Saturday, March 24, 2012

Been debating...

...whether i should weigh in on the Trayvon Martin case.

After all, it's international news that affects all of us at a gut level.

Yet what more could my meanderings add?

Only that it's scary this still happens, and sad. Something similar could happen to my sons, given the right circumstances, which is why it has been weighing heavily on me.

My Sweetie's heritage is German, English, Scot and Native American, about 1/4 each, a pretty even mix. He has blue eyes and medium brown hair, sunburns easily and turns very red even when he is just hot. Most people would never even ask where his family came from.

Mine, though, is a different matter. My mother's side is plain vanilla, like most of Sweetie's, just Western European. Grandma also has blue eyes and red hair. It's my dad's side of the family that gets us questioned.

My father's mother was the direct descendant of one of the sheiks of Lebanon. She born and raised Roman Catholic, as she came along after that part of the family was thrown out of the country and ended up here, but they had been Eastern Orthodox. My father's father was born in Bethlehem, and i have relatives there still. He was also raised Orthodox and became Roman Catholic in this country.

In other words, Christian Arabs. My father used to tan so dark during his outdoor work in the summer that the bus drivers would insist he sit in the back of the bus.

To the people who believe the only good Arab is a dead one, it wouldn't matter that we aren't Muslim.

My girls take after their father and my mother. Light brown hair, bland complexions that tan easily, and Bigger Girl got the blue eyes. No one would question their heritage, unless it came up as a topic of conversation. (Although Little Girl doesn't really look like any other member of the family facial feature wise. When asked whom in our family she looks like, Sweetie will sometimes joke "The mailman!" This is obviously not true as, although i very much liked Mr. Benny, our former mailman who has retired, this child is not biracial.)

My boys, not so much. Olive complected like me, black curly hair that refuses to behave, and plenty of it, brown eyes. #2 Son has been asked if he is Mexican, and i've been asked if i'm Native American, from India or other places, and was frequently mistaken as a native and spoken to as if i should understand in Greece and Italy.

It used to be that i had no trouble telling people "Not quite" when they guessed wrong and just tell them my background. Now, i often feel i need to hide it, as do the boys.

The funny thing is that my Palestinian grandfather had a very Italian sounding name, with a long vowel sound at the end. So now, when most people ask, i tell them my maiden name and say "That's Italian!" like the old spaghetti sauce commercial, and i've told the boys to do the same.

The reason is that it can be hard to discern the intent of the person questioning.

A young black man walks through his neighborhood and gets shot. An Arabic looking person gets on a plane and gets questioned and lots of looks that tell him or her everyone is suspicious.

It shouldn't be that way.

My next door neighbors on one side are black. On the other side of us is the house of Mike-Next-Door, the wonderful young man the same age as #1 Son and who mows our lawn. His mother is from Palestine, his father from Jordan, and they are Muslim.

We have several families of varying ethnicities in our neighborhood; Hispanic, Asian, etc. Some are mixed race. It's all good. We watch out for each other, the Joneses and Smiths, the Nguyens and the Batenes, and of course the Boudreauxs thrown in for good measure.

It concerns me, though, that outside of good friends, i have to hide my heritage, and so do my boys, out of fear of prejudice. It shouldn't happen to anyone.

Blacks get singled out, and Arabs targeted for hate crimes, and Orientals or Hispanics disparaged and it is just plain wrong.

That's where my meandering takes me, to the point that i shouldn't be afraid to tell someone of my heritage until i know their motives.

Maybe someday, my sons wont have to any more. We can only hope.

Today is:

Commonwealth Covenant Day -- Northern Mariana Islands

Cuddly Kitten Day -- because if puppies get a day, so should kittens!

Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice -- Argentina

Dies Sanguines -- Ancient Roman Calendar (sacrifices to the war goddess Bellona)

Feast of Pak Tai -- Macau (Pak Tai who conquered the Demon King)

Houdini Day -- see if you can pull a disappearing act in his honor

Kazimiras Diena -- Ancient Latvian Calendar (return of the larks)

Komoeditsi -- Slavic Pagan Calandar (honors the great Bear God, Meveshii Bog and includes sacrifices to the Great God of Honey)

Left-of-Field Fanciers' Fortnight begins -- Fairy Calendar

National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

National Revolution Day -- Kyrgyzstan

Shangsi Festival -- China (ancient Double Third festival)

St. Gabriel the Archangel's Day (traditional date, now usually celebrated in September; Patron of childbirth, diplomats, messengers, postal workers, stamp collectors, telephone workers)

St. Mac Cairthinn of Clogher (St. Patrick's "Strong Man" and fellow worker)

World Tuberculosis Day -- UN

Birthdays Today:

Peyton Manning, 1976
Alyson Hannigan, 1974
Sharon Corr, 1970
Mase, 1970
Annabella Sciorra, 1964
Mark "The Undertaker" Callaway
Louie Anderson, 1953
Alan Sugar, 1947
Steve McQueen, 1930
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1919
Joseph Barbera, 1911
Clyde Barrow, 1909
Ub Iwerks, 1901
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, 1887
Harry Houdini, 1874
Fanny Crosby, 1820

Today in History:

Turko-Mongol emperor Timur sacks Damascus, 1401
James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England, 1603
The first game law passed in American colonies, by Virginia, 1629
Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island, 1664
Britain enacts Quartering Act, required colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers, 1765
Benjamin West of the US becomes president of Royal Academy of London, 1792
In Hiram, Ohio a group of men beat, tar and feather Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Jr., 1832
Canada gives African men the right to vote, 1837
Robert Koch of Germany announces the discovery of the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis (mycobacterium tuberculosis), 1882
Oscar Straus is appointed the first Jewish ambassador from US (to Turkey), 1887
A. A. Popov makes the first radio signal transmission in history, 1896
"Census of the British Empire" shows England rules 1/5 of the world, 1906
Greece becomes a republic, 1923
U.S. Congress passes the Tydings-McDuffie Act allowing the Philippines to become a self-governing commonwealth, 1934
The longest game in NHL history is played between Detroit and Montreal; Detroit scored at 16:30 of the sixth overtime and won the game 1-0, 1936
In an event later dramatized in the movie The Great Escape, 76 prisoners begin breaking out of Stalag Luft III, 1944
The British Cabinet Mission arrives in India to discuss and plan for the transfer of power from the British Raj to Indian leadership, 1946
Elvis Presley joins the army (serial number 53310761), 1958
NASA spacecraft Ranger 9, equipped to convert its signals into a form suitable for showing on domestic television, brings images of the Moon into ordinary homes before crash landing, 1965
The United Kingdom imposes direct rule over Northern Ireland, 1972
In Argentina, the armed forces overthrow the constitutional government of President Isabel Perón, 1976
Archbishop Óscar Romero is killed while celebrating Mass in San Salvador, 1980
In Prince William Sound in Alaska, the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (42,000 m³) of petroleum after running aground, 1989
Discovery of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, 1993
Apple Inc. releases the first version of the Mac OS X operating system, 2001
Bhutan officially becomes a democracy, with its first ever general election, 2008


  1. I looked forward to the day when everyone can celebrate their ethnic heritage without fear.

    1. Good, thoughtful post, Mimi. A world without prejudice would be a wonderful gift to our children and grandchildren.

    2. Good, thoughtful post, Mimi. A world without prejudice would be a wonderful gift to our children and grandchildren.

    3. Good, thoughtful post, Mimi. A world without prejudice would be a wonderful gift to our children and grandchildren.

  2. I'll echo Leah and Frank, Frank and Frank. ;) Prejudice is such an ugly side of human nature.

  3. Thank you for your replies. Frank, thank you 3X. (This first-cousin-to-a-Luddite understands).

  4. Well, some things should be repeated :)

  5. Merry, i have to agree with you!

  6. Congrats on your Post of the Week and I hope we eventually see that day as well. Imagine how much better of a place our world will be...

  7. Thank you, Slamdunk. Sometimes i'm tempted to wonder why it isn't better already, but we have to teach each new generation, don't we?

  8. Congrats on the POTW! You and your boys could take to answering "I am x generation American, what about you?" Although I doubt that would stop most nosy Parkers.

  9. Thank you, Reb, and you are right, it wouldn't.

  10. Congrats on granddaughter is biracial, and I worry that somewhere out there in the world, someone will be awful to her. It doesn't have to be that way.
    I hope someday it won't be.

    Great post.

  11. Hilary, i am honored, yours is an opinion i very much respect.


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