Tag Archives: melanin

What Makes Diversity Possible?

world baby boy girl

“Great Morning World Wide Web!  Today is a beautiful day!  We are all closer to perfection than we were yesterday.”  I’m going to do something totally out of the ordinary today.  I’m going to ask after you read this content, to exercise your imagination.  It’s going to be hard because most people who are not physically limited, see the entire world with colors.  The greens that protect our vision, the blues both above us and below us that inspire us to dream and even LOVE.  There are all the beautiful hues of flowers that in the western world are currently in full bloom.  My yard now has about 10 different hues that balance me every time I look at them.  Now imagine a world where those gifts didn’t exist.  The human experience with every single person was the exact same size, same color; eyes, skin hair etc.  That the beauty in nature was uniform and without color.   Hair was always the same texture, no variety in eye, nose or mouth shapes.  You look out on the world and the colors that ignite you and even bring you happiness didn’t exist.  I don’t know about you, but I just imagined myself right out of the joy of living.  I think if the rules applied where humans were uniform it would have to apply to nature as well.  Just try it.  You’ll see.  For anyone who feels that, “well yeah…that’s the world I want”, then this blog may not be for you, and that’s okay.  There is a blog and a world for everyone.  But for those of you who are in the right place, my point is to engage your mind.  I understand that I can’t change the world or the people in it.  Besides, the diversity of thought and physicality is truly what makes the experience.   I severely enjoy these gifts of nature.  All of the colors, beauty, and differences of existence.  I don’t want to live without them, I am working for a solution to exist and love within them.  There is a RESPECT: an act of giving particular attention to what is.  Then there is working together to find out what makes peace possible?  How can understanding happen?  What makes diversity possible?  DIVERSITY: understanding that everyone is unique.  It recognizes individual differences and encompasses RESPECT.  This is a collective effort and I feel there is not a right or wrong answer.    So after you have taken a second to visualize, please share.  What do YOU think makes diversity possible?

As always, I would like to thank you for your time & attention.  Please connect with me on Twitter @MarjorieIam.  There is also a growing audience of emerging like minds @wecheckother on Twitter and Facebook.   I look forward to growing towards a solution collectively.  Please share your thoughts.

XOXOXO,

Others’Mother

 

BLACK, LATINO & “OTHER”

Good Afternoon World Wide Web!  Today is a great day!  We are closer to perfection than we were yesterday.  Indeed we are.  I want to begin by sharing a personal, true story.  This story is one of many that began to give shape to a reality that I truly lived and learned something that before this milestone I really didn’t understand the dynamics of its reality.  It took place about 5 years ago.  This is based on a real life event so I will skew names just to protect the persons involved.  After the birth of my daughter; I’ll call my daughter Kaitlyn. I was invited to a then long time friend of mine’s house who is Dominican.  For anyone not familiar I will place some definitions in this post to give you as much of a visual as possible.  Let me begin by saying that I am not trying to attack Dominican culture, I am only trying to bring awareness and speaking from a true personal experience.

I entered the gathering with my daughter “Kaitlyn in hand.  The music and food were awesome!  There was great reception among the people who knew that I identify as African-American and there were some who weren’t as open; which was o.k.  After about an hour or so of being there, I was comfronted by a woman, who identified as Dominican.  She asked me, “Who’s baby is that, that you have?”  I smiled and said, “This is my daughter Kaitlyn.”  The woman, I’ll call her Emma gasped,  “hhhhuuuuhhhh!”  She almost scared me.  “De verdad!” She replied to me in spanish.  This means, “For real?”  I replied,” yes she is.”   I looked at Emma almost confused because she knew very well that my husband was Mestizo and from Central America.  The disbelief was the beginning of my awareness.  I tried to soften the blow by beginning to mention my husband.  Emma says, “You still with the Mexican?”  I told her, “Well yes, but my husband is from Honduras”   Emma continues to dig the hole, “Well Mexico, Honduras; they’re the same thing!”  I gave a blank stare.  Emma; “Well how is it that your daughter looks like that?”  I reply to Emma, “What do you mean?”  She goes on to talk about her two daughters and how her grandmother was “white” and her husband’s grandmother had long hair like another guest.  I replied, “Well that’s nice.”  I have to admit, it took me a few moments for the light to turn on but then I realized, that after her series of questions, she really identified me in her mind as though my family had migrated from Africa yesterday.  I honestly looked at her, before becoming more mature and thought, “She’s “blacker” than me.”  What I’m saying is that Emma’s skin was much darker than mine.  If she didn’t open her mouth and speak Spanish I would consider her just another “black” woman.   I have to give you a visual so that you can better understand.  You see, Emma and her husband were Afro-Dominican.

Afro – Dominican is a Dominican of African descent. Most Africans arrived to the Dominican Republic came to this land from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century because of slavery. Most of them came from West and Central Africa. Currently there are also many black immigrants, particularly Haitians, which can be included within of the Afro-Dominican community, if they were born in the country or have Dominican naturalization. Afro-Dominicans are the majority in the country, being mainly mulattos. -Wikipedia

Emma and her family had beautiful rich melanin content, and her hair texture was what I would identify immediately as a “black” or “African-American” woman, and so was her husband and daughters.  My heritage is also pretty interesting, but I didn’t feel the need or thought it would be useful to go down my entire lineage so that she could understand my racial dynamics.  I thought, “Is she really asking me this?”  As I looked around the room I saw every “race” and mixture under the rainbow.  I got a crash course in that visit of the racial dynamics within the “LATINO community.  They also have a very common acceptance of “Other” or “mixed” children, because this was their reality.  “Other” or “mixed” children to them are typical to be Latino.  Just as long as the children came from 2 people who identified as Latino.  It is very similar if not worse to that of American culture, in my opinion.    I even mentioned the incident to my husband who wasn’t there with me and he said, “All Dominican’s are “black.”  Even my husband, whose appearance is that of a typical LATINO; “Indian” or “Mestizo” carried some similar racial bias.

I have to admit, I’ve heard the “she looks hispanic” or “she has indian in her blood” and the long list of others to try to explain race and cultural relations.  What I found in that visit was an unwillingness from a racially black, culturally Latino women-Emma that my Kaitlyn who has a typical look and mixture of a “mulatto” from her own country, simply because I identify was “African-American.”  This is also one of the long list of occurences that birthed in my heart the need for my children and others like mine to have their own identities and not be shoved in or out of a culture or race for an unwillingness to accept their uniqueness and symbolism of unity.

I imagine that this takes place in MOST ETHNICITIES.  Mainly because an ETHNICITY is not a RACE.  It just a group of RACES or RACIAL MIXTURES that celebrate a CULTURE.  I’ve included some definitions for anyone from the eastern hemispehere or just not particularly familiar with the countries I’m mentioning.

 

Dominicans (Spanish: Dominicanos) are people inhabiting or originating from Dominican Republic. The majority of Dominicans reside in Dominican Republic, although there is also a large Dominican diaspora, especially in the United States, Puerto Rico and Spain. The population of the Dominican Republic in 2007 was estimated by the United Nations at 9,760,000.[2]—                 -Wikipeidia

Racial issues

As elsewhere in the Spanish Empire, the Spanish colony of Hispaniola employed a social system known as casta, wherein Peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain) occupied the highest echelon. These were followed, in descending order of status, by: criollos, castizos, mestizos, Indians, mulattoes, zambos, and black slaves.[9][10] The stigma of this stratification persisted, reaching its culmination in the Trujillo regime, as the dictator used racial persecution and nationalistic fervor against Haitians.

According to a study by the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, about 90% of the contemporary Dominican population has West African ancestry to varying degrees.[11] However, most Dominicans do not self-identify as black, in contrast to people of West African ancestry in other countries. A variety of terms are used to represent a range of skintones, such as morena (brown), canela (red/brown; literally: “cinnamon”), India (Indian), blanca oscura (dark white), and trigueña (literally “wheat colored”, which is the English equivalent of olive skin),[12] among others.

Many have claimed that this represents a reluctance to self-identify with West African descent and the culture of the freed slaves. According to Dr. Miguel Anibal Perdomo, professor of Dominican Identity and Literature at Hunter College in New York City, “There was a sense of ‘deculturación’ among the West Indian slaves of Hispaniola. [There was] an attempt to erase any vestiges of West Indian culture from the Dominican Republic. We were, in some way, brainwashed and we’ve become westernized.”[13]

However, this view is not universal, as many also claim that Dominican culture is simply different and rejects the racial categorizations of other regions. Ramona Hernández, director of the Dominican Studies Institute at City College of New York asserts that the terms were originally a defense against racism: “During the Trujillo regime, people who were dark skinned were rejected, so they created their own mechanism to fight it.” She went on to explain, “When you ask, ‘What are you?’ they don’t give you the answer you want … saying we don’t want to deal with our blackness is simply what you want to hear.”[14] The Dominican Republic is not unique in this respect, either. In a 1976 census survey conducted in Brazil, respondents described their skin color in 136 distinct terms.[9][14]

-Wikipedia

As always, I sincerely appreciate your time and attendance.  If you can identify, live in, or love someone who checks “OTHER” or is outside of 1 box, please show your support my liking @wecheckother on facebook and twitter.   Thank you!  Until the next.

XOXOXO,

OthersMother

 

Race, Ethnicity & Our Census

Good Afternoon World Wide Web!  Today is an OTHER day!  We are closer to perfection today, than we were yesterday. WE CHECK OTHER is here to bring attention to mixed race children coming out of outdated boxes, to educate you when possible, and eventually lead up to a real discussion about race and cultural relations in the US and around the world.  I want to begin by acknowledging that I realize this idea has many facets.  There are social class items and minority relationships that have to be considered.    I have to admit that among some of even the same people who check the singular box that I check seem to think that I am betraying the “black” race with my project.  That I am not proud of my “African” heritage.  I think most of our subcultures are guilty of extremism.  I’ve seen it in every culture that I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to.  We don’t have race problems; we have people problems.  Stereotypes and bias are road blocks.  Can we truly move forward as a nation focusing on the past?  I’m reminded of a couple that makes it 60 or 70 years together.  By this time they’ve either grown bitter or they’ve learned to take the present as the most valuable asset that they own.  We are in the present everyday.  There’s no one who can go back and change our past.  If there is, I want to meet them, only to marvel at them, but not to change a single solitary thing.  Most of us know our tests make us who we become and our resilience exemplifies our talents.  An opposite side mentality of standing your ground will not work.   The notion of standing on your side of the line and daring someone to cross it and refusing to never cross yourself.   This mentality will lay into the other side (racially) all of what you think about them, and attempt to change their mindset by forcefully displaying your own.  If you’ve ever been the only person of your racial classification in the room with a group of people of another who unsuccessfully try to relate but fail you know what I mean.  The bias, things that they like and don’t like about your race can sometimes come out in a failed attempt to relate to you.  There isn’t one race or culture that is guilty of this.   Racism is a problem in all colors of the rainbow because of the many years of forced separation, and frankly ignorance about the other side.  It’s the person who calls all Latinos Mexican, or all Asians Chinese.   A person who has never had someone at the dinner table who doesn’t a least resemble them has an extremely long way to go before grasping this concept or any other.  That problem doesn’t have a race tag on it.  Those people are only left to draw a conclusion from what main stream media gives them.       I want to share with you two articles in the NY Times that I thought you might find interesting.

NY Times Talking!!

NY Times Build Your Own Family Tree

In the late 1800’s the census included spaces for  1/4th black and 1/8th black.  There was even at points a  place for people to check mulatto with any percentile of black. The most common choices in that time were White, Black, Chinese, (the category to include all Asians) and American Indian.  That’s it.  Of course these marks were all in a turbulent time of America, where the grounds to stand on weren’t very equal.  We haven’t moved much further except for OTHER.  I would say it’s an acknowledgement that we realize that there are mixes that are going beyond our boxes but we don’t know how to describe them.  Even the boxes from the early 1800s acknowledge mixing with some of their choices, but again it was dismissed.  The “which one” are you tendency has become apart of the American culture that is deeply embed.

Someone might choose to ask me, why did you choose the name “We Check Other?” Aren’t you talking about your children?  I would reply yes,  I am talking about my children and the children of millions of other Americans and people around the world.   I’m not looking for a platform to just marvel over the “cuteness” of mixed children.  Although that is a perk, I really want to lay a true dialogue on the table.  America as we know it has changed and the more I research and look around, I see people from all walks of life trying to facilitate the conversation and brainstorm on how to move forward.  This yellow brick road will lead to DNA testing I feel.  Maybe then we can resolve some of the medical issues that puzzle us all.    Right now I CHECK OTHER for my children.  To me, the demographics themselves can’t seem to figure out the difference between race, culture, and ethnicity.  People are checking Ethnicity for race.  An Ethnicity is a group of people who collectively identify themselves as a distinct group based on various CULTURAL features such as SHARED LANGUAGE, CUSTOMS, & TRADITIONAL BELIEFS.  This has no mention of color.   I never realized this myself until I married a man who is ethnically Latino. I noticed that everyone knew the color spectrum but collectively they share pride in their ETHNIC heritage, just as American’s do.  The problem is that RACISM within their ethnicity still exists as it does in several cultures around the world.  Most commonly we equate a race to skin color, with hair texture running in a close 2nd.  Melanin is responsible for our skin tones.  Melanin ( Greek work Melas meaning BLACK) is the chemical responsible for dark pigmentation that helps protect against damage from ultraviolet radiation.  Melanin production is increased when exposed to the sun causing the skin color to deepen.  For this very reason people of darker skin are less likely to get sunburn or skin cancer than those with less melanin.  Who would have ever thought that divine creation would have created the skin to protect itself.  Popular culture makes it as though this is a curse.  I’ve always thought that the answer to some of our most puzzling medical questions are somewhere in the middle of all of us.  The place where we meet and cross.  That’s another blog post!    I’ve checked the box for BLACK my entire life and I gave birth to two children that are on 2 totally different sides of the color spectrum.  Their hair textures are even different.  There are so many really smart people scientific facts that go into explaining how and why this happens.  Unfortunately, if I go into learning and explaining the specifics I will have to charge tuition.  I’ll leave you there.  Until the next!

XOXOXO,

OthersMother