Saturday, September 30, 2006

'Survivor' Ends Segregation Game

AP Television Writer


All the hubbub about the "Survivor" ethnic experiment turned out to be pretty worthless.

Why? Because after only two episodes, producers merged the black, white, Asian and Latino tribes into two mixed-race gangs. No explanation was given for the quick abandonment of segregation; it seemed to pass by so quickly as to mean nothing.

"We're back to America. We're a melting pot," said Parvati, a boxer on the new Raro tribe. "I love it."

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Little Humor For A Friday...

Realizing that my last several blog entries have been very serious, I thought I'd try to lighten things up a bit. I found these on another blog and thought they were worth sharing for a laugh...

Thanks, Rain!

Best Wishes,

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

Eartha Kitt, her daughter Kitt and granddaughter Rachel

Eartha Kitt and daughter Kitt on The Merv Griffith Show

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week we feature Eartha Kitt!

Eartha Mae Kitt was ostracized at an early age because of her mixed-race heritage (she was the out-of-wedlock daughter of a white dirt farmer and a black Cherokee mother, as would have to be the case given the laws regarding miscegenation at the time). At eight years old, she was given away by her mother and sent from the South Carolina cotton fields to live with an aunt in Harlem.

In New York, her distinct individuality and flair for show business manifested itself, and on a friend’s dare, the shy teen auditioned for the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe. She won a spot as a featured dancer and vocalist before the age of twenty and toured worldwide with the company. During a performance in Paris, Miss Kitt was spotted by a nightclub owner and booked as a featured singer at his club. Her unique persona earned her fans and fame quickly, including Orson Welles, who called her "the most exciting woman in the world." Welles was so taken with her talent that he cast her as Helen of Troy in his fabled production of Dr. Faust.

In 1967, Miss Kitt left her indelible mark as the infamous Catwoman in the television series, Batman. She immediately became synonymous with the role and her trademark growl became a part of pop culture. Thanks to the popularity of the series, Miss Kitt can still be seen as the famous villain on TV LAND and cable re-broadcasts.

Singing in ten different languages, Miss Kitt has performed in over 100 countries and was honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. In 1966, she was nominated for an Emmy for her role in the series, I SPY.

In 1968, Miss Kitt’s career took a sudden turn when, at a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson, she spoke out against the Vietnam War. For many years afterward, she was blacklisted by many in the U.S. entertainment industry and was forced to work abroad where her status remained undiminished. (Sidenote: The statements were so negative that Lady Bird Johnson began to weep uncontrollably.)

In 1974, she returned to the United States, professionally, in an acclaimed Carnegie Hall concert and, in 1978, received her second Tony nomination for her starring role in the musical Timbuktu.

In 1984, she returned to hit music with a disco song, "Where Is My Man"; the first certified Gold record of her career. Her 1989 follow-up hit "Cha-Cha Heels" (featuring Bronski Beat) received a positive reponse from UK dance clubs and reached #32 on the pop charts.

In 2000, Kitt again returned to Broadway in the short but notable run of the revival of the 1920s-themed, The Wild Party, opposite Mandy Patinkin and Toni Collette. In 2003, she replaced Chita Rivera in Nine. In the late 1990's she appeared as the Wicked Witch of the West in the North American national touring company of The Wizard of Oz.

One of her more unusual roles was as Kaa the python in a 1994 BBC Radio adaptation of The Jungle Book. Kitt lent her distinctive voice to the role of Yzma in Disney's The Emperor's New Groove and returned to the role in the straight to video sequel Kronk's New Groove and the spin-off TV series The Emperor's New School. She is currently doing other voiceover work such as the voice of Queen Vexus on the animated TV series My Life as a Teenage Robot.

In recent years, Kitt's annual appearances in New York have made her a fixture of the Manhattan cabaret scene. She takes the stage at venues such as The Ballroom and, more recently, the Café Carlyle to explore and define her highly stylized image, alternating between signature songs , which emphasize a witty, mercenary world-weariness, and less familiar repertoire, much of which she performs with an unexpected ferocity and bite that present her as a survivor with a seemingly bottomless reservoir of resilience.

Source: Eartha Kitt official website - biography page
Source: Eartha Kitt Wikipedia Page
Source: Eartha Kitt's page at

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Topic I've Been Avoiding...

I don't mind talking about my life or about my family or even my views on things. But I have been very reluctant to blog about my own pain. I don't mean emotional pain. That's private and I share that in my own way. Physical pain, however, is much more difficult to discuss. I suppose part of that is an instinctive "guy thing" -- not wanting to seem like a "whiner" or someone who can't handle "a little pain." I also do not like pity nor do I want it. And yet, I do have pain and/or discomfort, sometimes a lot of pain, every day.

Why? Well, I'm not entirely sure. I can give you a little bit of medical history on me. When I was 11, I was diagnosed with familial polyposis. Here's the textbook definition from WebMD:

Familial adenomatous polyposis is a group of rare inherited disorders of the gastrointestinal system. Initially it is characterized by benign growths (adenomatous polyps) in the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include diarrhea, bleeding from the end portion of the large intestine (rectum), fatigue, abdominal pain, and weight loss. If left untreated, affected individuals usually develop cancer of the colon and/or rectum. Familial adenomatous polyposis is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait.

For those of you who may be thinking "thanks for sharing, Allen," my apologies. Facts are facts. Fortunately, I did not have the worst of those symptoms but it was detected nonetheless. On my dad's side of the family, the males have a history of colon cancer. My grandfather died of it when my dad was 2 and my father passed away from his second bout with cancer at the age of 56. After I was diagnosed with polyps, I had a bunch of examinations (*shudders at the memories*) and they determined that I was at high risk for later developing colon cancer. My father, who by this point, was an expert on the conditions, treatments, etc. presented me with what he felt was the best choice: new and fairly radical surgery.

The doctors would do a two-part operation on me (keep in mind, I was 12 at this time). In the first operation, they would remove my large intestine (which includes the colon) and set me up with a temporary colostomy. I would then heal for six weeks (a very slow six weeks). Then I went in for the second operation, where they reconnected me internally with what I call a "bionic intestine," a plastic replacement that they somehow made work perfectly. All I needed was a couple of over-the-counter (OTC) medications to regulate my metabolism. It took me six more weeks to recover from the second operation but medically, it went flawlessly.

Emotionally, I was a very traumatized puppy after the Summer of Operations and Recovery. I guess that's understandable, considering it was the summer before high school and I'd never had that kind of major surgery before nor long, sometimes agonizing recoveries. (Is it any wonder I did pot my freshman year?) I refused to speak about either the condition, the operations or the recovery...for the next five years. Period. No exceptions.

Still, the surgeries did their job. I had absolutely no complications from the surgery for almost exactly 20 years (the surgeries took place in 1983). In the Fall of 2003, I started getting sick and I had no idea why. It took until March for me to learn that I was lactose intolerant. I learned that both my sister and my mother have that condition, so clearly I inherited it, too. And my sister did not develop it until she was an adult, too (which is both weird and interesting). About a week or two after I cut out dairy products, I started feeling a good deal better.

But I started developing other symptoms over the next couple of years that weren't quite so easily explained or dealt with. I would have stomach discomfort and pain and I didn't know why. And since I was only working temp jobs and didn't have any benefits, seeing the doctor was cost-prohibitive, especially since my wife was not working yet. It was never severe enough to go to the hospital and I only missed maybe a couple of days of work in a 2 year period.

Fortunately, my current job went permanent in December and benefits kicked in on January 1 of this year, so I started seeing a doctor and he got me in touch with a wonderful gastrointologist. I had to go through a new series of tests and x-rays and finally, an out-patient surgical endoscopy a few months ago. What they were able to determine is that I have benign polyps in the small intestine and stomach, which the doctor said was fairly common with people who have had polyps in the large intestine.

I'm not sure which was more difficult for me, the relative reminiscence of "surgery" (even though it was exploratory and not 'cutting' surgery) or the news that I had more polyps (albeit benign and much less aggressive than the ones that had been in my large intestine). I took a breather from seeing the doctor for a few months. Admittedly, that probably wasn't wise but psychologically, it was necessary for me.

Nevertheless, my symptoms have continued and in some ways, gotten dramatically worse at times, so I can't get in denial about this. I've set up a new appointment with the gastrointologist to see what our next steps are in dealing with this. I still don't understand what tiny polyps have to do with the symptoms I've experienced, since the doctor confirmed they are not cancerous or even pre-cancerous. Or if it's somehow related to the lactose intolerance-? I don't know.

Anyway, why am I finally sharing this with you -- the blogosphere? Good question. Well, first of all, I know I'm not the first person who's ever experienced this and I certainly won't be the last. I also know that I'm not the only person dealing with bodily pain on a regular basis. I also want it publicly known that this does not diminish my quality of life. I still work full time and I haven't missed one day for being sick since I went permanent. I still volunteer run ISAA. I'm in First Light. I am active with my family (and we have a great time) as often as possible. I enjoy my life.

But I'm not Superman. I've had to accept that I can't do some things like I used to. I have to allow myself to slow down and take it easy, not push myself as much as I used to (and had grown accustomed to).

It's taken a lot of support. There are times when prayer is all that gets me through. I'm deeply grateful for the daily support of my wife, my kids and my friends who know what I've been going through. It means the world to me. I've learned that pain tends to isolate you. I can see why people get depressed or even angry about it, although I haven't felt either of those emotions about it. I do get frustrated sometimes and confused about the cause, what it really means (which I still don't know). But I know that pain does not control my life, I don't give it that control. I'm just making it day to day, as best I can.

Thanks for listening.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I Need To Discuss This...

I guess one of the hazards of blogsurfing is that you will come across all kinds of opinions. And it is perfectly okay to disagree with those opinions or ignore them or whatever. But sometimes, you run across something you don't expect, something that (make room for the Texan in me) really chaps your hide.

This evening, while drumming up traffic for IR Haven blogsurfing, I ran across reactions to the fifth anniversary of 9.11.01 -- and they were cold. Unlike the 9-11 Truth conspirators, who at least sympathize that people died, what I happened upon were the "What's the big deal?" and "The U.S. doesn't really care about the people who died, it just got its ego bruised" crowd. I won't dignify the blog site with a link...

For the people who would trivialize 9.11.01, especially to those from other countries such as Canada and Europe and elsewhere, let me put things in a bit more universal -- or global -- context for you:

  • If 3000 of your neighbors, fellow countrymen and women -- your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters were wiped out in a couple of hours, dying in terror and confusion, would you not grieve for them?

  • If it were an attack unlike any other in the history of your country, using a method designed to cause the most damage and death possible in the area struck, would you not memorialize the day to honor those who died?

  • Even if you did not lose one of your relatives or close friends in the attack, would you not feel an ounce of sympathy for those who did? Children who no longer have parents, wives who no longer have husbands and vice-versa, people who no longer have people whom they loved more dearly than their own lives?

  • And what about the people who suffered devastating injuries and disfigurements, even though they survived? Those people will have to live with that the rest of their lives, in addition to any loved ones they lost. That can't be trivialized or ignored. None of this can...but people try and I feel obligated to appeal to those who might not have considered these points.

I'm not talking politics here, I'm not talking reasons why it happened, I'm not talking the Iraq war or the Middle East conflict. I'm talking about basic regard for Life and Love. I'm talking about Family and Friendship.

I'm talking about what it means to be a Human Being, regardless of personal ideologies, preferences, ethnicities, genders or any other differentiating factors.

If we lose our ability to empathize with the suffering of others, then we lose a part of our humanity. In that moment, we become self-important judges of who deserves our sympathy and respect, who deserves to live and die. That's what leads to the rise of true dictatorships. That's what breeds true extremism. When life loses its value and meaning.

I know for a fact I am not any better than anyone else. I am just one of billions of human beings traversing the sands of space and time on this world, hoping to contribute a little something good along the way.

I find value in every life, even the ones who don't share my point of view. I hope you do, too.

Best Wishes,

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week we feature Angela Chao Roberson, third princess in the 2006 Miss Los Angeles Chinatown Pageant. Roberson is biracial, Chinese and African-American.

Angela Chao Roberson, 22, knew she did not exactly look Chinese, with her cocoa-colored skin, her bushels of curly hair and her curvy figure. But she had no doubt she belonged in the same room with 17 other young women vying for the title Miss Los Angeles Chinatown.

Sure, she ate soul food when her father's African American relatives came to visit her family in Victorville, but her family was much more likely to eat rice and stir-fried tilapia with garlic and soy sauce. And she loved Chinese New Year.

Angela scanned the young women sitting around the circle at the orientation session. There was one other girl whose complexion was close to her own. But the other girls resembled more closely the Miss Chinatowns of the past — slender, fine-featured young ladies with pale skin and silky straight hair.

"I'm kind of brave if you think about it," she said, flashing an unassuming smile. "But I've always accepted odd challenges."

The Miss Los Angeles Chinatown Pageant, organized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, aims to pick an ambassador for the largest Chinese American community in the U.S.

And for most of its 40-year history, despite changing outfits, hairstyles and makeup, the contestants have looked remarkably the same: willowy Chinese American girls with flowing black hair.

But as Chinese intermarry, the contest is attracting more girls of mixed race. It started with girls whose backgrounds were white and Chinese. A couple had Hispanic last names.

This year, Angela became the first contestant with an African American father.

Most of the 18 girls chosen as contestants after a preliminary interview, including Angela, could speak at least a few phrases of Chinese. They hailed from such communities as El Sereno, Monterey Park, Hacienda Heights and Anaheim, the daughters of packaging company owners, restaurateurs and seamstresses.

Almost all of them had parents who were both ethnic Chinese. There were two of mixed races: Angela and Kaye Ponnusamy, whose father was an ethnic Indian who had grown up in Malaysia and whose mother was from Taiwan.

That first day of orientation marked the beginning of weeks of preparation.

Angela's father, Harry Roberson, a wiry 60-year-old electronics technician at Ft. Irwin Army base, worried how she would be treated. But Angela didn't see herself as making history or knocking down barriers. She thought she could win.

"I'm not scared to walk into an all-Chinese place," she said. "They might be surprised that I'm there, but I'm not surprised I'm there."


"Please give it up for Contestant No. 3, Angela Roberson!"

Angela is third contestant from the left (click to enlarge)

At a glitzy ballroom downtown, the contestants were being introduced one by one on a stage festooned with gold and red banners celebrating the Chinese new year, the year of the dog.

The crowd of hundreds clapped as Angela Roberson made her way across the stage in a red and white hibiscus swimsuit. Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking emcees announced Angela's name for the benefit of the non-English speaking audience: Chao An Qi Er, or Chiu Ang Kei Yee.

Angela, whose almond-shaped eyes were accentuated with dark eyeliner, greeted everyone in slightly imperfect Chinese: Da jia hao.

Many in the crowd leaned forward or stood up to get a better look. They had puzzled looks on their faces. Some of them whispered that they thought she was too curvy. Others tried to figure out what percentage of her background was Chinese.

Angela didn't notice. She was just trying not to look scared.

She directed her wide smile toward the judges.

When the emcees interviewed her on stage, Angela didn't stumble. She was asked whether she thought herbal supplements ought to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. "It's very important that we know what we're putting in our bodies and where it's coming from," she said.

When the 18 contestants were called to the stage for the announcement of the winners, they plastered nervous smiles on their faces. First they announced Miss Friendship, whom the contestants themselves chose. Then Miss Photogenic, chosen by the Chinese media. Then the title of fourth princess.

"And the Miss Los Angeles Chinatown Third Princess is … Contestant No. 3, Angela Roberson!"

Angela broke into a broad, stunned grin as she accepted her rhinestone crown and sash. She was ecstatic, even though she wasn't the queen. That honor went to Melody Cheng, a somewhat shy, svelte 19-year-old from Hacienda Heights who was crowned in a burst of red and gold confetti.

With Kaye also winning a place on the court, it turned out to be the most diverse court the pageant had ever picked.

The winners "are a really true reflection of Chinese Americans in Southern California," said Terry R. Loo, one of the judges. "It's a mixed group these days."

"I'm glad she did it," said Harry Roberson. "This tells the community there's more out there than just pure Chinese."

Angela and the other winners have been making public appearance across Los Angeles County since the court was crowned in January.

Last week, they attended a Chinese folk dance recital in Azusa, and Angela was struck by how normal it felt to be part of the pageant court, representing the Chinese community.

"It's kind of naive of me to say nobody notices," Angela said. "But I don't think it concerns them to make a point that they notice."

Her parents' lives have changed as well. Her father, who for months had kept Angela's pageant entry to himself, now proudly trumpets to co-workers her success and how much it meant to him.

"They asked how many mixed-race [contestants] there were, and I said she was the first black and Chinese to be in the competition — and then she actually won," he said Thursday. "I was proud of that."

Recently, the pageant court helped children at the public library in Chinatown make lanterns. Angela was smitten by a 6-year-old girl who was part African American and part Chinese.

This girl had great hair, she thought. It fell like a wavy waterfall and was certainly less curly than her own hair.

"I was happy for her," Angela said. "She gets to grow up in Chinatown, surrounded by other Chinese people. In Victorville, the Chinese people were only in Mom's close circle."

Maybe, she thought, this is what a future Miss Chinatown might look like.

Source: LA Times: Tiaras, Sashes, Diversity
(April 22, 2006)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Video As Social Commentary...

Rarely would I think that a music video could convey relevant social commentary, but the message in Evanescence's "Everybody's Fool" is worth sharing. Don't know what's with me and the videos today but I just kinda felt like it. The first was funny, this one is (mostly) serious...

In 1966...The Future...Was Funky!

I loved this. Sure, it's a commercial for the Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) DVD set, but it's made in the grooviest 70's style!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week we will have a little trivia: Did you know the following people were biracial or multiracial?

Bob Marley: Black, White and Cherokee

Tina Turner: Black and Native American

Faith Evans: Black mother, White father

Malcolm X: 1/2 Black, 1/4 Grenadian, 1/4 White

Naomi Campbell: mother is Black (Jamaican), father is Multiracial, part Chinese

Soledad O'Brien: father is Australian, mother is Black Cuban


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And This Was 1989...

This picture of me and my dad was taken in during Fall 1989. It is yet another picture rediscovered during our move this summer. It is true that a picture -- and the memories it contains and inspires -- is worth more than a thousand words.

So much happened that year...a lot of firsts.
  1. My first love...and yes, it was an interracial relationship. She was Black, four years older than me, introduced me to the music of Sade (who is biracial btw, Nigerian and British) and had issues that I will not go into. I had issues, too, plus I was 19 and very naive.

    This was my first test of what lengths I was willing to go to in order to make an interracial relationship work. Note to readers: sneaking around and lying to family is not a good recipe for the success of a relationship. (It took me years and some serious problems before I learned that.)

  2. My first time living away from home (see picture above). Like most teens, I got sick of living at home and wanted "my own place." I had a steady job, so, I made a deal with a friend of mine to rent the upstairs bedroom of his dad's house. At first, it was great! I was indeed away from my parents, I could microwave or heat up my food (cooking? what is this?), listen to music or just chill out. I even recorded some music on a four-track portable recorder during that time.

    I ended up moving out after about two months, though. Like many roommate scenarios, personality differences and miscommunications led to a mutual desire to end the arrangement.

  3. My first time in therapy (see #1). After my first love relationship crashed and burned after nearly six months, I was in sorry shape, mentally and emotionally. I really didn't know what to do. I was never suicidal but I was depressed and angry and confused (the makings of a great album, right?). Fortunately, I had a friend who referred me to a local counselor who didn't charge too much and had a flexible schedule. She happened to be gay and a little more New Age than I was accustomed to, but she was a tremendous help at a time when I needed it. After less than a year, I was stable and focused enough to no longer need her services, which I think should be the goal of every mental health professional.

By 1990, I had finished recording a studio album titled "Dreams & Wishes," which included a couple of songs recorded during 1989. In the Spring of 1990, I recorded a song about my first love and even titled it after her. It was the only country song I've ever recorded and it was pretty-sounding while lyrically a song of regret and a little bitterness. But it served it's purpose. You might even call it therapeutic.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I visited New York City for the first (and thus far, only) time in March 1987. I was a senior in high school visiting the city for a journalism conference with my journalism teacher. In our spare time, we visited many places including Greenwich Village (we got a tour by a native Brooklyner), the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building.

I took the picture from the top of the Empire State Building. Here's an enlarged version:

It was about 6 in the evening and there was just a haze that day, which makes the towers look eerie, ghostly. For the longest time, I still had my ticket from the World Trade Center. Sometimes it's hard to believe they're (the people and the towers are) gone, especially on this day, the fifth anniversary of 9.11.01.

My heart and my prayers go out to the families who were directly impacted that day...from NYC to the Pentagon to Pennsylvania.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, September 09, 2006

You Are Emerald Green

Deep and mysterious, it often seems like no one truly gets you.
Inside, you are very emotional and moody - though you don't let it show.
People usually have a strong reaction to you... profound love or deep hate.
But you can even get those who hate you to come around. There's something naturally harmonious about you.

You Are: 60% Dog, 40% Cat

You are a nice blend of cat and dog.
You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.
And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

Arty Kid

Whether you were a drama freak or an emo poet, you definitely were expressive and unique.

You're probably a little less weird these days - but even more talented!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week we will look into New Demographic and FUSION.

New Demographic

Our names are Carmen Van Kerckhove and Jen Chau, and we co-founded New Demographic, an anti-racism training firm. Our goal is to mobilize people through a variety of media and in-person workshops to work towards an anti-racist future.

You can learn more about the workshops we offer here. You can read testimonials from past clients and watch a demo video with clips from past workshops.

We also produce a weekly podcast called Addicted to Race and edit Mixed Media Watch, a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture.

Our Beliefs

  • We go beyond uncritical celebrations of diversity and multiculturalism and confront head-on the complex issues surrounding race and racism today.

  • In challenging racism, we go beyond individual acts of prejudice and recognize that racist ideals are disseminated by the very structures and systems upon which this country is built.

  • We go beyond the concerns of the specific community to which we belong and recognize that when one group is discriminated against, it is an affront to us all.

  • When discussing racism, we go beyond simply blaming “The Man” and recognize that racism persists through an intricate web of intergroup and intragroup oppression and privilege.

  • We go beyond "diversity speak" and academic jargon and recognize that using direct, down-to-earth lanaguage is the best way to engage people in anti-racism work.

  • We go beyond acceptance of finite racial categories and recognize that race has no biological basis, but that the social construct of race impacts us all.

09.19.06 Update: With permission, here is a video where Jen and Carmen further explain their beliefs.

Source: New Demographic


The FUSION Program for Mixed Heritage Youth seeks to support multiracial, multiethnic, and/or transracially adoptive youth and their families.


We envision a cohesive multicultural society based on acceptance, inclusion, and respect of human diversity.


Our mission is to foster positive identity formation and empowerment in children of mixed heritage. To meet this aim, the Fusion Program facilitates the exploration of personal identity and community in a safe and nurturing environment and through community outreach.


  1. To empower youth of mixed heritage in the development of identity and human potential.

  2. To create a language to discuss mixed heritage and to foster regard and appreciation for the diversity within the mixed heritage community.

  3. To establish a safe space for exploring the complexity of the mixed heritage experience.

  4. To develop awareness and consciousness of the issues facing mixed heritage individuals.

  5. To encourage solidarity and empowerment in the mixed heritage community.


  • Meaningful learning: We seek to provide an interactive and creative learning experience that fosters individual self-awareness and self-discovery.

  • Safe environment: We are committed to providing a nurturing environment that promotes self-esteem and confidence.

  • Community: We recognize that community is a source of connectedness and inclusive relationships for families and youth.

  • Respect: We believe in the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals.

  • Diversity: We strive to serve the diverse population of mixed heritage families in the Bay Area. These families include children who are multiracial, biracial, ethnically-mixed minorities, and/or transracially adopted.

  • Collaboration: We form partnerships with other organizations and agencies to provide a learning experience based on excellence and quality.

Source: FUSION Program for Mixed Heritage Youth

Friday, September 01, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week we will look into the lives of the Maori people of New Zealand.

The people of New Zealand have a long tradition of ethnic intermarriage and as participants in this trend Maori have a unique population that has undergone enormous demographic and social change. Maori have and continue to experience high rates of intermarriage, this along with adaptation to other social phenomenon has caused the measurement of ethnic identity to grow increasingly complex. The Maori ethnic group, rather than being homogenous, consists of many individuals from varying backgrounds who have varying cultural values, norms and identities but nevertheless at some degree choose to identify as being Maori. There has been widespread public interest and growing political debate surrounding the questions "Who is Maori?" and "How do we accurately define Maori?" (Kukutai 2001, Pool 2001, Pool 1963).

It is interesting to note that much of the current debate regarding what 'a real' Maori is has occurred outside Maori circles. In part, this has arisen because of the relationship between the concepts of ethnicity and ancestry, along with the demise of the discredited concept of race which carried with it an assumption that somehow "Maoriness" was either genetically or socially imprinted at birth and was immutable. Maori themselves have traditionally defined 'Maoriness' using a different paradigm to the majority of the western world. For Maori, in formal settings, Maori is defined in terms of whakapapa or genealogy. When children are born with whakapapa or links to other Maori they are termed 'mokopuna of the iwi.' They are Maori. However, there is a dislocation between how Maori as a group articulate this and how individuals of Maori ethnicity and/or Maori ancestry articulate it or see themselves and reflect this in statistical collections.

Moreover, traditionally Maori have not defined themselves by the extent or amount of Maori they are. Historical constructs and measurements such as half castes, quarter castes and similar race-based 'blood' measurements have been imposed as attempts to quantify and count the Maori population for various purposes by the governing institutions of the day and these constructs were reflected in contemporary official commentary. Maori have traditionally defined their population in a more holistic and non-exclusive manner, individuals with mixed Maori background regardless of their ethnic heritage are considered Maori. The parts of their heritage which could be English, Chinese or Samoan are never denied or ignored but in Maori terms they are simply considered 'mokopuna' because it is impossible to have only a 'part grandchild'. In the Maori world whakapapa is not divisible because mokopuna cannot be divided up into discrete parts. (Jackson 2003). Similarly, the parts of the heritage which are English, Chinese or Samoan, equally allow them to be considered English, Chinese, or Samoan. This view is completely consistent with the current definition of ethnic groups whereby people are counted in each ethnic group with which they identify.

Source: Ethnic intermarriage and ethnic transference amongst the Maori population: implications for the measurement and definition of ethnicity