May 17th

Just Say It's Not OK to Sexualize, Marginalize, Dehumanzie

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Gina Sixkiller @ Indian Country Today Media Network.

I am a woman of mixed races. I grew up being called a squaw, half-breed, white, redskin and other names—none meant in a good way. I grew up wondering exactly where I fit in. Then I went to an all-Indian technical school. There I was defined by the kind of person I was, not by what race I was.

I now am a mother first and foremost. A mother wading through a myriad of stereotypical imagery and racism while trying to teach my son to grow up to be a good person. I take my son to pow wows, family gatherings and traditional ceremonies so he can learn where he comes from and where he can go in the future. I have relatives that are full blood as much as I have relatives that are white and relatives that are mixed race like me.

When confronted with mascots like the Washington Redskins or films that depict Native Americans in an inaccurate, stereotypical way I have to question how this will affect my child. I want him to be proud of all of who he is. I want him to respect himself, others and to respect women.

When I see the "redskins" mascot I am offended because I know that in the future when someone finds out my son is Native American he will then be greeted with the "woowoowoo war whoop" that I was. He will be asked if he's a "dot-Indian" or a "feather-Indian". He will be told "I thought you guys were extinct" and asked if he lives in a teepee. Being light skinned like me he will hear the racial slurs against indigenous people because the ones speaking won't think he is being insulted.

When I see movies depicting indigenous people as they were in the "wild west" or as a cartoon character mascot as if they aren't a real existing nation of people, I find my job as a mother even harder.

The "Washington Redskins" is viewed as a dinosaur, imagery of something extinct and a term that comes across as meaning "dead Indian". Movies are made sexualizing indigenous women and portraying Native Americans as drunks or as the stereotypical extinct "wild Indian".

I find none of this okay. I don't want my son growing up thinking it's okay just because "it's always been this way" or because "no one objected before". It's not okay to sexualize, dehumanize or degrade any human and say it's a joke. It is not okay! It's not okay to portray anyone in a stereotypical manner and it's not okay because your "Indian/part-Indian" friend says so. Just so you know, I'm part white and I say IT IS NOT OKAY!

It's not okay to say "I'm honoring you" just so you can sleep at night. IT'S NOT OKAY!

And for those you in the film industry feigning ignorance, I want you to know that doesn't work anymore. There have been more than enough Native voices speaking up to tell you. I'm sure your mother even taught you....IT'S NOT OKAY! You have Google AND cultural advisors at your disposal. I promise you that doing a little research and taking the time to listen really works.

It IS OKAY to admit that society has taught us wrong for way too long and IT IS okay to question things.

I blame the history books first for not saying Christopher Columbus just got lost and not correctly portraying the genocide of millions of Native Americans. Until there is an accurate historical representation of Native America in our school systems we will always be viewed as mascots or extinct.

Until we can have such things as accuracy in our history classes and non-stereotypical imagery that won't hurt my child...I will speak up and object. I am a mixed race woman, a full-blood mother and a human being and I will always object to stereotypical and racist imagery. IT IS NOT OKAY!

May 17th

Chuck Chiang: Mixed-race celebrities are shaking up the status quo in Japan and Korea - Social change: Conservative Japan and

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Chuck Chiang @ Vancouver

Miss Japan Ariana Miyamoto, is the first mixed-race winner of the contest. She’s one of several high-profile people in Japan and South Korea who are raising awareness of ethnic diversity.

In the age of globalization, it is not uncommon for some homogeneous societies to begin experiencing significant visible social, cultural and demographic changes. These changes sometimes clash with entrenched traditions.

East Asia has seen its share of such frictions. Japan and South Korea remain two of the most homogeneous societies in the world. Roughly 98 per cent of Japan’s citizens are ethnically Japanese; similarly, ethnic Koreans make up 96 per cent of South Korea’s population. (Not surprisingly, these are also two of the most socially conservative countries in the world, where changes tend to happen in slow, evolutionary steps rather than dramatic, revolutionary leaps.)

But as contact with other countries has moved beyond simple economic exchanges and into interpersonal interactions during the past six decades, even the most homogeneous societies cannot avoid visible social changes.

The latest example of this trend was stark indeed.

The victory in March of Ariana Miyamoto, 21, in Japan’s Miss Universe beauty contest was more than the usual, run-of-the-mill news item easily dismissed as another publicity stunt. Miyamoto, born in Nagasaki to an African-American father and a Japanese mother, became the country’s first mixed-race Miss Japan. Her victory proved to be a significant catalyst for change in a society that has long guarded its status-quo closely.

Miyamoto, who told AFP she entered the beauty contest after another mixed-raced friend committed suicide, faced criticism on social media from conservative voices within Japan after her victory. AFP reported that her critics called for the title to be given to someone who is 100-per-cent Japanese instead of a “hafu” (a colloquial Japanese term for someone who is biracial). In response, Miyamoto said she is taking the outcry as motivation, vowing to raise awareness of ethnic diversity in Japan.

“When I was small, I stood out and always felt I had to fit in with everyone. But now I say what I feel,” Miyamoto told London’s Daily Mail. “I can’t change things overnight, but in 100-200 years there will be very few pure Japanese left, so we have to start changing the way we think.”

Her comments have created a stir. Japan’s social conservatism is well-known — Tokyo has struggled to loosen immigration policies despite a growing need for labour in the face of an aging population. Immigrants currently make up about two per cent of the population (in comparison, about 21 per cent of Canadians are immigrants, while the numbers hover between 11 and 13 per cent for European countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom).

Japan isn’t alone in this regard. Immigrants in South Korea make up only three per cent of its population. The country also has a similar low birthrate, growing labour shortages, and immigration policy struggles. And with a significant American military presence, Korea sees a higher number of mixed-race children resulting from more frequent personal interactions.

(There are several famous examples: Former Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver Hines Ward was born in Seoul in 1976 to a Korean mother and an American father. South Korea’s reigning R&B diva, Insooni (real name Kim In-Soon) is also of mixed-race background.)

Many of these mixed-race citizens report facing bullying growing up. Mixed-race Korean pop singer Michelle Lee, a contestant on the popular American Idol-style reality show “K-pop Star” four years ago, mentioned in several interviews of her experiences being bullied because of her ethnicity. Lee told the Korean Herald in a report last March that her pursuit of music was reflective of the abuse she suffered and how she wanted to respond.

“Although through my story I could have just focused on all of the hurt and all of the struggles that I had endured growing up … the message that I wanted to emphasize with my song is breaking down those barriers and overcoming all of my pain,” Lee said. Insooni and Miyamoto reported similar struggles while growing up.

But the victory of Miyamoto, as well as the accomplishments of a new generation of mixed-race Japanese and Koreans, may be itself a sign that things are changing — that public acceptance has progressed. These higher-profile individuals and their success will serve as visual reminders of a changing society, and it will undoubtedly drive changes in perceptions, opinions and tolerance.

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May 15th

A Look At People's 'Race Experience' In NC

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Charlie Shelton @

A collaged picture of a diverse women's face

Credit Addicting Info

We recently released a survey asking people about their experience with race in North Carolina. The responses ranged from personal stories on race's influence in daily interactions to how race is affecting public opinion. From the state's rural communities to its larger cities, people recognized that race relations are changing, but we still have a ways to go.

Here are some of the responses:

Michi Vojta, 44 years old, Raleigh

"As a mixed race person (mother from Japan), I can generally "pass", as it was called -- people don't often notice, or care, about my non-white heritage.

Years ago I visited a friend living in Columbia, NC. As a teacher she went to work and I hung out killing time and went for a jog. I thought it was odd how there were two gas stations from the same exact company on the same road within spitting distance. I was telling her where I jogged, and she asked what I thought were odd questions: 'Did the folks seem surprised to see you?' I thought, 'Gosh, it can't be that small a town, right?'

Finally she pointed out that I jogged on both the 'white' and the 'black' sides of the town, and she was curious if folks acted strangely to me when I was on 'the other side.' I'm sure my mouth hit the ground. As someone who grew up in Memphis, TN and the suburbs of Chicago, IL, it had never crossed my mind that towns were still so clearly divided."

Stefany Ramos, 31, Durham

'When I watch the news, it is hard not to feel that things have been sliding backwards. It is hard not to feel terrified that one day that might be my son on the screen.'

"I am a white Hispanic female but my 'hispanic-ness' is much less physically obvious than many of my fellow Latinos. When people look at me they see an ethnically ambiguous white woman. In my life I rarely experience the type of racial discrimination felt by so many others. My husband is black and his experience directly contrasts my own. I have been with him while countless police cars follow his car for no apparent reason, especially in Chapel Hill.

I was with him when we were pulled over by a police officer, and subsequently sat very still as two more police cars and police dogs arrived. His record showed a lapse in insurance caused by confusion when he switched insurance companies. Is it routine for sniffing dogs to circle your car for insurance issues? And why did they run his plates to begin with? We violated no traffic laws.

I have been with him when people ask for his help in stores where he does not work.  People in the Triangle are always shocked when they hear his stories where the general sense is that we are an open, more educated, and more liberal community. Sure, it's hard to find a confederate flag hanging outside a house around here, but that says very little about our true collective racial beliefs.

It does no good to hide behind our universities and "diverse" numbers on paper, and to pretend that the racial disparities that plague the rest of the state and country do not apply to us. We must be honest with each other, but most of all with ourselves. As my husband and I prepare for our first child, a boy, we hope that his world will be a little more just than the one we grew up in. Our world was a little more just than our parents'. But when I watch the news, it is hard not to feel that things have been sliding backwards. It is hard not to feel terrified that one day that might be my son on the screen."

Elizabeth Vanek, 23, Raleigh

"In 2004, I moved to Charlotte from Nashville, TN. On my first day of seventh grade I realized I was the only white person in my class. In Nashville I had people of color in my classes but white students were the majority. I had to adapt quickly to this new environment. For the first couple of weeks I was scared but I soon adjusted.

For the rest of my time in the public school in NC I was often not in the racial majority in the class room. These experiences of race in the public school showed the good, the bad and the ugly about race relations in NC. As a privileged white girl I had not understood the complicated world outside of my sheltered life at first. The diversity in the public school made me understand and wrestle with my privilege and the inequality of the races.

I am saddened when I hear about public schools becoming more racially divided with things like the 'white flight' to charter schools. While not an elegant way to learn about race, the public schools in NC taught me more than the math, reading and writing. They taught me about privilege, inequality and cultural differences. The public school system built a strong foundation for accepting others cultural and racial differences that stays with me to this day."


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May 13th

Brush up your Greek -Research shows bilingual men and women are sexier, happier and more successful

By Yasmin S


Brush up your Greek

Bilingual people, especially in interracial relationships, are more open-minded, create stronger bonds and are more sexually active, while their children are healthier and think faster.

Interracial relationships have many benefits, including learning about different cultures and religions as well as new languages.

Research shows that usually children that originate from interracial marriages due to their genetic diversity, tend to be healthier as they are more resilient to diseases that affect a certain race.

Medical Daily reports on a study that observed 120 nine-year-old students, in order to see if being bilingual had an effect in creative thinking and problem-solving.

"Our study has found that it can have demonstrable benefits, not only in language but in arithmetic, problem-solving and enabling children to think creatively," Dr Fraser Lauchlan, head of the study, said in a press release.

"We also assessed the children's vocabulary, not so much for their knowledge of words as their understanding of them. Again, there was a marked difference in the level of detail and richness in description from the bilingual pupils.

"By learning multiple languages from an early age, children are more equipped to understand various ideas and concepts rather than a single, streamlined thought process."

Moreover, children who are able to express themselves in multiple languages are better communicators, think faster and are more responsive to their own feelings and emotions.

The New York Times recently reported on multiple studies performed on individuals from all age groups (infants to elders) who are being exposed to two native languages, proving they have higher IQs and EQs.

Bilinguals show more empathy and are bound to connect more easily with people coming from different backgrounds.

From adolescence to their 60s, people coming from parents of different nationality and cultural background are reportedly more sexual and based on their lovers' evaluations, better lovers.

Moreover, Psychology Today reports that people who are bilingual can fluidly respond to challenging tasks, and are more proficient in syntax, figurative language, and metaphors.

The National Academy of Sciences also published a study on seven-month-old infants coming from parents who speak different native languages, compared to children being raised in a mono-language home.

The researchers used audio cues before visual awards. The infants who were exposed to more than one language from birth, adapted to the switched screens at a much faster rate.

Neuropsychologists at the University of California conducted a study on 44 elderly bilingual people, highlighting that dementia onsets much later in life for them.

Susan Ervin-Tripp, from the University of California's psychology department, has been studying the effects of learning multiple languages on the human experience for years.

"When we are in situations demanding a change in language, we may have a strong sense of a shift in values and feelings," she explains in her research titled Emotion in Bilingualism.

"Not only does it better connect us to the world and people around us, but multiple languages help us connect to ourselves as we sense new emotional perspectives on life.

"Some bilinguals even report they have two personalities and often succeed in pursuing different career paths at the same time. They tend to be more analytic and self-aware, unafraid to take risks, therefore lead happier lives and travel more."

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May 12th

British black women respond to Michelle Obama on race

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Channel 4 News @ 

Michelle Obama has spoken out on being 'knocked back' by race perception. Do a generation of trailblazing Black British women agree that racist perceptions will hold them back?


Michelle Obama has spoken out about overcoming negative racial perceptions en route to becoming First Lady of the United States.

Speaking to an audience of predominantly black graduates at Tuskegee University founded by civil rights forefather Booker T Washington - the First Lady told the crowd:

"As potentially the first African-American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others."

In the past Obama had been satirised as a black militant and had been called derogatory comments in the press such as a "baby momma".

Obama received a strong applause at the historically black college after telling the crowd 'the road would not be easy'.

The First Lady of the United States is considered an icon for African-American women but do a generation of trailblazing Black British women also agree that racist perceptions will hold them back?

These black British women from the class of 2015 gave their response:


Sonia Meggie

Founder of Inspirational U

I don't think she [Michelle Obama] has been portrayed negatively.

Right now there are a lot of role models for young black women and we can achieve and we are achieving.

I was having a conversation about Sandie Okoro at HSBC and one of the things she's very clear about is mentoring. There is also Jacky White at Microsoft. A black female vice-president. You have to have visible role models in sectors that are predominantly male.

There are fewer women in senior roles here and you do not see as many prominent women in the public domain

Success is still about your network and now we have a global playing field and are not restricted by geography.

Although as a black woman rises - we are often judged on our race.


Simone Powderly, 25

Hair blogger

I relate to it (what she said) and there is pressure. I think she (Obama) has had to work hard to be respected and that's why I like her because she's strong.

When you are black you cannot slip up. We have to stay on the ball.

My dad always told me to be well spoken. Don't speak slang and dress well. There is a lot of pressure in the black community to behave in a way so we do not get [negatively] judged.

We feel we have to overcompensate. I know that growing up I didn't want to be stereotyped

Being mixed race the stereotype is that I am easy, stupid or self absorbed or fatherless.

When I had my hair in braids my work colleagues said I look harsh or that I had attitude. When I have it out curly or in an afro I am told that I should tame it but when I have it straight nothing happens. I'm told 'it looks nice'.

The perception is Afro hair is not 'normal' hair.


Tashi Skervin, 23

Fitness blogger

I've never really seen racial prejudice and stereotypes hold me back. My parents have always taught me to work hard and now we have so many black role models.

As a black woman I know I can go far because there are so many women who have done it.

There are so many other factors that hold you back more than race - like competition.

I don't feel that because I am, black I have to work harder - I have to work hard anyway. I have never felt judged.

Perhaps its because [Obama] she's in America but as a black person living in England I am really privileged. I can do something without being judged and it gives me the confidence to do what I want to do.



Samantha Asamadu, 35

Founder of Media Diversified and film maker

I think Michelle Obama is the most high profile black woman in the world next to Oprah. Her fame is an important step for every black woman in the west.

We as black women have to navigate a triple oppression. As a woman and as a black woman.

I think every single one of us has had to mute or completely change our behaviour in order to fit the white normative gaze. I myself have been called angry, bullish even shrill. As far as I'm concerned is me just speaking my mind.

Who stole all the black women from Britain? In the cultural landscape of Britain we are very much invisible.

Her words have merit even more so here in Britain. In the US there are visibly high profile women and they are trail blazers. In the UK although trailblazers exist we don't know their names and they are not visible

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May 12th

Chinese female banker finds joy in raising a mixed race daughter

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Christine Lagat @ Shanghai

NAIROBI, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Yao Hua's fluency in the English language, impressive resume and emotional intelligence have secured her a lucrative career in one of the leading commercial banks in Kenya.

The 30-year-old mother of an eight-year-old daughter has no regrets for settling in a foreign land to pursue her career dream and join a burgeoning population of Chinese expatriates on the frontline to transform the East African nation.

Yao has lived in Kenya for a decade and has developed a strong affinity to the nation and its friendly citizens.

The father of her daughter is a Kenyan and was instrumental in her decision to migrate to the East African nation famed for its iconic wildlife species and long distance runners.

During a telephone interview with Xinhua on Saturday ahead of the International Mother's Day on Sunday, Yao narrated her epoch journey to a foreign country to work as an expatriate.

"I came to Kenya in 2005 and worked at Huawei for two years. Later, I took a two-year break to take care of my new born daughter. Having a new born baby required huge adjustments on my career," Yao said.

After her two-year sojourn in China, Yao returned to Kenya and joined ZTE Corporation where she worked for four years and a few months.

Her career prospects were brightening each passing day as corporations head-hunted her, thanks to exceptional skills and multicultural exposure. She jointed Orange later.

An English graduate from a Chinese University, Yao was able to spot opportunities in her adopted country and grab them promptly.

While in Kenya, Yao completed an on-line degree course in marketing from a French tertiary institution and her passion to try new things was not diminished by motherhood or cultural barriers in her new abode.

Yao's six-year stint at ZTE and Orange enriched her skills and world views. The National Bank of Kenya hired the driven executive in August 2014 to work in a newly created portfolio at the bank's headquarters in Nairobi.

"I was appointed the director in charge of new business development. The department has two units, Chinese business development and digital payments," Yao told Xinhua.

Since her appointment last fall, Yao has been involved in wooing Chinese enterprises and individuals to open accounts at the National Bank of Kenya.

"I was part of the team that facilitated the launch of mobile banking to ease transactions and net more customers. Expertise gained in the telecommunications industry came in handy," said Yao.

Her relationship with Kenyan colleagues at the state-owned financial institution has been cordial despite cultural differences. Yao told Xinhua the Kenyan bosses too have been friendly and supportive.

Raising a mixed race child in a foreign land has been a thrilling experience for Yao.

As a single mother, Yao has struggled hard to balance family life and demands of a banking career.

"Bringing up a child single-handedly is a tough calling, more so when one has a demanding job. Luckily, my brother has been a father figure to my young daughter while my parents always visit us to offer emotional support," Yao remarked.

Her brother lives in Kenya and has been a rock to the young niece to ensure she grows up as a confident and emotionally stable adolescent.

Yao's daughter usually reunites with her biological father who lives in Ethiopia whenever he visits Kenya.

The eight-year-old studies at a high end French school in Nairobi that is popular with expatriates due to its multicultural learning environment.

Raising a mixed race daughter has not been a walk in the pack for Yao, though she has managed to provide material and emotional needs to the young beauty.

"My daughter is very smart and adaptable to any environment. She has great friends from different nationalities, cultures and creeds. They play together and often visit her at home," Yao said.

She revealed the daughter speaks fluent Mandarin, English and French. Despite her busy schedule, Yao spares time to connect with her daughter, supervise her homework and ensure she is well fed.

"Whenever I am off duty, we go for holidays in the Kenyan coast and overseas. Currently, we are in China enjoying a two-week break, " Yao told Xinhua.

She added that spending quality time with her daughter is emotionally rewarding.

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May 9th

The most racially segregated cities in the South

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Allie Yee @ Southern

For most of U.S. history, people of different races have lived on separate streets, gone to separate schools and occupied separate parts of town. In the South, racial segregation was once the law of the land. While the region has made progress toward integration in recent years, most major Southern cities remain segregated today.

Data guru Nate Silver crunched the numbers last week on the FiveThirtyEight blog, looking at the 100 largest cities in the country and ranking them by levels of racial segregation. Chicago, long plagued by stark racial divisions, came in at number one. Next on the list was Atlanta, which beat out St. Louis, Philadelphia and Milwaukee for the number two spot. Baton Rouge and New Orleans also made the list of the 10 most segregated U.S. cities.

Here's how the Southern cities included on Silver's list stack up:  



Silver generated his integration-segregation index by comparing a city's overall diversity with that of its neighborhoods, with diversity defined not by the share of the non-white population but by the percent of people who belong to a racial group different than that of the average resident. While there are a few steps to the methodology, which Silver explains in his analysis, the index is essentially a measure of how well a city is measuring up to its potential for integration at the neighborhood level given its overall diversity compared to the general trend. No city has achieved perfect integration, but positive numbers indicate it's doing better than the pack (above and to the left of the red regression curve in the chart below) and negative numbers indicate it's doing worse (below and to the right).

By this measure, Atlanta is the most segregated city in the South and the second-most segregated in the country. With a population that's 54 percent black and 36 percent white, it has a citywide diversity index of 56.8 percent. But its neighborhood diversity index is just 30.7 percent, putting it well below the red curve with an integration-segregation index of -14.5 percent.

Atlanta's lack of neighborhood diversity is clearly shown in the dot map below created by Dustin Cable. Whites, represented by blue dots, live largely in the northeastern part of the city while blacks (green dots) are in the city center and to the southwest. Atlanta was also 5 percent Hispanic in 2010, the census year that all these numbers are based on, but few of them (orange dots) are clustered in the city center. Asians, who were 3 percent of the city's population and are represented by red dots, are concentrated in small clusters in the city center.

Meanwhile, Louisiana is home to two of the most segregated cities in the South: Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The cities' residents are mostly black and white, with the races clustered in certain areas. Both cities' diversity indices are over 50 percent but their neighborhood diversity indices are in the low 30s, putting their integration-segregation indices at just over -10 percent. While there seem to be some pockets of mixed-race neighborhoods and immigrant communities, the two cities are clearly divided into white and black parts of town.

Further down the list of the South's most segregated cities is Dallas. With a significant Hispanic population of over 40 percent in 2010 as well as sizable black and white populations, Dallas has a high citywide diversity index of 67.4 percent. Its neighborhood diversity index, though, falls to 45.3 percent, for an integration-segregation index of -7.0 percent, ranking sixth worst in the South.

Just outside of Dallas, though, are the four most integrated cities in the South: Garland, Plano, Arlington and Irving. These suburbs have high citywide diversity indices in the 60 to 70 percent range, reflecting a broader nationwide trend of diversifying suburbs. The dot map below shows multi-colored areas surrounding Dallas proper.

However, growing diversity in the suburbs doesn't necessarily result in integrated communities. As in cities, suburban growth in black, Hispanic and Asian residents has led to greater segregation and racial tension in many places as was starkly illustrated by recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. While Silver's current analysis focused on city-level data, he says a future one will look at segregation across broader metropolitan areas.


A new analysis finds that Atlanta is the most segregated city in the South and the second-most segregated city in the U.S. (Photo of Atlanta's Woodruff Park by Steven Martin via Flickr.)

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May 9th

Being mixed race and an African, I've realised that I am not my hair

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Shenaaz Jamal @ Times

Shenaaz Jamal.
Image by: Supplied.

Shenaaz Jamal chronicles her experience donning a so-called 'African' braided hairstyle and what she has taken from it.

Who and what African women are has been a complete mystery to me while growing up. What does she look like?

When I asked myself these questions, my mind seemed to be drawn to the image of a dark-skinned woman with coarse hair.

Mainly because this is all I’ve been fed for the most of my life. How is an African woman then defined? Why is she defined?

When I look around me, I don’t only see dark-skinned women with coarse hair, I see light ones too. Why, then, are African woman defined by their hair so often?

I am a mixed-race girl living in a race-obsessed society. I recently decided to stop defining myself by conforming to being an African or an Indian, or whatever, as it often seemed like I had to be something.

But wait, maybe not, because we, South Africans, have this in-between race we all refer to as “coloured” for those who can't find their “true” identity.

I have long, silky hair and always straighten it so as to fit into the “Indian” society, seeing that I live in Lenasia – a predominately Indian area south of Johannesburg.

For as long as I can remember, people always "struggled" to classify me. Borne to an Indian mother and a Portuguese father, I was either not “Indian” enough, not coloured enough or not black enough.

Quite frankly, no one could ever figure out what I was because of my natural curly hair – oh, and my fair skin just confuses people more.

One day after a shower, I looked at myself in the mirror while ran my fingers through my wet curls.

I continued doing this even after it had dried, and noticed I had some difficulty running my fingers through my dried hair. That’s when it finally hit me.

After years of confusion as to what race I belong to, or what my ethnicity was, it finally all made sense – the person I was looking at in the mirror is an African woman.


I often see black women with weaves on their heads, and have sat in hair salons long enough to see what is involved in having these strands of imported hair implanted on their hands.

What strikes me the most is the confidence they walk out of the salons with, whereas they were doing the walk-of-shame coming in.

I then wonder, do weaves change what an African woman is and does? I say no!

Weaves don’t make her any less African because she should not be defined by her hair, whether it is natural or fake, long or short, straight or curly.

Her Africanism lives in her like it does in me.

So when I decided to switch things up and put in long braids on my head, it was much to my parents’ disapproval.

I remember how they exclaimed: “You have your own hair, why do you need those hair pieces on your head,” followed by, “Black people want your hair and here you are putting on their fake hair”.

I gasped in disbelief, not from being shocked by what they said, but rather how they, too, sounded like parrots of the “society” they lived in.

And I couldn’t blame them; I understood that they were simply conforming to what they knew.

I was also taken aback by the local trader who I bought the hair piece. She was under the impression that I was there to buy the hair for someone else and couldn’t hide her shock when I said it was for me.

“But why do you want this African hair style,” she asked, “you have such nice hair that I would die for."

But I am not African? This once again proved to me that women, no matter what race, ethnicity, culture, etc, are expected to look a certain way and be content with it.

I must admit, I have gained a lot of respect for all the women who sit for hours and days braiding their hair or putting in a weave. It is a long process.

When I got up from my salon chair after nearly five hours of plaiting, I looked at myself in the long mirror.

What I saw nearly brought me to tears. I looked different, but so beautiful. But I didn’t feel like a different person.

What this experience has taught me is that Africanism doesn’t lie in one’s hair, but rather in their beliefs, values and principles.

Where I come from, who I am, my hair, my skin tone; those things will never change.

I am an African child. No, I am the definition of an African woman.


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May 8th

Accidental Virgin: Interracial Relationships Aren’t Magical, So Stop Fetishizing Them

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Ashley Reese @ The

rich and grace skins

(Photo: Skins)

Tumblr knows that I’m in an interracial relationship.

As I scroll through my dashboard, I’m regularly met with posts from blogs Tumblr wants me to follow. Most of them are blogs about interracial relationships, full of photos of happy mixed couples being happy and, er, mixed.

Good for them, but I’m really turned off by the enthusiasm and fetishization of interracial relationships. While each interracial coupling has its own special pace in side eye hell–white dudes who are all about getting an east Asian girl, black men who go for white women because black women are too difficult–for the purposes of this piece and personal experience, I’m going to focus specifically on interracial relationships between black women and white men.

If you check out the interracial or swirl hashtags on Instagram, you’ll stumble upon serious tackiness and serious thirst. For example, this meme gets a ton of play:

that moment when you find out he likes black girls

And here’s an example of the tags from these kinds of posts:

swirl love thirst too strong I obviously have no problem with relationships between black women and white men or else I wouldn’t be in one, but I have a lot of problems with the subculture that surrounds fans of this partnership.

When it comes to white men, the enthusiasm within swirl culture is so dependent on stereotypes, including the fetishization of black women’s bodies. It’s one thing for a black woman to say that “black girls do it better” as a playful, self-congratulatory approach to their sexuality; especially when black women are given little space to be honest, open, and empowered by their sexuality. They’re either reduced to pure sex objects or devoid of sex appeal entirely. But white men asserting that black women do it better is often coupled with using black women as a sexual conquest, unknown territory, a sexual manifest destiny. This othering also relies heavily on the idea that black women are inherent nymphomaniacs, the same idea that leads to strangers to asking my boyfriend if fucking a back girl is freaky.

When it comes to black women, this dynamic depends on the notion that dating a white man is some sort of inherent upgrade to any other dudes, especially black ones. It’s possible that some of this is a response to men in the black community that have no problem declaring black women undateable. It doesn’t take too many special keywords to search YouTube and find videos of black men gleefully listing the reasons why they won’t date black women. Hell, you can hop onto Twitter and find plenty of black dudes going on about how black women are too bossy, too lazy, etc, and that dating non-black women is the way to go. This is frustrating given the fact that, thanks to a little thing called sexism, black women are expected to support and appreciate black men without hesitation, but we’re presumptuous to expect the inverse. Still, though the “black women ain’t shit” ideology is oozing with racism and misogyny, going on about how “black men ain’t shit” and turning to comfort in exclusively white men leaves a weird taste in my mouth, too.


In the world of swirl love, desperate white dudes are searching for that chocolate and eager black women are relishing white validation. Honestly, when it comes to the latter, I get it. I went to school with mostly white kids before attending a historically black college. When white dudes are some of the only options for your adolescent crushes and no white dudes seem to have a crush on you, it’s easy to jump to conclusions that your blackness has something to do with it. White supremacy is real and it’s easy to believe that the approval of a white dude is golden, as if we should be grateful that they would bestow us black girls with such praise. But it’s exactly this element of interracial obsession that skeeves me out. There are actually white dudes out there who think that I’m supposed to be flattered by their loud praise of black ass and cocoa skin. Nope. A white guy eagerly posting about his jungle fever feels violent, not loving. Even the obsession with mixed race kids feels hokey and exotifying. It’s as if a kid can’t be beautiful or worthy on its own, it needs that drop of white to make everything right.

Spare me. It’s all bullshit.

The swirl community kind of feels like the home of black girls who proudly call themselves oreos and white dudes who watched too many late night MTV music videos back in the late’ 90s and early ’00s. And I refuse to be associated with it. This probably sounds rich for those who have anonymously messaged me on Tumblr, accusing me of only being attracted to white dick. It’s probably also pretty funny to the people who claim to know I’d end up dating a white dude. But I’m being real right now: I really don’t find any appeal in going out of my way to be in an interracial relationship.

Actively pursuing an interracial relationship almost always hinges on subscribing to stereotypes that rely on exotification and deification. This is why I try to be careful in the way I talk about being in an interracial relationship. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about having to explain black hair to my white boyfriend, but I was highly aware that it could have been misconstrued as self-fetishization. Look at me and my blackness, look at my boyfriend and his whiteness, look at us, look at us, haha swirl pride. Not my intent, but I understand how it could be seen that way in the world of interracial blogs which covet photos of black women and white men embracing, kissing, fucking, etc.

Interracial relationships aren’t magical and I don’t think that there should be any pride in being in one. They’re not inherently special or more attractive. There’s no special sparkle or shine. They come with their own special sets of struggles like any other relationship. Having a white boyfriend won’t erase the burden of living in a mainstream culture that refuses to see a black woman’s beauty and worth; having a black girlfriend doesn’t make one exempt from perpetuating racist bullshit. So I need that part of the internet to do me a solid and keep the jungle fever mess away from me.

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Apr 30th

Janel Parrish has figured out how to fight the internal struggle she has with her looks

By Yasmin S

ORIGINAL SOURCE: Julie Sprankles @

Although we've all come to know and love Janel Parrish as wily Mona Vanderwaal on ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars, the actress — unlike her character — is decidedly un-devious.

That's not to say, though, that Parrish and her character are totally unalike.

Like Mona, Parrish is stunning and smart. She's articulate. And, well, a bit of a nerd at heart. And as Mona's entry into the Rosewood upper crust wasn't without a few hiccups, Parrish's transition into Hollywood wasn't exactly seamless either.

On "fitting in"

"The first couple of years that I moved to LA, actually, it was very hard," said the star, who moved to the area to pursue acting at only 14. "I wasn't working — I didn't know any of the casting directors. You know, I didn't have any idea how big the competition is out here and how hard the rejection is."

But with the support of her family, Parrish learned not only to not doubt herself, but to actually embrace the differences that make her stand out.

"Being a mixed-race actress was very difficult, especially growing up," she said. "When you're younger and you have to fit into a family and you're of mixed race, you don't quite fit into the Hollywood look — which is usually the blond-haired, blue-eyed girl next door — and so I would audition for those roles, and they didn't quite know where to place me."

A shift has occurred over the years, though, Parrish points out.

"Now that I'm older and I don't really have to fit into a family in roles, it's not that much of an issue, and I think also Hollywood and the world has become a little less color-blind, which is wonderful."

And she's happy to see that sense of self-acceptance growing in Hollywood. "People like Maggie Q are getting lead roles as a beautiful Asian American actress," she said. "And that's wonderful... that's not something I think would have happened 10 to 12 years ago when I first came here."

On bucking the trend to bow to Hollywood standards

Women, she asserts, should just be able to be true to themselves.

"And I see a lot of that happening. I love that. Whether it's style or speak[ing] out about what you're passionate about or not following trends that aren't classy — I think class is really sexy."

Although Parrish hasn't personally experienced some of the unfair pressure placed on young actresses by the industry, she concedes that she fights the same internal struggle many women do: "Wanting to be beautiful and wanting to look like the models in the magazines."

Thankfully, she says, there are actresses in Hollywood who are paving the way when it comes to helping women just be themselves and not worry about fitting into any certain mold.

"Women like Jennifer Lawrence," she told us, "who have spoken up a lot just about being herself and not following any fad diets, and thinking she's beautiful the way she is. You know, that curves are sexy and just embracing yourself and your natural sexiness. I think that's really great."

On her favorite imperfections

Of course, holding on to that kind of confidence can be tricky in an industry where digital airbrushing to perfection is the norm — which is precisely why Parrish isn't a fan of Photoshop.

She explained, "I have a little freckle on my nose, and I love this little, like, imperfection, if you will. And a lot of the time when I do photo shoots, they'll photoshop out the freckle. I'm like, 'But I love that little blemish!' or whatever it is.

"I think people's imperfections, whatever they are, give them character," she added. "And I think it's beautiful."

Still, there's a learning curve to self-acceptance, admits Parrish, who has always been self-conscious about what she calls her "chubby little chipmunk cheeks." To this day, they are part of the reason she isn't crazy about smiling in pictures.

"If you look at my Instagram, there's a lot of smizing going on, because I just know that if I smile, my two flaws that I hate are going to show — one is my cheeks, and the second one is my teeth." (The latter of which she says are "kind of crooked.")

She's getting there, though, pointing out that she has decided to embrace those insecurities. "The little flaws add character, so I'm gonna keep my teeth and my cheeks!" she said, laughing.


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