Monday, October 29, 2018

Very Important Biracial: Pete Wentz

As a  person who writes an entire blog dedicated to the Black/White biracial experience and a fan of pop-rock, it thrilled me to no end to recently discover that Pete Wentz, bassist and back-up vocalist for band Fall Out Boy, is a member of my community. Pete Wentz III, was born in Wilmette, IL to Dale Wentz, a high school admissions counselor of Afro-Jamaican ancestry and attorney Pete Wentz II of German and English heritage.

Pete began his musical career in Chicago hardcore band Arma Angelus, honing his musical skills in that outfit before helping to form his current band Fall Out Boy in 2001. While Fall Out Boy was on hiatus from 2009-2013, he formed a ska-inspired group called the Black Cards, which later disbanded.

Mr. Wentz has also been involved in writing, having penned a book based on his childhood entitled The Boy with the Thorn in His Side, a comic book series called Fall Out Toy Works and another book entitled Gray.

The ever-talented Pete has also dabbled in acting, making appearances on TV with his band on shows such as One Tree Hill,  as well as appearances of his own that have included The Jimmy Kimmel Show. He's also created works of his own through his production company Bartskull Films.

 Amongst Mr. Wentz' charitable efforts is his support of the Jed Foundation's Half of Us, which seeks to lower the rate of teen suicide.

 While Pete Wentz works to improve the future of our youth, he and his bandmates in Fall Out Boy continue to put forth great music and rock venues worldwide.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Royal Wedding, A Biracial Bride and Bold Blackness

After breathless weeks of annoying my family and friends about it, the day finally arrived for me to  sit down with a friend in front of her TV and watch the wedding of Prince Harry and his true love Meghan Markle. It was, of course, quite enjoyable to witness the handsome groom strut down the walk with his brother Prince William, who served as his best man alongside him, as he attempted to hide his nerves,  and to see the angelic bride get out of her car as she strolled up the steps of St. George's Chapel and began gliding down the aisle, first solo then escorted down the remaining part of the aisle with her father-in-law Prince Charles. It was beautiful to witness the barely restrained adoration of Prince Harry as Meghan reached the altar.

With the exterior of the chapel arrayed with gorgeous flowers, this enamored couple stared lovingly at each other in the presence of their nearest and dearest, including one woman in pastel green with her locs flowing from beneath an elegant hat. This resplendent brown-skinned woman, Meghan Markle's mother Doria Ragland, social worker and part-time yoga teacher, a lover of Al Green, free-spirited wearer of a nose ring, was front and center, beaming with awe and pride, and with the whole world watching, representing a legacy of black American women who've endured and risen with ultimate grace.

As Ms. Ragland, along with 600 others, bore witness, Bishop Michael Curry, the first black person to serve as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S, commenced to bring forth black church into St. George's. Invoking the spirits of those who suffered through the grave inhumanity of slavery, he spoke of how these men and women utilized the negro spiritual There is a Healing Balm in Gilead to express their love of the healing power of God, and how this belief can bring about world-changing love, as evidenced by the bride and groom's strong love for each other and passion for improving the world around them. 

With the rafters of this 14th-century house of worship properly shaken, the healing power of music floated through the ornate chapel as South London's all-black Kingdom Choir sang their heavenly rendition of the Ben E. King classic Stand by Me.

After the couple had exchanged vows, they went off to sign the marriage register while those in the church were treated to a cello solo by 19 year-old Britain's Got Talent finalist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Finally to top off this day of grand romance and demonstration of black American culture, the newly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex exited the ceremony to the sounds of the Kingdom Choir singing Etta James' This Little Light of Mine, as they greeted the jubilant crowds and made their way to the carriage that would whisk them through the streets of Windsor.

 As a romantic, I was so delighted to see how obviously in love with each other this couple were, but I was overjoyed that the Duchess of Sussex defied the common perception that biracials are running away from their black heritage as she and her new husband left their wedding to both live out their own love story and heed Bishop Curry's message to make the world at large a more loving place. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Very Important Biracial: Meghan Markle

As anyone who knows me, or has even been within a few feet of me since last November, I'm quite ecstatic about the upcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Being a fan of the British Royal family, and particularly of Prince Harry, as well as a biracial American woman, this historic event makes me giddy. I'm so happy Prince Harry has found true love after such a turbulent and often controversial youth and am over the moon to have someone so very accomplished with my background represented within such a revered and important institution.

Ms. Markle stole His Royal Highness' heart by displaying the same indomitable and compassionate spirit that she has throughout her entire 36 years of life. Rachel Meghan Markle was born in 1981 in Los Angeles, CA to Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, who divorced when she was 6 years old. She was deeply inspired by both her makeup artist mother (who later went on to get a Master's degree in Social Work)  and lighting director father to understand she could accomplish anything and developed a spirit of outspokenness and a sense of global responsibility. These values led her to such actions as speaking out against sexism in advertising at age 11 and to an internship at the US Embassy in Argentina, after obtaining degrees in both theatre and international studies from Northwestern University 

On her path down life, Ms. Markle ended up following her father into the entertainment business, utilizing her theatre degree to become an actress. Beginning her career as a Deal or No Deal suitcase model, she eventually landed a key role as paralegal Rachel Zane on the USA legal drama Suits. 

Living in Toronto, where Suits films, Meghan had achieved a lovely little life with a good acting career, a gig modeling for Canadian clothing retailer Reitman's and, furthering her mission to serve humanity, being an ambassador for World Vision and working with UN Women. All was well with the exception of someone to share it with. After a short failed marriage and a subsequent relationship, she was set up by a friend in the summer of 2016 with a certain red-head, and within months of meeting she and Prince Harry were enchanted with each other. Last fall, these two lovebirds got engaged and, as Ms. Markle trades the amber waves of grain for the lush green of the British Isles and Prince Harry adjusts to saying Band-Aid instead of plaster, this couple will set off on a brave and beautiful new journey together. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Very Important Biracial: Logic

Montgomery County, MD has always been foremost amongst my happy places. It's been a blessing growing up here, in one of the country's most diverse and generally liberal areas, and in these volatile times, I've tried to regain that sense of comfort and joy, which led to me revisiting the music of a hip-hop artist that goes by the stage name Logic.

Even though I'm not a rap fan, I was inspired to hear the tunes of a black/white biracial rapper who was also from Montgomery County and could possibly speak a bit to that experience in general and particularly from an area where our population is seemingly sparse. Upon my first listening,  I was quite impressed with a style, that although influenced by elders of modern hip-hop such as Kendrick Lamar, had its own unique twist and some lyrics to which I could relate, while also speaking to the wider human existence.

Although the life of Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, born in Gaithersburg, MD to a white mother and black father, was puncuated by a great appreciation for music, it was also marked by his mother's severe addiction issues and racism towards her own mixed-race son, which fostered deep issues of identity and other trauma. This in turn has been reflected in Logic's artistry, primarily regarding his background and having grown up in such rough circumstances. Beginning with his self-titled mixtape debut in 2009, to two gold and one platinum-certified studio albums, up to his most current work, his seventh mixtape, Mr. Hall is taking lemons and turning them into deftly poetic lemonade. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Loving: 50 Years Later

As June 2017 comes to a close, let us take time to honor the momentous U.S. Supreme Court decision passed down 50 years ago this month and revel in the legacy of Loving vs. Virginia all these decades later. In the time that ensued since the victorious resolution of their case, the Loving family settled down to the peaceful life they'd sought, until Richard's untimely death in 1975, after which Mildred kept the flame of their historic romance burning until her final days. Their last surviving child, Peggy, lives her life just as quietly as did her parents, and this is a testament to the idea of a very low-key couple and family who were reluctant warriors, but who, with this quiet determination, paved the way for families across America to take for granted their existence and has brought forth a new generation of biracials that has proudly taken up the responsibility of continuing Richard and Mildred's hard-won fight by utilizing modern media to speak up about their experiences and lives in the biracial sphere. So 50 years on there's much to celebrate and here's to 50 and beyond!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Biracial in Trumpville

Hello again my lovely readers. It's been many a day, but the election of Donald Trump to the highest and most sacred office in the land has turned my spirit nearly to mush and manifested in an inability to transmit my thoughts to blog.  In his short time in office, this destructive force of a person has, among many things, fostered a still-mysterious association to an autocratic Eastern European leader forged yet another (currently suspended) attempt to ban Muslims from the country, and tried to sell us a cruel healthcare bill.  Amongst this smorgasbord of national security concerns and discrimination, my thoughts and concerns have focused in particular on the ever-present faultline of racial relations that has currently exploded in an earthquake of division, especially regarding the biracial space in which I live. When I began this blog in 2008, in the dawn of the Obama era of hope and change, I was quite inspired by having a leader in the White House who, even though his path of identity diverged from my own, lived his life with one white parent and I endeavored to give a glimpse into what's it like existing in this particular truth.

 It was and still is my thought that discussing how two historically opposing backgrounds operate together in reality would allow some insight that, although people such as myself don't represent the saving grace of race relations in America or exist in "the best of both worlds", that it might be understood that to be half-black half-white is to have a kaleidoscopic vantage point of both the complexity of embodying two sides of a very fraught American story, and the beauty of feeling the warm embrace and sense of home each culture offers, bringing a unique sense of one's place in the American fabric.

In Trumpville, those such as myself and others in my particular community would be, quite literally, illegal. The beautiful coming together of two communities who've been at odds since this country's very founding would've failed at the steps of the US Supreme Court on a June day 50 years ago. In an environment where the bodies and  souls of black and brown folk are under constant threat, all of us, including those of us who dance in between, must continue to stand, shout out our right to exist as who we are and keep up the good fight so that the diversity that this country has always struggled with but strived towards will truly lead to a more perfect Union.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Very Important Biracial: Ruth Negga

With this weekend's NY and LA release of Loving, let us get to know a bit about Ruth Negga, the actress portraying Mildred Loving. Ms. Negga was born in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abba to an Ethiopian father and Irish mother. Raised in Limerick Ireland since early childhood, she began her career in theatre, her screen debut coming in the lead role of Irish film Capital Letters. Recognizing her talent, director Neil Jordan reworked the Breakfast on Pluto script to include her. In addition to a burgeoning film career, Ruth worked steadily on BBC, including her role as Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey. As well as continuing to work on stage, Ruth has done voice work and in 2013 appeared in 12 Years a Slave and took on the role as Tulip O'Hare in the popular AMC series Preacher. With her latest feature film role in in Loving  and the talent she's displayed thus far, Ms. Negga will surely shine for many years to come.