Two Sisters Bought DNA Kits. The Results Blew Apart Their Family.

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-03 02:43Z by Steven

Two Sisters Bought DNA Kits. The Results Blew Apart Their Family.

The Wall Street Journal
2019-02-01

Amy Dockser Marcus

a group of people posing for a photo
©Hurwitz and Dolvin family

In an age of ubiquitous direct-to-consumer genetic testing, family secrets are almost impossible to keep.

Sonny and Brina Hurwitz raised a family in Boston. They both died with secrets.

In 2016, their oldest daughter, Julie Lawson, took a home DNA test. Later, she persuaded her sister, Fredda Hurwitz, to take one too.

In May, the sisters sat down at the dinner table in Ms. Hurwitz’s Falls Church, Va., home to share their results. A man’s name popped up as a close genetic match for Ms. Hurwitz. Neither had ever heard of him.

Ms. Lawson searched for the man on Facebook . When she saw his photos, she knew. He looked like their late father. Based on his age and the close physical resemblance, Ms. Lawson immediately told her sister, “He’s got to be our brother.” This was their father’s secret. He had a child they never knew about.

Then came a second shock. Ms. Lawson’s test showed she didn’t appear to have any genetic connection to this new man. This was their mother’s secret: Ms. Lawson was the product of a brief extramarital affair. The man who raised her wasn’t her biological father.

The revelations ricocheted through the family. They created new bonds with people who were once strangers. They caused tension with family they had known all their lives. And they sparked a fight between the sisters about the bonds of loyalty—and how much their parents should have told them.

Ms. Lawson, 65 years old, said she is still grappling with “the pain of knowing my life was a lie and having all these questions that can’t be fully answered because both my parents are gone.”

The hardest part, she said, came the moment she and Ms. Hurwitz, 52, realized they were half, not full, sisters.

“We held each other,” Ms. Lawson said, “and we sobbed.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A letter to my racist in-laws

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2019-01-27 03:23Z by Steven

A letter to my racist in-laws

gal-dem
2018-12-22

Audrey Augustin


image by soofiya.com

“It’s because you have foreign blood in you, that’s why you live 350 miles from home,” my uncle says to me. Noah* is sat next to me. Embarrassed, I look down into my dinner and mumble “well, what about my brother? He’s always lived close by.” I try and disrupt his logic. “Well he’s different, isn’t he?” My uncle carries on talking. I stop listening. I’m angry. Why has no one interrupted him? Why is no one sticking up for me?

It’s Easter Sunday, 2018. I’m at my parents’ house for a family gathering with both sides of my family. My uncle is white. My dad is white. My mum is brown. I’m mixed race. My mum was born in Mauritius, she moved to the UK when she was a baby in the ‘50s. My parents, who have been together since the ‘80s have never addressed the issue of race. I think they just wanted to keep their heads down in the hope that things would get better. Racist comments like those from my uncle are commonplace at my family gatherings.

Noah is my partner. He’s white. His family are racist too…

Read the entire article here.

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Cookeville Vietnam veteran meets Vietnamese-American son after 50 years, hosts family reunion

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2019-01-19 03:24Z by Steven

Cookeville Vietnam veteran meets Vietnamese-American son after 50 years, hosts family reunion

The Nashville Tennessean
2019-01-14

Yihyun Jeong, Veterans and Military Affairs Reporter


Hugh Nguyen as a boy in Vietnam, teased for being “Amerasian,” a child born during wartime from an Asian mother and an American solider. (Photo: Family handout)

His life was hell because he looked different than the other boys that played in the streets of Saigon.

His light skin, light hair and light eyes.The father he never knew.

These were all reasons that made Hugh Nguyen the target of bullies who mocked him for being an “Amerasian,” — though they used more deragatory terms — a child conceived in wartime by a Vietnamese mother and an American military father fighting abroad.

Not fully belonging to America or Vietnam, these kids were commonly dismissed as “children of the dust,” leftovers of an unpopular war. They were left discarded by both governments and left to be taunted by schoolmates who teased them for their features that resembled the face of the enemy.

Most never knew their fathers.


Roy Patterson, as an 18-year-old American soldier stationed at the base in Nha Trang during the Vietnam War. (Photo: Family handout)

“They disliked us tremendously,” Nguyen said in an interview with USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee. “We were treated like garbage. We were talked down to and looked down on.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Tuscaloosa author writes children’s book about biracial daughter

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2019-01-12 02:16Z by Steven

Tuscaloosa author writes children’s book about biracial daughter

The Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
2019-01-09

Kelcey Sexton, Staff Writer


Monique Fields, a children’s author from Tuscaloosa, stands with her first published book Saturday, July 21, 2018. [Staff file photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Monique Fields remembers when she got inspiration for “Honeysmoke.”

It was when her eldest daughter began asking questions about herself, namely about the color of her skin. They were questions that took her by surprise because Simone was only 3 years old.

“She started asking questions about who she is, and I didn’t really have any good answers for her,” Fields said.

It seemed early for her to be paying such close attention to things like that.

“Basically, she pointed to my face one day, and she said, ‘Mommy’s a black girl.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, Mommy’s a black girl,’ ” she said. ”(Then Simone) said, ‘Simone is a white girl.’ ”

Fields, 48, admitted she really didn’t know the best way to respond to that and told Simone, no, she was a black girl like Mommy.

“Which is not true and was not the thing to do,” she said. “Then (Simone’s dad) Ken said, ‘You have a little bit of both worlds. You’re a little bit of Mommy and a little bit of Daddy.’…

Read the entire article here.

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White Lies: Ijeoma Oluo On Privilege, Power, And Race

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2018-12-18 01:56Z by Steven

White Lies: Ijeoma Oluo On Privilege, Power, And Race

The Sun Interview
The Sun
December 2018

Mark Leviton
Nevada City, California

516 - Ijeoma Oluo - Leviton

“Race has always been a prominent part of my life,” Ijeoma Oluo writes in her new book So You Want to Talk about Race. “I have never been able to escape the fact that I am a black woman in a white-supremacist country.”

Oluo was born in 1980 in Denton, Texas. Her father, a Nigerian college professor and politician, returned to his native country when she was three and never came back to the U.S. She and her brother, Ahamefule (often called Aham), had no contact with him growing up. Their mother, a white woman from the Midwest, raised them by herself in Seattle

..Oluo is an editor-at-large for the online magazine The Establishment. In her blog on Medium.com she often covers serious subject matter — white supremacy, representations of race in the media, the U.S. crisis of mass incarceration and police violence — but her approach is personal and down-to-earth; she’s rarely without a rueful joke or a post about what her two sons said at breakfast. In 2015 she self-published The Badass Feminist Coloring Book, a project that developed from her habit of sketching famous feminists to relieve stress. She hit the New York Times best-seller list earlier this year with So You Want to Talk about Race. Though she realizes that most of her readers will be white, she says she wrote the book to help people of color make themselves heard. Her website is ijeomaoluo.com.

I met with Oluo at her favorite independent Seattle coffeehouse, which also serves as an informal community center and work space. We sat at a small table and struggled to talk over the sound of the coffee grinder and the not-so-quiet background music before moving to a bench across the street. It was a beautiful spring day, and despite her sometimes dire message, Oluo’s energy and humor never flagged.

Leviton: You believe that if you’re white in America, you’re racist, and if you’re a male in America, you’re sexist. Are you saying I can’t transcend my received culture no matter what kind of a person I am?

Oluo: I don’t think you can escape it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fight racism or patriarchy. You can fight the racism in society even while you fight the racism inside you. It’s like fighting a cancer inside you: you’re not “pro-cancer” because you have it.

There’s no way to avoid absorbing our American culture, which was designed to benefit white males. We absorb American racism in ways we’re not fully aware of. You can’t undo a lifetime of experience in a few years of work. While you are struggling against racism, the culture keeps reinforcing it, telling you who is “normal” and who isn’t, who deserves to be seen and who is made invisible. Racism is alive.

I want to move people away from thinking of racism as a feeling of hatred, because it’s rare to find someone who blatantly hates people of color. But the impact of racial bias isn’t lessened because it’s not blatant. If someone denies me a job because I’m “not the right fit,” without realizing that their idea of the right fit is almost always a white person, it doesn’t hurt me any less than if I’m told, “I won’t hire you because you’re black.” Racism is not necessarily an intention or a feeling. It is a system that produces predictable results.

In this country there are large racial divides in everything from infant mortality, to how much you earn, to your chances of being arrested or incarcerated. This is not because a bunch of white people wake up every day and decide to oppress people of color; it’s not just the actions of individuals with hate in their hearts. We cannot understand American racism unless we recognize it as a system that was built to run — and that still runs — on principles of oppression and domination. Four hundred years of history doesn’t go back into the toothpaste tube…

Leviton: You were always a high achiever in school. You didn’t have disciplinary problems.

Oluo: Yes, I was well suited for Western education. I scored high on standardized tests — which are very prejudiced in many ways. While I was growing up, my mom was going to college, and because she couldn’t afford day care, she would sneak my brother and me into her big auditorium classes. My father was a college professor; he didn’t raise us, but I was aware of that heritage. So education was always something I loved.

But there were costs. One was that my blackness was erased. People could accept that I was talented and smart only if they saw me as less black. I had teachers who would insist I was “mixed,” not black. Many people told me I didn’t “act black” — I guess because doing well in school and loving to read were not “black” behaviors to them. And in many ways that robbed me of my sense of community and identity. I was often used as an example to other black students: “Why can’t you be more like Ijeoma?” I became a reason to withhold sympathy from other black students: “She gets it. Why can’t you?”

I grew up in Seattle, and I talk like someone who grew up in Seattle. I was raised by a white single mom. I have a lighter skin tone than many black people. And I was treated as if I were fundamentally better than my black peers, because I looked and sounded whiter. I grew up feeling very isolated as a result. I was the only black kid in the advanced programs up to seventh grade. In high school there was one other black kid. Today my son is in an advanced school program, and there’s only one other black kid in there with him. So my son has to carry that burden of representing black students…

Read the entire interview here.

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Japanese Mom, Non-Japanese Kid

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2018-12-03 02:43Z by Steven

Japanese Mom, Non-Japanese Kid

Hapa Japan
2018-11-29

Fredrick Cloyd


Featured Image by Edward M. Haugh

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about a mixed-Japanese child either born and/or raised outside of Japan, is the personal-cultural aspects of the relationship between the Japanese parent and the child, who grows up to be an adult. Since my ethnographic focus for my book, as well as my life experiences with Amerasians are with my mother and her friends and their families, and Japanese mothers in general, this will be my focus here, rather than families with Japanese fathers.

One aspect of the Japanese mother-American child relationship growing up in the United States, is the fact of loneliness…

Read the entire article here.

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What it took to finally confront my family about race and politics

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2018-11-21 21:18Z by Steven

What it took to finally confront my family about race and politics

The Guardian
2018-11-21

Sarah Menkedick

‘It is not about politics. It is about saying, ‘This is my life, and this is what I care about.’
‘It is not about politics. It is about saying, ‘This is my life, and this is what I care about.’ Illustration: Grace Helmer

As the mother of a mixed-race daughter, I was troubled by my white relatives’ views. Why was I terrified to speak up?

My four-year-old daughter has recently started to notice skin color. “Mommy,” she points out when we take a shower, “your skin is white, and my skin is brown, and Papi’s skin is brown!” With a four-year-old’s mania for classification, she lines up our arms in order of deepening darkness. She counts: “Two browns, and one white!”

The other day in the car when I said a curse word, she asked me why, and I said it was because Donald Trump was taking children away from their mothers at the border. “Why?” she asked. I tried to distill immigration down to a child’s logic: “Because where they live is not safe. So they come here to have a safer life. But some people get mad that they come here. They don’t want them here.”

“And he takes their kids away?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Her lip trembled. I once made the mistake of reading a library book about a hippo that lost its mother and she cried so hard I finally had to bust out a hidden stash of M&Ms.

I reiterated that some people don’t want these families here, and want to punish them. She did what she does with any situation that is incomprehensible: she just kept asking why, assuming there has to be an explanation that will make sense to her. Finally I said, “Because they have brown skin, like you and Papi. Donald Trump doesn’t like brown skin.”

“He doesn’t like brown skin?” she asked. I nodded.

“He doesn’t like me?” she asked…

Read the entire article here.

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Helping My Fair-Skinned Son Embrace His Blackness

Posted in Arts, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-21 18:38Z by Steven

Helping My Fair-Skinned Son Embrace His Blackness

The Atlantic
2018-11-21

Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Officer
Zero to Three, Washington, D.C.


Ashley Seil Smith

He identifies as African American, but it’s a constant struggle to get his peers and teachers to see him that way.

I recently confessed to my son that I would have to miss back-to-school night for a work trip. Most parents can expect one of two reactions from their children to this news: relief or a guilt trip. My son’s response was of the second variety, but with a particular twist. “You can’t miss back-to-school night!,” he said. “How else will my new teachers know I’m black?”

For me and my husband, back-to-school night is not only about establishing what kind of parents we will be for the coming school year—it is also about establishing our son’s racial identity and sense of belonging.

I am a black woman married to a white man. Our 13-year-old son looks white—blonde-haired, blue-eyed, straight-nosed, thin-lipped, fair-skinned white—but he identifies as black. Our daughter is much lighter than I am, and is often mistaken for Middle Eastern or Latina, but I cannot help but see traces of my paternal grandmother’s high cheek bones and wide nose in her round face.

Some queer people talk about the existence of “gaydar”—the ability to identify one of their own, whether they are out or closeted. As the child of a white mother and black father, I have whatever the equivalent is for being able to spot black people no matter how fair their skin or European their features. I could always claim my people, I thought. But when our son was born, I realized that no special power was going to help me see his African heritage. My husband thought our newborn was albino the first time he cradled him in his arms. He was that white…

Read the entire article here.

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JewAsian: race, religion, and identity for America’s Newest Jews [Review]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2018-11-01 02:37Z by Steven

JewAsian: race, religion, and identity for America’s Newest Jews [Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 40, 2017 – Issue 13
pages 2380-2382
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2017.1329544

Hasia R. Diner, Paul And Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History
New York University

Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt, JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America’s Newest Jews (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016).

Sociologists Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt, a married couple, he of Jewish background, presumably European, and she of Korean derivation, have, with this slim book, launched an important topic for further research and scholarly inquiry. The two authors explore here, using the conventional methods of sociological study, a trend, presumably new and emblematic of postmodernity. This trend can be accessed by even the most casual readers nearly every Sunday in the wedding announcements in The New York Times‘ Style section. Like JewAsian—obviously a neologism—The Times postings chronicle the not uncommon phenomenon of, for the most part, Jewish men, bearers of identifiable Jewish surnames, marrying women marked by their names and by the accompanying photographs identifiable as Asian, primarily individuals who themselves or their forbears hailed from China, Korea, and Vietnam.

The text of the wedding announcements, besides detailing the usually impressive occupations and educational backgrounds of bride and groom, and those of their parents, fit well with this fascinating book. Nearly all the nuptial notices indicate that a rabbi or cantor will be officiating at the ceremony, indicating that Jews, certainly the non-Orthodox among them who constitute the American majority, have embraced this emerging reality of marriages across lines of race, ethnicity, and religion. So too the fact that the brides in these marriages have chosen to have their unions solemnized by a member of the Jewish clergy, rather than by someone representing Christianity or Buddhism or any other religious tradition associated with Asian and Asian American culture, represents an important contemporary reality which Kim and Leavitt explore in their book.

The wedding announcements, like the much publicized union between FaceBook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, sweethearts since their Harvard days and like the data presented in JewAsian, point to the trend by which the non-Jewish, Asian women who marry Jewish men become integrated and absorbed into the fabric of American Jewish life. Kim and Leavitt, who for the most part leave out the details of their personal journey as an Asian and Jewish couple, focusing carefully on the pairs whom they interviewed, do appropriately indicate in the Preface that they met and fell in love while graduate students at the University of Chicago…

Read or purchase the review here.

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Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Family/Parenting, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2018-10-15 02:29Z by Steven

Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption

University of Nebraska Press
October 2018
352 pages
12 photographs
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4962-0746-3
eBook (PDF) ISBN: 978-1-4962-1088-3
eBook (EPUB) ISBN: 978-1-4962-1086-9

Susan Devan Harness, Member
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Bitterroot

In Bitterroot Susan Devan Harness traces her journey to understand the complexities and struggles of being an American Indian child adopted by a white couple and living in the rural American West. When Harness was fifteen years old, she questioned her adoptive father about her “real” parents. He replied that they had died in a car accident not long after she was born—except they hadn’t, as Harness would learn in a conversation with a social worker a few years later.

Harness’s search for answers revolved around her need to ascertain why she was the target of racist remarks and why she seemed always to be on the outside looking in. New questions followed her through college and into her twenties when she started her own family. Meeting her biological family in her early thirties generated even more questions. In her forties Harness decided to get serious about finding answers when, conducting oral histories, she talked with other transracial adoptees. In her fifties she realized that the concept of “home” she had attributed to the reservation existed only in her imagination.

Making sense of her family, the American Indian history of assimilation, and the very real—but culturally constructed—concept of race helped Harness answer the often puzzling questions of stereotypes, a sense of nonbelonging, the meaning of family, and the importance of forgiveness and self-acceptance. In the process Bitterroot also provides a deep and rich context in which to experience life.

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