White KC mom of mixed family on why she constantly checks white privilege

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2016-08-09 18:19Z by Steven

White KC mom of mixed family on why she constantly checks white privilege

The Kansas City Star
2016-07-24

Aaron Randle, Culture Writer

  • Amanda and Kenton Campbell have a mixed daughter and adopted son from Haiti
  • “I’m so past the warm and fuzzy point,” the 36-year-old mom says

Amanda Campbell is ready when you are.

Ready to get uncomfortable. Ready to share that article on your Facebook feed about why “Black Lives Matter” is necessary. Ready to explain to you why “All Lives Matter” is not. Ready to check you on your white privilege.

“I’m so past the warm and fuzzy point,” the 36-year-old mom says, exasperated, as she leans back in the sofa in her Brookside living room. Her husband, Kenton Campbell, 33, who is black, lounges his 6-foot-3 frame on a chaise to her right.

Their mixed-race daughter, Jocelyn, 5, with cocoa butter skin and a head full of curls, lies across her lap fiddling with a baby doll. Isaac, 8, their dark-skinned, Haitian-born, adopted son, is in the sunroom around the corner toying with a video game.

“When people are like, ‘I don’t want to see (race), I don’t want to hear about it,’ that doesn’t exist for me,” Amanda says.

“Post-racial America” can try to be as blithely colorblind as it’d like. That isn’t an option in the Campbell household. Race permeates the fabric of their existence.

Amanda recalls the time her aunt, who’s also white, told her “she doesn’t see color.” Amanda began to tell her that was a load of crap. “Well actually, Aunty, being colorblind is …”

That’s when Kenton, feeling his wife about to enter “White Ally” mode, tugged at her arm to reel her back in.

“He was like, ‘Don’t go there!’ ” she says with a laugh. “But it’s like, if I don’t go there …”

The sentiment is understood: If Amanda or any other white person who gets the complexities and struggles of black America doesn’t take the opportunity to educate other whites in casual white-privilege moments, who else will?

“I’m ready to talk about (racism). But overall I would say 90 percent of America is not open to it,” she says. “I’m not a percentage as vocal as I’d like to be, but I know that if you are too much, and some people think that I am, that there’s a wall that comes up. It’s a constant balancing act.”

For the Campbells, everyday life as an interracial couple raising both a mixed and black child requires skillful straddling. On one hand, Amanda gets weary of having to educate others. But then again, as the sole white member of the family, she feels an obligation to operate as an ally and advocate, to call out prejudice when she sees it…

Read the entire article here.

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Jewish girl overcomes a ‘Little White Lie’ about race

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2015-01-06 02:08Z by Steven

Jewish girl overcomes a ‘Little White Lie’ about race

The Kansas City Star
Kansas City, Missouri
2015-01-05

Jeneé Osterheldt

When I look at one of her old baby pictures, I think of my own childhood snapshots.

A mixed little girl sits happily in her white mama’s lap. It’s a sweet picture of Lacey Schwartz and her mother. But unlike me, she didn’t know her true heritage until she was grown. Ironically, her last name means black in German and Yiddish, but Lacey grew up white.

Her caramel-latte brown skin and dark, curly hair stood out in her loving, upper-middle-class Jewish household in mostly white Woodstock, N.Y. The family had an explanation for that: Lacey looked like her father’s Sicilian grandfather.

But deep down, she always wondered…

…“I lived over a decade in a racial closet,” Lacey says. “Learning the truth was a relief that led to this larger search on how to integrate my two identities. I personally identify as biracial. But I look at that as a category of being black with the understanding that other biracial people may not feel that way.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed roots, common bonds

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2014-07-30 22:00Z by Steven

Mixed roots, common bonds

The Kansas City Star
Kansas City, Missouri
2014-07-21

Jeneé Osterheldt

Her first year at KU [University of Kansas], Jasmin Moore noticed the black students sat together. The Hispanic students sat together. And everyone else did the same. This was over a decade ago.

“For the first time, I was trying to figure out where I belonged,” she says. Her mom is white and her dad is black, and students pulled her in different directions, wanting her to declare herself. She found herself gravitating toward the Hispanic students. She looked like them. At the time, it was easier.

As she and her husband pursued graduate programs, they moved to Little Rock, Ark., where things are still very segregated and being mixed is an anomaly.

“People didn’t know what to make of me,” she says. “I got stares. I realized that for people in other places, being biracial is still a unique experience, and it’s important to support others.”

And that’s why, now that she’s back in town, she is helping rebuild the Multiracial Family Circle, now called Kansas City Mixed Roots…

Read the entire article here.

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‘The River Between Us’: A story of survival and transformation

Posted in Articles, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2013-05-11 23:59Z by Steven

‘The River Between Us’: A story of survival and transformation

The Kansas City Star
2013-04-12

Edward M. Eveld

It’s the eve of the Civil War in Richard Peck’s novel “The River Between Us,” and the country is rearranging itself for the coming conflict.

A prelude to the convulsion plays even in the tiny river-landing town of Grand Tower, Ill. That’s where 15-year-old Tilly Pruitt notices that the boys her age are taking sides and itching to fight, including her twin brother, Noah.

A riverboat heading north stops in their town, likely the last one on the Mississippi before the war, and deposits the elaborately adorned Delphine Duval and her mysterious companion, Calinda.

Peck’s book, a challenging historical novel for young adult readers, is the current selection of the FYI Book Club.

The Pruitt family takes in the newcomers, although it is barely surviving a hardscrabble life with no help from an absent father. From there the tale provides portals into multiracial politics and culture, the brutal reach of war and the confluence of family secrets and identity.

The multiple-award-winning Peck has written dozens of books for young readers. He will visit Kansas City May 3 for a Kansas City Public Library event with several other noted authors.

Here are edited excerpts of our conversation with Peck.

 Q. Why a Civil War story?

A. It’s a story that found me. I was trolling for whatever I might find in New Orleans historical museums, and I began to read about the real estate of the French Quarter. I learned that a majority of it before the Civil War was owned by women of mixed race who were called quadroons. They were the mistresses of white men, given homes and livings, and they were very fashionable and proud. They knew that if the South lost the war, they would lose their status. So they sent their daughters away. Those who were light enough to “pass” were sent north.

And you wondered what happened to them.

Yes, I chose a girl who could pass for white, particularly if she were among unsophisticated people who wouldn’t know. The story became about a girl who has to reinvent herself in an “alien” country. And, of course, it’s a love story. When she comes down the gangplank on the last riverboat to stop in Grand Tower before the war, Noah is there to see her. He’s lost in a dream of love, but he also wants to fight. He wants to be a Yankee soldier…

Read the entire interview here.

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Passage to identity is still a struggle

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2011-01-06 02:19Z by Steven

Passage to identity is still a struggle

Kansas City Star
2010-12-17

Commentary by: Jeneé Osterheldt

I’ve always known I wasn’t white like my mama. Even as a little girl, I could feel adults stare as we passed by.

I was different. But was I black like my daddy? It took me much of my young life to figure that out.

Earlier this year, we took the census. The hardest of the 10 questions revolved around racial identity.

President Barack Obama, born to a white mother and a black father from Africa, checked one box: Black, African Am. or Negro.

I checked it, too. But I also marked the ones next to white and Native American. The president and I are both mixed.

So, who chose the right answer?

More and more black-and-white mixed Americans are “passing” for black, according to a recent study in the current issue of Social Psychology Quarterly, titled “Passing as Black: Racial Identity Work Among Biracial Americans.” That’s a reverse form of what biracial and fair-skinned blacks did in the Jim Crow era, when they denied their race altogether.

It’s claptrap. Yes, Obama is mixed, but he’s also black. It’s possible to be both. How can people “pass” for something they already are?..

Read the rest of the commentary here.

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