January 27, 2008 by multiracialsky
Pinch-hitting with Hairstyles: Teri’s hair is slowly growing out in the back from long-rubbed bald. She finally has full cover back there, but only maybe 1/3 the length of the rest of her hair. For quite a while, the back was so short I couldn’t really do anything with it–and it was so short it didn’t tangle. But late last summer her hair grew to the point where it was prone to snarl, and I was left struggling for hairstyles that incorporated the bitty-fuzz in the back and didn’t look totally goofy. I don’t like to do the same style over and over because it pulls the same hairs in the same direction, and her hair needs a rest. Aside from the 24 hours after a full bath and hair conditioning, her hair is always styled nowadays: the length, the winter dryness, the hats. I’ve looked and looked for pictures of styles for toddlers/young children with short-ish kinky hair who can’t sit still for long (and will probably get peanut butter in their hair and need the style taken out after less than a week). Not much. So I’ve made up my own hairstyles. I’ve looked at books and online for ideas, and then modified them to something that works for us. This picture above is a current favorite we’re calling Star Hair (to accompany Rocket Hair and other family-named styles).
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Last Monday night I took Jaja and Rico to the college’s evening MLK day celebration. I go to events like these and am reminded how White our town really is–it’s not my imagination. There are a couple transracially adopted kids of Color, a handful of adults (parents) of Color that I know socially, and a slightly larger handful of college students of Color. On MLK Day, my husband was listening to NPR and heard a Person of Color from our state talking. This person said, from their perspective, the people here (in our mostly White state) are not racist, they are simply very inexperienced with People of Color; the end result may look the same (racist comment), but the intent is totally different (I don’t know that I agree with this point of view, BTW). This person also said it was exhausting having to educate people here about race day in and day out (this one, I totally agree with).
Sibling Dynamics: My three oldest kids started a dance class last week, but it didn’t go well. I received a call from the recreation department earlier in the week letting me know the teacher was concerned about having siblings in the same class, and that they were considering splitting the class into two classes. (This is a 45 minute class in a town 20 minutes away.) It turned out there were 10 children in the class today, 5 of whom are part of sibling groups (my 3 and a set of twins). The teacher was not happy. It is little things like this (a pre-stated prejudice against sibling groups) that push me right over the edge. I assumed my kids would be minorities in this class–and they were (Rico was the only boy and Jaja was the only visible child of Color) but the triple whammy is more than I can comfortably swallow. The kids had really been looking forward to this class, but all three of them (separately and for different reasons) said they didn’t have a good time. And Jaja was decidedly not smiling when I arrived to pick them up. We’re dropping this dance class.
Race–The Power of an Illusion: I had the opportunity to watch the 3rd part of this film (for the third time) recently. All I can say is, you have to see this movie. It will change your entire perspective on race in the United States.
Segregated training–other perspectives: I have been thinking a lot in the last week about segregation, including voluntary segregation. The overall consensus (of the varied people I have consulted) seems to be that it is okay to have segregated groups–that they serve a purpose. These include groups that are segregated by gender (“men’s groups”), sexual orientation (“lesbian couples group”), or race (such as the “People of Color focus group” I was a part of). The caveat is that there should be another group available for someone who wants to join such a group but is ineligible for whatever reason (a women’s group, a single lesbians group, a hetero couples group, etc.) which leads us into a “White people focus group”–which is not a far shot from a Whites-only training.
Here are my hang-ups with this separate-but-equal line of logic. (1) Separate is never equal. (2) What about the in-betweeners? The multiracial and biracial people. The students of color raised by White parents. The bisexual and transgender people. The people who are breaking up with a partner or just getting together with someone new. Is is really in our best interest (or even feasible) to have separate groups for everyone? We’re losing a growing number of people through the cracks here by making the qualification-criteria so specific. They’re shutting out all us in-betweeners. And when we have more than one in-between identifier, we can feel practically invisible (like some of the amazing Women of Color bloggers I’ve been reading who are commenting on the Obama/Clinton dichotomy: gender vs. race. Where do Women of Color fit into this dyad?).
Speaking of biracial: Here’s a great interview with Barack Obama’s sister. Barack (as we all know by now) is biracial: White mother and Black Kenyan father. Barack’s sister (the one interviewed here) is also biracial: White mother and Indonesian father. I also found an insightful article about Barack’s experience growing up in Hawaii as a biracial Black youth.