MixedRoots Blogging while mixed. Commentary on being biracial, challenging perceptions of race & religion in life and politics. Connecting all Cultures. Unity and Peace. Dedicated to celebrating all cultures, including mixed-heritages, inter-racial & inter-religious families and unions while educating others about the unique mixed-race and multicultural experience. Bridging the gaps between racial, ethnic, cultural & religious differences.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Malcolm & Marley

Malcolm & Marley

Malcolm & Marley

Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little in 1925 in Omaha Nebraska. This month of May is the month he was born and he'd be 83 years of age if he were living. When I was at university, it intrigued me when I learned he was mixed-race. His mother was biracial and looked white and her father---Malcolm's grandfather--- was a white man. Learning this fact, gave me confidence, to feel black, be black and live my black experience, as mixed up as it was.

I grew up with both parents in the home, a white mother and a black father. My father is an only child, therefore, I didn't have extensive family relations with my black family. Consequently, my family and reference of an extended family was primarily white. Additionally, I went to a school made up of white students. I lived in a racially-mixed neighborhood. Yet I was still odd-out with both whites and blacks in the neighborhood because I was half of one or half of the other.

I believe the void of not connecting to, or being around my black people was realized and actually manifest itself when I went off to school. The truth is also, while in college, I didn't find a place where I could be mixed and I certainly couldn't be white. The campus was very segregated, just as much and I dare say moreso than the communities off campus. I eventually experienced an identity shift or a full-on embracing of my blackness. Although, I was taught by my parents that I am black, I know I'm black-- but I’m white as well—but I didn't fit in with the black kids growing up, because I was part white. I was the mixed kid in the neighborhood, and I was the mixed-black girl at school. I didn’t really fit in with the white kids because I was part black. I actually spent from 2nd grade until graduation in that white school, so by the time I reached college, I was apparently eager to embrace my blackness and be accepted by my black peers. So it was decided.. I was black. Wow! It’s a perpetual merry-go-round and if you think this paragraph makes your head spin, try living the experience!

Another pop culture influence, which proved significant, was the television show ---A Different World--- you remember that one right? Whitley, Duane, Denise and the gang. The original lead character role of Denise Huxtable, was played by Lisa Bonet. Bonet, appeared clearly mixed to me, but as usual, she was cast to play a mono-racial black girl. That was the “one-drop rule” in effect again. The same goes for Jasmine Guy as Whitley. But, that show and the casting of the mixed-race youth --pigeon holing or not--gave many mixed girls, especially those of a black/white mix, who struggled with racial identity, it gave us a certain confidence and place in the black student body. I enjoyed having a racial home among my peers, finally! I believe because the premise of the show was the college experience, it was something that was very relatable to all mixed girls at that time. On the flip-side of that liberating experience, it was not so great when I went home for visits. My mother was dumbfounded, because she didn't recognize the girl wearing the onk, with the (magnet) nose ring, toe ring and a new view on history and racial-identity.

It wasn't until later when I learned about Malcolm X being of mixed-race and Bob Marley being biracial-- like me-- that I took a studder step and began to reflect upon, what being mixed meant to me. I began a journey to discover it was ok to be mixed. The journey actually still continues. Every day when I have conversations with people who come to me because the want to be apart of Mixed Roots Movement, or when I'm giving a speech about the mixed-race experience, even as I interview people for my book, I discover something new about myself and my experience. I enjoy the exploration and the opportunities to teach others about the mixed-race experience. I'm excited about my role in building and watching a movement grow that is serving so many families and mixed-race people. It is at times overwhelming- but many times more rewarding, especially when the opportunity to inform mono-racial people about the mixed-race experience presents itself.

I'm a few days late with this.... Happy Birthday br. Malcolm- May 19

This month also happens to be the month in which -Nesta-Bob Marley died.
Marley was only 36 years of age when he died of cancer on May 11, 1981.

It goes without saying that Marley was an incredible poet and was known to move people through is lyrics and music. I am merely among the millions that was moved. Specifically so, by something he was quoted as saying relating to his being mixed:

"My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white ."

-Bob Marley

I love this quote and I while I do "dip" from time to time. I always go back to this truth.
It's the place where I'm most comfortable, resting in my mixed roots, just being me and dipping on God's side!    A motto I love...  Out of Many We Are ONE.  That phrase means a lot to me.  

Hope you enjoy a little Bob Marley- It's what I'll be listening to this Memorial Day weekend

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