Multi-race Families Have Changed Our Lives

A.S. Chung jpg

A.S. CHUNG

 

 


My six-year-old daughter is an ABC, not an FOB and therefore can be considered a Banana. Thank goodness she is not showing signs of being a Twinkie but on the road to growing up Fobulously!

Immigration and exponential population growth has given rise to a global ethnic diversity of epic proportions. I don’t need to delve into statistics for everyone to know that the colour of our skin is beginning to cross international boundaries and one can no longer automatically assume it is associated with their country of birth. This has inevitably given rise to multiracial unions and first generation immigrants being born in their country of residence. We are literally becoming more colourful! Society as we know is changing at a rapid rate and it is forcing everyday people to either accept the diversity or continue to struggle to co-exist in the general rat race.

I personally love what immigration and multiracial families are compelling us to do. I relish the changing landscape of language, heightened awareness of other cultures and the beautiful ability of everyone to inhabit the same space.

As a result of emigrating from Asia to Australia, my daughter is now a first generation Aussie, hence an Australian born Chinese. She was born in a first-rate hospital for women and is most certainly not fresh off the boat. Although I try to instil some Chinese traditions in her, she is a true Banana, Asian on the outside and but practically white on the inside. I am confident she won’t grow up being Twinkie, embarrassed by our loud Asian gatherings and only being able to converse in English. Instead, she’ll be Fobulous, having the ability to assimilate in both cultures and proud to have a varied heritage.

Derogatory or not, these slang acronyms and very specific cultural terminologies, do exist. Whether we approve of it or not, the Urban Dictionary is here to stay. It is now a highly useful resource to decipher these new words! Let’s not get too caught up and start debating about the correct use of the English language. The fact is multiculturalism has actively contributed to a whole new phrasebook!

Another reason I love multi-race marriages is that they are creating new ‘breeds’ of children. We are now able to loosely and humourously identify them as Filatinos, Blacknese, Chicanese, Chindian, Korgentinian or even Blaxican! From blue-eyed kids with afros to freckled brown skin with natural blonde hair, these children no longer fit in distinctive racial silos. I look at these families and I see nothing but beauty and a whole new world ahead of us.

Food culture has also naturally progressed away from the basic meat and two vegetables. I remember watching a movie once and this man was buying a gyros from a food vendor and he proclaimed “thank goodness for immigration!” I live in a metropolitan city that has embraced multiculturalism. I am constantly surprised by how educated we have all become about the different types of cuisines. We are now even able to tell if a traditional dish was up to par and where to get the best laksa or pho in town. I enjoy having the first world gastronomical problem of not being able to decide what to have for dinner, simply because we are spoilt for choice.

Children don’t see colour. Children see people. I recall a couple of conversations that made me wish we could live in this perpetual bubble of innocence where labels didn’t create racial boundaries.

Scenario one:

5-year-old child: Mummy, we had a new boy in our class today

Mum: Oh that’s lovely, what’s his name?

5-year-old child: His name is Dinesh and he brought these yummy spicy things for lunch called samosas.

Mum: Dinesh must be Indian?

5-year-old child: No mum, he’s vegetarian.

Scenario two:

5-year-old child: Mummy, Mattea and I played on the monkey bars at school today!

Mum: That’s nice sweetheart. What nationality is Mattea (I was not familiar with the origin of the name)?

5-year-old child: What do you mean?

Mum: Is Mattea maybe white or Asian?

5-year-old child: Neither Mummy, he’s a boy.

Looking back at these conversations, I made a whole bunch of assumptions and generalizations. It’s interesting the thought process I was going through and I, as an adult, brought race into the mix. She simply didn’t see her friends that way. To her, they were merely her classmates she went to school with and interacted with on a daily basis. Adults feel the need to classify cultures. We need to start realizing that this will become even more difficult as the lines continue to blur. Bottom line is, don’t do it. Don’t feel the need to compartmentalize people.

Multiracial families unknowingly teach us about other cultures. My daughter’s friendships have taught her that Teita is Grandma in Lebanese, Greek salad is a culinary delight because it always has crumbly feta and its good manners to take her shoes off when entering into an Asian home. She will continue to grow up in an environment that will educate her in the cultural traditions and customs.

It is imperative children are encouraged to assimilate and embrace multiracialism. This is the most effective education system which in turn fosters tolerance and understanding. Much conflict as we know it is borne out of ignorance and no desire to understand the diverse human race. We need multiculturalism to become an innate part of society. To the point where we can no longer imagine what life would be like without it.

Multi-race children inherit multiple ethnic backgrounds and by understanding the heritage of both their parents, they usually have a broader sense of the world. It allows them to be more empathetic in different scenarios instead of just having the one view-point. They become naturally open to understanding that different people make different decision based on diverse motivations. Possessing more than one language also contributes to children being more open-minded and worldly. The subtle etymology of their language brings about insights into their ethnicity.

The scientific and genetic advantage of “cross breeding” has become a prevalent topic for research. Does heterosis exist for humans? One would think it would! Imagine a population of children that have superior qualities or increased vigor in their genes purely from combining different races! A farfetched notion? Perhaps, but it is definitely worth exploring.

We will come to a point in the human race where a single race child will become a minority. When bi-racial adults themselves have children, the traceability of race origins will become imprecise. Multiculturalism and multi-race families have changed our way of life in more aspects than one can fathom. I for one am grateful to live in a city where this is so ingrained into everyday life. I am thankful that my daughter will be intrinsically educated outside of a classroom. My only hope is that we are all able to live and love harmoniously in this ever-changing kaleidoscope.

By A.S. Chung


Amy is an author, publisher, blogger, social media maven, crusader for women and children, but most of all, our good friend. She makes some great observations above and we ask that you give it some thought. Then, let us know what you think!

You can visit Amy here, and check out our interview with her here.

Enjoy your week,
Lora

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Happy Family Day!

Family cloudOur family is the proverbial egg that we were hatched from. Everything about who we are, both our nature and nurture stems from our early interaction with this group of people we call family.

There is no doubt that we all lead busy lives and the daily hustle and bustle make it difficult to stay connected with the ones we love. Special times like Family Day are opportunities to re-connect and re-evaluate those important relationships in our lives. As such, I will continue to focus on friendship and family with my students throughout the month of February.

Considering that many children no longer grow up in traditional nuclear families, the need for literature that is inclusive of varying experiences is of paramount importance in the classroom. I’d like to share a poem I wrote that can be used to springboard a discussion on what constitutes a family, moving away from a pre-defined understanding of what a family should look like and embracing what makes families unique.


My Family
Lora Rozler

She brings the sky within my reachgrandma
And bakes the best of brownies.
She tells me stories of long ago
And forgets about my bedtime.
Grandma Nia is the greatest – she is my family!

brotherHe piggy-backs me to my room
And makes monsters disappear.
He plays with me even when he’s tired
And let’s me win at checkers.
My stepdad is my superhero – he is my family!

They take me places all the timefamily
And buy me books and toys.
They care for me and teach me things
And help me with my homework.
My parents love me endlessly – they are my family!


Creative Commons License
My Family by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Below is a Family Day Resource package you can download for your personal use in the classroom. It contains the poem above and other fun activities for your students. The download link is found below the samples. Enjoy!

Poems

 ‘My family’ Poem, ‘my family is my treasure’ interactive poem,
‘love is…’ writing template


Creative Commons License
My Family is My Treasure by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Here is a fun activity I can’t wait to share with my class. Invite students to draw and colour a portrait of their family. Then have students cut the page along the faint lines to create puzzle pieces. Send the puzzle home in a zippy bag to share with families. It’s one I’m sure they’ll cherish.

Puzzle blank   Puzzle sample

‘we stick together’ Family puzzle


Students use the blank template rectangles to draw, colour and label their family members. They then cut and paste the images around their own on the family tree.

tree sample

my family tree


To download this family activity pack for your personal use in the classroom,
click on the family icon below.


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Words on a Limb Interviews A.S. Chung

Happy Family Day Everyone!


A.S. Chung jpgIf you are an author or avid reader, you are definitely familiar with Goodreads. If you are not, you are in for a treat, you should go ahead and visit goodreads.com. If you have visited our website often, you’ll know that we have often pointed you in that direction for further information. One of the joys of Goodreads is that we often meet terrific authors with special stories to tell.

One of those terrific authors is A.S. Chung. She reached out to us from her home in Melbourne Australia, to discuss doing a feature with her. After doing a little research, we realized that Amy (A.S.) was not only an author but she also conceived Pigeonhole Books as an avenue to create books that both empower and enrich families – especially non-traditional homes with blended, divorced, multiracial and same-sex families.

In general, mass market literature tends to shy away from books that do not depict mainstream family circumstances, understandably so if the goal of selling books is to bring as many people under the tent as possible. However, as Bob Dylan wrote, the times they are a changin’. Now, we see established authors delve into the non-traditional with titles such as Patricia Polacco’s In our Mother’s House and Leslea Newman’s Mommy, Mama and Me and of course I Wished For You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond.

This coming February 16th is Family Day in Canada. We are so encouraged that Amy does a great job gently introducing young readers to families that don’t necessarily look like everyone else’s, but are still overflowing with love. The stories are told with great energy and from a child’s perspective.

Author Teresa Villegas did a piece for us a while back, sharing with us neat ideas on how to talk to kids about being born into an egg or sperm donor family. Today, similarly, we feel inspired to share Amy’s story with you. Enjoy!


About writing …

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
Writing has always played a significant role in my life but it was always just something I did, be it for education, work or fun. I enjoy blogging and I have always loved putting pen to paper.

However, I first realized I wanted to become a bona fide writer when it became an outlet to express how I felt while going through my divorce. It was an excellent way to release all my feelings and thoughts and I was amazed how I felt afterwards. I haven’t been able to stop since then and I now write children’s picture books for kids from diverse family backgrounds.

What book(s) has most influenced your writing?
I read widely as a child. I read all the classics every child should and in most cases, the resounding style I enjoyed the most was anything which stretched the imagination. The likes of Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis resonate with me, even until today. While my stories are less fictional and far from fantasy, these authors provided me with the courage to push past the boundaries and write what I wanted to, simply because I could.

When and where do you prefer to write?
Anytime is a good time! Ideas always seem to pop into my head at the most inopportune times. I’m often in situations where the concept and words flow faster than I can write because sometimes they come to me while I’m standing in a middle of an aisle in the supermarket! Most times, however, I do love to write in the comfort of my own home, in front of the computer with a cup of tea, as I lounge in my pyjamas.

What was your biggest challenge in writing your book?
Reducing the length of the manuscript. I could have gone on forever!

While going through my divorce, with a 4-year-old in tow, I was constantly worried about my daughter’s state of mind. There were plenty of resources at my disposal to deal with this life challenge, however, I felt that I needed to find an alternative way to communicate with her, to tell her that life is beautiful and that everything will be ok. I felt that telling and reassuring her was simply not adequate. So, I decided I would further highlight the good in what we currently have through loving words and beautiful illustrations. The message of the book is to hone in on the positives because at the end of the day, she has no choice. So let’s not wallow on the challenges and difficulties.

I also wanted a gentle resource for close family and friends. Divorce also affects the people around us and changes social dynamics. It makes for a difficult conversation to have with children when they’re not in this position themselves.

Based on this premise, my first attempt was a jumble of feelings on paper. There was no structure or body to the story. I simply wanted to write. When I finally finished everything I wanted to say, I had to peel it back and segment my thoughts. The result was an additional three manuscripts in the series that are currently being worked on.

What advice do you have for other writers?
Write all the time! Write about anything and have a great time doing it.

Believe in your words and your message. Don’t sway too far away from your initial goal as you may not like the finished product. Stay true to yourself.

About you …

What do you like to do when you are not writing (other than reading, of course)?
My most favorite thing in the world to do is spending time with my daughter and partner and we’re extremely active and social. Travel and photography take on a natural second and third place.

Travel continues to educate my heart and soul. I love discovering things about places I had visited before that I had never noticed in the first instance. Age, wisdom and maturity changes one’s perspective. I also love travelling with my new partner. He sees things I otherwise wouldn’t have and travelling with a child is even more exhilarating. Looking at the world through their eyes is always filled with wonder.

The camera (next to the laptop!) is my one prized materialistic possession. I love creating stories through pictures. My subjects are always people and I love being able to capture precious moments, when it was least expected.

Do you have any unique talents besides writing?
For a writer, I lead an extremely normal, left brain life. I’m afraid I don’t have any other special talents that would be deemed extraordinary.

What can we expect from you in the future?
A Brand New Day is but the first of many books in the divorce series to be published. However, I am currently working on the first book of the Pocketful of Pride series, entitled A Wishful Wedding, which delves into stories about same-sex families.

Quick Hits …

Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
I would love to have met David Eddings, an American fantasy writer. He was my “first love” and I was so engrossed and enthralled in his five book series The Belgariad as it introduced me into a wonderful world of fantasy. Much like J.R.R. Tolkien, he created an entire world, generations of characters and a language of its own. I have read all his subsequent books and feel like I have grown up with this fictional royal family! I wished I could have thanked him for immersing me into the kind of reading where I locked myself away for days and only left the room because I was hungry.

What book are you currently reading (eBook or paper)?
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx and Adultery by Paulo Coehlo. Adultery was released while I was reading Annie Proulx and I am an avid fan of Paulo Coehlo. I turned to Paulo Coelho’s spiritual words to get me through the difficult phase of divorce and in many ways allowed the slow minutes become beautiful days.

Who designed your latest book cover?
The most amazing illustrator I know, Paula Bossio. She is so incredibly talented and she has a remarkable knack of translating my words into art.

What is your favourite quote?
Your children need your presence more than your presents.” Jesse Jackson


Visit with Amy:

 12166559 Facebook Twitter Goodreads Pinterest


A Brand New Day – A Banana Split Story
by A.S. Chung, Paula Bossio (Illustrator)
Pigeonhole Books
Amazon | Chapters

Mondays and Tuesdays are fun, going on cooking adventures with Dad. We look forward to Wednesdays and Thursday too when we get to be a green thumb with Mum. Don’t forget the holidays! Spring breaks with Mum and hot summer camping with Dad. Each day is a truly special day!

A Banana Split Story is a series within the Pigeonhole Books collection that features stories about children from separated and divorced families.


Amy on Facebook:

Amy on Twitter:


lomo-photo-effectWhen you take a moment to get to know Amy through her books, publishing, blog, interviews and social media, you’ll discover a woman who has found a way to make a difference in people’s lives, one shared story at a time. She encompasses the true spirit of Family Day – a chance to celebrate everyone who feels their family around them, no matter what it might look like.

We congratulate Amy on her success and wish her continued good fortune in her bright future. Great to meet you Amy!


Words on a Limb would like to wish everyone a happy, warm, love-filled Family Day.

Lora