Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Many Degrees of Meltingpot are in Your Family?

Somebody asked me recently why I was so interested in multi-culti families. He wanted to know how a "Black girl like me," who grew up in segregated Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 70s and 80s, has such a meltingpot perspective on human relationships.

Although I know he was really trying to find out why I wasn't an Angry Black Woman, the question got me thinking about my life and in particular my family. I've always just considered my extended family as a pretty typical Black American family, but then again:

I have one Haitian uncle and one Jamaican aunt (no relation).

I have one White Aunt and one White Uncle (also no relation).

I have an uncle from Holland (who actually adopted himself into the family)who married a Colombian woman so I have Latino cousins. That same "uncle" also has an adopted daughter who is Eskimo and Black.

One of my aunts is Korean and Black and her Korean mother has always been part of the family.

My step-grandmother is Jamaican.

So my life has always been sprinkled with people from different countries, speaking different languages, eating different foods and using different hair products. I don't know if I'd be a different person if my family was a little bit more homogeneous but I'm glad it's not.

And I guess that's why I'm obsessed with finding meltingpot moments because it brings me the comfort of my familiar. And, well, because it just tastes so good!

I'm sure my family is the rule and not the exception. So, tell me, dear readers. How many degrees of meltingpot are in your family? And has that made a difference in how you view the world?



Anonymous said...

I have 0 degrees of Meltingpot in my family origin. My colombian addition brought the first degree.

My husband's aunt married an African-American, so our daughter is only the second degree in his family. My husband has a "blended to perfection" cousin.

It has been a hard road and still is educating family and other folk about race, culture and sensitivity. Everybody assumes she's Mexican because she's latina and I speak Spanish to her. The majority of people don't realize that Colombia doesn't actually share a culture with Mexico just a langauge.

Just yesterday, on the phone with my father, he asked if my daughter was still napping. We've had lots of trouble deciding on giving up the nap or not. She's nearly 5. We are damned at night if we nap and overly tired if we don't....

Anyway, I say to him, I think I found a middle ground. She lays on the carpet in her room for 25 minutes with some books and toys. She cat naps if she needs to otherwise she's entertained. He says "Well, I suppose they are used to siesta". Oh Lord!! Head hits desk!!

LT said...

Hey Anon,

It's def. hard when you're the first, but just try to keep a smile on your face and know you're making your family that much richer and your daughter will grow up believing that families come in all shades and colors and languages.

Thanks for visiting the Meltingpot.

Nif said...

A story from the white, we-came-here-on-the Mayflower side of my family, as told to me by one of my mother's sisters.

An aunt of theirs said something bigoted, and my aunt said to her, "When we grow up, one of us is going to marry a black man, one of us is going to marry a Catholic, and one of us is going to marry a Jew!" Which they did.

Anonymous said...

I come from a family that is black, Native American, White (Jewish) and Latino. We couldn't be happier. We are all just happy that we made it. I think that a lot of times people don't understand that sometimes race doesn't matter INSIDE a family, but matters a lot outside. My birth certificate says Native American, I consider myself black, I speak English and Spanish and my surname is Jewish. Melting, yeah. When people see our family, they don't get it - but, we don't care because we are a family. Sometimes people need to get over it and learn to accept that people are just people and the only race that matters is the human race.

Carleen Brice said...

This is my family too, especially on my mother's side. Then one of my brothers married a Latina, the other brother married a biracial woman adopted by a white family, and I married a white man. Now we are full-on meltingpot!