FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STACEY E. BRYAN

Thank you to Jen, Kourtney, Amal and Jenn and Swirl Nation for featuring me in their  multiracial individual interview! Their website is unique and fascinating, in my opinion, drawing opinions and observations and relevant information from a cornucopia of multiracial folk with interesting and varied backgrounds. Visit them here!

http://www.swirlnationblog.com/

WHAT MIX ARE YOU?

White: Austrian; Mediterranean: Greek. Creole black; some Native American (not sure which tribe) and white (not sure from where).

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

Burbank, California

IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?

Much more diverse than it used to be. Burbank is where Johnny Carson had his show and Bette Davis used to live. That old-school Hollywood population has dwindled, making way for many other types.

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

I was born in San Francisco and grew up in Oakland until I was around 5. Oakland was definitely more diverse than the San Fernando Valley where we moved to when I was 6. The new neighborhood was not diverse in the least. I think it was 95% white. My family was the only black family living there. I say black because although I’m mixed, I was adopted into a black family. That’s why the information I have about my Creole black half is spotty. Most of the kids in the L.A. neighborhood were nice, but my brother and I did not really fit in.

 

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?

I will have double answers in some of these, due to my adoption. My adoptive parents, who are black, met in San Francisco when they were teenagers, through mutual friends. My biological parents met at Berkeley while they were going to school.

 

WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?

The initial obstacle lay with my biological parents. Apart from their youth, I think the other primary reason I was given up for adoption was because I was mixed race and my biological mother didn’t receive the support from her family that she otherwise would have received.

 

HAS YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF YOU BEING MULTIRACIAL?

I fit into my adoptive extended family seamlessly, because although they’re black, they’re also very mixed. It wouldn’t have mattered if they weren’t mixed or didn’t look mixed, like my parents; I was fully accepted and loved as if I were their blood.

 

DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?

Since my adoptive family was black, what I remember most was we ate lots of soul food: greens and grits and black-eyed peas, and jambalaya, etc. I don’t remember any particular traditions or cultural events taking place.

When I met my biological mother, she introduced me to Greek food, which I had never had before. Her father was Greek and her mother was Austrian.

 

WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

No foreign languages were spoken.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?

Since food is the most vivid memory, I have to say I enjoyed that the most. I remember a lot of smooth jazz and the blues playing during parties, so that’s a very fond memory. There were no overt religious beliefs that I can recall, although my adoptive father is a strict Catholic. Nobody in the extended family seemed to be very religious. But then again, they were all on my mother’s side from San Francisco, and my father was from Boston. It seems like the San Fran folks were all sort of Avant-garde while Dad’s Boston side were more God-fearing!

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STACEY E. BRYAN via Swirl Nation Blog

WHAT ACTIONS DID YOUR PARENTS TAKE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS? 

My brother and I had a set of books as children concerning various historical figures like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King. My mother took us to see plays like A Chorus Line and Raisin In the Sun equally. I don’t remember her doing anything special to *teach* me about white people. Maybe she thought we were already surrounded by white people (in our neighborhood) had white friends, went to school with white people, and learned about mostly white people in history and other school topics already. So *being white* and what it meant to be white wasn’t a mystery.

 

DID YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?

Race did come up fairly often because my brother and I were often in settings where we were the only ones of our kind; he was a black kid at a Catholic school, and I was a mixed kid at the same school. Kids used to call him Oreo. Later when my hair grew longer, kids said I had “witch hair.” My parents’ overall message was that people were just people but that some people looked at skin color more than others. We were supposed to “ignore the ignorant.” But, of course, it wasn’t always easy to do. My mother thought that, in the future, when everyone “looked like me” racism would be greatly diminished.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STACEY E. BRYAN via Swirl Nation Blog

DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?

This is a funny question for me, because I started out from childhood through my 20s saying I was black. That’s who had raised me, and that’s who I identified with. I distinctly remember being in first grade, in the Catholic school where they called my brother an Oreo, and somehow another girl and I started talking about my grandmother, and I recall proudly saying, “My grandmother is from Africa.” My grandmother wasn’t from Africa, not directly, at least, but I said it almost as if daring the girl to refute it somehow. By the time I was through my 20s, I had gotten so many confused looks and was so sick of explaining myself, I started saying I was “half black.” I realized years later that I was saying “half black,” and not “half white,” too, because of buried resentment against my white biological mother who gave me away. Nowadays I just say I’m mixed race.

 

DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?

When I was dating, the last thing I looked at was race. I’ve gone out with every color under the sun. My husband (who is very *private* and didn’t want any pictures of him included, unfortunately) is Latino. His parents are from the Dominican Republic. His skin tone is much darker than mine. In fact, when I first met him, I thought he was black. But I knew he was mixed with something. I just had no idea what.

 

WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?

Being mixed to me simply means that two people whose DNA manifested in them in different ways got together and had a child. It makes it harder for people to put a label on me, but it also causes confusion. But in the end it makes me feel very connected to the world, having DNA that comes from so many different places. I think most people who have been in America for a long time are mixed, even if it isn’t readily apparent, or they don’t know it. It’s too bad that they don’t know it, or accept it, because our country would be a very different place.

 

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?

I’ve had a few mixed friends, two of whom were a half-Filipina woman and a half-Japanese man. The interesting difference between them was the half-Filipina woman was happy with who she was and how the world saw her. The half-Japanese man identified with being viewed as a minority and acknowledged the oppression and alienation that so readily can come from that. Maybe it had to do with the woman being female and pretty and not having the same concerns as an ethnic male. Ethnic women aren’t under the same pressures as ethnic men in our society. But I do think it’s a form of denial if an ethnic person believes they are completely free from those pressures.

 

ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?

I feel like people who haven’t lived on a day-to-day basis under the kind of stress that comes with being constantly judged and often treated a certain way by appearance alone usually respond with denial, rationalizations, and out-right misdirected anger. That constant, repeated response annoys me to no end, but I know it comes largely out of a lack of real, goal-oriented, educated discussion. There are old hurts and long-held angers on both sides. I also am wounded by black women who make contemptuous faces at either me or my husband when we’re out together, obviously concluding that either I’m white or my husband only likes like-skinned women.  The irony in this position is that my husband was not accepted at all by the black community he grew up in in East New York. In fact, girls that were attracted to him, upon discovering that he was Latino, would then reject him. Often kids would chant, “Rice and beans, rice and beans,” in order to get under his skin. So the black women who appear to be annoyed at what they see as a cliché of a black man with a white woman are annoyed with an illusion, because he’s not even what they traditionally go for. But all of it’s an illusion, anyway. Holding on to the same old thoughts, feelings, and ideas have gotten us nowhere and will continue to get us nowhere.

 

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?

Like I said above, my mother thought that if everyone got mixed enough and it was harder to stick labels on folks that racism would diminish greatly. But I’ve had discussions with people who believe the “paper bag rule” will just come into effect. So as the population gets more and more mixed, the new level of undesired status will become “anyone who’s darker than a paper bag” and on like that. So I’m not sure what the answer is, as long as a certain trend of thought continues. The trend has to be destroyed so that healing can begin. I guess my dream is for people to start thinking out of the box where race is concerned. Staying in the box is keeping us all prisoner.

FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STACEY E. BRYAN via Swirl Nation Blog

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?

I’m very passionate about this topic, as you can see. I’m a writer, and I’ve addressed this issue sporadically, but probably not enough, and not in a really big way. I actually just had a book come out in June. It’s a paranormal comedy called Day for Night, and although I’m proud of it for what it is, part of me wishes I’d written the next “Invisible Man,” or something equally as weighty. However, even though it’s a comedy involving aliens and vampires, my main character, Rae, is a mixed woman (who’s also facing ageism and never says her age out loud, something I’ve adopted in real life for the time being) and I do talk about race here and there throughout the novel.

Well, the story takes place in Los Angeles, so it would be impossible not to mention race relations! I’m hopeful for the future, though. I do believe people would rather get along than war against one another. I do believe mutual understanding and compassion will come. But it’ll take time and, I think, some creativity.


You can follow Stacey on her Facebook Author Page / Goodreads / Website / Twitter

 

 

7 thoughts on “FEATURED MULTIRACIAL INDIVIDUAL: MEET STACEY E. BRYAN

  1. Your heritage is very cosmopolitan! I can clearly see the Mediterranean element in you. Your family history – adoptive and biological is fascinating. While I don’t get the whole focus on race in your interview or why they asked you what you identify as being, but it was an intriguing interview on your part. My kids are Colombo-Australians and people identify me here as ‘Gringo’ all day long although the term is originally associated with North Americans. I agree with you about your mother’s sentiments hopefully it will just be that everyone becomes mixed and we will stop labeling according to race.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Matthew. Holy cow, you really took a long swim in my blog today! Thanks for visiting so many of my posts!
    Hey, as for this one, the women who run Swirl Nation are raising multiracial children, so their focus on discussing the experience of being multiracial, being ethnic in general, what that entails, and even what one identifies as is a way to share and bringing insight to others. I think this issue is more immediate and sensitive in the United States where the country was literally founded with a schizophrenic split of “equality for everyone” while regarding slaves and Native Americans and basically anyone else who was “other” as savages and not quite human. This mindset unfortunately has followed us through the ages and is still with us now, as you can see with our upside down politics these days. Not that any politics are great to begin with, but we’re REALLY in the sh*** right now, and it was sad to see how much separatism and hate was still alive and well in this country when Trump got elected.

    For those who don’t understand why Americans or others talk about race so much, my simple answer these days is that if you have never walked through a store and had someone follow you or if you’ve never walked past a woman who consciously or unconsciously held on to her purse a little tighter, then you’re probably living a fairly blessed life of what is called “white” privilege. Those two things I mentioned are small things, not even nearing the wholesale murder of black and Latino people that’s going on here by authority figures, or touching on the middle ground of being passed over for jobs even though you’re more qualified, etc., but if the little things happen every day in one way or another, or every other day, or every week, you will be beaten down and torn down little by little and it takes a Superman mentality to be able to fight it off and/or not succumb to it on some level.

    In the end, my mother was right, it would be nice, and that may happen, everyone mixing so much we’re all sort of unidentifiable. But that’s a long time from now, if it even happens, and in the U.S., at the very least, a recognition of and discussion of and finally understanding of where all the rage is coming from from ethnic folk, why the completely fallacious superiority complex of white folk is antediluvian, lopsided, and useless is an important journey that must be taken and that may even be a catalyst for understanding in the future.

    If you’re interested in more on this topic (I’m sure you’ve had your fill, though, lol !!) a white man with an adopted black daughter gives his point of view in a beautifully expressed blog located here: https://ixiocali.com/2019/09/03/things-i-didnt-know/

    But thanks for dropping in, and thanks for your comments.
    I’m STILL behind on your posts but am slowly catching up…….. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry, that emoticon above was delivered by my mobile in error. I think I will be on the lookout for a new mobile as this one is about to kick the bucket.
    Thanks for clarifying who Swirl Nation is and what the focus of their interview was. Thanks also for offering me a very comprehensive breakdown about your points of view regarding race relations in the US. I can understand someone such as myself who has never lived in the US to not be fully conscious or enlightened of the issues at hand especially how it is to be ‘multiracial’. I was definitely not aware of ‘the wholesale murder of black and Latino people that’s going on here by authority figures’.
    I can only comment as a neutral observer from outside. I am normally reluctant to enter into the political realm because I don’t find the tug-of war of Politics in and of itself very interesting, factual-based or educative. It’s speculative at best. I was what one might label a progressive-leftist for over 20 years. I would probably call myself more classical liberal today even still a little left leaning in my politics. I believe in a moderate market economy which entails a rigorous legal separation between the church and State (secular society), public and private education, social welfare system, universal health care, and very progressive income tax system without loopholes for the rich. I am quite liberal in my stance towards abortion, LGBT rights, and legalization of drugs.
    I think Australia’s moderate market economy, healthcare, legal system, education and political system is ideally a good representation of what I lean towards and how I prefer a society governed.

    I have become very disenchanted with the modern-left’s endless use of Social Justice Warrior rhetoric and virtue signalling; victimhood culture, identity politics and tribal wars; and even their encroachment on free speech by de-platforming speakers and deliberately omitting factual and scientific evidence if it didn’t align with their collectivist aim. I think my disenchantment is best encapsulated publicly by the frustration and frankly ‘fear’ expressed by left leaning (or former leftists) IDW (Intellectual Dark Web) constituents Sam Harris, Eric and Bret Weinstein, Dave Rubin and Jonathan Haidt.

    These days I push more towards individual sovereignty, free speech and individual expression than I do towards any leftist collective opinion and narrative. The modern left scares me more than anything. The Post-modernism; this particular nihilistic world-view is what concerns me most about the activists stance on the left today. I will say that I can no longer go to the BBC news web page without being inundated with ‘not news’ but pro diversity and minority group articles trying to tell me how I should think because supposedly I have implicit biases and prejudices. As psychologist Dr Jonathan Haidt stated, ‘Implicit associations and attitudes are of course real. We can’t stop ourselves from picking up associations with the world’.
    We come to all these topics based on our own individual experiences and understanding. Everyone deserves their space to say what they want. Liberals and conservatives have been going at it for centuries. Nothing has changed except now the two sides seem no loner willing to talk to each other.
    Oh and if I was living in the US I probably would have voted for Tulsi Gabbard, but I have noticed she has been taken off the debates, although she is suing Google for allegedly having censored her after the last debate. Deplorable if that is true.
    Hey Stacey it’s been great to have taken a big swim in your blog! I love your content and thanks for opening up with me about some of your experiences living in the US. It’s fascinating as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Matthew. Same here. I think you hit the nail on the head, though: conservatives and liberals have been going at it for years but the problem today is they no longer seem willing to talk it through.
      I completely agree with you about the pointlessness of discussing politics these days and am triple & quadruple on your page about the super PC climate that’s basically gone to toxic levels.

      I don’t even know about these IDW guys you’re talking about. I’ll have to look them up. But in the same vein, two of the women who started the whole #MeToo movement were asked how they feel where things have gone with it and they’re more or less horrified that things have been taken to levels far beyond their intention or imagination.

      Like if a waiter approaches a group of men and women at a table and says, “Hey, guys, who wants drinks?” evidently now it’s *harmful* or *gender insensitive* to say “guys” when also speaking to women, and it’s apparently time to take offense. Time to get up in arms! My response is WTF??!! Please! Please please please please please pick your battles better. Grow up. You’re creating a hideous quagmire that we are all slowly drowning in.

      Anyway, I like Gabbard too, especially that she went after Kamala on her prosecution record (which is deplorable).

      But…yeah. Not a great time here in the USA, for sure. I’m glad you’re not getting daily reports of the police that keep gunning down black (and Latino) people even though they’re running away with no weapon in their hand or how it took five years to finally fire a cop who choked a weaponless man with asthma to death on a public sidewalk even though he said 11 TIMES “I can’t breathe”, along with the inhumanity going on with the children kept as virtual prisoners at the border. Because it wears one down. And I’m not actively doing anything to help alleviate any of these situations, just talking about it, and yes, maybe that’s not hiding and not pretending it’s not happening, but in the end, it just feels like bitching without much consequence, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think Trump has harnessed so much support because of the power that the radical left wield in the corporate sector, Hollywood, mainstream media and universities. The Democratic Party have to draw a line in the sand. But they haven’t and I imagine Trump will win comfortably in 2020 unless the moderates on the left hold the modern left to account.
        This week moderate leftists Sam Harris and David Pakman discussed this very issue. This is the way conversation and the exchange of ideas should be conducted. I highly recommend this if you are interested https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCKKCglmQAw&t=1447s

        With regards to the daily reports of Police gunning down unnarmed Black and Latino people then if that’s true that is abhorrent. In terms of refugee detention and separation of children from parents Australia as well has been undergoing a crises in the last decade of how to manage the influx of refugees – perhaps not to the same degree as America of course. This is a delicate matter. Of course you can’t just have open borders and many children are infact trafficked to accompany people who aren’t even their parents. This is very common and has to be treated on a case by case basis. I do not at all condone that ‘actual’ children be separated from their parents.

        Liked by 1 person

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