Online Game: Dress-up Around the World

My 8 year old is forever playing dress-up both at home and online. I ran across this website that has tons (like 70) different women around the world that you can dress-up. Mind you, they are women so go take a look before you send your kid there. I won’t pick it apart (although, I have NO idea what they were thinking for the African woman on page 3). In general, it looks like “fun” (torture if we’re talking about the advertising) and it appears to be the best one online. If you find a better one, post it in the comments below!

(sneak peek) – NEW iCelebrateDiversity.com website coming soon!

I’ve been plugging away on the re-design of iCelebrateDiversity.com. I can’t wait until it’s done! There’s still quite a bit of work to do, but I just couldn’t wait to show you! Ready? Here it is…

Webinar: Transracial Adoption – Becoming a Multiracial/Multicultural Family

I attended this webinar–it’s a great beginning…I hope there is more to come!!

Transracial Adoption – Becoming a Multiracial/Multicultural Family  from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Becoming a multi-racial/multi-cultural family through adoption. This webinar explores social definitions within the context of adoption to include race, ethnicity, nationality and culture. Our webinar informs participants of the joys and challenges of expanding families through Transracial adoption, provides awareness of the sensitivities to the lifelong impacts of adoption, and offers tangible suggestions for the community to help support and embrace families.

Maintaining Comic Strip – Multiracial Family, Life and Race

A couple of years ago, I ran across the comic strip “Maintaining” by cartoonist Nate Creekmore. Written from a biracial perspective, I was thrilled to see a comic strip that not only reflected my family, but dealt with the dynamics of growing up multiracial in a world that loves to place labels. It’s obvious that Nate has given much thought to the mixed-race experience and the main character Marcus reflects that with just the right amount of wit and humor.

The strip first appeared in the newspaper at Lipscomb University in Nashville and was later picked up for syndication through Universal Press Syndicate from 2007 – 2009. Creekmoore is currently trying to get the 823 strips published in a book. Until then, you can sign-up to have the comic strip emailed to you daily or simply browse through them here.

I’m dedicating the cartoon below to my own self-proclaimed  Halfrican, McKinley! Enjoy!

God is Not a White Man

While listening to my new favorite song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor, another one of their song titles captured my attention, “God is Not a White Man.”  Sadly, I can guarantee this won’t be played on the radio station that I listen to (but, oh, it is SO needed)! I love it!

How To Tell People They Sound Racist

Jay Smooth (aka John Randolph) hosts NYC’s longest-running hip hop radio program, WBAI’s Underground Railroad, blogs at hiphopmusic.com and video blogs at illdocterine.com. Smooth is the son of an African-American father and a white mother who grew up in NYC and credits his mixed racial heritage for putting him in a “unique position to travel between different worlds.”

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack

*Note: This article was written in 1989 by Peggy McIntosh. While I think it could use a few updates, it is still very relevant and referred to often. Add to your archives!

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack
by Peggy McIntosh

Through the work to bring materials from Women’s Studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men’s unwillingness to grant that they are over-privileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to improve women’s status, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can’t or won’t support the idea of lessening men’s. Denials which amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages which men gain from women’s disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened or ended.

Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of white privilege which was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to se white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless backpack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.

Describing white privilege makes one newly accountable. As we in Women’s Studies work to reveal male privilege and ask men to give up some of their power, so one who writes about having white privilege must ask, “Having described it, what will I do to lessen or end it?”

After I realized the extent to which men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive. I began to understand why we are justly seen as oppressive, even when we don’t see ourselves that way. I began to count the ways in which I enjoy unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.

My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as a morally neutral, normative, and average, also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work which will allow “them” to be more like “us.”

I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions which I think in my case attack some what more to skin-color privilege that to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographical location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can see, my African American co-worker, friends and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place, and line of work cannot count on most of these conditions.

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

8. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

9. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

10. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

11. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

12. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.

13. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

16. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

17. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

18. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my race.

19. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.

20. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children’s magazine featuring people of my race.

21. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.

22. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.

23. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

24. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

25. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones.

26. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

I repeatedly forgot each of the realization on this list until I wrote it down. For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one’s life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.

In unpacking this invisible backpack of white privilege, I have listed conditions of daily experience which I once took for granted. Nor did I think of any of these perquisites as bad for the holder. I now think that we need a more finely differentiated taxonomy of privilege, for some of these varieties are only what one would want for everyone in a just society, and others give license to be ignorant, oblivious, arrogant and destructive.

I see a pattern running through the matrix of white privilege, a pattern of assumptions which were passed on to me as a white person. There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turf, and I was among those who could control the turf. My skin color was an asset for any move I was educated to want to make. I could think of myself as belonging in major ways, and of making social systems work for me. I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms. Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly free.

In proportion as my racial group was being make confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made inconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit in turn upon people of color.

For this reason, the word “privilege” now seems to me misleading. We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work to systematically overempower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one’s race or sex.

I want, then, to distinguish between earned strength and unearned power conferred systematically. Power from unearned privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission to escape or to dominate. But not all of the privileges on my list are inevitably damaging. Some, like the expectation that neighbors will be decent to you, or that your race will not count against you in court, should be the norm in a just society. Others, like the privilege to ignore less powerful people, distort the humanity of the holders as well as the ignored groups.

We might at least start by distinguishing between positive advantages which we can work to spread, and negative types of advantages which unless rejected will always reinforce our present hierarchies. For example, the feeling that one belongs within the human circle, as Native Americans say, should not be seen as privilege of a few. Ideally it is an unearned advantage and conferred dominance.

I have met very few men who are truly distressed about systemic, unearned male advantage and conferred dominance. And so one question for me and others like is whether we will get truly distressed, even outraged, about unearned race advantage and conferred dominance and it so, what we will do to lessen them. In any case, we need to do more work in identifying how they actually affect our daily lives. Many, perhaps most, of our white students in the US think that racism doesn’t affect them because they are not people of color; they do not see “whiteness” as a racial identity. In addition, since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion or sexual orientation.

Difficulties and dangers surrounding the task of finding parallels are many. Since racism, sexism, and heterosexism are not the same, the advantaging associated with them should not be seen as the same. In addition, it is hard to disentangle aspects of unearned advantage which rest more on social class, economic class, race, religion, sex and ethnic identity than on other factors. Still, all of the oppressions are interlocking, as the Combahee River Collective Statement of 1977 continues to remind us eloquently.

One factor seems clear about all of the interlocking oppressions. They take both active forms which we can see and embedded forms which as a member of the dominant group one is taught not to see. In my class and place, I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth.

Disapproving of the systems won’t be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitudes. [But] a “white” skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate, but cannot end, these problems.

To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these taboo subjects. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.

It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power, and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.

Though systematic change takes many decades, there are pressing questions for me and I imagine for some others like me if we raise our daily consciousness on the perquisites of being light-skinned. What well we do with such knowledge? As we know from watching me, it is an open question whether we will choose to use unearned advantage to weaken hidden systems of advantage, and whether we will use any of our arbitrarily-awarded power to try to reconstruct power systems on a broader base.

A Transracially-Adopted Child’s Bill of Rights

~Every child is entitled to love and full membership in her family.

~Every child is entitled to have his culture embraced and valued.

~Every child is entitled to parents who know that this is a race conscious society.

~Every child is entitled to parents who know that she will experience life differently than they do.

~Every child is entitled to parents who are not looking to “save” him or to improve the world.

~Every child is entitled to parents who know that being in a family doesn’t depend on “matching.”

~Every child is entitled to parents who know that transracial adoption changes the family forever.

~Every child is entitled to be accepted by extended family members.

~Every child is entitled to parents who know that, if they are white, they benefit from racism.

~Every child is entitled to parents who know that they can’t transmit the child’s birth culture if it is not their own.

~Every child is entitled to have items at home that are made for and by people of his race.

~Every child is entitled to opportunities to make friends with people of her race or ethnicity.

~Every child is entitled to daily opportunities of positive experiences with his birth culture.

~Every child is entitled to build racial pride within her own home, school, and neighborhood.

~Every child is entitled to have many opportunities to connect with adults of the child’s race.

~Every child is entitled to parents who accept, understand and empathize with her culture.

~Every child is entitled to learn survival, problem-solving, and coping skills in a context of racial pride.

~Every child is entitled to take pride in the development of a dual identity and a multicultural/multiracial perspective on life.

~Every child is entitled to find his multiculturalism to be an asset and to conclude, “I’ve got the best of both worlds.”

Adapted by Liza Steinberg Triggs from “A Bill of Rights for Mixed Folks,” by Marilyn Drame (which in-turn was adapted from Dr. Maria P. P. Roots, “A Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage).

“I love my hair” – Gift from father in multiracial family

If you haven’t seen this video by now, don’t miss it! It has brought back many conversations that I’ve had with my girls over the years.

“I Love My Hair” debuted on the Oct. 4 episode of Sesame Street. It was posted on the show’s YouTube page — and, because of the positive message, many women began posting the video on their Facebook pages.

Joey Mazzarino, the head writer of Sesame Street, is also a Muppeteer who wrote the song for his daughter. Mazzarino is Italian. He and his wife adopted their 5-year-old daughter, Segi, from Ethiopia when she was a year old.

Mazzarino says he wrote the song after noticing his daughter playing with dolls.

“She wanted to have long blond hair and straight hair, and she wanted to be able to bounce it around,” he tells NPR’s Melissa Block.

Mazzarino says he began to get worried, but he thought it was only a problem that white parents of African-American children have. Then he realized the problem was much larger.

In writing the song, he wanted to say in song what he says to his daughter: “Your hair is great. You can put it in ponytails. You can put it in cornrows. I wish I had hair like you.”

That simple message has caused an outpouring of responses from women. Mazzarino got a call from an African woman who told him the song brought her to tears. “I was amazed, ’cause I sort of wrote this little thing for my daughter, and here this adult woman, it touched her,” he says.

Mazzarino says he’s happy to report that Segi loves the song — and her hair.

To listen to the full NPR interview:

http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=130653300&m=130647012&t=audio

P.S. For an extra laugh or two, check out the remix of this video with Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair

Speak Up! Responding to Everyday Bigotry

SPEAK UP!

Your brother routinely makes anti-Semitic comments. Your neighbor uses the N-word in casual conversation. Your co-worker ribs you about your Italian surname, asking if you’re in the mafia. Your classmate insults something by saying, “That’s so gay.”

And you stand there, in silence, thinking, “What can I say in response to that?” Or you laugh along, uncomfortably. Or, frustrated or angry, you walk away without saying anything, thinking later, “I should have said something.”

People spoke about encounters in stores and restaurants, on streets and in schools. They spoke about family, friends, classmates and co-workers. They spoke about what they did or didn’t say — and what they wished they did or didn’t say.

And no matter the location or relationship, the stories echo each other.

Speak Up! is a book that shares love, insight and pain, but also offers “lost words”, practical solutions and hope for a better tomorrow.

Download your free copy of SPEAK UP!

Another great resource offered by Teaching Tolerance.

Casting Call for “Blended Families”

I received an email about the following casting call if anyone is interested:

Is your family a mix of race, religion, stepchildren or foster kids?

Towers Productions is looking for modern families that have united even though they come from different backgrounds. We want families with huge personalities and big hearts! Let your family define the new “normal” for TV!

Please email Becky at casting@towersproductions.com with your name, contact info and where you are located. Please tell us what makes your family so special and why viewers would want to watch you on TV! Recent photos are appreciated.

Poem: “We are talking about” (biracial)

This will be my last poem from Arnold Adoff’s book “All the Colors of the Race” that I featured a couple of days ago. There are many more great poems in the book–buy it or check it out from your local library!

We are talking about

by Arnold Adoff

We are talking about

                           the ones who pick        their friends

                           because of how    black      they act

                                                                             or

                           because of how    white     they can

                                                                             be.

Sometimes blackness seems too black for me,

                    and whiteness is too     sickly pale;

                    and I wish every

                                        one were golden from

                                                                    the

                                                                   sun.

                         Golden from the

                                                   inside

                                                out.

“Race: Are we so different?” Part 6 – What race would you be somewhere else?

In this activity, you will see how race and ethnicity are reflected in census catagories across the globe. What race would you be somewhere else? What type of affect would it have on you in that country? Very interesting to think about!

We are winding down our highlights from the exhibit “Race: Are we so different?”.  If you have missed any, you can catch up here: Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5. To learn more about this exhibit visit Understanding Race.

Poem: “The Cold Within” by James Patrick Kinney

The Cold Within

by James Patrick Kinney

Six humans trapped by happenstance
in black and bitter cold
Each possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,
the first woman held hers back
For on the faces around the fire
She noticed one was black.

The next man looking ‘cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group
Did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in death’s stilled hands
Was proof of human sin,
They didn’t die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.