14.3.13

Mixed Race Musings


These days, I often hear people discussing about how "mixed" the world is becoming and many seem convinced that one day, mixed-race people will make up the majority of the world's population. I wonder if this will ever come to pass. That said, places like Brazil and South Africa certainly seem to be heading that way.

It is an interesting concept for me. Me, as a person who is often heard exclaiming that "there are a million stories in my blood". Without meaning to sound self-important (for it is the same for most people), many, many stories needed to happen before I could be born. Stories of human migration, pain, triumph, adventure and great imagination but for me, all these stories are cross cultural.

My mother was mixed race, as was her mother and her mother too. That side of my family is so mixed and that we no longer can trace our real roots. Sure it does sound quite exotic, but, for me at least, there is a tinge of sadness in that too as it is and will probably always be an incomplete story. There is no longer anyone around who can satisfactorily fill these gaps. Granny past away with her secrets and even if she was still with us, I had too much respect to question her as these were secrets that she closely guarded. 

I often wonder if my sister and I are the only ones with our particular cocktail of cultural mix. Neither of us have met another quite like  us with our roots touching, South Africa, Holland, France, Seychelles, Kenya and Japan ( and quite possibly more). Forgive me for saying it but, I must admit that I am proud of my heritage. Mumma used to say that I should be proud of something that I have DONE rather than something that I cannot help. However, it is not ME that I am proud of. I am proud of my ancestors for overcoming and daring to be the people they were. I hope that makes sense.

One story that I don't mind sharing is the tale of my great grandparents. They hailed from a place that no longer exists on modern maps of South Africa. He, was a black. She, was "coloured". The law was such that they could not be together in their country and so they left for Kenya. What happened to them there was a bittersweet tale with many mysteries still unanswered but I am proud that they had the courage and heart to make that trek across Africa.

Stories like this have inspired my life and have prevented me from having any cultural confusion that I hear many other "mixed" kids went through. So, in those exceedingly rare moments when I stand with the girls in my maternal family, and look at the rainbow of  complexions and eye colours that we are and I feel very proud indeed. 

We should always remember those stories that brought us to where we are today, they will only make us stronger in many many ways.

17 comments:

  1. Gorgeous!! I do think one day mixed races will over populate places...they are becoming more and more whether others like it or not. It does dilute out a single race, but if you really peeled back everyone's heritage, we all stem from one another in some way. The tests they've done and recorded have shown that we have all come from the same place over the centuries. Which I find quite interesting. I'm mixed race and I love it really. I have things to learn from all walks of life. I have African, German, Scottish, Irish and Native American (Cherokee tribe) heritage and being able to learn so much is awesome. It's nice to have ancestors from so many different backgrounds, it makes it seem richer in some ways. The struggles they had to endure, all of it creates who we are today. And I'm thankful for that!! xx

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  2. I, like you, have a colourful heritage. For me I've never really felt at a loss about where I come from, but I know this is something my sister has dealt with (we grew up mixed race in a small beach town in Australia)... I think the only thing that has really helped her overcome her confusion over her identity has been spending time with my dad's family in Africa. Exploring what makes you who you are is something that should me treasured, as it's just so precious!

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  3. I do understandf your sadness. I am as mixed as you are and even more so. But we have the past, present and future in our bloods so wipe your sadness away my darling.

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  4. That is really beautiful...one of the best essays I have read contemplating both the ups and downs of having a mixed heritage. Though I'm not of mixed heritage, the bit you mentioned your grandparents having so many stories that are now lost - it makes me miss my grandparents a lot....

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  5. Beautiful and well-said, especially about being proud of your ancestors for having the courage to make their own paths.

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  6. I think this is one of my most favorite posts. Thank you so much for sharing as I love hearing/learning more about you ^_^

    ~xoxo

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  7. I do think mixed race people will take over. I also don't know all of my background. My mother was born in Puerto Rico, as were her parents. My mother's grandparents were Native American, Cuban & European (not sure from where). My father was born in Dominican Republic, as were his parents. His grandparents were a mix too, but we don't know much about them. Whenever I have children they will be able to add Irish to their mix, pretty sure they could check all the boxes on a race form..haha!

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  8. What a well-written musing. Now I think you should post the picture of you and your cousins/sister so we can admire the beauties :-)

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  9. there are always things that slip from us in our ancestors' stories. Maybe it is better like that, that our great great grandparents keep their secrets.. I think it is a marvellous richness to have so many different origins and cultural backgrounds. Even if you are not aware of it, you carry them all in yourself everywhere you go and whatever you do. They are incredible resources that contribute to the beautiful one of a kind woman you are. I loved to read about this touching testimony of yours :)

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  10. I must admit that big old cocktail mixture does sound quite rare and an extremely mixed bag. it's amazing to think all that mixture turns out to be you and how you look. my background is unclear, my mum was born here but my grandad was from russian and before his too but before that I don't know. my dad's side, he was adopted and mixed race. I have never met my dad but I know nothing of this past. It's sad but it's just not easy to ask about things you know.

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  11. What a wonderful post:) I love being mixed. I'm half Sri Lankan and half Japanese. And having lived in so many different countries as a child, home was and is always where my parents are rather than a geographical location. I think being around other mixed children in international communities also helped shape the way I think about mixing.

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  12. I enjoy your musings and I like learning more about you. I think we share a lot of the same values and experiences and you express them much better than I can even try! Thanks for sharing x

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  13. Dear Yasumi, thank you for sharing a bit of your family history. I loved the posts of the week and the beautiful images of Africa and Japan. Take care, Caterina

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  14. In Canada, where I grew up, almost everyone is mixed, so to speak, although we aren't all a mix of different colours, so to speak... we are all the children of immigrants and adventurers; people who packed up their lives and took a great risk for the hope of a better life. There was much pain and suffering along the way, and many stories were lost; my dad's maternal grandparents identified as Ukrainian but came from a now-unknown place in Austria, records of their existence can no longer be traced even though the history is so recent and so we will never really know who they were or whether the dreams they had came true the way they hoped... but I agree that this type of heritage is something to take pride in; we are the descendants of those who dared to dream.
    xox,
    Cee

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  15. You are all amazing to take the time to comment. Your stories are unique and each one of them has touched my heart x Thank you for sharing. I shall cherish this post forever!

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  16. I think its perfectly understandable to feel proud of your ancestors especially if they went through trials and tribulations. I'm not mixed but I'm certainly proud of my ancestors for what they went through.

    ... I've always been a bothersome child and I've made sure to ask my parents about everything I could think of. I've never met my dad's parents (deceased before I could even gurgle at them) but I've managed to find out that my great grandfather came from Africa to Jamaica in the 19th century and was according to my grandfather a 'tyrant' (which always makes me laugh - I'd say the same about my dad).

    I think that "mixed" unions from love create the best stories whether its simple personality differences, social standing or ethnicities (etc.) - a story spurred from love is a story that no one should feel ashamed to share :) ... hey and even if it wasn't about love but suffering that too is worthy to be told ... I'm not certain but any mixed ancestry in my family must've come from slave owners in the Atlantic Slave Trade, which is just dismal ...

    I'm glad to hear that there are better stories out there - thanks for sharing :)

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  17. I enjoyed your lovely post. Very vulnerable sharing something personal. My two children are a mix of Chinese, Black, White (British St. Kitts), Portuguese, some Native American and probably others I don't know about. I'm Chinese, but my husband's side of the family is every color of the rainbow.

    There are places that do genealogy / DNA analysis for those interested (or curious) of their ancestral makeup ( European / Indigenous American / Sub-Sahran African / East Asian ). AncestrybyDNA does this http://www.ancestrybydna.com.

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