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Who's White?
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TMA Articles and Commentary - TMA Commentary and Essays
Written by Emily Monroy   
Monday, 31 March 2014

Mixed-Race Scandinavians

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April - May 2014


 

Emily MonroyThe George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case has put the subject of race front and centre in the American public mind. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was originally referred to in the media as 'White,' making the case seem like a White-on-Black issue. Then it came out that his mother was Peruvian, which led to Zimmerman being described as a 'Hispanic' or 'White Hispanic.' Now it has been revealed that Zimmerman may have African roots on his maternal grandmother's side. (Peru has a history of Black slavery from colonial times and a sizable African-descended population today.) One article on the right-wing website Coach Is Right asked sarcastically whether Zimmerman should be called an 'Afro-Peruvian White Hispanic.' Sarcasm aside, the Zimmerman-Martin drama raises a question that begs to be addressed: Who is White?

 

Even before the Zimmerman-Martin affair, who was regarded as 'White' or not varied across time and place. Politician J.D. Goss, a candidate in Alabama in the 1920s, thundered against 'the Jew, the Greek, and the Syrian,' insisting he wanted to be elected by 'the White man.' While Greeks have since been welcomed into the White fold, the status of Jews is still somewhat precarious. (Syrians, on the other hand, seem stuck in the separate category of 'Middle Eastern,' even if many of them are physically indistinguishable from Greeks or Southern Italians.) For example, when Dr. Henry Morgentaler first opened an abortion clinic in Toronto, the phrase 'The Jew kills White babies' was scribbled on the front of his building. For the most part, though, Jews are seen as White by people at all points of the political spectrum other than White Supremacists.

 

What has not changed, however, is the reality that at least in the Anglo-Saxon world, anyone with known African ancestry is not viewed as White. This is the case for my two nephews, whose mother - my sister - is White and whose father is Black. My nephews can at most aspire to the label 'biracial,' even though they have spent much more time with our side of the family than their father's and though most people in their immediate environment have been White. I must admit it bothers me that my nephews and I are not considered part of the same race, regardless of our family bonds. I remember a humorous incident when I was staying at a school dorm for a summer course and had a picture of my nephews on the dresser. A cleaning lady later told me that she looked at all my family photos on my bulletin board to try to figure out who 'Emilia's Black family' was: not mulatto family or biracial family, but Black family.

 

In contrast, individuals of White mixed with anything other than Black descent tend to be taken as White. Commenting on the Trayvon Martin incident, National Review columnist John Derbyshire, a White Briton married to a Chinese woman, writes a letter to his sons telling them that while they are of Northern European and Northeast Asian background, they will be seen as White. Cris Judd (the second Mr. Jennifer Lopez) was similarly described on an online forum as 'the only White guy that looks cool with a shaved head' - even if Judd's mother is Filipina (his father is Portuguese). Another site claimed that transsexual beauty contestant Jenna Talackova, who has an Aboriginal Canadian mother and Czechoslovakian father, received the public support she did to re-enter the Miss Universe Canada pageant (from which she had been temporarily barred on account of not being a 'natural born female') because she was an 'attractive White woman;' ironically, Talackova seems to be more easily accepted as White than as female. The 'one-drop rule' that still affects my nephews does not appear to apply to people like Judd or Talackova.

 

I have been romantically involved with two men whom British geneticist Steve Jones might term 'ambiguous Aryans,' in reference to a group of self-described 'White' Brazilians who nonetheless possessed significant amounts of non-European ancestry. The first, whom I'll call 'Boyfriend A,' was a Filipino with enough Spanish background to let him 'pass' as a Southern Italian in the eyes of a barber in Toronto's Little Italy. This despite the fact that my ex spoke a native Filipino language with his family, had spent his childhood and half his adulthood in the Philippines, and had never been to a Western country besides Canada. Yet he insisted he was 'White' and - unlike the White liberals frequently accused of being ashamed of their race - proud of it.

 

A few years later comes Boyfriend B, who is from Nicaragua. Like many other Latin Americans, he considers himself White and denies any Native American ancestry. His certainty about his allegedly pure European ancestry came into doubt, though, when our daughter was born. When I called him to say that I'd given birth to a girl, his first question was 'Is she White?,' and it wasn't because he thought I'd 'cheated' with someone of another race. Rather, he feared his daughter might have inherited Indian features from him.

 

His concern might not have been completely misplaced. Interestingly, despite living in the West all his life, speaking a European language (Spanish) as his mother tongue, and so on and so forth, physically he looked less 'White' than Boyfriend A. In other words, likely no one would have mistaken 'B' for an Italian. Yet for cultural reasons, I'm more comfortable in referring to him as 'White' than I am Boyfriend A. The Philippines, in my view, is not a Western country; Nicaragua is.

 

Final question: Is my daughter White? In her five years of life, she's generally travelled in White/mixed milieus. In her class, for instance, most of the other children are white - a large proportion of whom have blond hair and blue eyes - but there is a little Filipino boy and another child with a Jewish mother and Chinese father. I've always figured my daughter could 'pass' for Italian or Greek and would not necessarily stand out as non-European. However, at her end-of-the-year school party last June, the nanny of one of her classmates asked me whether my daughter was 'Latin American or something' (of note, the nanny herself had an interesting ethnic history, being born to a White British father and mixed Jamaican Black and Chinese mother and later marrying and having a son with a Black African man). So perhaps my little girl isn't quite as Caucasian-looking as I thought. Then again, I used my daughter's American Indian ancestry to my advantage when I went to the Native Canadian Friendship Centre in Toronto to look for a back pouch to carry her in. I remember telling the staff there that I wasn't Native but she was.

 

Post-script question: How will my daughter identify as she gets older? That's difficult to answer now. Just as in Toronto she'll have a choice of which religion she might wish to follow, or the choice not to follow any religion at all, she can 'choose' a racial identity that best suits her, whether that be White, Hispanic, or, more remotely, Native American. Or she can decide to be just plain old Canadian. But will she ever be considered completely 'White?' Only time will tell.

 

 

 

Emily Monroy is a professional translator and is of Irish, Italian and Norwegian descent. Born in Windsor, Ontario, she now resides in Toronto. Her articles have appeared in several publications, including Interracial Voice, Cats Canada, and Urban Mozaik. She welcomes feedback on her articles. You can contact Emily here

Last Updated ( Monday, 31 March 2014 )
 
Mixed-Race Scandinavians
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TMA Articles and Commentary - TMA Commentary and Essays
Written by Emily Monroy   
Monday, 31 March 2014

Mixed-Race Scandinavians

by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
April - May 2014


Emily MonroyOne day last December I was shopping at Toronto’s Kensington Market and saw a car with a sticker of the Danish flag on the back.  As I stopped to look more closely, a young mulatto girl came up to me and asked, “Can I help you?”

 

Curious to know what her connection to Denmark might be, I said, “I noticed you have a sticker of the Danish flag on the back of your car.”

 

“My mom’s Danish,” she replied.

 

“Oh, I’m of Norwegian descent.  Our flag is just like yours except that it has a blue cross.” (Denmark’s flag is red with a white cross, Norway’s red with a blue cross outlined in white.)

 

Just then an older White woman who had apparently been listening to the conversation walked over, smiled, and started talking to me in what must have been Danish (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are so similar they’re often called the dialects of the Scandinavian language).  I apologized and told her I didn’t speak Norwegian.

 

I wished a Merry Christmas to the mother and daughter, and we parted ways.  I felt somewhat ashamed of myself for automatically presuming that the girl was NOT Danish.  After all, thanks to some Italian and Irish ancestry I’m hardly the typical blond-haired blue-eyed Scandinavian.  But as I pondered the matter further, I realized there were a number of mixed-race Scandinavians in my midst.  A children’s group to which I once brought my daughter included a small and very pretty mulatto girl with a Swedish mother.  My best friend on a summer exchange program to Quebec was a young woman whose mother was from Sweden and father from Egypt (for the purpose of this essay, I’ll go by the Canadian government’s current classification of Arabs as non-White, even if some of them are physically indistinguishable from Greeks or Southern Italians).  My family is no stranger to interracial relationships either.  A cousin of mine married a Black American man and has two biracial sons.  My own daughter is part Native American on her Nicaraguan father’s side, though like most Latin Americans he has Spanish ancestry as well.

 

Scandinavia boasts several well-known individuals of mixed heritage in its ranks.  Among them are singer Nenah Cherry (Swedish mother, African father), Kersti Bowser (a Black-Swedish model who joked she went to tanning salons to “keep her Swedish side in check”); and Rikke Roenholt (Danish mother, Ghanaian father), a runner who will be representing Denmark in the 2008 Olympics.  Famous White Scandinavians who have been involved in interracial unions include Icelandic singer Bjork (had a relationship with a Black man named Goldie which caused an anti-miscegenation fan of hers to commit suicide on videotape), Swedish actress May Britt (wife of musician Sammy Davis Jr.), Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren (ex-lover of Grace Jones), and Denmark’s Prince Joachim (formerly married to a woman of Austrian and Chinese descent).

 

Any discussion on mixed-race Scandinavians would be incomplete without a mention of Greenland.  An overseas territory of Denmark, Greenland was colonized by that nation in the 1700s.  Most Greenlanders are of mixed Danish and Inuit descent.  Recent genetic studies have shown that as with Latin America, Greenland’s present population resulted from unions of European men with native women.  However, while colonization in Latin America led to an almost complete Westernization of that region (most Latin American mestizos, like my daughter’s father, speak Spanish as their first language and don’t identify at all as Indian), Greenlanders have kept much more of their original culture.  For example, Greenlandic, an Inuit language, is the mother tongue of most Greenlanders, though many know Danish too.  On the other hand, the bulk of Greenland’s population belongs to the Lutheran Church, as does Denmark’s.

 

At an individual level, the degree to which mixed-race Scandinavians retain their culture varies.  My above-mentioned friend in Quebec, for instance, spent long periods of time as a child in Sweden and spoke fluent Swedish.  In contrast, my grandmother, whose family came from Norway, married a non-Scandinavian man and didn’t teach Norwegian to my mother, so I am unfortunately unable to pass the language on to my daughter and any other children I may have in future.

 

One “marker” of Scandinavian heritage is Lutheranism, even if not all Scandinavians are Lutheran and many of those who are are not particularly religious.  Here again, families differ.  Though her father was Muslim, my Swedish-Egyptian friend was raised Lutheran.  However, a Finnish-Canadian colleague married to a Filipino woman was bringing up his children in his wife’s Catholic faith.  I myself have had my daughter baptized in the Lutheran Church.  While the principal reason for doing so is to share my personal faith with her, an added bonus is the “link” it provides to her Scandinavian ancestors.

 

On my kitchen wall is a picture of a girl in traditional Norwegian dress.  My mother remarked that she might make a similar costume so that my daughter could be a “little Norwegian girl” for Halloween.

 

“But she’s already a little Norwegian girl!” I protested.

 

“With those big brown eyes [courtesy of her father]?” my mom responded, and we both laughed.

 

***

 

Now I would like to include an interview with a real-life mixed-race Scandinavian – writer Heidi Durrow, author of the book Light-skinned-ed Girl.  Check out her website at www.heidiwdurrow.com – and read her answers to my questions.

 

Q: From what I understand, your mother is Danish and your father African-American.  How and where did your parents meet?

 

A: My parents (my mother is from Herning, Denmark and my father was originally from Texas) met on an American Air Force base in Germany.  My mom was working as a nanny to an American family – she wanted to practice her English while she earned some money to go back to school.

 

Q: Where were you born?

 

A: I was born in Seattle, WA at the Swedish Hospital .  Both my brothers (one older and one younger) were born in Herning.  I am jealous of this to this day – but tease them that they cannot ever be President of the US because they were born on foreign soil.  Silly, right?

 

Q: Do you speak Danish fluently?  If so, is it your first language (meaning the first language you learned as a child)?

 

A: Yes, I would say I’m fluent in Danish – though each time I’ve gone back as an adult I hear more of an accent developing –an unintelligible one at that—a strange mixture of American and ????  Also, my language is kind of dated and I sound like my mother from forty years ago – I haven’t updated my slang-and I haven’t updated my accent to go with the Copenhageners –but they are kind to me when I go and don’t make fun of me –heee hee.

 

Q: Have you spent long periods of time in Denmark?

 

A: As a child we spent long summers and holidays there. Recently, I received a grant from the American Scandinavian Foundation to do research for a book I’m writing. I spent a month in Copenhagen in a little apartment I rented. I spent time at the libraries and doing interviews and also with my family. It was an amazing experience to be part of Danish life for so long as an adult on my own terms.

 

Q: Would you say that when growing up your father’s or your mother’s background had the greatest influence in your home?

 

A: My mother’s background was the most important. We spoke only Danish with my mother until I was about 11 or 12. When my dad would come home from work, we would speak English around him but if he wasn’t in the room it was Danish again. We ate Danish food, celebrated holidays the Danish way – and I think were raised with a Danish sensibility – the bad part: Janteloven – but also something more intangible that I think people here would say is European but to me seems specifically Danish.

 

Q: Were you raised in the Church of Denmark (the Lutheran Church, that is)?

 

A:  I was christened Lutheran, but did not have a confirmation. It was a great wish to have one as a child, but by the time I was 14, we were in the US and it would be another several years before we could AFFORD for me to travel to Denmark again.

 

Q: How do you identify ethnically now?

 

A: My ethnic identification has gone through many changes. For the last long while, I have embraced saying that I am biracial and bicultural – African-American and Danish. I think this specificity annoys some people – some who think, get over it you’re black since you don’t look white and also those who think: but you’re American and that whole Danish thing is just quaint. I am tired of thinking what they are thinking and just say what is the truth now.

 

Q: Do you find that racism is widespread in Denmark? Have you ever encountered racism in that country?

 

A: I feel lucky not have experienced racism in Denmark. I was either too ignorant to recognize it or I have been shielded from it. That is not to say that I haven’t been privy to people making comments about me. Comments like “there are more and more of THOSE people coming” – an overhead remark when I had lunch with a cousin – I assume they thought I was Arab? Turkish? A foreigner who was now living in Denmark?  There is a lot of discrimination against them. It’s disturbing. My brothers have experienced racism, I think – but those are their own stories.  I think ignorance about racial difference is widespread in Denmark, unfortunately.  It’s a small land and for a long time they haven’t had contact with “others” - but I think it is changing. There are more and more mixed-race Danes who are in the media and I think that makes it all less strange.

 

Q: In the past few years the Danish government made news because it tightened its immigration laws, making it more difficult to obtain political asylum and bring foreign-born spouses to that country.  As a person of part non-European ancestry, what did you think of these new laws?

 

A: The new anti-immigrant laws are disturbing and not at all Danish – Danes have always been and I believe will again be free-spirited and forward-thinking in regards to race. That’s my belief.

 

 

 

Emily Monroy is a professional translator and is of Irish, Italian and Norwegian descent. Born in Windsor, Ontario, she now resides in Toronto. Her articles have appeared in several publications, including Interracial Voice, Cats Canada, and Urban Mozaik. She welcomes feedback on her articles. You can contact Emily here

Last Updated ( Monday, 31 March 2014 )
 
Peoria Pundit Revists Matt Hale's Influences
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TMA Articles and Commentary - TMA Editorials by James A. Landrith, Jr.
Written by James A. Landrith   
Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Billy Dennis, writing for Peoria Pundit, on "Matt Hale’s mom blames his father, while she enables him":

You remember Matt Hale, right? He’s the morally defective little piece of excrement who — from the safety of his daddy’s basement — became pontifex maximus of the World Church of the Creator, a church that literally worships white people. Whenever asked about his son’s behavior, his daddy said boys will be boys. Well, poor little Matt is now serving a sentence in a Super Max prison for trying to get a church supporter to kills a judge.

I opposed and denounced this worthless sack of (unintelligible foul mutterings not fit for print) publicly and often in the late 1990s as the publisher and editor of The Multiracial Activist. He was from Central Illinois, same as me, so I took his vile spewings personally as the father of multiracial children. 

I'm glad to see that he is still rotting in SuperMax. He and his ugly ilk serve no purpose in the 21st Century.

Rot away Matt. Rot away.  The world is a better place despite your continued consumption of precious oxygen.

 

 

Read the rest here:

 

http://thepeoriapundit.com/2014/01/15/matt-hales-mom-blames-his-father-while-she-enables-him/

 

 
Statement of James Landrith on Melissa Harris-Perry's Mockery of Kieran Romney
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TMA Articles and Commentary - TMA Editorials by James A. Landrith, Jr.
Written by James A. Landrith   
Monday, 30 December 2013
Statement of James Landrith on Melissa Harris-Perry's Mockery of Kieran Romney
Editor and Publisher
The Multiracial Activist
http://www.multiracial.com

I am neither conservative, nor liberal, neither Republican, nor Democrat.  I am my own man.  I answer to no party. As a writer and publisher, I've taken on Republicans and Democrats equally when they've gone too far.  I am not beholden to either of the dominant political beasts in American society.  I prefer it that way.

As the publisher of The Multiracial Activist, I have spoken out against many organizations and individuals for bigoted and hateful behaviour toward interracial relationships, multiracial individuals and racially blended families by marriage or adoption.  Over the years, I've called out the likes of Trent Lott, Robert Byrd, George Allen, the Council of Conservative Citizens, Matt Hale and his World Church of the Creator and even Harold McDougall of the NAACP (for openly bullying a biracial child in a Congressional Hearing), among others.

I even took on fundamentalist Christian racism when I waged a media war with Bob Jones University, eventually resulting in the overturn of their ban on interracial relationships.  I spoke out strongly and swiftly against hate crime attacks and unlawful detentions of Arabs and Muslims following the attacks on September 11, 2001.  For all of that, I endured death threats, denial of service attacks on my website properties and countless character assasinations by extremists, racists, racialists and domestic terrorists.  I make no apologies.  I don't regret doing any of it.  They all deserved the negative attention they received, even when I was receving friendly fire by those who favor political labels over integrity and racial tolerance.

Today, Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel has drawn my disgust and ire.  On Sunday, Melissa Harris-Perry and her panelists took potshots at the son of Mitt Romney and his adopted, black son.  It was pathetic, ridiculous and immature.  It was also the type of behavior I would have called out from a conservative talk show host.  Harris-Perry does not get a break for being a woman of color, nor for being a Democrat.  There is no excuse for her behavior, nor that of her panelists.

So, in keeping with my own beliefs and the long track record of The Multiracial Activist, I hereby demand an apology from Harris-Perry and her panelists and expect MSNBC to take punitive action against the host and panelists involved.  

Children are not political pawns and this behavior is completely inexcusable.

Ms. Harris-Perry, like Trent Lott and George Allen before you, I am disgusted by your behavior and find your use of a child for racialist, political purposes to be callous and abhorrent.

You should be ashamed.
Last Updated ( Monday, 30 December 2013 )
 
Stop-and-Frisk: How Government Creates Problems, Then Makes Them Worse
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TMA Articles and Commentary - Political Commentaries by Sheldon Richman
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Stop-and-Frisk: How Government Creates Problems, Then Makes Them Worse
by Sheldon Richman
 
Two recent law-enforcement decisions illustrate yet again that when government sets out to solve a problem it created, things get much worse.
 
This week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will keep nonviolent small-scale drug sellers who have no links to criminal organizations from getting caught in the mandatory-minimum-sentence trap. Under current law, judges must impose a mandatory minimum prison term for defendants convicted of selling more than a specified quantity of illegal drugs.
 
With prison populations and costs mushrooming — America has more people behind bars than any other country in the world — Holder has instructed U.S. attorneys to evade the mandatory-minimum law by not specifying drug quantities when they charge qualifying suspects. He also wants alternatives to prison pursued where possible. While it’s good news that some people who would have faced long prison sentences now will not, we nevertheless should be concerned whenever the executive branch unilaterally declares it will write its own law.
 
The other decision, this one from a court, criticized New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy, under which the police can stop, pat down, and question anyone on the street who arouses suspicion, a highly subjective criterion indeed. Federal District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York Police Department carries out the policy in a manner that violates the Fourth Amendment rights of blacks and Hispanics. The judge specified the ways that the city could fix the policy and appointed a monitor to keep an eye on the police.
 
In both matters, horrendous policies are to be tweaked to make them less egregious. But this won’t be satisfactory. New York police will still have the arbitrary power to stop people walking down the street, and the federal judges will still put some people away with long mandatory prison terms regardless of the particulars of their cases.
 
In other words, deeply flawed policies can’t be tweaked enough to make them acceptable. Stop-and-frisk and mandatory minimums should be abolished.
 
Yet even this would fall short of what’s needed. The problems purportedly addressed by stop-and-frisk and mandatory minimums are of the government’s own making. Thus, if we got to the root, the “need” for these bad policies would disappear.
 
Stop-and-frisk is largely aimed at finding youths who are carrying guns and drugs. Mandatory minimums are directed at drug sellers. It’s not hard to see what is at the root: drug prohibition. When government declares (certain) drugs illegal, those drugs don’t disappear; instead they move to the black market, which tends to be dominated by people skilled in the use of violence. Because the trade is illegal and the courts are off-limits for dispute resolution, contracts and turf will be protected by force. Those who operate on the street will find it wise to be armed.
 
So, as a result of prohibition and its attendant violence-prone black market, in some parts of town a percentage of young men will likely be walking around with guns and drugs. Seeing this, politicians and law-enforcement bureaucrats turn to stop-and-frisk and mandatory minimum sentences. But the only real solution is to repeal prohibition. There's no need for intrusive police tactics or prison terms.
 
In a free society, government has no business telling us what we can and can’t ingest or inject. Before drug prohibition, America had no drug problem. It’s prohibition that created the problem, just as alcohol prohibition gave America organized crime on a large scale. As we’ve seen, when government tries to ban drugs, it creates bigger problems by putting drugs in the streets and gangs in control.
 
Ask yourself why after so many decades of apparent failure — drugs are plentiful, accessible, and inexpensive — prohibition persists, as if spending more taxpayer dollars or coming up with some new law-enforcement gimmick will bring success. Maybe prohibition has not failed at all. Maybe the purpose is simply to spend the money and expand law enforcement. May all the moralizing is simply a ruse.
 
And maybe what Thomas Paine said about wars also applies to the war on drugs: “a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.”
 
Sheldon Richman  is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org).
 
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