Relatives Who Don't Look Related

There are lots of odd things about being mixed. They're easy to forget until something weird happens. For example, not looking like my immediate relatives. It's no biggie until someone asks my dad if I'm his girlfriend.


The weirdest interactions come when people see me with my brother Nathan. We have different dads and nothing physical in common. At 6+ feet, he looms over me. He has green eyes and wavy brown hair. We don't look like we go together but psychologically, that's my ace! Which means we act like family - the kind that gets along, not the kind that makes everyone else feel awkward. And that means that, if his wife isn't nearby, people think I'm Mrs. Nathan Weinberg.

That wouldn't be so bad if they believed us when we tell them "No, we're brother/sister." But we've actually had people say, "You're joking!"

Who jokes about that? Double gross.

Me and my brother. We don't look alike but sometimes we dress alike.

Famous Mixed People

As an athlete (sorta) and a mixed chick, Friday was a pretty exciting for me.

First, thanks to my cousin, I got to spend the day at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships. It was a who's who of runners - Alison Felix, Lolo Jones, Sonya Richards Ross, Bernard Lagat, Wallace Spearmon, etc. etc. I'm a former long-distance runner and general geek around athleticism (which is very different from being a woman who tries to date athletes), so it was an overwhelmingly good day.

At the end of it, my cousin introduced me to Dan O'Brien, decathlete and 1996 Olympic gold medalist. Super nice guy, on top of being a super athlete. We took a photo, had a quick chat, and kept it moving. Of course, I posted the photo on Facebook. A friend commented that we look alike, which brought memories crashing back from the lead up to the '92 Olympics and during '96. I had forgotten that, back then, I often wondered if Dan O'Brien is, like me, a mixed kid.

Twenty years ago, there was no Google to easily answer these kinds of questions and so, as the summer games faded, so did my curiosity. But my friend's comment brought it back. After a few minutes on the WWW, I'm happy to add another talented person to my list of famous bi-racial people. Welcome, Dan O'Brien!

Do Dan and I look related?

Racial Progress, Measured in Advertising

Thinking about racism, advertising and social media
When I was a kid, my dad used to say, "You'll know we've been accepted when Blacks are in deodorant commercials." If you're younger than 20, that might sound crazy but seriously, Black folks used to be restricted to very limited commercial situations. We ate fast food, we bought American cars, we played sports, we cleaned and did laundry. We never traveled, cleaned ourselves, had sex, ate health food or got to be in the front of a group of people if the other people were White.

Today, Black folks are every where. And yet, my dad and I agree, it doesn't feel like we've completely made it. My new measure for racial equality and triumph over ignorance is when brands can air commercials like Cheerios', showing a mixed family doing regular stuff, and Coca-Cola's Super Bowl ad, showing Americans as multi-cultural, -colorful and -lingual, and nobody says a negative word on Twitter, Facebook or whatever social media channel is popular in that not-too-far-off future.

Money talks. When big brands are spending big cash on all Americans, you know that change is a'comin'.

And, just because I'm lovin' this dude like he's my own son, here's a little glimpse of today's Black teens:

Pictures of Mixed Families

Call me a hypocrite but I love looking at mixed people but hate being stared at. Which is why I'm kinda lovin' this site:

It's gawking at it's best. I get to look at other mixed people and their parents and no one has to feel awkward. In fact, these people shared their photos, so even if they caught me looking, they can't be mad. Win-win!

My only question is the site name. Do mixed families make up 15% of all families in the U.S.? That's bananas! American, ya gotta love it.

Challah! at Drake

I forget that Drake is part of so many tribes - Jewish and Black are highlighted in this Bar Mitzvah rap from the Jan 18 Saturday Night Live.

Slow start, but the rap rhyming Lenny Kravitz and Manischewitz cracked me up.

However, it seemed really outmoded of him to divide up his abilities based on his racial background. Like, saying he knows how to play basketball like LeBron AND can fill out a W-2, implying Black folks are less economically functional.

I guess what I'm really saying is, Drake seems too smart for a dumb joke that perpetuates racism and a bias toward mixed people. Up your comedy game, son!

Where in Africa is your dad from?

One of the great things about international travel is the opportunity to experience new perspectives. For example, in Morocco, being a biracial American was hard to explain. Consider:
  1. Morocco is in Africa, where almost everyone is some shade of brown. When asked, "What's your background?" answering, "My dad is Black," is meaningless. They could easily respond, "So is mine, so...?"
  2. Many people in far away countries have a specific idea of what American looks like. My light brown skin, freckles, big brown eyes and dark brown hair do not meet the definition of American. I further confuse by not wearing running shoes and shorts (yep; American women are pretty much the only ones in the world who combine these two items, making it easy to tell they're American).
  3. In the US, we divide and commune based on things like race, gender, sexual preference or socioeconomics. Abroad, they connect or separate based on where they are from. So, when trying to connect with me, the Moroccans wanted to know from where my family originates. My mom's family is from England. Ok, good, they get that. And my dad is Black. See bullet 1 and you can see how this conversation started to sound like Abbott and Costello.
Africans know we had slavery. They don't realize how it decimated our connection to Africa. To them, not knowing where your ancestors are from is an indescribable loss. Maybe it is to us too, and we just don't fully realize it.