Thursday, February 15, 2018

8 Mixed-race Americans at the 2018 Olympics

No event is more universal than the Olympics because it's a gathering of hundreds of countries, languages, and ethnicities. It is the most racially diverse event on Earth.

Individual Olympians who have mixed-race heritage are an embodiment of this melting pot and multicultural spirit.

Here are a few from the U.S. competing this year.

Hailey Langland

At 17 years old, she is the youngest female out of the 244 Americans at the Games.

Jordan Greenway

He is the first African-American hockey player in Olympic history.

Elana Meyers Taylor

This is her 3rd Olympic Games. Professional sports runs in her family: Her dad was an NFL football player, whose parents were from Central America.

J.R. Celski
Speed Skating

Like Elana above, this is also his 3rd Olympic Games. Like another Olympian, who won 8 medals, he's also a speed skater who's also mixed White-Asian who's also from the same small city.

Madison Chock
Figure Skating

There's probably a stereotype that Hawaiians don't do anything winter-related, much less the Winter Olympics. But her dad is Hawaiian-Chinese who grew up in Hawaii (and her mom is White).

Jerica Tandiman
Speed Skating

The last Winter Olympics in the U.S. was in her hometown, which motivated her to start skating.

Kimani Griffin
Speed Skating

He was once a musician who performed at one of the world's most prestigious concert halls.

Chris Kinney

That's his grandma and mom. He lives in Japan, where the grandmother is from, and has a degree in Japanese, which he's fluent in. The Asian-American website, Angry Asian Man, posted a list of Asian-Americans at 2018 Olympics, which did not include him.

I emailed them and asked if they could add him. They didn't reply. I emailed them again to ask if they're uncomfortable adding him because he's only quarter Asian or because he's half Black (anti-Black racism exists among Asians). Still no reply.

Every Asian on their list is either full Asian or half White. Is he not Asian enough for them? Or not White enough? (He's actually quarter White, because his grandpa is White, if that means anything).

Since they didn't respond to my emails, I can only assume this is an example of...

1. The stereotype that Whiteness is attractive, especially within Asian communities
2. Multiracials are often rejected by their racial groups because they're "not [insert race] enough" (in Chris Kinney's case, "not Asian enough").

Monday, February 16, 2015

Portrayals of Asian Guys with Latino, Black, White, & Mixed Girls

Asian men are rarely in interracial marriages, according to the US Census. And they're often stereotyped as unmanly, sexually undesirable, or emasculated.

But the media still depicts them in interracial relations. Here are some examples.

Please remember Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans are Asians too. Those countries are in Asia.


TV Series

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Arab-Asian singer tops the charts in France

This is my English translation of this French articlewhich was written in January. This month her debut album was the #1-selling album in France in its first week of release. 

Indila: This Winter's Surprise Hit
by Eric Bureau

She's everywhere. Hard to turn on the radio without hearing Indila, impossible to watch a music channel without seeing her video for "Dernière Danse" ("Last Dance") in Paris. First solo song and first hit. Number 2 bestselling single behind Pharrell Williams' "Happy", number 1 music video on TV, in addition to 35 million Internet views (as of March 2014).

Even without an album, she still landed her first TV performance on the acclaimed show, Vivement Dimanche ("Can't Wait For Sunday"), invited by an artist who found her song irresistible.

She's everywhere…and nowhere. Elusive. When you do an Internet search for Indila, you'll find virtually no information on her, neither official nor personal. Instead, her collaborations with popular rappers, and the release date of her debut album, February 24. Different websites say she's of Algerian descent, between 26 and 33 years old.

When we meet her in Paris, at Davout studio where she recorded her album with her "musical partner in crime", producer Skalp, she brilliantly sidesteps and eludes questions. "I'm the same age as my music, which is timeless. How old you think I am?" Between 25 and 30. "Okay then I'm between 25 and 30 today," she laughs. "Then we'll see tomorrow." Equally mysterious, her life story. "I'm a true Parisian, born in Paris. A child of the world. My family's heritage is Algerian, but also Cambodian, Egyptian, and Indian. And might I add: my middle name, Indila, comes from my endless love for India."

She ends up revealing that she was a tour guide at Rungis Market, the world's largest wholesale food market. She's always loved singing but hasn't formally studied music. In her formative years, she was raised on a diet of Enrico Macias, Michael Jackson, Brel, Edith Piaf, Algerian singers like Warda and Indian ones like Lata Mangeshkar. "Music is like me. No borders or barriers," Indila says in a soft voice, almost childlike, but self-confident. "It's no trouble for me at all to switch from Hip-Hop to adult contemporary."

Her album makes it clear she hasn't always seen the bright side of life. Her song "Last Dance" contains a play on words with "douce souffrances" ("sweet sufferings") and "Douce France" ("sweet France") by Charles Tenet, which she used to sing as a child with her older sister while bicycling. In "Tourner dans le vide" ("persevering amidst emptiness"), her next single, she laments the absence of a loved one, dark-skinned, son of a laborer, and hopes for his return. "Yes, this album talks a lot about the absence of loved ones and the void that it leaves, about memories, but about hopes too, about life passing by too quickly."

Pokerfaced, holding a cup of tea, she also drops this incredible statement: "I'm being born with this album, I didn't exist before. What matters isn't my life, but the story I want to tell the public."

Keeping things simple. For the sake of style? "I don't like to talk much. Even less so about myself," she tells us. "So far, I've been satisfied being in the shadows of the rappers I sing with, that's given me a sense of security." With the success that awaits her, she's going to have to force herself into the spotlight.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Idol Winners of Mixed Heritage

Tonight, American Idol will crown a new winner. More than 40 countries have their own version of the competition.

Below are winners of Idol TV shows around the world. Each of them are of mixed-race descent and/or upbringing, a reminder that music exists in every culture.

Guy Sebastian - Australian Idol, 2003
White (Portuguese and English) and Sri Lankan

Taufik Batisah - Singapore Idol, 2004
Indian and Indonesian

Ben Lummis - NZ Idol, 2004
White (New Zealander), Maori, and Tongan

Melissa O'Neil - Canadian Idol, 2005
White (Canadian) and Chinese

Jorun Stiansen - Idol (Norway), 2005
Transracial adoptee: Colombian raised by Norwegian (White) parents

Eva Avila - Canadian Idol, 2006
White (French Canadian) and Peruvian

Mau Marcelo - Philippine Idol, 2006
Puerto Rican (White and Black) and Filipino

Matthew Saunoa - NZ Idol, 2006
White (English) and Samoan

Jordin Sparks - American Idol, 2007
Black (American) and White (American)

Mark Medlock - Deutschland sucht den Superstar (Germany), 2007
Black (American) and White (German)

Diandra Flores - Idols (Finland), 2012
White (Finnish) and Chilean

Sophie-Tith Charvet - Nouvelle Star (France), 2013
White (French) and Laotian

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The series that put mixed girls on TV

11 years ago today, the TV show "24" made its debut. The ways that it challenged stereotypes seemed to predict the future: it showed a Black president 6 years before Obama's election, yet another Black president 2 years before the election, and it showed a White/Caucasian female Islamic terrorist 3 years before Muriel Degauque's suicide bombing.

In November 2008, the same month Barack was elected, the show portrayed the inauguration of a woman president---yet another prediction. Coincidentally, today is Election Day.

Some people think the series stereotypes Arabs, Middle Easterners, and Muslims as terrorists, but they apparently haven't seen many episodes. More than half of the villains on the show are neither Arab, nor Middle Eastern, nor Islamic. Not only that but the show often addresses the prejudice against these groups. In season 7 for example, White/Caucasian domestic terrorists try to frame an innocent man for a bombing; they think they'll get away with it because the man is Pakistani American and a practicing Muslim.

Another way that "24" was groundbreaking was by casting an unusually high number of mixed-race women. If you consider that...

1. the entertainment industry has always been White/Caucasian-dominated 
2. the media and pop culture have always ignored mixed heritage 

...then it's unprecedented to see this many mixed-race people in a major network TV series. 

This show holds the record for the most multiracial actresses in a TV series. This isn't an official record but it's hard to imagine another TV series with even more mixed actresses than this. If I'm wrong and there's another series with more, then that's great because it means there's more mixed people on TV than I thought. 

I invite/challenge you to make a list like this for a series that beats this record. Meanwhile, this is my list of mixed girls on "24"...

Marisol Nichols

Even though her character, Nadia Yassir, is Middle Eastern, she's really Mexican, Hungarian, Spanish, and Romanian.

Reiko Aylesworth

Her role as Michelle Dessler gives her more appearances on the show than anybody on this list. 
Her first name is a hint of her quarter-Japanese heritage, which also includes Welsh and Dutch.

Megalyn Echikunwoke

She plays the daughter of Senator Palmer in season 1. Her mother is White/Caucasian and her father is Nigerian.

Chuti Tiu

Her character is the personal assistant of the villain in season 2. She was born and raised in Wisconsin and is Chinese and Filipino.

Lourdes Benedicto

Her role is computer programmer Carrie Turner in season 2. She's Filipino and Dominican.

Christina Chang

She portrays Dr. Sunny Macer in seasons 3 and 7. She was born and raised in Taiwan to a Chinese-Filipino dad and a White/Caucasian mom.

Gina Torres

Her character is Julia Milliken in season 3. Both of her parents are multiracial Cubans; Gina, her mom, and her dad are all mixed Latino/Black.

Kamala Lopez

She plays the wife of a federal agent in season 3. Her dad is Venezuelan and her mom is Indian (South Asian, not Native American). She was born in New York City and grew up in Venezuela.

Lana Parilla

Her character is computer expert Sarah Gavin in season 4. Her mom is Italian and her dad is Puerto Rican, and she was born and raised in New York City.

Merle Dandridge

She appears in one episode of season 8 playing an attorney. Her mother is Japanese/Korean and her dad is Black. She was born in Okinawa, Japan and grew up in Nebraska.

Neisha Folkes

Her role is a temporary babysitter at CTU Los Angeles in season 3. Her page on a casting website confirms she's mixed race, though it doesn't say her specific ethnicities.

Jacqueline Piñol

She's in one episode in season 7, playing a woman taken hostage in her house. Her heritage is mixed French Latin American. She was born in New York City and grew up in Los Angeles.

Sandrine Holt

She plays the First Lady's assistant in season 5, and also the mother of a girl who's played by the next actress on this list. Sandrine was born in England and grew up in Canada. Her birth surname is Ho, which is from her Chinese father, and her mother is White/Caucasian.

Skylar Roberge

Her character is a kidnapped girl in season 5 and the previous actress on this list portrays her mom. Apparently the producers were aware of mixed heritage when they cast these two parts. Skylar was born in Hawaii, which is the US state with the highest percentage of mixed people.

Talin Silva

Her page on a casting website confirms she's mixed but doesn't say her specific background. Whether or not she has any Middle Eastern heritage, she plays a little girl from the fictional Mideast country of Kamistan, in one episode of season 8.


These actresses on "24" might be multiracial but I couldn't find anything on their ethnicities. 

Clockwise from top-left, along with their roles in the series:

1. Tamara Tunie: CTU director Alberta Green in season 1
2. Pia Artesona: the secretary of one of the bad guys in season 5
3. Lissa Pallo Strong: a woman at a hotel bar in season 5
4. Jolene Kim: the assistant to the US president in season 6
5. Tania Verafield: a woman on the other end of a phone call in season 8
6. Sarah Hollis: an aide at the White House in season 8

Alexandra Lydon

She plays the daughter of the villain in season 3. Unlike the "unconfirmed" actresses above, I did find info on her ethnicity...

...and she isn't multiracial, she's Irish. She shouldn't be on this list but I included her for 2 reasons:

1. She is mixed nationality because she's a dual citizen (Ireland and USA), and I'd like to take this opportunity to mention that nationality isn't the same thing as race. 90% of the time, when somebody says "nationality", they really mean race/ethnicity. I'm always correcting people. Nationality means citizenship; it's a legal status that has nothing to do with racial/ethnic background. The nationalities of most of these actresses is American.

2. In my opinion, her physical appearance could pass as some type of mixed heritage, which means she could portray a mixed character, which means she could influence media representations of multiracials if she ever played one, even if she might not be one in real life. Marisol Nichols, the first actress on this list, isn't a Middle Easterner but she played one; she therefore had an influence on how that group is represented.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The year of mixed-race TV stars

Half of the posts I've written so far this year are lists of multiracial actors and actresses on TV shows. But four decades before any of those shows hit the airwaves, one mixed actress and one mixed actor made history in 1966.

The first mixed-race person to star in a TV show was Marlo Thomas, who played the title role in the series That Girl, which first aired on September 8, 1966 on ABC. (1966 is pretty early, I assume I'm correct in saying she was the first, but correct me if you know an earlier person).

She is mixed Arab and European. Her dad was the son of Christian immigrants from Lebanon (I mention they were Christian because everybody assumes all Arabs are Muslim, and I love to challenge stereotypes), and her mom was Italian-American.
That's Marlo with her dad, and her with the whole family (she's the oldest kid).

After the debut of That Girl, ABC premiered a show with a mixed-race male in one of the lead roles—on the very next day after That Girl debuted. As though they wanted to prevent anyone from saying they're sexist against mixed guys.

That series was The Green Hornet on September 9, 1966. One of the main characters was played by Bruce Lee. He wasn't the main star, but decades later the DVD release said he was (above), as if ABC regretted not giving the lead to a mixed actor, like they did to a mixed actress.

Most people have heard of him, but very few know he was mixed race. His dad was Chinese and his mom was biracial Chinese/German.
In both photos, he's in the middle and his biracial mother is on the left.

As if they were addicted to being pioneers, Marlo and Bruce went further and became the first mixed woman and man on the cover of the biggest TV magazine, in the same year their two programs premiered.

It's like the TV industry was proclaiming the arrival of multiracials.

(Correct me if you know an earlier mixed person who was on TV Guide's cover)