Sunday, September 5, 2010

Our Families, Our Ancesters

  This is my first blog. I love everything ethnic. I love learning and sharing ethnic stories, racial history, people, cultures. My own 'mixed-up' background led me up this path. I usually feel ambivalent checking the race box on the Census and other forms. My sister checks all of them, then inserts her own box. I grew up in the Black and multi-ethnic Caribbean family in a  Hasidic Jewish neighborhood called Crown Heights, Brooklyn. President Street at that time was a very prestigious address and was the center of a very bourgeois Black community. But, that's another side chapter for  "Our Kind of People," in Lawrence Otis Graham's book.
My mother's people were Caribbean Chinese by way of Hong Kong, Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana, California, New York. They were also mixed with native South American tribes, Spanish, African.  She grew up in Harlem, a Black or African-American culture and community and identified very much with the Harlem Renaissance. Had she lived in another era, she would have been a revolutionary poet and artist. But that's another, another story. My father's people were considered 'Creoles'- because of alleged ( I say alleged because we have not proved any of this yet even after tests!) anyway, family stories of French, Cherokee and African ancestry abound from my father's relatives who come from New Orleans and Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  I suppose everyone comes from  mixed  or multi-ethnic families. But growing up in a very Black or White era, mine was very 'mixed-up.' Ours was a mixed marriages in more ways than one. Food and  cooking, music, language were keys  in our household.  The intra-racial or multi-ethnic dynamics inside my family amazed, amused, surprised and sometimes embarrassed me.

More on my colorful relatives and neighbors to come.

More on my 'multi-ethnic' food vibes to come soon too.

I am preparing for a trip to China with friends and recently I took my mother's Chinese surname "Wong." The reaction from my friends has been positive. Why didn't I think of this before?