Interracial Dating

Being the products of an interracial marriage, we never felt the need to limit ourselves to a certain race when dating. Being interracial meant just about any and all relationships we engaged in would be an interracial relationship, but this didn’t stop society from having a say in our dating lives.

Alexis’ Dating Story:
My friends always used to asked my why I never dated “white” guys, and my response was always “they’re just not into me”, and we’d end up laughing it off like it was nothing. But then one of my “white” friends told me that “they’re just intimidated by us”. So I always wondered am I really that intimidating? I’d always hear from others and my mom “don’t lower your standards, you can have any guy you want”, but I never really captured the whole essence to that advice that was given. It’s like in society, we put mixed kids in a category of “out of this world”, like we are “the catch” to have. I have had a friend tell me that he likes dating mixed girls because “we’re a challenge”. It is as if we’re unicorns among a herd of mustangs, standing out some way because our hair and skin color is just different. Our background is a little bit of both worlds so it’s follows the whole “get you a girl who can do both” as they say. I am currently dating an African American guy in relationship that isn’t seen as a challenge or a game, but a companionship where we help each other to improve, and grow to be the best versions of ourselves.

Amanda’s Dating Story:
Through high school and my first years of college it just so happened that I dated mainly African American (black) guys and even one guy that was interracial like myself. We never received any odd stares or comments about being together because of how we looked. It wasn’t until my Junior of college that I began dating my current boyfriend, who just so happens to be Caucasian (white). Things just clicked between us and we are happy to be together, but I have realized the perception of our relationship changes before and after they see us together. We get odd looks from time to time, and the occasional question, if our families approve of us being together, but neither of these were typical when I dated the African American guys. Friends have admitted that after meeting my boyfriend, or seeing him for the first time, they were expecting for him to be a black guy. After spending time with us, they understand better what brought us together; again, this is a companionship that we wish to grow and improve to be the best versions of ourselves, together. My boyfriend and I are blessed with family and friends that are so supportive of our relationship.

Megan’s Dating Story:
Interracial dating can be tricky! During my service with the Peace Corp I began dating my current boyfriend, a local Panamanian. Aside from the obvious language barrier, there was major cultural differences as well. He doesn’t understand the same racial references, the significance of “soul” food, or that I grew up in a time when I prefered to listen to Britney Spear and 90s pop songs over rap. He is more passive, while Americans, like myself, can be more aggressive because we have grown up in a society where have been taught to seize opportunities as they come. Interracial dating has helped for me to keep an open mind and to have patience. While I continue to grow in my relationship, I have learned new things about Panamanian culture while being able to share my mixed culture and how it has shaped me into who I am today.

Now, all three of us are dating someone along the race spectrum. Someone who’s Hispanic, Caucasian, and African American. To love and care for another should not be limited to only those that look and have similar skin tones like themselves. We all agree that relationships should be based on the respect we have for each other and the trust and genuine connection we share together. We truly feel when that happens you won’t see relationships as “interracial”, we will see them just as two people together by love. #lovewins

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Megan Rudnik received her B.S. in International Business with a minor in Spanish and her MBA from Winthrop University. Since graduating, Megan spent 2 years in the eace Corp, serving in Panama. She also recently completed 4 months in China teaching English.

Amanda Rudnik received her B.S. in Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting from The Citadel. While at The Citadel, Amanda played all four years on the Citadel volleyball while serving in various leadership roles in the South Carolina Corp of Cadet. Amanda now currently works for a large company and pursues her dream of modeling.

Alexis Rudnik is currently a student at Winthrop University, studying Middle Level Education Math and Social Studies. Alexis was a member of the 2016 Winthrop Volleyball team and is currently coaching volleyball at the club level.

We all grew up in Minnesota for 10 years before moving to our current residence in South Carolina. Our mother is African American and Native American and from Alabama. Our father is Polish and German and originally from Minnesota.


Blended Families

What does it mean to call a family blended? The term still refers to families formed after divorce and remarriage—step-parents and step-children and step-siblings pieced together in new patterns. The term can also encompass families that are interracial; in these families, blending takes on additional permutations that certainly have puzzled some throughout history.

Like other interracial families, those that are also blended through remarriage contend with external assumptions and judgments—the confused looks and questioning glances, the “ah-ha” moments or oblivious denial. When I was married to my daughter’s father—who, like me, has both a black and a white parent—I slipped into the ease of relative inconspicuousness for the first time in my life. Raised with my white mother, I had experienced the questions about whether I was adopted and had felt defensive about my own belonging. In my marriage, though, I was able to take for granted that others saw and accepted where I belonged. Releasing the guardedness I felt when I needed to defend my familial place, I nevertheless felt an alternative defensiveness that many “blended” families and people of color feel in mainly white communities.

Now that I’m divorced and partnered with a white man, I feel the return of my childhood alertness to others’ assumptions about my family. Blessedly, our society in general and our community in particular do seem to have come a long way since Loving v. Virginia, but none of us can believe that racism is eradicated or that interracial unions are always accepted with open arms and open minds. My partner and I have had only one obviously racist experience in our two years together, and thankfully it was subtle, but I don’t kid myself that the obvious incident we experienced was all we’ll ever encounter.

As we slowly blend our families, I’m watchful of additional experiences we might have—of hostile or benign racism—and how our children might be affected. Of course, I also must ask myself if my very watchfulness amplifies negative experiences or even turns neutral ones into negative. On one occasion when my partner took my daughter out for ice cream, a woman asked him if my daughter was his, noting his whiteness and her brownness. “Sadly, no,” he replied smiling, meaning that he would be proud to be her biological father in addition to feeling like a parent to her. The woman then proceeded to comment on how lovely my daughter looks, how “Indian.” Hmm.

I wonder, too, the experiences I might have on occasions when I’m with his twins, one of whom is a freckled, blue-eyed, red-headed beauty and the other an as-yet smaller version of his imposing father. Will people assume I’m a nanny? Hmm.

I wonder in which configurations we’ll have our familial status silently questioned or vocally challenged. When David is with my daughter, will his belonging somehow be allowed, if not assumed, due to his whiteness and maleness? Will my belonging be overlooked when I’m with his children because of my brown femaleness? And when the five of us are together, what will people see? What, if anything, will they say?

Ever the optimist, I’m hoping people will see a happy family, not unlike most other families, regardless of race or marital history. It’s a utopian vision, surely, but I also hope people will allow us to reflect back to them a certain level of social awareness, acceptance, growth. Blended families really aren’t such a novelty, and ultimately it’s that simple fact I hope people see.


IMG_4147_2Tru Leverette works as an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Florida where she teaches African-American literature and serves as director of African-American/African Diaspora Studies. Her research interests broadly include race and gender in literature and culture, and she focuses specifically on critical mixed race studies. Her most recent work has been published in Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora and the edited collections Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speaking Out and The Search for Wholeness and Diaspora Literacy in Contemporary African-American Literature. She served as a Fulbright Scholar at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, during the Winter 2013 term.


2015 MXRS Retreat

Over Memorial Day weekend, the Mixed Roots Stories team gathered for our annual retreat. We spent two days evaluating where we have been and planning where we want to go.

We spent time looking at our mission and vision and decided it needed slight revising to more accurately represent what we do. This is what we came up with:

 

Revised Vision

A world that recognizes how it benefits from otherness, one that both celebrates and challenges identity categories in order to create more liberatory possibilities for our collective futures.

Revised Mission

Supporting and advocating for diverse Mixed communities through the power of sharing stories. We seek to act as a liaison, creating space between storytellers across academic and non-academic communities, and international and national contexts.

 

We began planning for the upcoming CMRS events. We also finalized our plans for this year’s Loving Day online event, and began planning for 2016 and 2017 Loving Day events.

We were excited to have our new board members Kaily Heitz and Stephanie Sparling Williams join us! They bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and energy to the team and are launching new student, community, and organization outreach as well as Arts & Education programing.

The highlight of the retreat was working on a Loving Day Mixed Media project, which was designed by Stephanie. You can join us in Visualizing Loving Day.

Stay tuned for the roll out of this and many other programing to come!


Mixed Roots Holiday Gift Guide

When purchasing gifts for friends and loved ones this holiday season, consider supporting people and businesses that enlighten us about and celebrate the mixed roots experience. Here are a few of our favorite mixed roots gift ideas for you to consider. We’ve included their social media info so you can follow and support them year round too!

In no particular order:

Mixed Up Clothing

“Founded in 2010, Mixed Up ClothingScreen Shot 2014-11-28 at 6.48.12 PM is a multiethnic children’s clothing line inspired by the textiles, cultures and people of the world, to develop friendships through fabrics. Mixed Up Clothing is an ethnic-inspired baby/children’s fashion line that celebrates diversity. The textiles, fabrics, and embellishments from all over the world inspire your mini global citizen to embrace and appreciate the beauty of the 21st Century’s Americana family.”

 Gift Ideas: Unique and fashionable clothes for all the littles (N to size 7) in your life.

www.mixedupclothing.com

Twitter @mixedupclothing

www.facebook.com/mixedupclothing

instagram.com/mixedupclothing

Belle

shopping If you haven’t heard of the movie Belle, it is time you did! Now you can own it and share with everyone you know!! The Mixed Roots Stories team saw the movie in the theaters. You can find our reviews here.

 

Gift Ideas: Belle is available on DVD to share with friends, family, and more!

www.belle-themovie.com

https://www.facebook.com/bellethemovie

Eighth Generation

“Louie [Gong] is the founder of Eighth Generation, through which he merges traditional Coast Salish art with icons from popular culture and influences from his mixed heritage to make strong statements about identity.”

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“The name “Eighth Generation” references the inter tribal value of “Seven Generations”, which suggests that we consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.  By naming my business Eighth Generation, I embed respect for the previous generations all my work and recognize that my successes are a result of our collective effort.  Eight is also a lucky number in Cantonese because, when spoken, it sounds the same as the word for prosperity.” –Louie Gong

Gift Ideas: With a wide array of goods, you can probably find something for everyone on your list from this Canadian mixed roots artist. Visit his site to see the variety of goods: jewelry, clothing, bags, pillows, blankets, skateboards, greeting cards, shoes, phone cases, notebooks/journals, and art work:

www.eighthgeneration.com

Twitter @8thgen

www.facebook.com/EighthGenerationbyLouieGong

The Singer and the Songwriter

Formerly Ampersand, The Singer and the Songwriter brilliantly fuse together pop, jazz, folk, and blues creating a unique new classic and sophisticated sound. “Their music is a stylistic hybrid, reflecting their diverse musical and cultural backgrounds.” Listen to our interview with them HERE.

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Gift Ideas: A great stocking stuffer or maybe a gift for yourself: their debut album What a Difference a Melody Makes is a gift that will keep on giving.

thesingerandthesongwriter.com

Twitter @thesingthesong

https://www.facebook.com/thesingerandthesongwriter

instagram.com/thesingerandthesongwriter

6 Degrees of Hapa

“6 Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 6.50.18 PMDegrees of Hapa is a family-owned business that’s all about celebrating mixed cultures and spreading a little Hapa pride. What we think of when we hear the term “haps”: To us, hapa means that you’re a mix of cultures, you might be Asian, Pacific-Islander, or Hawaiian (or maybe even a combination!). But… We like to think that everyone’s got a little Hapa influence in their lives, which is why we decided to name ourselves 6 Degrees of Hapa.The idea for 6 Degrees of Hapa came about when our family and our friends, who are also a Hapa family, started discussing how there weren’t many brands that were created for and by Hapas. Think about it–we’re a very large and diverse community with our own cultures and subcultures, so why not celebrate it?”

Gift Ideas: For unique handmade jewelry, screen printed t-shirts for all ages and more check out 6 degrees of hapa!

6degreesofhapa.blogspot.com

Twitter @6degreesofhapa

www.facebook.com/6DegreesofHapa

Meditating Bunny/One Big Hapa Family/Mixed Match

“MeditatiJeff_Yellowstickynotes_Photong Bunny Studio Inc. was founded in 2001 by filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns. Based in Vancouver, BC, this Webby award-winning and Emmy® nominated boutique animation studio specializes in the creation of animated, documentary, and experimental films aimed at both children and adults that combine different philosophical and social elements together to create humorous inspiring stories.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.43.21 PMWe are big fans of Jeff’s ink drawings…Chandra has a set of his owl drawings framed in her living room! Many of #inktober drawings were mixed animals, like this rhino/unicorn. Though these drawings are only being sold at select events, follow Meditating Bunny throughout the year to see when you can get your pictures to hang throughout your home!

Gift Ideas: In the mean time you can support his work, specifically his current project, Mixed Match, by purchasing any of his number of films already produced: Yellow Sticky Notes/ CanadianAnijam, Ode to a Post-It Note, Yellow Sticky Notes, One Big Hapa Family, or “What Are You Anyways?”. These movies are great teaching tools!

www.meditatingbunny.com

Twitter @meditatingbunny

www.facebook.com/meditatingbunny

instagram.com/meditatingbunny

MAVIN

“MAVIN builds healthier communities by providing educational resources about Mixed Heritage experiences.”

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One of the resources that MAVIN has created is the Multiracial Child Resource Book. With the self-identified multiracial community continuing to grow, this book remains relevant and just as important as ever.

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Gift Ideas: The Multiracial Child Resource book is a great gift for educators, community workers, youth workers, librarians, parents, etc. and only $15 (including shipping!).

http://www.mavinfoundation.org/new/multiracial-child-resource-book/

https://www.facebook.com/mixedheritage

Mixed Roots Stories

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“We are a non profit that believes that stories have the power to strengthen communities. We support mixed roots storytelling through producing events, and through online, in-person and educational outreach.” Donations assist in supporting and bringing workshop facilitators, films and filmmakers, live performances and performers, educational programming, authors, and other artists to conferences and events near you.

 

Gift Ideas: Consider giving the gift of a donation in a family’s or friend’s name for the holidays. All donations are tax deductible and makes our work possible.

www.mixedrootsstories.com/donate

Twitter @ourmixdstories

www.facebook.com/MixedRootsStories



Skin. My Story Starter

Ten years ago this week, I was in the hospital with a rare acute allergic reaction called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. I had been taking a mild antibiotic that had Sulfa in it…I am allergic to Sulfa based drugs, but did not know it. It started with flu like symptoms and a sensitive rash that turned into blisters. Once my rash and blistered covered body worsened, and my ulcerated mouth made eating a challenge, I was admitted to the hospital.  I spent eight days and seven nights in the hospital as the Sulfa burned through my skin.

Skin.

My skin has always been a perfect blend of my dad (who is Black) and my mom (who is White). I have always LOVED and embraced being mixed. As long as I can remember, I made it clear to everyone that I was both Black AND White. In the 4th grade I even spoke to a university class, with my parents, about being mixed.

As I got older, I recognized that my skin changed with the seasons. In the winter, I was lighter. In the summer, I was darker. My ever changing color always makes picking out the “perfect shade” of make up a challenge! In the summers, I would try and get enough sun to last as long into the winter as possible.  This was mostly because I felt I looked healthier with darker skin.  I know that sounds silly, but it’s just how I felt, and still feel sometimes. My skin has always ignited discussion from others. I have usually taken advantage of their curiosity by answering their questions, sharing my mixed story, and educating them about what it means for me to be mixed.

Changing Shades.

As I sat in the hospital, a few weeks before graduating with my Bachelors of Social Work from Azusa Pacific University, watching my skin literally flake off my body, I had a lot of questions for the doctors about what the final results would be. At this point, the skin that had fallen off was leaving very raw, fresh, pale pink, and sensitive skin. There were spots of this new skin surrounded by darker, unblistered, and unaffected skin. One day the infectious disease doctor came in for his daily visit.

 

Me: “What am I going to end up looking like?”

Doctor: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Am I going to look like Michael Jackson?”

(I know this might make me sound vain…and maybe it was a little…but I had stopped looking at my reflection. I no longer recognized myself in the mirror, and was having a difficult time remembering what “normal skin” felt like. I was beginning to realize that I might never look like my old self again.)

Doctor: “Well its hard to tell. We don’t really know.” (Looks at my mom) “You will probably end up being about her complexion.”

(My heart sank. Not because my mom isn’t beautiful, but because I LOVED my mixed skin. That is who I am, mixed.  If it is washed away…than who would I be? I was speechless.)

My mom pulled out my senior picture to show the doctor.

Mom: “This is what she normally looks like.”

It was written all over the doctor’s face. He did not realize that I was mixed. I had been in the hospital for at least three or four days, and the doctor didn’t know I was mixed!

Doctor: “Oh, well, uh, we will just have to wait and see. Time will tell.”

 

WHAT!?!  You are the doctor! You can’t tell me what is going to happen! As I was quickly learning, no one really knew the exact outcome of Stevens-Johnson. They didn’t even know what was the best way to treat it or prevent it from getting worse. Nurses from all over the hospital came to visit me. They had worked there for 10 years and had never seen a case. The only thing the doctors could tell me is that it has to run its course as it works through my system and out through my skin.

The doctor left and I was left in epidermis limbo. I was forced to start the process of coming to terms with my current changing color of skin.

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Picture taken May 1, 2004. This was Day 7 in the hospital.

As my skin continued to flake off, my face was light, and like new baby skin. My arms and chest and back were spotted. Slowly the light spots gained pigment.  I was hopeful that my skin would even out. However, the light spots continued to darken, eventually hyper-pigmentating. Now I had my color back, but I was spotted. After about nine months, lots of prayer, and a series of microdermabrasion treatments with my Dermatologist, my skin evened out. I still have a few lingering scars, but only I see them.

As I reflect back on the experience, I am thankful, and feel blessed, that my mixed skin was restored, but if it hadn’t been…I still would have been mixed, for mixed blood runs through my veins. My worry was never that I might be different, or having to come to terms with an altered appearance. I think my worry was that if my skin was lighter, spotted, or looked like Michael Jackson, that it would no longer be a catalyst for conversations where I could educate others about my mixedness. For someone who has always felt comfortable with my mixed identity, the thought of that being stripped away was scary. I realize now, more than ever, that being mixed, for me, is more than skin deep. My skin would have still been a discussion starter…but for a new purpose…surviving Steven Johnson. Now my skin tells an even more complex story, not only one of my mixed heritage, but of surviving Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Who I am is obviously more than skin deep, but skin, for me… is a story starter.


PSA: ‘What are you?’ Is Not an Icebreaker

The “What are you?” question is a form of micro-aggression that is an all too common experience for blended/ Mixed (your word of choice) folks. Vocalist and Songwriter Andromeda Turre recently wrote a fascinating post in the Huffington Post about her – What are you experiences. As Andromeda states, “The problem with this question is, for lot of us blended people, that it doesn’t have a a simple answer.” The rest of the paragraph – for that matter the entire posting – is profound, succinct, and relatable. Read it then come back to mixedrootsstories for more sharing.



Grant Writing Specialist Needed – Intern/Volunteer Opportunity

Mixed Roots Stories is looking for a motivated person who is experienced, or wants to gain experience writing grant proposals. The Grant Specialist will work with the Mixed Roots Stories team to grow a database of grant opportunities as well as gather information, collect and organize data, and draft grant submissions. This could be either an intern or volunteer position. The intern/grant writer must be self motivated, organized, detail oriented, a team player and timely with due dates. This is an ideal position for someone looking for an internship or volunteer opportunity working with an up and coming, very active nonprofit.

 

Please send resumes/CVs (include references) and cover letters expressing your interest in Mixed Roots Stories and the Grant Specialist position to info@mixedrootsstories.org. Please put “Grant Writer” in the subject line.