Mixed race and mixed reactions

 Interracial relationships and biracial children are not anything new. Many of my friends and family members are in interracial relationships, are mixed race or have biracial kids. However, it seems that our society is still having a conversation about "mixed" people as if this is a new phenomenon. Our society and culture seems to have a paradoxical reaction to "mixed" race people. As a mother of a biracial child I have experienced these reactions first hand. On the one hand people are obsessed with "mixed race" children. Before I was ever pregnant, people would say "You are going to have the cutest kids!"  I can understand this reaction because often people with great variance in physical traits often produce adorable looking children. On the other hand, American society also is confused as all hell as how to categorize mixed race individuals. The actor Taye Diggs recently came out with a children's book called "Mixed Me" in part for his son who is mixed race. Some people have criticized Taye for saying that he wants his son to acknowledge both his white and black sides. Americans seem to hate the ambiguity of "mixed people" and almost demand that they choose one race or another. The comedian Trevor Noah touches about the ambiguity of being biracial in his standup. He tells a story about when filling out an application for a bank account he was asked to check a box for his race. When he finally chose the "white" box the clerk was so confused, she did not know how to react.  My son has more fair skin and light straight hair and many people who do not know my son is biracial until they see my husband with him. Some people's reactions to my son's looks range from sweet to humorous, to downright rude. People have their assumptions about how people of one race should look or act. I believe unfortunately in this country racism is still alive and well. When the lines of race are blurred it is harder for people to discriminate against one another, and thus this may explain the need for society to classify mixed race people as one or another. Yes, there are fundamental cultural differences that exist between races, however is so hard to understand that these cultures can intermingle? American people have had a long history of intermixing and the backgrounds of most American includes a mix of more than one race or nationality, so why are people still so confused about "mixed" people?


November is here, and Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, in part because it is a low-maintenance holiday. There are no costumes, decorating, going out in crowds, fireworks or gift-giving required. You simply enjoy a good meal with friends or family. That is unless of course you participate in the black Friday madness, which I loathe because it defeats the whole purpose of Thanksgiving, but I digress. I also love Thanksgiving in part because I have so many fond memories of Thanksgivings past. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was in high school some choir members went to a local church and served food to the needy and sang. After I left for college I  wasn't able to go home for Thanksgiving, as the time and money to go back to Alaska so most of my subsequent Thanksgivings were spent in nontraditional ways with friends and roommates. My first year away I spent with friends eating on a blanket on the floor because there was no table. We ate, drank, and laughed well into the evening.  Another year my dear friend and e-mail pen pal came to visit me from Ireland and we met face to face for the first time. My college friends and I cooked her first Thanksgiving dinner with her. She was in shock at American grocery stores when we took her to the warehouse-like Winco to shop for our dinner. One year my roommate and her sister were vegan so we cooked a huge Vegan meal, with the main course being a roulade with the crust made out of lentils, which actually tasted amazing. There's been a few awkward Thanksgivings in the mix. My first Thanksgiving in California I went to a classmate's house and ate with her family who I barely knew, ate as fast as  I could to get the hell out of there. Nevertheless, I look forward to it every year. Now having my own family I look forward to starting our own traditions and memories.
I also enjoy the holiday because of the idea of taking time to reflect on our blessings. The history of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth may be suspect, and the Pilgrims and Indians probably were not really sitting hand and hand singing Kumbaya together, however the idea is what is important. There is a reason Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday. I know this because I starred as Abe Lincoln's wife in my 5th grade's Thanksgiving Day play. I'll be the first to tell you I am sarcastic, cynical and oftentimes just outright negative, but I believe taking time to count your blessing and give thanks is important. Whether or not you go around the table and say what you are thankful for, or just silently reflect, that is what this day is for. What are you Thankful for in 2015?

These are from Thanksgiving 2004 where my friend Dee flew to Ashland to visit for her first trip to the United States, and first Thanksgiving.