Friday, October 01, 2010

Mixed Girls Don't Need Collagen Injections

Okay, that's a big generalization. It's certainly not always the case, but I'm trying to make a point that's related to this. I check the Huffington Post almost every day, so a lot of what I see online comes from things I've read there. As usual, I found some an article that made me want to come over to my blog and rant. There's a picture of Matthew Modine and his daughter, Ruby, who accompanied him to a movie premiere. She's a lovely, lovely young lady.

When I looked at the picture, the first thing I thought was, "Hmm. I didn't know that Matthew Modine was in an inter-racial marriage. Cool!" Then when I started reading the comments and I felt like my head was going to explode. I kept seeing all these comments about how it was a shame how all these young girls were getting collagen injections in their lips. I thought to myself, "What the heck?" I mean, this is obviously a woman of color. At least, it's obvious to me.

I started wondering if it was just me imagining things, so I looked up the name of the woman Matthew Modine is married to. She's an Afro-Latina named Caridad Rivera. If you take a look at how beautiful she is, it's no wonder that a guy who looks like your average white guy--Well, I guess he's sort of handsome, in a Middle America kind of way--would hang on to a catch like her.

It's really aggravating to watch how white people assume that features associated with people of European descent are the norm and everything that falls outside of that range must be unnatural. I mean, really? Are there really that many white Americans who have never seen what a Euro/Afro/Latina looks like? Maybe I've just wanted to believe that my fellow Americans are a lot more sophisticated than they tend to be.

It's just that, being from New Orleans with its history of Creole/gens de coleur libres, we get to seeing the diversity of features that occur when you mix folks from indigenous America, the African diaspora, and European colonizers. It's not even anything special here, because there are so many folks like that down here. I just want to face-palm every time I see some white people still so clueless about racial/ethnic diversity.

If you look at a few pages of comments, it becomes clear what this is all about. The problem boils down to the fact that many white Americans still haven't come to grips with the fact that this country is becoming browner before their very eyes. Well, I should say, it's becoming brown again, because America is simply returning to how it looked before Europeans arrived and killed off the brown majority that originally inhabited these lands.

If you are used to living in a country where most people look like you and those in your family, and you occasionally see a few folks who look very different, it's easy to just gawk or giggle or ignore these outsiders. However, if you wake up one morning, go outside, and suddenly realize that more and more people are starting to look like the "outsiders" and a lot less like you, it's harder to ignore and a lot more difficult to avoid these differences. You go through your day and now people don't care as much about what you see as beautiful and, furthermore, you are no longer as likely to be included in what's considered the ideal beauty.

As a person of color, I've never been in that position, but I have to imagine that it might not be a pleasant experience. Some people are better than others with regards to dealing with changes. I figure they'll have the easiest time adjusting to the the changes in America's racial/ethnic demographics.

Unfortunately, a certain percentage of folks are going to fight the changes tooth and nail. It's sad, because they are fighting a losing battle. We are the future. They can either get with the program or they will just die out and become a part of history.


Rootietoot said...

Ok, let's look at this from a purely biological perspective. The less related (or the more 'mutt') people are, the healthier they'll be. If a person inherets genes from a diverse population, the strong dominant genes will dilute the recessive genes (the ones that require both parents to have them in order for the offspring to inheret)and eventually those recessive genes will be so diluted that the chances of the offspring inhereting them (for things like cystic fibrosis, Tay Sachs, or Sickle Cell anemia)become more remote. This is a good thing.
I have enjoyed watching our population become more "brown". The multi-racial people I know are physically beautiful, incredibly intelligent, and (from a biologist's perspective) healthy. My hope is, as our society mixes it up more, that whole "black-white" dichotomy will become irrelevent, and people will be judged on their character rather than their skin.

bint alshamsa said...

Yeah, there are a few communities down here that still mostly marry among themselves and the rates of congenital diseases are high enough for people to associate those communities with certain disorders.

It's kind of odd watching race change before our very eyes. In church, we see a lot more inter-racial couples than we used to. Have you noticed that a lot more churches are talking about race now and stressing the fact that we're all supposed to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of race? It's not a taboo subject to discuss from the pulpit any more, even though it feels like it used to be.

For folks like my daughter, race is a lot different from what it represented for my generation. I mean, she's a genetic mix of five different ethnic groups and she has grown up with my husband's very German-American family. She doesn't see herself as a "black girl". She fully identifies as mixed and the great majority of kids she goes to school with see her features as kind of cool. She gets more compliments about her afro from the white students than she does from the black ones. I think that when she grows up, she'll be just as likely to marry a white or Asian guy as she would a black one.

Certainly, in my own marriage, race isn't discussed nearly as much as some folks might imagine takes place in an inter-racial relationship. It's mostly just something to poke fun at. I'm the black girl with no rhythm and he can dance his patootie off. He grew up in the 'hood. I grew up in the 'burbs. He loves the Isley Brother's songs and I don't, but I know every Rod Stewart song by heart and he can't stand the guy's voice.

Mostly, we're just two goofs and a slightly wacky kid that just happen to be an inter-racial family. I'm happy to have friends like you who can talk about race and differences without it being a "big deal". Ya' know what I mean? It's just another facet of our lives, but not something I want to revolve my life around. I'm more concerned with what kind of heart my friends have than what color skin they inherited from their parents.

matthew modine said...


a friend sent me a link to your blog. please look at the film i made in washington square park. please notice the diversity of what americans look like. the cast in the film was plucked from the popular park in lower manhattan.

the film is called, "to kill an american" it is a second feature (two for one) available on itunes.

thanks for checking it out and i'd look forward to your thoughts on it.

and my daughter ruby is not only cute, but a gorgeous person. which is WAY more important.

matthew modine

Anonymous said...

I think that we tend to get too focused on of the good things coming out of this true 'melting pot' is that we are getting to the point that it's becoming non-sensical to try to define a person by their 'race' because it has become such a conglomeration of races and ethnicities.

Matthew, your daughter is cute, but you are right about the ranking of importance; it's what's inside that counts. I have a daughter the same age - a half Mexican Alaska Native and I think she's pretty cute, but it's what's inside that I'm really proud of.

Gabi O

Ajp0825 said...

My maternal great grand mother was born in England and my great grand father was Cuban
My maternal grand mother was born in New York and migrated to Cuba in 1902 at the age of 12 years old. My mothet was Cuban and married my father from Asturias Spain where all his family was from
My paternal great grand mother was French and married a Cuban.
I married four times a Cuban, a Cuban, an American and a Colombian
I had children with the first 3 wives,.and my children ate confused about their heritage (and I too)
Families and.races are unrelevants, the important is the family unity.
Matthew Modine had a beautiful family and a solid marry for over 21years, that is great

Anonymous said...

Funny how for someone so concerned about how clueless white people are about race that you engage in the over simplification of being white, dismissing Matthew Modine as "an average white guy". What about his heritage and culture? I just want to facepalm myself every time I hear a person of color forget that white is still on the pallette.

I believe that mixed race families and children are a beautiful thing. I don't believe that anyone need sacrifice the celebration of their heritage in order to celebrate the heritage of their partner. Race, ethnic background, and cultural differences allow each of us to experience the world through a very personal lens. Is the lens of one person any less valuable than another? I hope that the world continues to grow in the acceptance of interracial and cross cultural relationships. It's hard to do that when any of us devalue the best in any of us. What do I know? I am just an average white guy.

bint alshamsa said...

Matthew Modine actually responded to this post. He didn't seem to think that I dismissed him. I actually said, and believe, that he's handsome.

The next time you hear a person of color "forget that white is still on the pallette", you might want to hit your face a little bit harder. Hopefully, it will give your brain a reset and convince you to find out what words mean before you assume that you have some excuse to feel butthurt. "Person of color" is a term that is used to describe non-white people. You may wish that the meaning was different, but that doesn't change the facts. Being an "average white guy" is no excuse for this kind of ignorance.

When you become a part of an interracial marriage, then feel free to tell me what they are like. Meanwhile, I'll continue LIVING THAT BEAUTIFUL REALITY. To be welcome on my blog, you can be average. You can be white. You can be a guy. However, you can't be clueless.

Simple Things said...

My mom is American of Italian and Irish ancestry. My dad was born in Latin America to spaniards escaping the civil world. I identify myself as Latin American and love my heritage .