Archive for November, 2010

Ursula Rucker- Spoken Word Poet

Posted in mixed celebs on November 8, 2010 by jerlina

Mixed Celeb Time!

When I lived in Philly this woman was the talk of the town. Her name is Ursula Rucker and she is a spoken word poet who works with the Roots and King Britt and neo-soul type folks. Well I didn’t know that she was mixed until today, she’s half African American and half Italian.I doubt she publicizes her mixed heritage much because well… maybe she just doesn’t want to. Below are videos I found on her myspace page- one is her reading poetry and the other is a trailer for a movie about her.

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Vietnamese Amerasians

Posted in mixed history on November 6, 2010 by jerlina

In high school I went to see the musical Miss Saigon and in the play an American serviceman impregnates a Vietnamese prostitute. The father ends up leaving his new family behind in Vietnam. So I did a little looking around online and apparently there are thousands upon thousands of kids who have been abandonded in Asia by their American dads. These kids are known as Amerasian (or Children of the Dust in Vietnam) and are mostly found in regions with American bases or where America has waged war such as Okinawa Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and South Vietnam. This said, not all Amerasians are tragic and abandonded. My brother’s best friend in middle school was a perfectly happy and loved Amerasian guy. He lived with both of his parents and his two sisters. However abandonment does seem to be a huge issue within the greater Amerasion experience.

Towards the end of the Vietnam war (1975) the American government attempted to take responsibility for the children left behind by their servicemen by airlifting 3,300 Vietnamese children out of Vietnam and sending them to America to be adopted. This was known as Operation Babylift. Well, fortunately for us three movies have been made about the experiences of Vietnamese Amerasians:  “Operation Babylift: The Story of a Lost Generation,” “Daughter of Danang,” and “The Beautiful Country.” Here are links to the three films:

http://www.thebabylift.com

http://www.daughterfromdanang.com

http://www.sonyclassics.com/beautifulcountry

Finally a WONDERFUL link to a short article by Shandon Phan with a list of books and articles about the Vietnamese Amerasian experience:

http://www.asian-nation.org/amerasians.shtml

Vietnamese Amerasian boys

Louis Riel and the Canadian Metis

Posted in mixed history on November 6, 2010 by jerlina

This post is the beginning of a series which will highlite communities of mixed-race people around the globe! Here we go!

We will start in Canada, where half of my family is from. In fact Louis Riel was hung for treason in the town where my grandpa grew up. Also I’m fairly certain that I have Metis relatives because my grandpa mentioned that his grandfather, who was a Scottish guy who worked for the Hudson Bay Company, had a Native wife in addition to his Scottish wife.

Louis David Riel was a Canadian politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba, and leader of the Métis people (an ethnic group of mixed Cree, Ojibwa, Saulteaux, French Canadian, Scottish, and English descent) of the Canadian prairies. He led two resistance movements against the Canadian government and its first post-Confederation Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Riel sought to preserve Métis rights and culture as their homelands in the Northwest came progressively under the Canadian sphere of influence. He is regarded by many as a Canadian folk hero today.

The Métis  are an indigenous First People of Canada who trace their descent to mixed European and First Nations parentage.  The majority of Métis who self-identify today are the direct result of Métis intermarrying with other Métis.

During the height of the North American fur trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, many British, Scottish and French-Canadian fur traders married First Nations and Inuit women, mainly First Nations Cree, Ojibwa, or Saulteaux. The majority of these fur traders were French and Catholic. Therefore, their children, the Métis, were exposed to both the Catholic and indigenous belief systems, thus creating a new distinct aboriginal people in North America. First Nations women were the link between cultures, they not only provided companionship for the fur traders, but also aided in their survival. First Nations women were able to translate the language, sew new clothing for their husbands, and generally were involved in resolving any cultural issues that arose. The First Peoples had survived in the harsh west for thousands of years, so the fur traders benefited greatly from their First Nations wives’ knowledge of the land and its resources.

The Métis played a vital role in the success of the western fur trade. Not only were the Métis skilled hunters, but they were also raised to appreciate both Aboriginal and European cultures. Métis understanding of both societies and customs helped bridge cultural gaps, resulting in better trading relationships. The Hudson’s Bay Company discouraged unions between their fur traders and First Nations and Inuit woman, while the North West Company (the French fur trading company) supported such marriages. The Métis were valuable employees of both fur trade companies, due to the their skills as voyageurs, buffalo hunters, interpreters and knowledge of the lands.

The Métis National Council was formed in 1983, following the recognition of the Métis as an aboriginal people in Canada, in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Métis National Council is composed of five provincial Métis organizations, Ontario having the least number of votes. They are:

  • Métis Nation British Columbia
  • Métis Nation of Alberta
  • Métis Nation – Saskatchewan
  • Manitoba Métis Federation
  • Métis Nation of Ontario.

Language:

A majority of the Métis once spoke, and many still speak, either Métis French or a mixed language called Michif. Michif, Mechif or Métchif is a phonetic spelling of the Métis pronunciation of Métif, a variant of Métis. The Métis today predominantly speak French, with English a strong second language, as well as numerous Aboriginal tongues. Métis French is best preserved in Canada, Michif in the United States, notably in the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation of North Dakota, where Michif is the official language of the Métis that reside on this Chippewa reservation. The encouragement and use of Métis French and Michif is growing due to outreach within the provincial Métis councils after at least a generation of decline.

For more info check out the wikipedia articles that I lifted all of this information from or  the online Metis Museum:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Riel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9tis_people_(Canada)

www.metismuseum.ca

Little Louis with his grandma

Happy Mixed-Hair News!

Posted in oakland on November 3, 2010 by jerlina

I don’t have so many hair issues now that I have dreads but I used to. I had big, curly, mixed-girl hair which was hell to maintane. Finding a hair stylist was part of the drama- no one, black or white, seemed to know anything about how to style and de-frizz my hair. So at last I found a truely multicultural salon which services every hair type. And they are really good! Can you imagine going to a hair salon where there are people of different races getting their hair curled, straightened, colored, cut and washed right next to each other? It’s almost unbeleivable considering that salons are more segregated than churches. So the name of the place is Hair Play, the owner Fritz looks like a mixed dude, they are in the Mission in San Francisco and here is a link to their website:

http://hairplay.com/

Secondly, when I was living in New York I randomly found a miracle product for curley hair. It is expensive as hell but I was never happier with my hair. It’s leave in conditioner made by Modern Organic Product. Here’s a link to their stuff:

http://www.amazon.com/modern-organic-products-leave-conditioner/dp/B0016FVJQC

Rabbit Proof Fence- Half Castes in Australia

Posted in mixed history, mixed media on November 2, 2010 by jerlina

I watched this movie a few years ago and thought it was boring. I want to watch it again, I doubt I would think it was boring this time around.

The basic idea is that in Australia there was a period when half white/ half Aboriginal children were taken from their homes and placed in re-education camps where they were taught to be servants for white people. They were supposedly being saved from their Aboriginal ancestry. Whoah. So this movie is about two young girls who escape from a camp and try and run home.  This makes me think that a book on multi-racial history is in order- we need a record of this crazy bullshit.

Colonial Mix

Posted in my theories about race that are true on November 1, 2010 by jerlina

This morning I was talking with a friend about tensions between Natives and Hipppies in this small town where I’ve been living. This guy is a hippie and he was telling me about this native dinner that he went to where a guy repeatedly spoke about “us and them.” This language really bothered my friend. I thought to myself, “I wonder what it’s like to be half native and half hippie?” I met a guy a few nights ago, a young radical native guy, who told me “let me tell you, the Indian wars are NOT over.” Again, I wonder about the position of mixed people in this war.

So this leads me to make an obvious statement: not all mixed experiences are the same. If your parents are from waring tribes, it might be more challenging and confusing to create a cohesive identity. Here are a list of mixes that share this tense experience:

Jewish/Palestinian

French/Algerian

African American/ White American

Native American/ White American (or Canadian)

White South African/ Black South African

I guess this list is kinda lookin like 1/2 coloniser 1/2 colonised. Traditionally colonial mixes have been characterized as both the biggest sell outs (house slaves) and the most radical revolutionaries (Frederick Douglas, Louis Riel).  Well, my theory is that the more tension there is between the groups, the more distinct the mixed experience becomes. The more the groups don’t get along, the more alienated the mixed person becomes which I think, can lead to a desperation to fit in somewhere. I’m making this up but I beleive it is this desperation that leads to the intensity of stances that these colonial mixed people often take, in favor of one side or the other.

Currently I am living in a place where white and black people are living together pretty harmoniously and I don’t feel any tension around my own racial identity. I don’t feel a need to chose sides or assert my own unique identity. However when I’m in environments which are disharmonious I feel really stressed about chosing sides and my own identity construction.

I wish I could interview mixed people whose parents are members of waring tribes. I’ve thought a bunch about finding mixed people who are half Palestinian and half Israeli and interviewing them. That would be really interesting.