look good on straight hair). 

I read about the Ouidad system, and the woman I'd seen before was pretty much known as the "curl whisperer" in Knoxville. She was certified and trained! So, off I went! 

The Ouidad way of cutting hair, called "Carving and Slicing" is totally different than anything I can do on my own, and most important to me, it was cut with the hair curly.

The curls are clearly defined, much more so than I could normally achieve.

Here, you can see approximately what the back looked like (and my girl swinging :)
Another pic of the front.

I'm glad I got the cut! All of my relaxed (chemically straightened) hair had been grown out, and I needed a little help getting it going. I'm also glad I got it styled. Even though I won't be using the Ouidad products, it was good to reaffirm that decision. 

The Ouidad products the stylist used were numerous! Shampoo, Conditioner, heavy duty conditioning treatment, leave in conditioner, a spray (basically a light hair spray), a gel, a pomade. Whew! The way the stylist formed the curls was similar to Teri LaFlesh's tightly curly methods (the basis for how I fix my hair). When finished, the curls were slightly stiff, so that's where the pomade came in, to give them shine and loosen them up a bit. I was able to keep the curls for about four days before I couldn't work with them anymore being that they were much too stiff for LaFlesh methods of reviving them.

From the experience, what I did decide to do was add a gel into my routine because I've never gotten the knack of how much conditioner to use to style my hair and give it decent hold with the tightly curly method. I will post next month about how I fix my hair now & what I've tweaked from LaFlesh's tightly curly to work for my thin hair.

If you live in/around Knoxville and would like to know the name of the stylist and salon, please drop me an email!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Black History Month--African Burial Ground

I'm definitely of the opinion, as are many others, that we celebrate our heritage all year long :)

However, in honor of Black History Month, I'd like to make sure local readers--and others who might drive through Knoxville on I-40--know about a great little spot west of Knoxville: an African Burial Ground. Since I've already written about all the details, I'll just send you to the post! See Here.

I was so happy to find this little jewel of history in my own backyard. Some pics:



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Next Playdate Scheduled

The next playdate is scheduled for Wed, Feb 9--Check Knoxmoms.com for the details!  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are YOU her mother?

Here's a post I originally published on Knoxville Mamabelle.
****



Holding my newborn in 2007.

When I was pregnant, my husband told me he was glad I’d soon have someone close to me who looks like me. To be more specific, he said he was glad no one would question my relationship to her. Boy, was he wrong.
Though my husband is white, he does not have blue eyes, but my daughter has the deepest, bluest eyes imaginable—to the point that strangers stopped us to comment on a regular basis while she was a big-eyed toddler. Her skin is fair, about the color of honey, and though it’s darker than most Caucasian skin, it’s the subtle contrast between mine and hers that people notice and apparently that difference exaggerates in their minds. Her hair is still very “toddler,” short with a few curls in the back and a light brown/dirty blond color.
I’ve noticed that while her father holds her close to his face (such as on his shoulders), the skin color difference between them is also apparent, but a little more subtle than the difference between mine and hers.

A friend of mine with the same looking family has two children who both have brown eyes and dark hair, and she gets the same reactions from strangers. Since her children do not have blue eyes or light hair, it seems that reactions from strangers are mostly about skin color.

The first comment that bothered me came from a family member. The person asked, “have you gotten any comments yet?” Though I knew what the person was getting at, I asked, “about what?” The person repeated, “Have you gotten any comments… since you’re black and your daughter is white?”

Wow. So that’s what that person sees? Though asking that question wasn’t necessarily mean or wrong (though I suspect it was for the person’s amusement), I was taken back by the skin color contrast that the person “saw.”

Another person, a random cashier, asked, “Is that yours?” I thought she was talking about a piece of merchandise my child must be holding, but no, she was referring to my human child. And another stranger sent her daughter over to me in a play area to ask if I was my child’s mother. The girl wasn’t far away when she tried to quietly mouth the answer to her mother.

Mostly though, people are either better at masking their question or they are just being friendly or curious. They’ll say something like, “Oh, she must have her daddy’s eyes,” or they’ll just ask, “where does she get those big, blue eyes?”

And even if people do ask in a way that I deem rude, that doesn't mean I'm interpreting their actions correctly. I could be completely wrong. Obviously, it's a sensitive topic to me.

So I’m torn. Do I answer rudely or politely? Should I see it as a learning opportunity for the asker, or should I just leave them more confused than before they asked? The questions will probably continue for a while or maybe forever, and I need to be prepared. Because of all the questions I’ve gotten, I’m never completely caught off guard, but that doesn’t mean I always have something witty filed away.

Sometimes when they ask, like when a nurse did at a doctor’s office, I act startled and stunned that I’m being asked such a question.

The only witty responses I’ve thought of so far are:

Q: Is that your daughter?
A: funny, no one ever asks her father that.
A: no, I picked her up on aisle five.

I’m not the only kind of parent this happens to. A few parents like me or ones who have adopted children who look different from themselves may experience similar instances.

An example that comes to mind is from a passage from Danzy Senna’s “Caucasia.” A biracial character, who is light with straight hair, and her black father are playing in the park when the police arrive wanting to know what he’s doing out with this young “white” girl.

I know some parents might not think this is a big deal or that I’m overreacting. Or perhaps, some think I’m confusing regular “is this your daughter?” questions with rude ones.

Maybe the following will help: Imagine you and your child (no spouse present) are holding hands, walking in a park… oblivious to the world. You pause at a park bench, resting your feet and smiling at the stranger on the opposite bench. But the stranger looks at you, then at your child… then back at you, and continues with a furled brow. As you begin to wonder what’s going on, the stranger’s face registers full disgust, the stranger’s lips purse and out comes, “are you her mother?

I know the difference.

It’s not as if experiences thus far are as nasty as the above example, but hopefully it helps explain what I don’t like about the question—the possible racism hiding beneath. Another way to think of this—and all of the stupid questions from complete strangers I get (with “what are you?” being the most common)—is the wheelchair analogy a friend of mine thought of.

Imagine you are in the frozen food isle at Kroger, piling some ice-cream in your cart. Next thing you know, another customer rolls by. You wonder why the person is in a wheel chair. But, you don’t just wonder, you ask! The customer is just riding by and you turn, see him or her, and say, “no offence… uh… pardon me, but I was just wondering… why are you in a wheelchair?”

Seriously? Have you ever asked someone that? I imagine there might be some situation somewhere that someone can think of where it’d be an appropriate question, but…

So, why do complete strangers ask if I am my child’s mother? And, what is the best response? …keeping in mind that it is not my goal to hurt people, but nor do I necessarily feel an obligation to provide the answer they are looking for either.

The thing is, I do enjoy talking about these kinds of topics… just not with random strangers who might be asking because they are uncomfortable with my family’s appearance.

So, seriously, share your ideas & thoughts!
*****

Since I originally wrote this post, only one worse incident has happened. A woman in a store came up to me and my daughter and reached out to my daughter to "return her to her mother" who was obviously NOT me--or so thought the woman. I didn't react very kindly on that occasion.

No playdates in the works for now

I'm currently in the process of moving, so I don't have a playdate planned for this month. By next month, I hope to have everything set, though, so I'll pick a date for Feb and annouce that here when I do.