“I am so tired of being good. And now all I want is to be free.” – Kristin Bell
I have been thinking about launching Radiant Mix for years. Bought the domain name way back when. I really felt that I wanted to write about the mixed life perspective and celebrate the beauty of diversity. There just isn’t enough dialogue and stories about our vast experiences. But it’s also quite possibly that I wanted to share some of my stories to help others along the path, plus celebrating diversity as a whole. As a biracial woman raising a second-generation mixed kid, I have lots to say. But I was scared to share my truth. Honestly, I still am. Yet, here I am, doing it now.
Last year I wrote my first article about my life, posted it on Medium, shared with a few people and then took it down the next day. My family started questioning…are you sure you want to say that? Maybe you should cut that out? Maybe you should write it this way. I got so stressed about it, that article never saw the light of day. A year later, my intuition kept on telling me, just do it. Put your ideas and stories out there. Stop worrying if you will offend your friends and family. You spent your whole life staying quiet about topics of race, inclusion and diversity with your family and friends —- many of them white. Race in America is so front and center with the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump, Charlottesville and so much more, I do feel that mixed people can use our voices to take a tiny step in healing the racial divide.
Something stirred in me when Trump in January 2018, referring to Africans and Haitians, questioned to lawmakers in the Oval Office “Why do we want all these people from ‘shit hole countries’ coming here?” My father is from Burundi, a small country in Africa. One of my besties is Haitian and I have lots of African and Haitian friends and traveled to both places. Though America is founded on racism, for some reason, I just felt the time is now. It’s one form of my social activism against the racist and derogatory statements coming from the top down of our government. Maybe through authentic storytelling, people can learn about another perspective? I know for a fact that through my observations in life, most people do not intermingle with many circles outside of their comfort zone, race and class. Some liberal-minded people may think they are open. But the truth is, in theory yes, in actions, no.
It is rarity to find multicultural communities where people authentically connect. I had it for a moment of childhood when I was enjoying a diverse community in Westbury, NY and raised mostly within Caribbean and Italian culture. I didn’t get it back until my 30s in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. After becoming a mom I made it a point to create a diverse community for my child. I’m so grateful that I succeeded, with a beautiful circle of mama friends. But even as I dwell in a life of diversity, of my own design, I see many of my friends, for the most part, actually don’t. I am only speaking about what I see to be true in my life and in no way can I assume this is relevant across the board. Most people hang out regularly with those that resemble like them. There are of course, exceptions to the rule and I think being an urban dweller makes it easier to have a diverse community of friends. Do you feel like you have a multicultural community or is it more homogeneous?
What I’ve learned is our comfort zone is everything. Many mixed individuals with multiracial and multicultural families have such vast experience that they can flow between different ethnic groups. This is just how it is. I’m really interested in this. I’m curious to hear how the multitude of experiences of multicultural lives manifests itself.
One’s comfort zone is really dependent on upbringing and of course is not solely based upon one’s ethnicity. For example, my white husband grew up with a lot of black and brown friends, so he often feels at ease if he is the only white guy in settings with predominantly people of color. We joke around that my white mom is actually not of Italian and German Jewish decent, but African. After raising three ‘black’ kids and living in Africa for many years, we joke she’s the only white woman we know who thinks she’s African. Her African friends consider her one of them. It’s hysterical.
Radiant Mix is here to celebrate and explore the darkness and the light of the biracial and multiracial individual and family. It’s all about celebrating the beauty of diversity in all forms. This is a bold move for me, so I’m taking a leap.
* Shout out to one of my favorite artists Bella Pilar for her fashion illustration above.