Netflix Binge Watch with Mixed Roots Stories

Do you binge watch shows and movies online? We do! We found these 6 programs on Netflix  that feature mixed roots discussions. Check them out, critically discuss them with others, and learn more! We have provided some questions to consider while watching each one, as well as further reading/resources to keep you thinking and critically looking at mixed roots stories!

 

We are just getting started with our Netflix recommendations, and we’d love your contributions. What films/TV series have you seen that are relevant? What critical questions can we explore when/after watching them? What mixed identity groups aren’t represented here? Send us an email to info@mixedrootsstories.org.

 

Trevor Noah: African American

From Trevor Noah:
Trevor Noah brings to film his unique brand of observational humor born of his mixed-race experience under the South African apartheid system. In his most recent stand-up special Trevor weaves together compelling stories with wicked smart observations on the inanity of the racial construct in the United States. The theme of Trevor’s presentation is his journey to America, because he believes he can be fully black here. A clip from Gabriel Iglesias StandUp Revolution:

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:

1) Can humor be an effective storytelling tool for change, especially on matters of race, culture and ethnicity?

2) As you watch Trevor Noah: African American, do you think his point-of-view effectively challenges our racial assumptions?

3) How does idea of mixed/blackness transfer between countries?

4) What does it mean to be “fully black?”

For Further reading/discussion:
Nancy Goldman makes an argument in her paper that humor can be a powerful tool for social change – Comedy and Democracy: The Role of Humor in Social Justice. 


 

The Fosters

From abcfamily.go.com/shows/the-fosters:
The Fosters is a one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. Stef and her partner Lina have built a close-knit , loving family with Stef’s biological son from a previous marriage, Brandon, and their adopted twins Mariana and Jesus. But how will things change when they meet troubled teen Callie and her little brother Jude?

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) What responsibilities do parents raising kids from different cultures than themselves have in teaching their children about those cultures?

2) Lina identifies as biracial – how does this affect her relationship with her partner, Stef, and her children? Do the conversations she has with her African American mother surprise you, or not? Why?

For Further reading/discussion:
Lisa Marie Rollins is a TRA (TransRacial Adoption) Activist. Her blog, poetry and live performance provide lots of insight into the TRA experience. Learn more here: https://birthproject.wordpress.com/


 

The Loving Story

From lovingfilm.com:
The Loving Story, a documentary film, tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving to examine the drama, the history, and the current state of interracial marriage and tolerance in the United States.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) What do you think were the most compelling arguments made by the Loving’s legal team to persuade the Court to rule in their favor?
2) What are some of the other Supreme Court decisions that have had a strong impact on the mixed community?

For Further reading/discussion:
For a more in-depth analysis on Loving v. Virginia and the people involved, see Race, Sex and the Freedom to Marry by Peter Wallenstein (mixedracestudies.org).


 

Parenthood

NBC recently aired the final season (season 6) of Parenthood. You can catch up/re-watch the first 5 seasons on Netflix. “Parenthood bravely and delicately take on the complexities of family life leaving viewers full of emotion after every episode like all good comedy/drama stories should! In addition to other major topics (cancer, post traumatic stress disorder and more), this series follows an interracial marriage and their child, the process of a transracial adoption and has explored an interracial teenage dating situation.” (http://mixedrootsstories.com/parenthood/)

A few key seasons/episodes:
Season 2 – Crosby and Jasmine (an interracial couple) are trying to figure out how to raise their child and if they are going to work on their relationship or continue to be separated. Addie begins dating Alex, and her parents begin to question the relationship, pushing her to move in with her grandparents. But are they questioning it because he is a different race or because he has a history of substance abuse?
Season 3 – Crosby and Jasmine work out their differences. Julia and Joel interracially adopt a son.
Season 4 – Crosby and Jasmine have a discussion with their son about race (Episode 4). Julia and Joel take on the challenge of raising their adopted son.
Season 5 – Crosby and Jasmine expand their family with a new baby girl. Jasmine’s mother has ideas of how religion should play a role in the families life.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider while watching:
1) If your child brings home a partner with a mixed background (different race, culture, religion, gender orientation, country of origin, etc.) than what you expected, would you be concerned? Why? Would you voice your concern? How?
2) In Season 4 Episode 4 Crosby realizes there are situations his mixed race son will have to deal with that he won’t be able to protect his son from. How would you or do you answer these/similar questions?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
Raising Biracial Children by Kerry Ann Rockquemore & Tracey Laszloffy, takes on identity development with mixed-race individuals within a historical context and creates a framework to assist parents, educators, social workers, counselors and anyone who works with multiracial individuals.
Donna Jackson Nakazawa wrote Does Anybody Else Look Like Me: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children out of frustration in a bookstore, when she was unable to find a book that provided guidance on how to address the situations she was facing in her mixed roots family.

The appendix of both books have lists of useful resources!


 

Rabbit Proof Fence

Set in 1930, western Australia, Rabbit Proof Fence tells the true-life story of two “half-caste” girls who were taken from their families, by the government, and placed in a camp where they are trained to be servants for white families. The hope is for these children to end up marrying white Australian men so their aboriginal blood can be bred out. The girls escape and take off on a journey to find their family.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider:
1) The United States is not the only country that has had a history of hiding unspeakable events around race/color differences. What value, if any comes, from being aware of a global mixed roots history?

2) In what ways do institutions continue to support and enforce the separation of different people?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
“My Place” by Sally Morgan

“Daughter Dies With Her Story Still Incomplete”


Black in Latin America: with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

In this PBS 4 episode series, “Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Discusses the massive influence of African ancestry on the history and culture of Latin America and Caribbean.” He goes to: Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Mixed Roots Stories Questions to consider:
1) As Gates interviews each country, how does his North American views of “Black” influence his questions, interactions, and expectations on what answers he is looking for in South America?

2) Both North and South America have a history of slavery with “Black” or African people. How are these histories similar and/or different? What lessons can be gleaned from both continents mixed roots histories?

For Further Reading/Discussion:
“Black In Latin America” by Henry Louis Gate Jr. http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/?p=31565

“Latining America: Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies by Claudia Milian
http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/?p=25463


Television Internships – DEADLINE 3/15/14

From: http://www.emmysfoundation.org/

“This is literally one of those golden ticket occasions where one is given the opportunity to see with their own eyes how the professional entertainment industry functions. The best part is you also have an opportunity to make some impressions about yourself while you’re there.”
– Ray Chang – Cinematography, University of Colorado, Boulder

The TV Academy Foundation’s summer Student Internship Program provides over 40 industry-wide internships to college  students nationwide. The program gives both undergraduate and graduate students in-depth exposure to professional television production during an eight-week summer period in Los Angeles.

“When I tell people I studied radio, TV, and film in Wisconsin, I typically get raised eyebrows in response. This internship has proven that no matter who you are and where you’re from, if you have passion and drive, you can make it in this industry. My school taught me skills, but this internship gave me more – professional experience and professional networking!”
– Liz D’Alessio – Post Production, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

“Everyone has a different “breaking in” story, and I have no doubt that mine just started with an Academy Foundation Internship.”
– Brandon Zuck – TV Scriptwriting – Drama, Columbia University

Interns work closely with their hosts and designated supervisors in order to gain maximum overview of the work process in their category.

“The Academy Foundation Internship program helps produce professionals. It’s the premiere internship to have if you want to make a notable debut in the entertainment industry. Applying was the best career choice I ever made!”
– Evelyn Blanton – Casting, California State University, Los Angeles

       Past hosts include:

  • ABC Studios
  • CBS
  • HBO
  • The Disney Channel
  • Nickelodeon
  • Fox TV Studios
  • E! Entertainment
  • NBC Universal
  • Warner Bros.
  • The Hub
  • Awesomeness TV
  • Stargate Studios
  • … and many others.

Details on How to Apply

If you have questions or need further information, please contactinternsupport@emmys.org

http://www.emmysfoundation.org/internship-programs


“Just Checking” In – by Guest Blogger Eddie Nwabuoku

Late last May, I had the television on in the background while I worked. Around that time of day it would usually be tuned to HGTV (to satisfy my inner home remodeling nerd) but if I recall correctly I had it tuned to our local NBC affiliate instead. I can’t remember what show was on, but I do remember when they cut to a commercial break. That was the first time I saw the “Just Checking” ad for Cheerios. My thought process upon seeing the commercial went a little bit like this:

“Oh, would you look at that adorable little girl?…oh, is that her mom?…she said ‘Mom’, didn’t she? She did!…look at those cheeks! Awwwww…hmmm, she looks mixed, I wonder if they’re going to show her — hey, her dad’s black…did she just pour the cereal all over him? Haha!…what a nice little commercial!…hmmm, now I’m hungry…what’s for lunch?…” And I went on with my day, and thought nothing more of it.

A couple of more times during the week I saw the ad repeatedly, on different channels, and at different times of the day. I thought it was an interesting coincidence that such a wonderful commercial should start airing so close to the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, and throughout the run-up to our annual Flagship Celebration in New York; every airing was a fitting reminder of what the Lovings went through, which made me smile when I thought of it.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, came this backlash. I heard reports of horribly unkind and quite frankly racist comments being put under the video on the General Mills YouTube channel. I say “heard reports”, because before I had a chance to see them for myself, General Mills disabled the comments section. But knowing what I know about the psyche of Internet keyboard superheroes, who use the supposed veil of anonymity as a license for misbehavior, I could guess what they were saying. The comments were obviously bad enough for the company to disable further comment.

Still, it was puzzling. What could have motivated such vitriol, even virtually? It was such a relatively benign commercial, for breakfast cereal. The “family” was wholesome and attractive, and the child actress who played the daughter could not have been more adorable. Did they have an issue with children? Cheerios? Children eating Cheerios? Cold breakfast cereal, as opposed to warm breakfast cereal? Did they have a problem with children who litter in the comfort of their own homes? What on earth was that all about?

Was the backlash driven from the fact that this commercial depicted an interracial couple? An interracial couple that had the temerity to — gasp! — give birth to a child? Or was it the racial and gender composition of the couple? Would there have been any backlash at all if the couple was (say) a white man and a black woman, or a white man and an Asian woman, for instance?

As it turns out, there was a way to find out.

Two holidays bookmarked the “Just Checking” Cheerios ad: Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. To take advantage of the selling opportunity, Kmart released two commercials: “Mommy’s Little Helper“, and “Butler in a Box“. Both feature the same naughty Capuchin monkey causing drama, and both feature the same interracial family. The father is Indian. The mother is white. They have not one, but two, kids. And the kids are each pretty clearly mixed Indian & white.

So I stood back, and braced for the imminent backlash…a backlash that never came.

Nothing. Not a single outraged tweet or Facebook post to be found.

You know that phenomenon where soon after your friend buys a white four-door car, all of a sudden it seems like every other car on the street that you see is also a white four-door car? Although I had always noticed commercials and advertising and movies and television shows that somehow featured interracial couples, post-“Just Checking” there seemed to be more and more and more. There was the series of ads for Samsung Smart TVs that featured a multi-generational Asian and white household. There’s the multi-generational, multi-racial “Family Picnic” ad for Lincoln Financial Group.

Then there was the Swiffer commercial with the Rukavinas. This real-life family comprises Zack, his wife Afi and their two children. Afi is black, and not only is Zack white, he also is an amputee. AdWeek’s article about this ad is titled “Most Inclusive Ad Ever?”

It was an entirely unscientific poll, but the results were fairly clear. The backlash was most probably fueled by the fact that the commercial showed the result of an interracial coupling between a black man and a white woman. Almost two decades into the twenty-first century, apparently, this particular pairing still was enough to raise the ire of those whose thinking was stuck in the charged racial atmosphere of decades long gone.

But, as often happens, a silver lining emerged from the dark cloud of online bigotry. In Georgia, a couple watched the Cheerios ad and was also baffled by the racist backlash. Michael David Murphy & Alyson West looked at the ad as a reflection not only of their reality (he is white, she is black, and they have a girl), but also as a reflection of a profound demographic shift in the United States. “According to the 2008 census,” as they said, “15% of new marriages are interracial. And yet, it still feels rare to see something like the Cheerios ad represented in mainstream culture.”

In response, they created the tumblr site We Are the 15 Percent, and invited readers to submit photographs of their mixed families. People from all across the country and from many countries around the world have added their family photographs to the collection. As the couple told TIME Magazine, “The site is such a natural outgrowth of our lives together; we’re in both for the long haul. We hope the site can persist long beyond its initial inspiration, and create a consistent, ongoing resource for families like our own. We can imagine that someone who submitted a wedding photo yesterday might submit a family picture, with their children, years from now!”

When General Mills released the “Just Checking” ad, representatives from the company said that although they were “a bit surprised it turned into a story…Ultimately we were trying to portray an American family, and there are lots of multicultural families in America today…and Cheerios just wants to celebrate them all.” Not only did the company stand by their commercial and what it was meant to portray, they have in fact doubled down. During Super Bowl XLVIII, one of the world’s most-watched sporting events, Cheerios debuted “Gracie“, a sequel to “Just Checking” where we learn that Gracie will soon have a baby brother. Looks like this series of advertisements is going to be around for a long while yet to come. Stay tuned!

By: February 2014 Guest Blogger – Eddie Nwabuoku
When he isn’t working on his world-changing Android app, tweeting inane yet pithy things, facebooking himself into oblivion, basking in the glow of his latest Drupal site, or speaking about himself in the third person, Eddie is the Director of Technology for the Loving Day Project.


Drake’s Mixed SNL Sketch

I have loved Saturday Night Live since its inception and have been faithful through the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s to today. There have been many ups and downs, including the lack of women-of-color, until recently. That being said, I do not recall a host so fully embracing their Mixed experience, until this past Friday (January 18, 2014). Drake shared that his father is an African-American Catholic and his mother is a white Canadian Jew, then he segued into this funny sketch Drake Bar Mitzvah Monologue – SNL Highlight (begins at minute 1:54). Enjoy!


“Sleepy Hollow” and “Almost Human” – Confronting ‘Race’ on TV

from Fox.com

from Fox.com

Both Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human have ‘interracial’ pairings. Nichole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow) and Michael Ealy (Almost Human) are really strong actors and I’m thrilled they have the opportunity to lead (at least co-lead) TV shows. Both hour-long dramas also include dialogue and story lines that look squarely at the issues of ‘race’ and racism. Here’s a terrific post by Slate TV critic Willa Paskin (@willapaskin) – with specific examples from both shows: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/television/2013/11/almost_human_and_sleepy_hollow_reviewed.html

 

Unfortunately – as I stated on the post about The Neighbors – the networks are still limiting these relationships to science fiction themes, but it’s a start.


TV Show’s Portrait of the Mixed Experience

from abc.com

from abc.com

If you are at all interested in media representations of the Mixed experience, The Neighbors is an important situation comedy to watch. It airs on ABC at 8:30 (7:30 Central) and is in its second season. The show centers around two families: The Weavers – Debbie, Marty and their three children – are a ‘white’ urban family that has moved to a gated community in search of a quieter life. Their neighbors are aliens from the fictional planet Zabvron – and they are a Mixed family. The father is European, and his name is Larry Bird (they adopted human names to try and fit in). The mother is also European, and she’s played by the wonderful actress Toks Olagundoye (whose father is Nigerian and mother is Norwegian). Her character’s name is Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Their children are Dick Butkus (‘white’ red-haired Ian Patrick) and Reggie Jackson (Tim Jo, who is Korean American). The ‘interracial’ pairings in the show include: Larry Bird and Jackie Joyner-Kersee (in a not-as-common ‘white’ man/’black’ woman match), and Reggie Jackson falls in love with the Weaver’s teenage daughter, Amber. In the second season Amber and Reggie continue to solidify their relationship, especially when it becomes threatened by a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Zabvronian who insists she is Reggie’s soul mate. Although the writing sometimes falls back on cliches and stereotypes, the actors are really strong and when the writing is good there is a lot to ponder here about ‘race’ and racism.

from abc.com

from abc.com

The first season is out on DVD and if you have time over the holidays, I’d recommend watching it from the beginning. If you want to check out one episode to see if you like it, Season 2, Episode 4 is a particularly poignant show on the Mixed experience. Jackie and Debbie have become best friends (another wonderfully portrayed ‘interracial’ relationship), but Jackie has been feeling neglected – so Debbie offers to do anything that Jackie wants to do. Jackie has an appointment to get her hair done at a ‘black’ hair care salon in LA., not everything you presume will happen happens as a result. The show doesn’t shy away from some relevant contemporary topics – and for a sitcom I was impressed at its approach.

BUT, the fact remains that the interracial couple is made of aliens – a harsh reminder that Hollywood still isn’t completely ready to embrace Mixed relationships in ways the rest of us have been doing for centuries.



Does your family “match”?

NPR’s Code Switch blog does it again.

This story was hitting the headlines across the country.  Journalists were interviewing families whose children had disappeared, thought to be kidnapped, asking them if they thought this could be their child.  Meanwhile, they were showing pictures of the couple that this little girl was found with…and she looked like them…other than the fact her skin and hair was lighter.  Then we find out…they ARE her parents!!!

Code Switch brings to light that this is not the first time that this has happened to a Roma Child.

This happens in America too…Families do not always MATCH!  Interracial families and families who have transracial adopted children are who first come to mind of families that might not visually always look the same. But families come in a variety of different sizes, shades. and make ups.  We must be cautious with first impressions on our ideas of what is a “family” and what “family” looks like.

 

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/10/25/240865629/roma-children-removals-make-us-wonder-what-family-looks-like?sc=ipad&f=1001


Black and Latino

This mini-documentary, assigned in the Mixed Race Experiences course at Arizona State University, speaks to being mixed Black/Latino in America.  Actors, singers, and journalists share their story on topics of language, skin tone, hair, and familial pressures (i.e. Laz Alonso, Tatyana Ali, Gina Torres, Judy Reyes, Christina Milian, Soledad O’Brien and more).  They also speak about difficulties they have had in being cast due to their mixed heritage.

Black and Latino

http://www.mun2.tv/watch/shorts/black-and-latino