“I go into Asia and I’m the Western Asian girl. And I go into Hollywood and I’m the Asian girl who’s not Western enough. So there’s definitely a fine line to be walked, but, to be honest, if I walk into an audition and people are worried about what ethnicity I am, I’m not doing my job. I need to come in and be Maggie, and they need to fall in love with that person or what I’m bringing to the table instead of focusing on those issues. And they do, and it’s really hard to be a woman walking into a room and be ethnic and have them not care. 90% of the scripts I get are for White girls. And Asians may think I look really Western, but Westerners think I look really Asian. So I am in this sort of, pocket of, this big questionable pocket, so I definitely need to go in and really make people see more than that. And it’s not easy.”–Maggie Q in 2007
“First of all, my mother was American. And going to Japan with an American mother and being half-Japanese puts on in a very anomalous position. On the one hand, she is of Japan, she wanted to be in Japan. But the fact of the matter is that the Japanese do not accept foreigners as another person equal to themselves because Japanese are Japanese and everybody else is foreign, you understand. It’s a very traditional country in that sense; and very unusually so, perhaps. I mean very exclusive in a sense. And, on top of that, my mother was separated from my father when I was very, very young so that I didn’t have that contact that I might have had to one-half parent anyway. So I was an appendage on a stranger; that is to say….And yet, as I say, she loved Japan, let’s say, had friends and pupils there. She taught English. But I was more or less a kind of waif because she was always working a great deal of the time and I was sort of thrown onto the neighboring children and so forth who, of course, were Japanese. So my playmates and so forth were Japanese but I was not Japanese, you see. And, you know, people talk about the discrimination that exists against half-breeds. And, it is probably so. Although I mean, personally, I can’t say that I experienced discrimination as such, a third person looking at it more objectively would probably say that it’s a classical case. I, for instance, have never felt discriminated against in this country either, for that matter, but somebody else looking at it might say: “Well, but you don’t realize that this is evidence of discrimination.” And my own attitude, of course, is another question. Am I really free? Or am I really inherently self-protective against incipient discrimination. Do you understand?”–Isamu Noguchi
“My parents are so cool. My mother is Chinese, from New York, and my father is Irish-American. There was always a reverence towards my heritage and history. I honestly didn’t think about it ’til I moved to Los Angeles . . . It’s a difficult thing in this town . . . It becomes a problem for producers to think outside the box. It’s upsetting, because out in the world it’s totally normal. Hollywood is very slow to the party.” –Michaela Conlin in 2010
The Mixed Remixed Festival planning team had a good time seeing the film Black or White, written and directed by Mike Binder and starring Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, and Anthony Mackie. As we’ve mentioned before, the story is about a custody battle between two grandparents of a biracial girl who is winningly played by Jillian Estell.
Best of all was the Q&A afterwards with the film’s director and star Kevin Costner (who also financed the film with $9 million dollars of his own). It was clear that the story was personally meaningful for both of them–in particular Binder who has a biracial nephew with whom he is very close.
Costner said something I thought was really important–especially in light of some of the criticism I’ve read about the film–“This is just one story about this experience.” Yes, exactly! And we hope Hollywood will keep making more stories about the multiracial experience. The films certainly have a home at the Mixed Remixed Festival.–Heidi Durrow
We’re excited to see the film “Black or White” –which opens TODAY nationwide–starring and produced by Kevin Costner and directed by Mike Binder. I haven’t seen the film but I can tell you that it’s definitely a great beginning in mainstream films embracing the stories of the Mixed experience.
We started the Mixed Remixed Festival exactly because we wanted to create a place to share films and books about blended families like the one depicted in Black or White. Writer Kimberly Cooper writes eloquently about the importance of films like this in today’s Huffington Post: “Black or White is trailblazing both for its balanced and inclusive portrayal of black and white interrelationships while at the same time hitting hard at both sides. Long overdue, Black or White and its contribution to the discussion on race in America shouldn’t be overlooked.”
[youtube width=”500″ height=”500″]http://youtu.be/yqlE-7PP7Ho[/youtube]
“To not consider somebody Black because they’re biracial is a little bit short-minded. I’m biracial. I was born to a white mother from Germany and a Black father from Ghana. And I represent both cultures. But at the end of the day, when I walk the earth, I walk the earth as a black man. That’s what I’m being perceived as, that’s what I look like and that’s what I feel like.”-Boris Kodjoe in 2012
The Mixed Experience & New Media
Our panelists Abigail Allen, Mari Naomi, Grace Hwang Lynch, Channing Sargent had a wide-ranging discussion about how stories of the Mixed experience have thrived in the new media environment with blogs, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and graphic novels.
A half-black, half-white native New Yorker, storytelling Buddhist, and branding extraordinaire, Abby is the creator of Perfectly Mixed, a project documenting belonging and identity in America through the mixed race experience. It’s been kicking around in her heart for as long as she can remember and she’s so grateful for the chance to bring it to life. Abby has worked in the advertising and marketing industries for over 12 years on billion dollar brands like Olay, Listerine, L’Oreal and Aunt Jemima, launching countless campaigns across everything from print to social media. Not too long ago, she left her traditional advertising job to fall head first into serving the world by developing brand strategies, identities and marketing platforms for small businesses, companies, individuals and organizations that are “doing good.” And so, because she believes marketing matters as much for saving the world as for selling toothpaste, she founded her firm, Neon Butterfly. Abby is also the Communications Director of the Brooklyn Zen Center and obsessed with pizza and peanut butter (not together).
MariNaomi is the author and illustrator of the award-winning graphic memoir Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22 (Harper Perennial, 2011), the upcoming books Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories and Turning Japanese, (2D Cloud), and her self-published zine, Estrus Comics, (1998 to 2009). Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including, I Saw You: Comics Inspired by Real Life Missed Connections, Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women, No Straight Lines, Anything That Loves, QU33R and Action Girl Comics. Her comics and essays have been featured on The Rumpus, The Weeklings, Truth-out, SFBay.CA, The Comics Journal, The Bay Citizen, XOJane and more. MariNaomi’s artwork has been featured in such venues as the De Young Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco’s Asian American Museum and the Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles. In 2011, Mari toured with the literary roadshow Sister Spit. She splits her time between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Grace Hwang Lynch
As a journalist and blogger, Grace Hwang Lynch explores the evolving relationship between communities of color and mainstream America. A former television news reporter, she founded HapaMama.com in 2008 to give voice to Asian mixed-race family issues. As News & Politics editor for BlogHer, she writes about current events and finds a diversity of stories. Whether writing about parenting, food or politics, Grace analyzes her subjects through the lens of culture and ethnicity. Her work has also been published by PBS and Salon, and in 2012, she was nominated for the Women’s Media Center Social Media Award.
Dearest Curly-Haired Mixies,
As a curly-haired mixie myself, I have struggled with curl-acceptance over the years. Still do. It’s easier to deal with curls these days with all the different products out there for curly hair, but curls still get a bad rap for being “messier” and “less professional.”
So when I saw the Dove commercial I started to cry. In fact, I’ve cried every time I’ve watched it. See what you think? Do you love your curls? Can you help a young person learn to love hers too? #loveyourcurls.–Heidi Durrow
“I never struggled with my identity being black, white or other. From the time I can remember, my mother raised me and my siblings to identify with being black. I found comfort in meeting other biracial people as a kid, and I found that in my obsession with Mariah Carey. And I was never identified as white in the ballet world, that’s for sure. I’ve always stood firm on the fact that I am a black woman and that’s how the world will view me. Especially the ballet world. “–Misty Copeland April 2014