Sunday, December 27, 2009

we are a "Blended Nation"




He took the photographs and conducted the interviews.

It is co-produced by Pamela Singh who holds (a Master's in International Finance & Economics from Columbia University and) a BA in social psychology from Connecticut College.

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"Through a series of soulful photographs, personal vignettes, and poignant essays, Blended Nation...explores the experience of being mixed-race in twenty-first century America. As much a work of art as a piece of literature, this book profiles the fastest-growing demographic group in the United States, encouraging both contributors and readers to consider the place, practice, and experience of race in modern society...

"...Through portraits and interviews with mixed-race children, adults, and families, Mike Tauber and Pamela Singh literally invite their subjects to lend their faces and voices to a discussion of race in America. By allowing contributors to offer their own, and often differing perspectives, the authors create an immensely rich collection of thoughts, opinions, and unanswered questions such as: What happens to the identity of those individuals who are a quarter this, a half that, etc. who don’t visually correspond to any particular group when it comes to race, ethnicity and ancestry? Where do they fit? What box do they check? Most importantly, why is this even considered an issue?...

"...several contributors confess how they always felt ‘too black to be white and to white to be black’..."

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It's a great "coffee table book": 11 x 11 inches, 140 pages...

As I began to read the book, initially I felt hesitant to review it "too much": I immediately felt that the story of each individual would be unique. As mine is...

The pictures are gripping. I find myself closely studying the features of each person. I am intrigued. Then, I see the picture of someone whose facial features, in my opinion, look exactly as mine. And, I see that they are a member of the Blackfoot tribe...like I believe I am! I'm not sure what to do or think about that...

I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was when I read the statement from an African-American male who married a white woman...that his family had disowned him. I guess I can still be amazed that some could/would do that. (There are more of those incidents recounted in the book.) I was raised by my great-grandparents until I was nine years old. I don't remember if, when I was a child, I ever knew if there were any people who did not want me around. I suspect my great-grandparents, a White woman and Black man, did all they could to shield me from that. From my teenage years on, I remember incidents of others not wanting me around...

One woman profiled in the book stated that she has identified her heritage as "hybrid" on forms. I wish I had thought of that...I hope I can remember it.

During my formative years the difinitive and accepted term for the times was "Black". And that's what I became. I have nothing against the term African-American, other than it doesn't describe me: I am of African decent, but an American citizen. I can live with "American-African"...

Depending on who has said it, and how they meant it, I have accepted "Negro" as well as "Colored":


Mrs. Case, a white woman, would feed us and make sure we were OK and safe. I don't know what her past is, but Mrs. Case described us as (her) "colored boys": "...my boys will be over this weekend...you know, my colored boys that stay with me." If you ever took the time to get to know Mrs. Case, you would realize that...this is the only way she ever knew and understood as to how refer to us. For whatever reason, she didn't use "black" on "negro". In her defense (which I will always be), maybe because (to her) those terms were demeaning/derogatory/antagonistic. Who knows why, and it doesn't matter why. I expect something in her past led her to use the terminology the way she did. We could tell by her actions that her use of the term "colored" was intended and meant to be used with much love and affection, and we accepted her support. We listened to her heart, and not her words...

(In an episode of Barney Miller, a character refers to Harris as "Colored". Yamana says: "I'm colored. He's black..." That was he first time I've ever heard someone Asian described that way. He's not wrong; until then, I never knew he was right.)

I proudly proclaim to be a "mutt". I can imagine it causes some distress for some of my family members, but it's the term that I am VERY comfortable with for myself. Sometimes my nose is cold and wet, I might bite, and when music makes me happy I will "wag my tail".

Like their daddy, I like to describe my kids as "a mess": they are Black, White, Italian, Jewish, Chinese, Philipino, Mexican, Native...and those are the ones I know of! (Including the kids...)

Sometimes I feel I need to have a doctorate to know what really is the absolute correct word to use in discussions like this. I shall always demand that the answer to the question of race be "human". After that, I need access to a dictionary, and a thesaurus...as well as an anthropologist.

As I look at the photographs in the book all I can think of is how beautiful these people are. Well...that and I'm trying to figure-out which of the women are single. (As if it might matter to me...)

I was thinking about who I wanted to share this book with, and inform about it. One thing I thought of that is kinda funny to me is that I'm beginning to feel a little sorry for some people in my life: "Oh...you poor thing...you're ONLY white...what a shame..."

I don't know enough about my lineage. I've never met my father, and I'm not absolutely sure about all of the different types of ancestors that I have evolved from. That situation will contiue to grow for humans in general: only with meticulous record keeping will some...and I expect it to be very few...be able to trace and detail from which their family came.

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