A Faraway Boy, Cultural Identity Crisis, And The Mistake of Reading Online Dating Forums To Confirm Errors In My Ways And Self-Perceived Inferiority

A Faraway Boy, Cultural Identity Crisis, And The Mistake of Reading Online Dating Forums To Confirm Errors In My Ways And Self-Perceived Inferiority

I found myself enthralled with each message he sent, the lightness of our banter and lively discussion over peer-reviewed research and the life of a teaching assistant. I didn’t expect him to message me again, over and over, even wandering outside the boundaries of imgur.com to list his e-mail on my blog’s guestbook page. I noticed shortly after, his account was deleted; yet he created a new one to send me a reminder to register myself on Kik. His persistence perplexed me.

 

Creating my account, I finally got a good look at him and realized he wasn’t like the boys in my periphery. Darker, fuller lips, facial hair groomed with a meticulousness I still cannot adopt when organizing my dozens of art supplies. Yet when he insisted that a messy room wasn’t a problem, and that I should make myself comfortable, I remained logged into Skype, and we repeated things we shouldn’t have. This was the third exchange of what my upbringing declares unbecoming behavior. He told me, several times, that while his family’s religion prohibited premarital sex, he wasn’t religious himself. Thus, the Skype meetings were acceptable.

 

Thousands of miles away, he casually mentioned, “Persians and Filipinos are a pretty common mix. I know the reason why.” I wasn’t sure if he was attempting to flirt, as he never told me the “reason.” Though he was kind in telling me I was pretty and smart, and while I continually told myself that I would casually date to sample varieties not presented to me for much of my life (as I grew up surrounded by Caucasian men who commented on my “Asian-ness” like telling a bad joke), I also told myself that I would not fall in love. I would engage in the “fun” shared by others my age, but I would not develop feelings. Somehow, I thought I was “better than that.”

 

His messages and actions confused and upset me, so much so that I felt his sporadic engagements had to do with my ethnic and socioeconomic status. I was not a medical student and worked a low-paying (yet respectable) government job to save up for graduate school I still wasn’t sure I was “good enough” to attend. Given that our interactions were more casual and liberated with a false sense of security offered by digitalized contact, I shied away from asking what his true intentions were. I found him wonderful, seeking something long-term. He found relationships a time-draining distraction, a shot to his grades and an ache to his much-encumbered head. Yet he told me he was developing feelings for me, and I found myself falling down a pothole that required a call to the fire department.

 

I’ve long felt a sense of inferiority, flipping through pamphlets of top graduate programs to see clusters of East Asians, but very few Southeast Asians like myself. Education wasn’t stressed throughout my upbringing, though I learned through encouraging middle school teachers that delving in academics would help me drive away from a community where scholasticism is often laughed at as a sign of the dreamer’s arrogance. After all, how could I walk down a path so divergent from my parents, sitting through lectures and reading books that they’d never care to hear of? Are we not good enough for you? The question was loaded enough.

 

I wanted to be good enough for this boy, though it seemed my endeavors soon lost their interest as our weekly interactions dripped more so with frustrated infatuation and loneliness we clumsily addressed.

 

I was falling in love with him, and given my limited interactions with men, I couldn’t make sense of his words, actions, and choosing to message me at two in the morning while imgur offered a plethora of girls he could choose from and enjoy, for one time only as a means to discover what he really wanted.

 

The first two months, I was confident, scoring perfect evaluations at a stressful job and doing well on standardized tests while solely motivated by him, what I thought was his warmth, his caring, and a respect I later concluded was reckless womanizing.

 

Confused and unsure of how to start a constructive conversation about intentions and words we exchanged, I made a misguided move to peruse interracial dating forums. The boy did not know of an experience I had at a bar, where a man who was also Persian made sexual advances towards me, even licking the inside of my ear to where I pushed him away and stormed out the bar, crying on the way home with a face red with shame.

 

Dating forums didn’t help. If anything, they confirmed my sense of inferiority. The posts read:

 

“I’m a Filipino girl. My boyfriend is Persian, though my mother tells me not to take it seriously. Once he’s had sex with me, I’ve served my use. He’ll then leave me for a virgin.”

 

“I myself am Persian. And I’ll tell you that we’re playboys. We tend to go for the easy women. You know, Filipinas and the Vietnamese.”

 

“I am a Filipino woman. I know that this relationship will not go anywhere, given that he is a married man, but I’m driving myself crazy over this affair.”

 

Here I was, driving myself crazy over a boy who could have just seen me as one of dozens of girls he may have already encountered on a regular basis. I wasn’t special. I wasn’t smart. I was spending the past four months striving to achieve, but this seems to often transpire in vain whilst projecting one’s ambitions on someone else.

 

While words were exchanged that I do regret, I know better than to blanket a group with the acidity of stereotypes. I feel I’ve had my share of that, proving to others that I am competent, independent, and yes, worthy of publishing a book, gaining admittance to a worthwhile graduate program.

 

I didn’t need medical school to prove my self-worth. Neither did I need to cater to his late night requests, ignoring his disregard for my having a job myself, seemingly ignoring my admittance that I had difficulty understanding what his intentions were as I attempted to express what I thought deserved a chance, even if the chance was granted to a long distance relationship.

 

The four-month exchange, tumultuous and ambiguous as it was, refreshed me in ways that I was exposed to someone different. Someone I felt society forbade me to interact with because of negative stereotypes and misinformed expectations of whom I must date as a “proper woman.” Though I was hurt, and still hurt over what transpired with a further derailment from the pursuit of an advanced degree, I’m coming to realize that while I shouldn’t expect the best from Internet strangers, I should at least remind myself that we are all human, burdened by imperfections that we inflict and sustain injuries from. Self-serving people exist in every community, though to punish others in certain groups continues to limit and confine, censoring new perspectives and stifling heightened awareness of struggles, oppression, and sadness shared by a culture that once so intimidated you. Insight shines, even through experiences that leave us confused, hurt, and vulnerable. But to garner the most of these lessons presented, we must overcome the temptation to hate, the weakness in hating ourselves, the violence in branding others with the unfortunate outcomes of isolated situations.

 

In a world of billions, individualism prods clarity. The happenings remain, though they sprinkle the ground with seeds for growth, a blossoming that hopefully empowers as we grow to value ourselves and cherish the differences in others, irrespective of stereotyping, today’s political fear-mongering, and generalized angst.

 

 

 

 

Pros and Cons to International Latin Dating

Pros and Cons to International Latin Dating

Pros and Cons to International Latin Dating

 

Miranda Santiago has a degree in Psychology from Boston College and is now a freelance writer who covers dating topics, appealing specifically to relationships involving Latin women. When she isn’t writing about love and everything involved, you can find Miranda windsurfing on the beach, playing the piano, or enjoying a glass of dry red wine.Miranda Santiago's profile photo

 

 

 

Like with anything in life — and in love — there are pros and cons to dating someone from another country. If you’re adventurous and open to new things, I think you’ll find the pros far outweigh the cons, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

 

Language

While a language barrier may seem like a drag at first, I think you’ll find it’s actually fun and works to your advantage. You could learn each other’s languages, which isn’t just beneficial to your relationship. It’s also good for the betterment of your life and your career. Plus, half the fun comes from that “in the meantime” stage where you can enjoy the fun, and often humorous, task of deciphering gestures and trying to convey your ideas and feelings into the universal language of love. Sure, you’ll have some awkward moments. Heck, you’ll even have some arguments from misunderstanding each other.

 

In my own personal experience, language barriers aren’t bad at all. Let’s take, for instance, the less than joyous task of meeting your girlfriend’s parents. Can’t speak Spanish? Great!

Beautiful Latina Woman Smiling

Beautiful Latina Woman Smiling (Photo credit: epSos.de)

 

All you have to do is sit there, smile and nod. And let’s be honest, if that were the only plus to dating a Latina, gringos everywhere would be lining up to do so. Just being able to get out of awkward interrogations is enough to convince most. Don’t like what’s being said or asked of you? No problem! Just pretend you don’t understand! No one will know. They’ll just toss it up to that good ol’ language barrier.

 

Money

Often times, international dating comes about through online dating sites, which sometimes result in long-term and long-distance relationships. Now, if that’s not ideal for you, you’re not thinking it through completely. Just think of all the money you’re saving by having Skype dates! No expensive restaurants, no crazy-expensive bar tabs—you don’t even have to pay for gas!

 

The problem does arise when you decide you want to visit each other. Airline tickets aren’t exactly cheap, so all that money you’ve saved not taking your girl out will now catch up with you. You’ll want to narrow down your potential dates by cities that offer cheap flights from your hometown if you’re just getting into international Latin dating. There’s nothing wrong with being practical!

 

Extra lovin’

And the best reason for international dating? Freedom to shop around before buying something from the store. That’s right! You heard me right. I’m talking about hitting two birds with one stone. Or two. Or ten. Meeting people online, especially when they are abroad, means you can meet more than one woman online and a still date locally, without completely screwing things up… with any of them! This is actually very proactive, because, by multi-tasking, you’ll be able to meet, know and deduce the potential of several women at once, instead of having to do so one at a time, which could take months!

 

Culture

Dating someone from another culture means you’ll need to prepare yourself to experience entirely new customs, music, food and more, which will either broaden your horizons, enrich your life and expand your knowledge, or it will cause you to have a nervous breakdown. If it’s the latter, then you’re clearly not man enough for a hot Latin woman!

 

Once you sift through your women and narrow them down to one that’s worth the hassle, you’ll be able to adjust to these cultural differences easily and what seems like a hassle now will be an investment in the end — an investment in yourself and in her.

 

 

Dying to be Lighter: The Cultural and Physical Dangers of Skin Lightening

Dying to be Lighter: The Cultural and Physical Dangers of Skin Lightening

Dying to be Lighter: The Physical and Cultural Dangers of Skin Lightening

(Mario Vitanelli is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in the analysis of influential people and organizations, global business trends and international affairs. When away from his keyboard, he enjoys photography and appreciates the rest of the Vitanelli family’s endless patience with his football preoccupation.)

It’s probably a comment on the innate discontent accompanying the human condition that a huge number of people the world over seem to be unhappy with the way they look- their skin tone in particular. Fairer skinned women and men in Western nations keep the tanning industry a lucrative trade in an effort to get darker. Very lucrative- although the global price tag for tanning and tanning products is far higher, each year Americans spend more than $5 billion on indoor tanning alone. That tremendous sum, however, is half what our planet’s darker-skinned residents spend annually on skin lightening treatments.Black & White dream ...

Not that a market for skin lightening treatments don’t exist in Western states like the US and the UK. A high-profile example is Michael Jackson, whose famous denial of any skin lightening regiment was proved untrue by the lightening creams found among his possessions after he died. However, the great majority of lightening products are sold throughout over Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East. In India 60% of women use skin lightening salves every day; in Togo 59%; in Nigeria 92% of the men and women attending a skin health conference admitted to attempting skin lightening. Comparable percentages can be found in an alarming number of nation states peopled by darker-hued citizens. In many African and Asian nations skin-bleaching solutions outsell any other class of beauty product. In India, they’re the most popular by a 2/3 margin.

While trends like this are always informed by complex socio-cultural factors, the popularity of dermal-bleaching is generally considered to be the result of two influences.

The first is the legacy of Western colonial occupation creating a dynamic in which the wealthier citizens were virtually always lighter skinned (or at least it engendered that perception). The second is the increasingly ubiquitous presence of Western advertising, many examples of which feature blonde, fair actresses and models. This creeping encroachment of occidental beauty ideals has been a tremendous source of frustration for feminists and activists working to convince their fellow countrywomen that darker skin is not an undesirable trait.

 

Controversy recently polarized much of Senegal after adverts for a skin lightener (called Khess Petch, the translation of which is “All White”) displaying a before-and-after image of a black woman lightened several tones. A similar backlash in India was precipitated by TV adverts for a product meant to lighten a woman’s bikini region.

English: Michael Jackson at the Cannes film fe...

English: Michael Jackson at the Cannes film festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the ad, a fair-skinned Indian woman looks forlorn because her husband is distant and uninterested. After she applies the cream in the shower, however, the couple joyously embraces- his interest reignited. Unfortunately, in places like India, the assumption on the part of women (and many men) that being fairer skinned will result in greater success is often culturally reinforced. Many beautiful dark-skinned models and actresses leave India to seek work in the West as lighter-toned women get the great majority of work at home.

Beyond the troubling implications of the skin-lightening trend in ethnic/cultural terms are the myriad health implications. Because many of these creams are sold in countries without a public health apparatus capable of comprehensive beauty product inspection, many creams include mercury despite the UK’s banning its topical use in 1978. Mercury is an incredibly toxic chemical that builds up in body tissue leading to a host of problems, the worst of which include severe renal and brain damage, and death. Creams without mercury often contain hydroquinone- another dangerous chemical that accumulates in the system (and was similarly outlawed by the British).

Hydroquinone is caustic enough to break up melanin in the skin (it’s used in photo development) and is a proven carcinogen, can permanently cause black and blue splotching and is very possibly a neurotoxin.

Doctors in areas where use of bleaching creams is common routinely treat patients with bad dizziness, fatigue, almost total lack of cortisol in their systems (which can cause psychological problems), swollen hands and abdomens, and diabetes. Even if users are lucky enough to use a cream that lightens the skin without (more) toxic chemicals, lightening skin leads to a greatly increased risk of skin cancer and leathery skin when older.

Superficial but (physically) benign changes can include blotchy patterns and concentrations of melanin (which gives skin pigmentation) in the joints of fingers and toes, ears and buttocks. As such, use of skin bleaching treatments is culturally unhealthy and can lead to unsightly physical changes at best and debilitating illness, both physical and mental, and death at worst. Since these creams are widely available on the internet, the best hope for doing away with skin lightening procedures and products is education and an affirmation of someone’s beauty no matter what their skin tone.

“Scandal”‘s Real Scandal

Kerry Washington - TIFF 09'

I’m not a blogger, but if I were, I’d be blogging about the new television show, Scandal.

Bloggers who follow race and popular culture issues are all abuzz about ABC’s new show, a shlocky, visual-chick-lit piece about a Washington “fixer” named Olivia Pope, (loosely based upon real-life Washington crisis manager Judy Smith), who is the former mistress and enduring inanmorata of a fictional president, Republican Fitzgerald Grant.

The back-story, of their adulterous affair, gives Scandal an extra layer of angsty sizzle; if you are a romantic junkie, as I am, you groove on President Fitz (played by actor Tony Goldwyn) making puppy dog eyes at heroine Olivia (played by Kerry Washington) and confessing to chief of staff Cyrus Beene  (played by actor Jeff Perry) that “Liv is the love of my life.”

Because Washington–like the real-life Smith–is African-American, and Goldwyn is white, this is breakthrough television.

Because I have been in an interracial marriage for over twenty-five years (my husband is Jamaican-Chinese; I’m white), I have been really happy about this show.
Scandal, as several bloggers have pointed out, is the first time a black actress has headlined in her own network television show since Teresa Graves lifted eyebrows as a hot African-American lady cop in Get Christy Love (1974).

Yes, folks, it’s taken that long.  And some of us are old enough to remember the big show that had people talking before that, Diahann Carroll’s Julia. (1968-1971).  Scandal moreover scores another winner for series creator Shonda Rhimes, the most powerful female African-American producer currently working in television, who already has the hugely popular Grey’s Anatomy, and its spin-off, Private Practice, to her credit.

What several bloggers have been critical of is the way, well, race isn’t an issue in this story.  It’s Olivia’s brains and brassy integrity that attract Fitz, whose marriage is apparently an icy disaster.

In the episodes and clips I’ve had time to watch (and admittedly, I haven’t had much time for TV the last few years), the closest we’ve ever gotten to a line where Fitz acknowledges the race issue is one point, in a darkened airplane, when he confesses to lacking the courage to have married Olivia.  And so we’ve heard all the reliable tropes: “Is Jungle Fever Changing Hollywood? ( http://www.examiner.com/article/scandal-is-jungle-fever-changing-hollywood); Is Olivia a “Sally Hemmings” to Fitz’s “Thomas Jefferson?” (note http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/04/20/467938/scandal-olivia-pope-sally-hemings/?mobile=nc). And so on.

And meanwhile, Fitz and Olivia have steamy love scenes in which absolutely nothing is made of their racial differences.

Please don’t get annoyed, but that sounds right to me: when my husband I and met in college, our differences never mattered as much to us as our shared love of classical music and dead languages.
Except…there is just one little thing…one teeeny-ensey-weeny thing…that also struck me when Dr. Ellis Grey, the mother of Dr. Meredith Grey, heroine of Grey’s Anatomy, languished as an Alzheimer’s patient while her former African American surgeon-colleague-lover Richard Webber left her to repair the marriage she’d broken; one little thing that irked me when ER‘s black star Eric La Salle insisted that his character, Dr. Peter Benton, break up with his girlfriend, white British surgeon Elizabeth Corday (played by Alex Kingston), because heaven forefend his character should take up with a white woman.  Olivia and Fitz are not a happy couple; they are tragic.  Their love is tormented, opposed.  Race isn’t broached in the show, it’s true, but adultery stands in for race–it’s the reason their love can never be, the reason they suffer.  Their inappropriate love is acceptable because it is being appropriately chastised.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best evidence I have that we aren’t yet living in a post-racial America.  If Scandal were a situation comedy, about a White Republican President, his African-American working mom First Lady, and, maybe, their three kids (figure the usual complement–a difficult adolescent daughter; a prankster son, and a saccharine cute little baby sister), maybe we would  be seeing breakthrough television.

Because what we’d be seeing, however idealized, would be something closer to the reality for thousands of interracial couples across America, who have, particularly since Richard and Mildred Loving took their case to the Supreme Court, married, raised children, held down jobs, paid college tuition and taxes; faced discrimination in housing, pay, and perhaps even treatment under the law; struggled with what census box to check; how to deal with hostile relatives and neighbors; and, generally, how to model an ethical life for our children as citizens, partners, and parents in a world where race still means a lot more to a lot of people than it arguably should.

Many of us, (apparently, over half, according to this study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2008.00491.x/pdf) who married in the 70s and 80s, have buckled under these strains and divorced–but some of us are still in the trenches together, battling it out.  Am I the only one who is irritated by the constant casting of interracial love in movies and television as tragic, forbidden, doomed, and impossible?    Are all of us really going to have to remain satisfied, in the year of our lord 2013, with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner —or, at best, the intermittently offensive 2005 remake with Ashton Kutcher and the late Bernie Mac–when we want to look for anything that even remotely resembles our lives and experience?

I’m delighted, of course, for Ms. Washington, who is a talented actress.  And I’m still enjoying the show.   But that’s the real scandal.

 

Emily Sohmer Tai

 

Robin Gibb: An Interracial Musical Legacy

Robin Gibb: An Interracial Musical Legacy

By Shakurah

This article is dedicated Robin Gibb, to honor his memory and legacy.

Robin Hugh Gibb, CBE of the superstar group the Bee Gees died on May 20, 2012 at the age of 62.

The outpouring of kind sentiments since his death shows that Robin was and is a much loved man for a variety of reasons.

Whether it is love of the Bee Gees music, Robin’s music as a solo artist, his sense of humor, or tremendous humanitarian spirit, many can find a reason to send blessings his way.

When you first think of Robin Gibb, you may not think of him as having an interracial musical legacy. However, if you listen closely to some of the things he has said over the years, it is clear to me that he did. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching a 2010 documentary on the Bee Gees called In Our Own Time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJxncgn1910

 

 

During a segment of this documentary, Robin commented on the period of time during the 1970’s when the Bee Gees recorded one of their famous hits, Jive Talkin’. He mentioned the pressures that white bands, especially white American bands, had at the time to not go into so-called black areas of music.

However, as a British band, Robin commented that they did not feel the same pressures or fears. According to Robin, “Because we were English, we were less self-conscious about exploring the no-go areas…” He then goes on to say, “We didn’t think that there was any “no go” areas, it’s music!”

I could not agree more. Within this quote lies the heart of Robin Gibb’s interracial musical legacy.

I thought and felt so many things when I heard Robin say this. First, I was so grateful that he, his brothers and producers had the courage to see music this way. Imagine how many Bee Gees songs would have never been released if they had thought otherwise. It has always been a shame to me that racial segregation has crept into and corrupted something so universal as music.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating and acknowledging the racial and ethnic origins of music. The Bee Gees were fantastic at acknowledging the black American roots of their music and openly confessed their admiration of artists such as Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding.

But why should artists be banned from performing a certain type of music if they are not from a particular race or ethnic group? To do this is to cut off the creative energy that groups like the Bee Gees want to express.

There are no “no go” areas when it comes to performing music or listening to music as a fan. As a black American woman, there have been many times in my life where black friends and acquaintances would raise an eyebrow at my diverse taste in music.

If I had the audacity to express my fondness of a band such as U2 or REM, I would be met with disapproval clearly indicating I was some kind of social oddity. I guess I’m not supposed to like them according to some people because I’m black and I owe some kind of strange loyalty only to black musicians.

Well, their narrow-mindedness and racism is their problem, not mine. They are missing out on some good music. It’s too bad I didn’t have Robin’s quote handy at the time. When it comes down to it, music is an art that can take many forms, evoke a wide range of emotions and does not have a race or color, unless someone chooses to see it that way.

 

By 1976, “The Bee Gees’ music had successfully spanned several generations, and they were also popular with both black and white audiences, an accomplishment that is rare in rock history.

Virtually no group has enjoyed such mass popularity with such a diverse audience…” (Source- Bee Gees: The Authorized Biography by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb as told to David Leaf, March, 1979).

For this reason, I will always celebrate, admire and enjoy the interracial legacy of Robin Gibb and the Bee Gees, my all-time favorite rock group.

Thank you, Robin, for sharing your gifts with the world. You will never be forgotten.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYu0YRQWcTE&feature=related

 

 

 

Guest Columnist: Shakurah

Interracial Friendship Barriers

By Shakurah

 

Recently, I read an article at:

http://news.change.org/stories/what-are-the-barriers-to-interracial-friendships, by Nadra Kareem Nittle, that discusses the rarely spoken subject of interracial friendships.

 

Even though the article is from 8-27-2010, it is still highly relevant and current.

 

I found this quote from the article very interesting:

 

“…Because research shows that whites are the group most likely to prefer racial isolation. When whites and blacks were asked to describe the racial makeup of their ideal neighborhood, for example, whites typically preferred all-white areas, while blacks preferred racially mixed areas….”

 

What would account for why white people typically preferred all-white areas?

 

The article does not directly answer this question, but I hypothesize that for at least some white people, many prefer all-white areas because they associate darker-skinned minorities with higher crime rates and they don’t want minorities bringing crime and violence into their “perfect” neighborhoods.

 

Some white people ascribe the most negative traits of humanity to darker-skinned minorities, while ignoring that those same traits, such as a tendency toward assault, rape, robbery, and drug abuse exist among white people as well.

 

Maybe this bias in favor of white people by white people (which really reflects the racist, historical “separate but equal” love of segregation) reflects an over-valuing of white people and an undervaluing/devaluing of people of racial minority status.

 

As far as the finding that black people preferred racially mixed areas, I can say as a black woman that I concur with this.

 

I have always enjoyed and actively sought out racially and ethnically diverse areas to live and work in. I find these types of areas and neighborhoods more enjoyable in terms of cuisine and cultural activities to engage in.

 

In ethnically diverse areas, I always felt a greater level of comfort in my surroundings. On some level, I feel there is less of a chance that I will be discriminated against or be the target of racial hate and if I am, I will receive more support from my community.

Guest Columnist: Shakurah

Interracial Relationship Apprehension

By Shakurah

 

I read an article recently in the Chicago Tribune online features section, from July 11, by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, that as much as the mass-consumption“media” tells us of the growing acceptance of interracial relationships, it’s still not as common as you may think.

 

 

Here’s a link to the piece:

 

It is no shock to me that there is still apprehension in our populace about interracial relationships and marriage.

 

There are many reasons for this as this article lightly addresses. Whether it is unhealed historical wounds, living segregated lives, unfamiliarity with others different than us, belief in the superiority of “our kind” and the inferiority of the “other,” or negative, judgmental, bigoted, and exclusionary attitudes (from all races, religions, and cultures towards others who are different), there is clearly much work to be done worldwide.

 

We have all been taught that one of the most important things to do in life is to love one another.

But, humans have a terribly hard time doing that in many cases don’t we? All we have to do is look at history, ancient and current.

 

Humanity has a very long history of lack of love towards one another. The tendency to exclude others can range anywhere from the minor to the most cruel and murderous. We live in a world of the in-group/out-group.

 

Many cultures throughout the world appear to believe much more in separatism and segregation rather than togetherness and unity. There is nothing wrong with wanting to preserve the preciousness of one’s culture, race, religion or ethnicity.

 

 

 

It’s just too bad that too often, religious, cultural or ethnic pride leads to a complete lack of reverence and respect another person’s soul that is part of the “out group.”

 

Sadly, we are too quick to believe lies about one another, especially the lies of racism, and too often, humans do not bother to question their assumptions.

Guest Columnist, Short Story: CeCe Monet

Blink

By CeCe Monet

 

“Yeah Charlie, I’ll catch up with you guys at the bar later. I left one of my PS3 games in the break

Author CeCe MOnet

room. I’m gonna go get it real quick,” Evan said to a group of his coworkers before he ran back up the stairs. It was late on a Friday night and everyone else had already left for the day. He ran into the huge third floor break room and was about to go search for his game disc when he suddenly had to go take a leak instead.

Evan rushed towards the men’s restroom located in the corner of the break room first, content that if his game was still in the machine now, it would still be there in another minute or two.

As Evan exited the wash closet, he came nearly face to face with another one of his coworkers. Rena, a Tuluva Indian woman with gray eyes that he thought was one of the loveliest creatures he’d ever seen in his life. Evan was surprised to see her here still, but was even more taken aback by how Rena was looking so frustrated and irritated right now.

 

Even still, Evan was so mesmerized by her smooth creamy skin, her long, dark, rich, coffee colored wavy hair, and luscious, ripe, full jewel-toned lips that all he could do was stand there and gawk. Yet even with all her dazzling sensuality, she still managed to look uptight as always. Her hair was fixed in a bun and she was wearing smart, sensible work shoes and clothes, despite their casual work environment. Though she was still simply stunning to Evan, as usual. When she finally noticed him in the room too and staring at her, however, she scowled at him and the spell that had held him transfixed was now broken.

 

“Do you think you could come over here and help me get this door open please? I think it’s stuck.” Rena’s words had sounded much more like an order than a request. Evan wondered again why she was always so mean to him. When she dealt with almost everyone else in the company, she was at least civil towards them. With Evan though, she always had a serious attitude.

 

However, being the gentleman he was, Evan simply nodded and graciously acquiesced. As he went over to tug on the door, however, what he discovered was that it wouldn’t budge. At all. It appeared the door wasn’t just stuck. In the couple of minutes that Evan had been in here, the cleaning crew had managed to lock the door from the outside.

 

The cleaners had utilized the double enforced steel bar locks the company mandated in order to keep people from helping themselves to the extra snack stashes and break room equipment after hours. So basically, they were both trapped in their company’s break room.

 

When Evan relayed this information to her, Rena’s frown broadened. “You have got to be kidding me,” she mumbled. Evan was none too pleased about this situation either. He had just wanted to spend his Friday night forgetting about this über long, stressful work week by relaxing with his boys. He should already be drinking some beer at one of the local downtown dive bars, and then eventually playing video games on his big screen TV at home until he passed out later tonight. Instead, he was trapped at work with a woman who seemed to hate his guts, though he truthfully had no idea why. Maybe some people just didn’t click?

 

Evan didn’t really think that oversimplified answer was it though. He was thirty years old and had had his fair share of lovers in the past, so he recognized chemistry developing between a man and woman when he saw it. Yet when he was around Rena, he usually felt confused, unbalanced, and unsure of himself with the way she affected him like no other woman ever had before in his life.

 

She did something to his biochemistry, right down to his cellular level their attraction was so strong, and he knew she had to feel it too.

 

Just then, as if on cue, her body unconsciously seemed to be swaying her to move closer to him, almost like some unseen force likened to a gravitational pull was causing her to do so. When she became cognizant of the mini movement, her scowling only increased and she purposefully moved herself away from him to go sit down at one of the nearby table and chair sets.

 

Interesting. So it wasn’t just Evan’s imagination. That super strong, gut wrenching, soul-searing attraction was mutual. Yet it was like Rena didn’t want to want him, so she was going out of her way to dislike him, despite the fact that she didn’t even know him. He understood not wanting to get involved with a coworker because that could make things unnecessarily complicated and uncomfortable in the workplace.

 

Though the way in which Rena was treating him seemed to have a lot more to do with something deeply personal than anything professional anyway. No, this pseudo drama between them wasn’t about some random, petty personality conflict.

 

Plus, the way Rena’s arm had ever so slightly brushed against his as she rushed for the safety of the chair she was now seated in, made him once again rethink his own policy of never dating any colleagues. If they could each give into their mutual desire and act on the lust brewing between the two of them, Evan had an inkling that it would be worth it for him to simply find a new job.

 

Evan debated for a moment. Should he use this opportunity to try and find out what Rena’s problem with him was? Or should he simply ignore her? After all, she was behaving rather childishly… Ah to hell with it. Evan didn’t have anything better to do right now anyway, and who knew how long it would be before Security made their rounds again.

 

It could be close to another two hours before the guard returned to check out this floor so Evan and Rena could be released. Or even longer if the on duty guard fell asleep, as he was rumored to be prone to do.

 

Evan sat across from Rena and rested his arms on his legs, his hands clasped together in front of him as he leaned forward towards her. Though she was clearly uncomfortable at how his current position put him in close proximity to her, about a foot away from her, Rena didn’t even flinch.

 

She didn’t look away either; she simply held her ground and now seemed to be staring him down. Even more interesting. Apparently, they were going to have a staring contest. This was definitely going to be a more exciting night than Evan had originally anticipated…

~

Rena couldn’t believe it. A little while ago, she had ducked into the break room for just a few minutes to grab her makeup bag she’d inadvertently left in the women’s restroom in here earlier in the day. She’d decided to freshen up her makeup while she was at it, and then she was supposed to be on her way to her favorite restaurant to grab a drink and some food before going home to enjoy a nice, quiet evening. It had been a long, exhausting week. She hadn’t been at work until 9:00 pm on a Friday in a while and she hoped like hell she wouldn’t need to do it again for a long while to come.

 

Her job as a Senior Finance Manager meant that month end was often a busy time. However, Rena was normally able to manage it so that she didn’t have to stay too late. Unfortunately, one of her team’s Accountants had been out sick this week, so she’d pulled double duty taking care of both her and Stacey’s responsibilities. Rena hadn’t expected to be here past 7:00, maybe 7:30 tonight, but some unexpected delays had kept her here later that she’d wanted to be.

 

She also certainly hadn’t expected to run into the infuriatingly annoying man who was now sitting across from her like he owned the whole damn place, and was even now trying to intimidate her. Rena had worked in the male-dominated world of the video game industry for nearly a decade now, so at twenty-eight, she definitely knew not to make any more concessions in this situation.

Evan’s cockiness might irritate her to no end, but Rena Patel could handle herself in any situation. Even in such close proximity to the one man in the world that could have her losing all of her cool, poise, self-possession, and highly valued self-control…

 

Oh alright. So it wasn’t really Evan Cheong’s self-confidence that riled Rena. It wasn’t the way he seemed to always be so smooth and know exactly what to do and say no matter what came his way as the Director of the Game Design department. He was cool under fire in a high stress position in a way that could be envied by many C level and even senior level executives.

 

No, the problem was that Rena had never, ever in her life even considered dating a coworker. Yet, she always had to do her best to avoid Evan, or at least put up an abrasive front to get rid of him, because his very presence disturbed her neat, tidy little world. The one in which she was always in control, an alpha female who made no apologies, took no prisoners, and was always in the driver’s seat. Utilizing whatever tactics necessary, her intelligence and her feminine beauty included, as weapons at her disposal to fight for every promotion, and other corporate advantage that she could manage.

 

Rena couldn’t stray from that hard fought and won, blood, sweat and tears-forged path just because Evan clearly worked out and his handsome face as well as his magnificent body could easily drive her to distraction. His tall, lean, muscular frame apparent underneath his black colored “Black and Yellow” Wiz Khalifa t-shirt, and slightly baggie dark blue jeans. He towered over her 5’4” height, so he was likely at least 6’2”.

 

His tan skin always reminded her of smooth, creamy peanut butter. His boyish grin with perfectly straight, white teeth could nearly make her heart stop when he flashed it at anyone, but especially when it was coupled with his focus exclusively on her. Rena knew Evan was the kind of man who could easily make her a goner.

 

Rena also knew she couldn’t afford to be seen as weak, like some silly, simpering, swooning little high school girl with her first crush on a boy.

 

There was too much at stake with her career. She’d always opted for practical and professional so one major way for her to be taken seriously had always been to stay as far away from office affairs, gossip and politics as much as she possibly could. Rena didn’t care about coming off as a frigid bitch. That was how she’d built such a solid reputation in the last nearly seven years. She wasn’t an office flirt or a tease. She was quite simply a consummate professional.

 

However, every time Evan was around, he unnerved her, made her feel wanton and sexy with the way his eyes appraised her from head to toe so admiringly. Other men looked at her with desire, so they were easy to dismiss. Rena knew without a doubt that there was no substance behind any of those leers. There was something much more authentic about Evan though.

 

It was like he didn’t just want sex from her, but he also wanted to get to know the real her. As if he could be the half African-American and half Asian version of Adonis, a sultry man and her personal knight in shining armor that she could allow to seduce her then proceed to actually lose her heart to…

 

No! Rena definitely couldn’t have that. She couldn’t even let her mind begin to wonder down that road. She didn’t want to entertain that possibility because no one would get in the way of what she’d worked so hard to build. So she kept right on staring at Evan now, defiantly, but completely in silence. Firmly in control of this situation.

~

When the silence seemed to grow into a dense, tense, drama-filled, nearly unbearable force serving only to divide them further, Evan finally spoke. He did not, however, look away. He stared at her, unblinkingly and decided to go for the most direct approach. “So why is it that you hate me again? I like to think of myself as a pretty stand up kind of guy. I try to go out of my way not to offend anyone, yet you still seem to have a problem with me. Why?”

 

Rena stared right back at him, her glare so fierce, especially now that he’d asked his question that Evan was glad looks really couldn’t kill. “Not that I owe you any explanations, but I’m sure you’ve been on this planet long enough to realize that not all people get along well. Even when they have to work together.”

 

“Aww,” he said and paused briefly as though contemplating her words, before adding, “So you admit you don’t have a good reason to be biased against me? So then you’re simply being immature? Or have I actually done something unknowingly that’s causing a problem between us?”

 

He paused again briefly, his heart pounding so loudly in his chest he worried that she could hear it as he outwardly kept his composure, but still slid just a few inches closer to her. “Because if I have done something that’s made you angry, I would really like the opportunity to fix it.”

~

It was then that Evan flashed Rena another of his killer smiles that made her think that he should be a model for tooth paste ads. Or any type of model. His stunning looks reminded her suddenly of the NFL player Will Demps, though she wasn’t sure why she hadn’t seen that previously. No matter, she could still handle this.

 

Just because her hormones were screaming at her to do something she would undoubtedly regret later, didn’t mean she couldn’t keep her cool under pressure. No way was she going to go sit on Evan’s lap and rub her body all over his or throw him down to the floor so they could spread out and have more room to…

 

“Look, not everyone is as easily amused or charmed by play boy pretty boys like you. I’m only here to do my job, not make friends.”

 

Evan had stopped smiling upon hearing her words and even looked at her now with some concern on his face.

 

“Everyone needs friends Rena. But I’m not asking you to become my best friend right now, since I know you’d likely refuse outright anyway. It’s just that I’ve noticed how you’ve repeatedly gone out of your way to ignore me or if not, to be downright rude to me and constantly have an attitude with me specifically. If you were so unpleasant to everyone else, I would just assume that you’re grumpiness was part of your general antisocial personality. But since I already know that’s not the case, then I have to assume that you think I’m special for some reason. I’m simply interested in knowing why.”

 

Their staring game continued as Rena merely shrugged. Evan didn’t appear to be particularly off put by her ensuing silence before he tried again, approaching her verbally from a different angle this time. “So what kind of food do you like?”

 

“Spicy,” she replied, as if on autopilot, before she’d even had time to think about her response. Interestingly, something about any kind of heat and Evan in the same context, sent her pulse fluttering in an even more staccato fashion. Especially because she could see a spark in his eyes now that ran deep. So deep, it threatened to erupt into pure flame, igniting a desire so ardent that it seemed to reach out and touch her, sending liquid arousal straight to her crotch. Damn! This whole staying detached and seemingly unaffected façade wasn’t going nearly as well as she would’ve liked.

 

Fine. If he wanted to play a game of linguistic sparring, she was up for that. She hoped…

~

Spicy. Wild. Exotic. Erotic. Rena’s one word had created a series of word associations in Evan’s brain and subsequently, he was conjuring up all kinds of delicious scenarios involving the Indian beauty in front of him. All of them involved both of them being completely naked with sumptuous, decadent food he wanted to lick and eat off of her body.

 

Combining the foodie in him with his intense attraction to this mysterious woman was doing things to him that was making him all kinds of crazy at the moment. Not to mention that whatever pheromones she had that impacted his ability to create a coherent, rational thought had thoroughly high-jacked his brain.

 

“And what kind of music do you like?” he asked trying for more neutral conversational territory.

 

“The sensual kind, anything that’s rhythmic and seductive. Something that can really get me moving,” she replied in a way that was almost daring him to get ensnared in the challenging game of verbal innuendo they’d begun to play with one another.

 

Instead of allowing her to get off the hook, they maintained the intense eye contact as Evan slid even closer to Rena.

 

“And your favorite color?”

 

“Anything that looks good wrapped around and clinging to my body.”

 

Still keeping eye contact, Evan smoothly glided even closer to her. By now, their knees were nearly touching. The awareness between the two of them was growing exponentially, blazing like a wild, out of control fire. Before he could think better of it, Evan reached over and lightly touched her knee where it was barely revealed from the hem of her bland, conservative, beige dress.

 

He continued to move his hand ever so slightly, creeping his fingertips up her leg until he was stroking a small part of her inner thigh.

~

Rena’s eyes widened dramatically now, though whether from being appalled at his forward actions or from anticipation, she couldn’t really tell. Okay, so maybe it was the latter…

 

Evan’s touch felt so good, so magical, so sinfully indulgent to her that it was like his fingers had been predestined to gently caress her bare skin precisely at this moment. The warmth from his hand was magnetic, electric, just right and oh so amazing. She wondered if it would be that incredible when he touched her everywhere else too…

 

“You know, if I had to hazard a guess, I might begin to think that you don’t really dislike me at all. That maybe all of your frontin’ in the last two years since we’ve both worked here together has been an effort to maintain some professional distance.

 

And I get that. But Rena, aren’t you ready to take a chance? To risk doing something crazy and exciting, even if it is a bit daring, maybe even reckless, because you know, I mean really, really know deep down that it’ll all be worth it in the end?”

 

Rena could feel it, her resistance collapsing and melting away in this moment under the persuasion of Evan’s words and coaxing, silky voice, not to mention the gentle caresses of his hand still on her leg. If she let him in though, she knew she would never be the same.

 

She could already sense that the power of the passion he was promising her would forever hereafter alter her neat, boxed-in little life. Rena hadn’t ever believed in coloring outside the lines before. She’d always followed all the rules to the letter, hiding all her fears and insecurities behind her competent composure.

 

Yet right here and right now where there was no need to continue the masquerade any longer, least of all with herself, Rena began to believe that it might be possible. That she might be able to walk on the wild side with this ultra-hot video game designer with the BlacKorean swag. Evan could help her let her imagination run free, let her mind take a break while for once in her life, somebody else was in the driver’s seat.

 

She had to let go and give herself over to the sensations that were overwhelming her and threatening her with both emptiness and disappointment if she failed to seize this unanticipated opportunity. If nothing else, she had to satisfy her own curiosity and see where this night would take the two of them.

 

So as they both stopped talking and began instead to simply feel, both Rena and Evan’s eyes drifted shut before their lips embraced and sealed upon each other’s.

 

Then just like that, as quick as a blink, the night was now headed in a completely different direction than either of them had previously imagined possible.

 

 

 

 

About the Author:  CeCe Monét is a California native, residing in her hometown in the South Bay Los Angeles metro area. She loves the synergy between men and women which she captures in her contemporary romantic stories as well as poetry. She also has an affinity for the unusual including the paranormal and urban fantasy genres. Much of her writing focuses on the true essence of human nature via the choices people make when faced with unexpected circumstances as well as mixed cultures, biracial, interracial/multiracial and race relations matters.

 

“My family has some mixed race ancestry, so I think my background has influenced me to always look at race-related identity issues and how these factors can impact romantic involvements. Besides, I’m a sociologist, so I’m always trying to better understand people and culture and how society relates to human interactions and individual worldviews.”

 

 

 

 

Guest Columnist: CeCe Monet

AMBW

So for those newbies to the term “AMBW,” it’s the acronym that stands for Asian Men and Black Women.  I myself am an African-American woman (though my family does have some mixed race ancestry, as is common in the United States), and I have dated men of various ethnic backgrounds and have recently taken an interest in AMBW happenings.  So a few months ago (back in October), I was pleasantly surprised to come across several groups promoting and supporting AMBW couples on FaceBook, including http://www.facebook.com/ambwl, http://www.facebook.com/ambwpersuasion, http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/124324620997188/304501132979535/?notif_t=group_activity, and http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/120565204691002/335280723219448/?notif_t=group_activity.

Yet at the same time, I was little surprised too.  I’m definitely a healthy relationships’ advocate, so I’m of the firm mindset that there are no boundaries when it comes to love.  We should all love, date, marry and/or procreate with whomever we choose, regardless of color, race, nationality, etc. etc.  We’re all human, after all.  Sadly, even in the twenty-first century, there are still a myriad of people who are having a difficult time accepting the notions of interracial relationships and biracial/multiracial children.  Everyone seems to have different opinions on the topic of AMBW specifically, so we’ll cover a few of those points of view in just a few seconds.

First, I should point out a bit about my own worldview and a couple of quick things about my life experiences that have shaped my opinions too.  I live in Southern California, so the diversity here makes it difficult to remember that not everyone is surrounded by such a metropolitan environment, or such differing perspectives.  I see couples where each partner is of differing races frequently in my native LA.  Yet as I recently began to delve more and more into the Happa (people mixed with Asian ancestry), Blasian (Black and Asian), and AMBW community topics online, I had mixed feelings about what I found.

On the one hand, there were the people who want to create a united front between Black women and Asian men.  The most often sited reason was because if the media and our current social climate is constantly pushing Asian women and Black men as idealized sex objects, while portraying Asian men as brainy nerds and stereotyping Black women as angry and otherwise attitude having, we should connect.  That way, each of the outlier groups could support each other through romantic involvements, friendships and neutral common ground shared both in cyber space as well as in real life.

On the other hand, there were people who negated the possibility that we all needed to come together as a sort of coalition.  In fact, as often pointed out in Ranier’s blog (ranierm.wordpress.com), AMBW is not, or shouldn’t be some sort of movement.  We should all just date who we want to.  Color just happens to be part of the physical characteristics a person is born with.  It doesn’t necessarily define who he or she is.  So Black women shouldn’t really consider dating a man just because he is Asian (as some of the anime fan girls online seem to have an affinity for doing), or vice versa.  Since after all, as TK the Korean likes to point out (http://askakorean.blogspot.com/) we’re all men and women first and foremost, so find someone you like and go from there.

It’s interesting to me too that there are so many Asian men and Black women that are attracted to each other and yet, don’t seem to be able to find each other so they can connect socially.  This is poignantly and sometimes comically discussed by Jenna Rose and icysparks2007 is often chiming in and pointing out on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/user/JennaCLuv/videos and http://www.youtube.com/my_subscriptions?feature=mhee&s=PMFThPOtobws4XmwBnhOgTm9IUKCmiIdlzjox0Mtrm4 respectively).

Though, as TK also points out, there can be family acceptance issues with AMBW couples too.  I can attest that I have at times seen parents giving the disapproving “look” or glare, making rude comments or flat out disowning their children for dating or marrying outside of their own race.  Which is ironic to me, because really, what difference does it make?  Being a parent now myself, I can honestly say that at the end of the day, as long as my son chooses someone who he is well matched with (equally yoked, as the Bible would say), where there is mutual respect, love, and they treat one another well, who cares if his future significant other is purple?

I think people sometimes get so caught up in archaic ideologies and not really understanding who they, or other people are as individuals because of what they have been taught. It’s easy to forget the basic fundamentals and what’s really important about human connections.  No, the world is not colorblind and yes, different cultures in the same relationship can impact it, at times negatively, because upbringing affects people’s worldviews.  However, if two people can come together to work things out, between the two of them, and have a successful relationship, at the end of the day, it only matters what the two of them think about seeing each other. 

So after checking out so many varying opinions on AMBW, and even having dated several Asian men myself along the way, I’ve stuck with my original thoughts on the matter.  Date whoever you want!  Focus on being happy and in a healthy relationship.  Don’t let other people’s prejudice determine the path you choose for your life, because the decision is ultimately yours.  So own it proudly.

If you want to check out more of my random musings, check me out at http://cecemonet.com/ or e-mail me at cecemonet1@gmail.com.  Feel free to drop me a line and let me know your thoughts on AMBW, or any other interracial relationship topics.

 

 

About the Author CeCe Monét is a California native, residing in her hometown in the South Bay Los Angeles metro area. She loves the synergy between men and women which she captures in her contemporary romantic stories as well as poetry. She also has an affinity for the unusual including the paranormal and urban fantasy genres. Much of her writing focuses on the true essence of human nature via the choices people make when faced with unexpected circumstances as well as mixed cultures, biracial, interracial/multiracial and race relations matters.

 

“My family has some mixed race ancestry, so I think my background has influenced me to always look at race-related identity issues and how these factors can impact romantic involvements. Besides, I’m a sociologist, so I’m always trying to better understand people and culture and how society relates to human interactions and individual worldviews.”

 

 

Guest Columnist: Shakurah

Same-Race Dating is a Luxury

By Shakurah

I would like to offer a perspective that is not often discussed.

English: Black woman with a tattoo on her left...

English: Black woman with a tattoo on her left shoulder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exclusive same-race, same-ethnicity, same-religion dating is a luxury.

I have met many people during the course of my life of different races and ethnic backgrounds that are not open to interracial dating or relationships because they feel more connected to people of their own background on various levels.

This is completely understandable in many ways. However, I posit that the decision to date only people of the same or similar racial, religious or ethnic backgrounds reflects a luxury and a privilege.

People who make this decision to date exclusively people only of their own race or ethnic background, which is their right, have the luxury and privilege of having a large enough population or dating pool of attractive, interesting and eligible people to choose from, from their background.

Perhaps they grew up in and/or live in a particular geographic area or city, go to a particular college or work in a particular environment where there are many eligible people of their background to choose from.

But what happens when this is not the case for you? What happens if you are born and raised in an environment where you are the minority in a profound way, where there are very few eligible people of your race or ethnic background to choose from?

This is my background. A black woman, I was born and raised in a predominantly, white, Irish Catholic suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. There were 4 other black families in my neighborhood and only one of those families had a boy whom I ended up being childhood friends with and who was mostly like a brother to me.

I was the only black child in the majority of my classes in elementary and middle school. By the time I reached high school and was at the age where I wanted to date and go to the prom, the majority, and I do mean majority of teenage boys who were potential dates for me were white. I could count on one hand the eligible black guys available to me to date. For those who think I’m exaggerating, I’m not. This is really what it is like for some of us, a minority within a minority because we don’t share the life experiences of other members of our race.

What was I to do if I rigidly adhered to a decision to only date black guys? Well, I would have been out of luck, that’s what. It’s not that I didn’t want to date black guys; the issue is that they just weren’t there in large enough numbers for me to have a fair chance at finding someone I was compatible with. And this is why I think dating people only of your race is a luxury and privilege. I didn’t have that luxury or privilege of being surrounded by lots and lots of people like me, and I know there are others out there like me. I had to be open-minded and non-racist. I had to reach out to others different from me in terms of race, religion and ethnicity. If I had not, I would have enclosed myself in a box of lack and limitation.

I discovered the beauty and richness of other cultures very early on because I had to. What other choice did I have? When I was finally old enough to date, my first boyfriends were white. The first guy I kissed was white. My prom date was white. From my earliest teenage dating experiences, it was white guys that would pick me up, take me to their soccer games, invite me over to lunch, introduce me to their parents and ask me to be their girlfriend. I was so blessed that they liked me for me and didn’t care about my skin color. It wasn’t a ton of white guys either, but enough that they made a special mark on my life.  It wasn’t black guys doing this, because they weren’t there, plain and simple.

Those who would criticize those of us who are open to interracial relationships need to understand our history and be more compassionate about the circumstances some of us were born into. I repeat: I didn’t have the luxury to choose only black males as dating partners. I didn’t choose to be born and raised in a place where I was almost always the “only one.” I didn’t ask for that. But I’m glad I was born where I was. My early childhood, adolescent and young adult experiences helped me develop into an open-minded, curious, and inquisitive woman who benefited from my broad exposure to cultures and races other than my own.  My early experiences helped me grow into a woman who has traveled extensively around the world with an openness and delight in other languages, cuisines, cultures and ways of thinking.

As far as dating during the course of my life, I never excluded anyone who was kind, intelligent, respectful and loving towards me, whether he was black, Asian, Jewish, European ancestry, or whatever because I value mental, emotional and spiritual qualities above all else. I would recommend that other black women do the same. Now, I have been married to a wonderful white man for over 10 years now. Did my early life experiences shape my choice in a husband? You bet they did. My early life experiences with white males gave me a comfort level with them that I’ll be forever grateful for.

In summary, those who exclusively date people only from their own background do so because that option is actually available to them.

If people who now date exclusively and only people from their racial, ethnic or religious background were to find themselves in a situation where the numbers of available and eligible people of their background were to diminish, they would likely make different choices. It’s either open up to people not of your specific background and make new choices or have no friends and no one to date. Some of us have had to face making that decision at a very young age.

 

Guest Columnist: Marcia Alesan Dawkins

 

It’s official. We’re a “miscegeNation.” The 2010 Census results are reminding us that multiracialism is not only our destiny but our reality. We’re seeing the rise of the most diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history with a record low white population—the millennials.

According to the New York Times, “Young Americans are far less white than older generations, a shift that demographers say creates a culture gap with far-reaching political and social consequences.”

 

Perhaps no popular culture image provides a more accurate snapshot of this shift better than the “Mix 2Gether” commercial for Activision’s DJ Hero 2 video game. Released in October 2010, the commercial features interracial partygoers who “mix it up” interpersonally and sexually—by sharing birthmarks, braces, tattoos, skin tones, body parts and affection. These images suggest that the time for multiracialism is now. That multiracialism is young, divorced from parental guidance, and remixing history. That it is reflected best on bodies and in media. And, importantly, that it is not dominated by face-to-face dialogue.

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Does today’s focus on multiracialism mean that we’re finally seeing the end of racism? Or does it mean that racism has simply gone underground?

 

The answer depends largely on talking and to whom we talk. Many would like to believe that our comfort with categorizing people as multiracial has erased racism and the stigma of interracial relations. Here is a perfect example: In defending herself and the tea party against the NAACP’s charges of racism, Sarah Palin calls on her own multiracial family as evidence in a Facebook post titled “The Charge of Racism: It’s Time to Bury the Divisive Politics of the Past”:

 

“I just spent a few beautiful Alaskan days with some beautiful Americans in my husband’s birthplace—they are Todd’s family and they are Yupik Eskimo. In the decades that our families have blended, I have never heard one proud, patriotic member judge another member based on skin color. … Being with our diverse family in a melting pot that is a Native village just days ago reminded me … that [it is foreign to us to consider condemning or condoning anyone’s actions based on race].”

 

Translation: Multiracial families bestow the skill of racial reconciliation that will result in the end of racism. What is more, multiracial families can even promote the end of race. Palin is not the only one who expresses such views. The politically correct lip service that says that multiracial individuals and families are not racist and naturally racially progressive abounds in the press and blogosphere.

 

This sexy-but-flawed way of thinking is based totally on appearances. Because of our nation’s history of slavery, segregation and interment, racism is conflated with physical racial separation. As a consequence racial progress is conflated with racial mixing. Multiracial individuals and interracial families are touted as icons of racial healing because they are thought to have special insights based on what they are—mixed. In his 2008 “A More Perfect Union” speech, President Obama addressed how absurd this kind of thinking is. He said that his grandmother “once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.” The president also implied that the idea of multiracials ending racism ignores the fact that interracial romantic relationships still experience higher rates of failure and divorce than same-sex relationships (i.e., his own parents’ divorce; Halle Berry’s and Gabriel Aubry’s custody battle over their daughter, Nahla).

 

If we still think that being multiracial or being part of a multiracial family automatically ends racism, then we must consider the cases of Lawrence Dennis and Leo Felton. Dennis, the multiracial right-wing fascist, was charged with sedition for allegedly seeking to establish a Nazi regime in the U.S. during World War II. Felton, a multiracial white supremacist, was convicted of bank robbery and plotting to blow up Jewish and African-American landmarks around Boston. The child of an interracial couple, Felton wrote a letter in which he criticized his parents and said he is “an unrepentant enemy of the multicultural myth.” Multiracial backgrounds did not encourage these men to become racial healers.

 

As strange as it might sound, today’s fascination with appearances and with multiracial identities may prove to be tragically more effective at hiding racism than healing it. Rather than attending only to increasingly diverse appearances, we should pay attention to what’s going on beneath the surface—in people’s hearts and minds and, equally important, in public policies these hearts and minds create. For it is there that we can win the battle against racism’s increasingly pernicious and colorblind qualities.

 

About the Author:

Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Ph.D. is a Visiting Scholar at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. An award-winning writer, speaker, and educator, Dawkins — known to “tweeps” as @drdawkins09 — writes frequently on race, diversity, media, religion, and politics for several outlets, including The Huffington Post, Truthdig, The Root, and Cultural Weekly, among others. She is the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity and Eminem: The Real Slim Shady.

Her expert opinion has been sought out by NPR, WABC-TV Boston, The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The Leadership Alliance, and the Public Relations Society of America. She earned her PhD in communication from USC Annenberg, her master’s degrees in humanities from USC and NYU and her bachelor’s degrees in communication arts and honors from Villanova.

 

Basically, she’s a smart, funny, extremely lovely lady. For more information about the author please visit her website.

 

 

Guest Colmnist: Marcia Alesan Dawkins

In 1958, a newly married couple, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were indicted on charges of violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages.

On January 6, 1959 they pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced to one year in jail. However, “the trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years.” The Lovings challenged this sentence by questioning whether the State of Virginia‘s actions to prevent and outlaw interracial marriage violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

 

 

The result of this challenge came on June 12, 1967, when Chief Justice Warren delivered the opinion of the Court: “The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy… There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classification violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause. These convictions must be reversed. It is so ordered.” In a rare interview with the Associated Press, Jeter-Loving reacted to the verdict by explaining that the victory “was God’s work.”

 

More than four decades later, the Lovings would be proud to know that the interracial marriage rate among newlyweds has increased by 300% (reaching an all-time high). To be more concrete, that means approximately 1 in 7 marriages in 2008 was interracial or interethnic. According to the Pew Research Center, this dramatic increase is due to a generational shift that coincides with growing acceptance of interracial relationships and recent immigration patterns.

 

Professors Teresa Nance and Anita Foeman also attribute this surge to couples’ increased attention to the four stages of interracial relationship development. In the first stage, racial awareness, partners reconcile inconsistent beliefs between themselves and with larger racial groups. They will often ask themselves things like “how would my partner feel if (s)he heard this?” In the second stage, couples learn to cope with discrimination through protective and/or defensive communication skills. In other words, they draw closer as they work through positive and negative experiences that shape their self-images. In the third stage, partners discover and manage their identity as a couple by rethinking and challenging the frames imposed by others. For instance, a white partner might explain that “if you love a person who is black, racism is really intolerable.” In the final stage, the relationship is maintained by re-examining the role of race. Successful couples ultimately determine that long-term attraction is based on compatibility and shared vision rather than racial preference or bias.

 

Though this year marks the 45th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, accompanied by a joyful celebration at the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival in Los Angeles, discrimination against interracial couples persists. As recently as 2009 a New Orleans justice of the peace refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, Beth Humphrey, 30 and Terence McKay, 32. Keith Bardwell provided this explanation: “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in the mixing of races that way… I have piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them like everyone else.” This explanation sparked a letter from the ACLU to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, requesting an investigation of Bardwell and recommending “the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice.” And in 2011, members at the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in eastern Kentucky resolved that their church “does not condone interracial marriage.”

 

With such varied opinions the question remains: Do interracial relationships support or dismantle racism and racist images?

 

Some say yes and some say know. Opinion polls show overwhelming popular support, especially among younger people, for interracial marriage based on celebrity modeling–Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower, Paula Patton and Robin Thicke. In addition, Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, Brothers and Sisters, and Modern Family are among the popular television shows that represent mixed relationships positively. On the other hand, John Mayer’s crude comments about avoiding interracial relationships show how deeply history has been shaped by the color line and the ways in which that line continues to segregate us. Then there’s Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, which garnered criticism for pairing Tiana, its first black princess, with a prince of a different (and unknown) racial background.

 

A more complex statement is made by Alicia Keys’s video Unthinkable (I’m Ready), which explores the gender dynamics of interracial relationships by dramatizing the natures of attraction and societal obstacles over time. Keys’s conclusion is, at best, ambiguous because it is unclear whether the couple is able to maintain a shared vision for their relationship in the face of ongoing racial prejudice. At worst, her conclusion affirms that interracial relationships are doomed because historical taboos persist in spite of the media’s post-racial rhetoric.

[youtube]HhuGQUZJot8[/youtube]

 

So, if Mildred Jeter-Loving was right and the fight for equality is “God’s work,” then it appears that God’s work is as yet unfinished.

 

 

About the Author: Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Ph.D. is a Visiting Scholar at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. An award-winning writer, speaker, and educator, Dawkins — known to “tweeps” as @drdawkins09 — writes frequently on race, diversity, media, religion, and politics for several outlets, including The Huffington Post, Truthdig, The Root, and Cultural Weekly, among others. She is the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity and Eminem: The Real Slim Shady.

 

Her expert opinion has been sought out by NPR, WABC-TV Boston, The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The Leadership Alliance, and the Public Relations Society of America. She earned her PhD in communication from USC Annenberg, her master’s degrees in humanities from USC and NYU and her bachelor’s degrees in communication arts and honors from Villanova.

 

Basically, she’s a smart, funny, extremely lovely lady. For more information about the author please visit her website.

 

 

 

 

Guest Columnist: Marcia Alesan Dawkins

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably been invited to commemorate or at least think about Loving Day this year.

 

Mildred and Richard Loving

Mildred and Richard Loving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And with good reason. In 1958, newlyweds Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were indicted on charges of violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages and were banished from their home state. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the law in 1967. Many multiracial individuals and interracial couples celebrate the anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision, June 12, as Loving Day.

 

While celebrating this important civil rights milestone, we should remember that increased visibility of interracial couples and offspring does not promise increased racial harmony. Let’s face facts. It’s very sexy to congratulate ourselves based on reports that today’s interracial families can live harmoniously in the former Confederacy.

 

We’re entertained as we watch Khloe and Lamar’s relationship work out. It makes us feel good to think that we have overcome, that we have reached a state of racial harmony and that we are all finally equal—and becoming equally beige and beautiful.

 

But a desire to congratulate ourselves doesn’t erase the fact that racial mixing has been occurring in our nation and hemisphere for more than 500 years. Colonists and indigenous people married and engaged in extramarital sexual relations. White indentured servants mixed with African indentured servants and then with African slaves.

And there’s a long history of black freedmen and freedwomen intermarrying with Native Americans, as well as white males (often forcibly) having sex with black females. There are the interracial children fathered by U.S. soldiers and born to foreign lovers and “comfort women” in war-torn Asian, European, and Middle Eastern nations. Add this to centuries’ worth of Asian and Hispanic immigration and 40 years’ worth of official interracial marriage patterns and you have what many might call the “tanning” of America.

 

But before we declare a final victory over racism’s ugly history let’s review some facts.

 

Think about it. If the mere presence of interracial intimacy was enough to bring about racial harmony, it would have happened long ago. Instead, laws were passed to keep races apart. Punishments, including fines, imprisonment and death, were instituted to keep people from crossing the color line. Loving Day is a time for us to celebrate that many of these laws and punishments have been overturned—and it’s also a time to remember that the racism inspiring such laws and punishments lives on in many communities. As Diane Farr put it recently, some of us continue the interracial struggle having “been told there was a right and an ‘over my dead body’ [racial] choice for love.”

 

Some of us have been told that there is a right and wrong gender choice for love too. In light of this, Loving Day is not just a commemorative anniversary for heterosexual interracial families and multiracial individuals. Loving Day is increasingly celebrated by supporters of same-sex marriage—a right that Mildred Jeter-Loving supported in her later years.

 

Recently president Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage and SSM is permitted in at least five of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, even though the Williams Institute reports that 9 million adults identify as LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Compare that 9 million to the 9 million people in the 2010 census who identified themselves as being of two or more races and you’ll see that we’re talking about a population that deserves just as much attention and acceptance.

 

Unfortunately, reliable data about how many LBGT people are multiracial or are partners in interracial romantic relationships is hard to find. However, discussions about Loving Day, multiracial identities and interracial romantic relationship issues are taking place within LGBT communities. And many Loving Day communities are returning the favor.

 

As we celebrate Loving Day, we might also remember that some people choose not to have interracial romantic relationships and that this choice does not necessarily make them racists. Take singer-actress Jill Scott. Scott came under fire for confessing that she sometimes “wince[s] in her spirit” when she hears about black male-white female romantic relationships. Let’s add a bit of context here. Discrimination and violence have resulted in unequal racial populations and beauty standards. Our history of slavery, lynching and imprisonment has had a disproportionate effect on black males as a demographic.

 

Black women face particular challenges when it comes to being considered beautiful candidates for long-term relationships. While many of us may not agree with Scott’s comments, it is important to acknowledge her perspective in context. Freedom goes both ways, especially if we’re attempting to escape our comfort zones and have conversations about race, sex, love, beauty, and relationships in the spirit of openness and acceptance that Loving Day represents.

 

So as we celebrate Loving Day this year, let’s do the Lovings justice. On the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Mildred Loving, then long widowed, issued a rare public statement. She said, “… not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry.

 

I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others… I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.” We hear you Mildred.

 

About the Author:

Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Ph.D. is a Visiting Scholar at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. An award-winning writer, speaker, and educator, Dawkins — known to “tweeps” as @drdawkins09 — writes frequently on race, diversity, media, religion, and politics for several outlets, including The Huffington Post, Truthdig, The Root, and Cultural Weekly, among others. She is the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity and Eminem: The Real Slim Shady.

Her expert opinion has been sought out by NPR, WABC-TV Boston, The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The Leadership Alliance, and the Public Relations Society of America. She earned her PhD in communication from USC Annenberg, her master’s degrees in humanities from USC and NYU and her bachelor’s degrees in communication arts and honors from Villanova.

Basically, she’s a smart, funny, extremely lovely lady. For more information about the author please visit her website.

 

Guest Columnist: Shakurah

 

Meditation

Meditation (Photo credit: atsukosmith)

For Black Women: A Healing Meditation

By Shakurah

 

You do not have to spend much time in the internet world today to see an abundance of negative en

ergy directed towards black women. Our identity as a whole has taken such a beating in this culture.

 

Black skin is what people of other backgrounds first see and it is how we are judged. Black people also judge other Black people negatively and harshly, often on the basis of lighter or darker skin tone.

 

Our skin is a living part of us that has been unfairly burdened with negative messages. We as black women have taken countless emotional blows for looking how we look, for being who we are.

 

If we do not take care and find ways to shield ourselves, many of these negative messages can seep into our consciousness without us being aware of it, causing damage to our spirits. All of us have areas to improve in, but the commentary on black women is often downright brutal.

 

As a black woman, think it is time to focus on some healing balms and antidotes to all of this negativity.

 

I dedicate this meditation to black women who need love, too.

 

You may read it to yourself or have a loving, supportive person read it to you.

 

If you like, have a bottle of your favorite lotions or oils nearby for this meditation.

 

May it be a soothing balm to your soul and a reminder of your Goodness.

 

****************************

 

Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit and settle in, preparing yourself for this meditation. If you wish to change your posture, (to laying down, for example) at any point during this meditation, you are free to do so.

 

First, we will bring the energy of relaxation into the mind, emotions, and body.

 

Take a slow, deep breath in… and out…, relaxing your neck and shoulders. Do this as many times as yo

u need to start to unwind from your day. Let the relaxation spread throughout your body, like flowing water.

 

As you sit, notice the state of your mind without judgment. What emotions are you feeling? How is your body feeling?

 

Pause for several moments to experience this.

 

Whatever you find, gently send yourself the message, “It is ok to relax. It’s ok to relax.”

 

Say gently to your mind, “It is ok to relax.” Say lovingly to your emotions, “It’s ok to relax.” Say to any hurt, tight, or tense area of your body, “It’s ok to relax.”

 

This is my time now and it’s ok to relax.”

 

Give yourself permission to relax to the best of your ability at this time, remembering to breathe in and

out at a slow, gentle pace.

 

Now, gently and lovingly, bring your attention to your skin. This is the beautiful, rich skin that was passed on to you by your ancestors.

 

With gratitude, we thank our ancestors for our skin.

 

Connect with your own skin. (At this time, use your lotions or oils if you like). Your dark skin needs your love and care. We see our skin every waking moment-how often do we really connect with it? Spend time embracing and loving the darkness of your own skin.

 

Take a moment to caress and touch the beautiful, dark skin of your face, hands, arms and legs and feet. Send your gratitude, love, and appreciation into your skin with each touch.

 

“My black skin, I am grateful for you and I love, value and appreciate you.”

 

Notice how your skin responds to your love. Send healing love and compassion into your skin. Your bla

ck skin has feelings too. Your skin deserves this love.

 

Take your time.

 

As you go inside of yourself, in this meditative state, notice if your skin has any messages for you. How

is your skin feeling? How does it feel about living in the culture it lives in? Listen deeply within to what your skin has to say to you.

 

“Black skin, what do you have to say to me? I am ready to listen.” Listening to your skin may help you uncover wounds that need healing. Listen, and get to know yourself on a new level.

 

Take a few moments to listen within now.

 

This is the time to show your skin that you love and appreciate it. Tell your skin how much you appreciate it for all it has done for you. Give your skin the loving care and acceptance it needs.

 

This is the biologically brilliant skin that protects us from harmful UV rays from the sun.

 

“My black skin, I thank you. “

 

This is the skin that protects the internal structure of our bodies.

 

“My black skin, I love you.”

 

This is the skin of the Mother of Humanity.

 

“My black skin, I thank you.”

 

Affirm the Goodness of your skin. Know that it is good. It is a part of you that you can have a good relationship with. Remind your skin of its innocence.

 

As you caress your skin, repeat to yourself:

 

“My black skin, you are Good and Innocent. You are Good and Innocent.” Say it silently o

r out loud a

s many times as it feels good to say.

 

See how your skin responds to this.

 

Our skin is the gateway to our Spirit and Soul. Contemplative reflection on the Beauty and Sacred Nature of our skin can connect us to our inner Self and inner voice that must be heard.

 

How does it feel for you being a black woman, living in your skin? What burdens might you be carrying, because of other’s perceptions of your black skin?

 

Enter into a dialogue with your skin and find out how your skin can assist you in healing.

 

Take some time to contemplate this. Take time to be aware and heal.

 

“My black skin, I love you.” Know that there is strength and power emanating from your skin. Allow yourself to be enveloped in this strength and power as you face the world.

 

You may stay in this meditative state, communing with your lovely black skin as long as you like.

 

When you are complete with the meditation for now, stretch gently in any way that feels good to help you transition to the rest of your day. Breathe softly and slowly. Come back to this place often to surround your skin and your entire being with the Love you so richly deserve.

 

**If you received messages from your skin during this meditation, it may be a healing practice to write in a journal any messages you may wish to revisit or explore more deeply. If you received any messages from your skin that you would like to share, please feel free to post them in the comments section.

 

 

Guest Columnist: Stephanie Chick

What I Learned From White Men

By Stephanie Chick

 

In corporate America, white men have always held powerful positions of authority. From first-level managers to GMs, from senior VPs to C-Suite executives, you’ll find white men wielding power and influence.

 

As a black woman, it would be easy for me to feel contempt for white men and be envious of their status and success. But I don’t — not even a little bit.

 

Early in my career, I realized that I could have one of two perspectives: view white men as the “enemy” or accept that whether by privilege or perseverance, they know how to succeed and maybe they have something to teach me. I chose the latter and as a result white men have been some of my greatest mentors and sponsors, and a few of them have become close friends. And over the years, I’ve learned lots of lessons from them.

 

The first lesson took place when I was a junior in college and worked as an intern at IBM. My manager at the time, a white man named Burt Spurrier, was very demanding, mostly encouraging and a little hovering. But he gave me the opportunity to work with senior managers and sales representatives in the office, which gave me great exposure and helped me to hone my skills.

 

I thrived on new challenges and experiences but I was still learning how to navigate office politics. One day a senior sales rep was a bit prickly and demanding on a project I was working on with him and it made me feel uncomfortable and lose confidence so I started to tear up.

 

Burt was hovering nearby and quickly pulled me aside and said, “You don’t cry here. You’re going to be challenged, you’re going to get your feelings hurt, but if you have to cry, you need to go to the bathroom or better yet, pack up your desk and go home.” Then he walked away and left me standing there all alone.

 

I hurried to the bathroom and sat in a stall and cried for a few minutes and then I dried my tears and went back to find the prickly sales rep to finish the project because it was due before I left at 3pm.

 

The first lesson I learned from white men was to develop a thick skin.

 

I learned another important life lesson from a white man named Todd Cromwell, my favorite manager when I worked at H-P. When Todd showed up to replace my former manager, he looked so young that many employees were dismissive of him. He had this piercing Steve Jobs-like stare that scared the bejeezus out of me but something told me not to write him off so quickly.

 

Shortly after taking the job, Todd had individual conversations with all the members of our team to size everyone up. A few weeks later he asked to meet with me again and to my surprise, he offered me a promotion. I couldn’t believe that in a single conversation he saw that much potential in me and felt I could handle the challenge.

 

Up to that point, I thought you had to pay your dues and fight for growth opportunities. I’d always expected that I would move up one day, but I thought it would be years down the road. In fact, I almost refused the promotion because I, like many women I’ve spoken to over the years, felt a little bit guilty that Todd had chosen me.

 

I had only been with H-P for eight months and certainly there were other people far more qualified. I nervously accepted the position and a few months in, I found my sea legs and excelled in the position. And since that experience, I’ve never ever shied away from accepting big opportunities. When Todd offered me the job he was telling me that he believed in me and knew what I was capable of doing. I was the one who felt doubtful and undeserving.

 

A second lesson I learned from white men is to always feel worthy.

 

The third white man who taught me an important lesson was Marshall Goldsmith, my mentor after I left corporate America. During our first phone conversation, we talked about our backgrounds and where I was trying to go in my career. Then I started asking way too many questions and challenging his many insights and he abruptly said, “Shut up.” I was shocked and upset and was tempted to overreact, but then I thought, “He has riled me so there must be something here that I don’t get.”

 

What I didn’t get was that Marshall simply wanted to give to me. I didn’t need to show him how smart I was or earn his mentorship. I just needed to accept his generous gift. He didn’t expect anything back from me in return and that was the lesson that I needed to learn.

 

The third lesson that I learned from white men was how to receive.

 

Throughout my career, white men have taught me many other things. To never have a false sense of security. To see failure as opportunity. And that sometimes you have to use “bravado and balls” to get people to take you seriously.

 

The truth is white men have challenged, guided, and strengthened me. It hasn’t always been easy to work with them, but I can’t deny the positive impact they’ve had on my professional development and for that I’m deeply grateful.

 

White men are cool with me and when I’m around them I don’t feel intimidated or resentful. Instead, I feel powerful and in control. That’s because one of the most important lessons I learned from white men is how to be their equal.

 

 

About the Author:

 

Stephanie Chick is the visionary creator of Deliver the Package®, a breakthrough coaching model that teaches you how to unleash your personal genius in the workplace and beyond. Stephanie is an inspiring and results-focused professional coach. She is passionate about helping employees unleash their genius inside and outside corporate America.

 

Stephanie’s coaching insights have been featured in major publications such as BusinessWeek, Essence, Black Enterprise, Harvard Business Online and Diversity, Inc. Stephanie is the author of Deliver the Package: Simple truths to help you set your genius free. The book shares simple yet significant truths to help employees unleash their genius–at work and in life.

 

To learn more, visit her website, Deliver the Package.com

Guest Columnist: Marcia Alesan Dawkins

Recently released reports by the Pew Center and the US Census Bureau indicate that intermarriage across racial and ethnic lines and an increasing non-white demographic continue to be on the rise in the U.S.

 

Given this month’s focus on Loving Day and its impact on multiracial ancestries we can certainly take this news as cause for celebration and a reason to continue the fight for marriage equality everywhere.

 

And, as I argue in my book Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, we should remember that a fuller and more accurate historical account of interracial sex and marriage in the U.S. should also focus on the details.

 

Enter Natasha Trethewey, the United States’ next poet laureate.

 

Tretheway, the multiracial African-American daughter of an interracial couple, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of three collections and a professor of creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta.

 

She is first Southerner to hold the post since Robert Penn Warren, the original laureate, and the first African-American since Rita Dove in 1993.

 

But Tretheway is much more than the sum of her parts. As the product of a union that was still a crime in Mississippi when her parents married, and of a nation still bearing the scars of its broken union, she is the voice of a history that has been largely unwritten.

 

Take her brilliant poem, “Miscegenation” from the Native Guard collection:

 

“In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;

they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.

 

They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name

begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong – mis in Mississippi.

 

A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving Mississippi.

 

Faulkner’s Joe Christmas was born in winter, like Jesus, given his name for the day he was left at the orphanage, his race unknown in Mississippi.

 

My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name. I was born near Easter, 1966, in Mississippi.

 

When I turned 33 my father said, It’s your Jesus year – you’re the same age he was when he died. It was spring, the hills green in Mississippi.

 

I know more than Joe Christmas did. Natasha is a Russian name – though I’m not; it means Christmas child, even in Mississippi.”

 

For Trethewey, love and identity know no bounds. Perhaps this is why she expresses them so boundlessly through her poetry. In Trethewey’s work we get a glimpse into the humanity, history, and society we all share if we are brave enough to hear them out. And, with Trethewey as our next poet laureate, that is exactly what we should be proud to do.

 

Trethewey’s next collection of poems, Thrall, will be published this year. It explores her relationship with her father and her interracial familial memories, along with poems about art and the history of knowledge from the Enlightenment.

 

 

About the Author: Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Ph.D. is a Visiting Scholar at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. An award-winning writer, speaker, and educator, Dawkins — known to “tweeps” as @drdawkins09 — writes frequently on race, diversity, media, religion, and politics for several outlets, including The Huffington Post, Truthdig, The Root, and Cultural Weekly, among others. She is the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity and Eminem: The Real Slim Shady.

 

Her expert opinion has been sought out by NPR, WABC-TV Boston, The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The Leadership Alliance, and the Public Relations Society of America. She earned her PhD in communication from USC Annenberg, her master’s degrees in humanities from USC and NYU and her bachelor’s degrees in communication arts and honors from Villanova.

 

 

Basically, she’s a smart, funny, extremely lovely lady. For more information about the author please visit her website.