When I was little, I was fortunate to spend lots of time with both sides of my mixed heritage.
With my Latvian grandmother. I learned how to play the violin, sing Latvian nursery rhymes, and solve puzzles. I watched my father converse in a language that I didn’t understand, but felt completely at ease.
I also spent time with my extended African American family on my mother’s side. There were barbecues, bad Kung Fu movies, and loud discussions ranging from religion to music to family issues.
I was immersed in the history, accomplishments, and suffering of both my African American and Native American lineage (sometimes to an overwhelming degree), but prepared me for the hardships ahead. It also made me hungry for knowledge, and I was constantly reading about the history and perspectives of other cultures.
This served me well when racism reared it’s terrible head at the age of 5. I was singled out at school by my teacher who didn’t approve of my parents mixed marriage. She didn’t see me as a child, but as an anomaly.
This wouldn’t be my only struggle with disapproval over my identity. But there was a foundation, a structure that allowed me to navigate through it.
At 13, my parents divorced and I moved abroad to Denmark. Here, my understanding of race was turned on its head. While skin color still gave preference to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Danes. The question changed.
The question in America was, “What are you?”
The question abroad was, “Where are you from?”
I began to learn that how we look at race was really a matter of perspective. And I began to see myself as first an American, second a man of color. When I returned to the states, I asked another question:
“How do I see myself”
Through learning, questioning, and pushing back I learned to forge an identity that empowers me. Those lessons will now be shared.
I’ve spent the past few months interviewing and connecting with people who, like me, have a mixed background. Many of them are seeking answers to these questions:
“Who am I?
“Where do I come from?”
“Where do I fit in?”
Knowledge about themselves that I had taken for granted.
The task is clear – there needs to be a place to ask questions and find answers.
That begins with building a foundation – this website.
For too long identity has looked been looked at in simple terms. We put people into preconceived categories and demand that they reduce their psyches to fit into these confined spaces.
Here we will explore what identity truly means. What it means to have parents of differentethnicities, and how to navigate a world that can’t come to terms that identity is always in a state of fluctuation. And where this experience is becoming all the more commonplace.
Together we will learn, share, and grow together.
Welcome to the Blended Future Project.