By Trace Lara Hentz ( who is Living The Mix)
The news has been catching up with this topic of mixed ancestry. I detest using the word “race” since it is a colonial construct to divide and conquer and make some of us feel inferior. I prefer to think of us as having various ancestries since we are all humans, and in that regard, we are all related!
Here’s a stunning slide project on SLATE showing families who are MIXED: HERE
Being in a mixed marriage, my husband Herb from Harlem identifies as African American, yet he also has American Indian ancestry on his mother’s side of the family from South Carolina; we have been living the MIX as a married couple 11 years. I am a mix of American Indian (Shawnee-Cherokee-Delaware) and French Canadian and Euro (Irish mostly.)
Where we live in western Massachusetts, I have not noted public scrutiny or harsh “looks” when we go out publicly – nor have we heard comments, but that is not to say our neighbors and community have not judged us or talked about us. I’m sure they have. A friend shared that when she lived in nearby Deerfield, her church group referred to African Americans as “darkies.” And that was a few short years ago. (There is a longstanding judgment and prejudice about American Indians in New England, too. I lived this in Connecticut, working for the Mashantucket Pequot.)
In 2013 Herb and I took a trip to the deep south and visited friends in Mississippi for the first time. There I saw the “looks” more than anywhere else. And the looks or “evil eye” were directed more at me than my husband. I felt their looks scorning me for marrying a man of color. It was like a death stare, “if looks could kill” and not very comfortable. (I never felt FEAR which is what their looks hoped to instill in me.)
My husband is of the opinion that “racists” are more open in the south about their “hate” and many southerners show it openly with looks and taunts. Here in New England, their hate is more subtle and not openly expressed. You would never guess who is hateful of African Americans (or other minorities) here because they cloak it behind a smile. And the Grand Wizard of the KKK lived in Connecticut at one time, or maybe he still does? I don’t keep track of the KKK or their members. I don’t want to think about them or what they do…
I do know since I met Herb in 1999 I have learned not to let hate or their “looks” stop me from going out and enjoying myself with him, even if there are people sitting next to us who are cloaking their prejudice in judgment of us.
I refuse to let hate stop love.
Award winning journalist Trace Lara Hentz is an author of several books and blogs and is the co-editor of THE MIX along with Ojibwe academic scholar Carol A. Hand. She can be reached at email@example.com. Her other writing blogs are American Indian Adoptees and LARA. She writes prose-poetry-short story using a pen-name Laramie Harlow.
(Top Photo: Trace and Herb in a photo called THE KISS from her prose book “Becoming.”)
***UPDATE TO LAST WEEK:
Four years ago Cornell University closed down their chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Many members of the fraternity left the school altogether. They had just killed a man.George Desdunes, an aspiring doctor, was a 19-year-old sophomore from Brooklyn, New York, and the son of Haitian immigrants. His hands and feet were tied with duct tape and zip ties. Blindfolded, he was given so much alcohol that he died within a few hours of the hazing. All alone and completely unconscious, he was found dead by a college cleaning crew the following morning. His mother filed a $25 million wrongful death suit in the case.
On its own merit, the hazing death of George Desdunes is tragic, but when viewed in light of recent racism that has been exposed within the SAE fraternity, one has to wonder if George Desdunes was treated any differently because he was black. When a popular fraternity chant song has violent lines about lynching black men, everything should be on the table.
SAE members from the University of Oklahoma were recently recorded chanting:
“There will never be a n*gg*r in SAE.
There will never be a n*gg*r in SAE.
You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me
There will never be a n*gg*r in SAE.”
A month before this chant was recorded, the same chant was being reported as “the most popular” at the same fraternity at the University of Texas. Before this, the University of Oklahoma SAE “house mother” was recorded using racial slurs. Since 2000, Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapters have been cited for egregious racism at Clemson, Washington University, Oglethorpe, Baylor, Valdosta State, and more.
Racism is not just a nuisance, it’s dangerous. It devalues an entire race of people and makes their lives significantly more disposable to others—be it a white fraternity or police officers around the country.
Frat banned for exploiting female students on Facebook
A fraternity at Pennsylvania State University in the US has been suspended for allegedly running a secret, members-only Facebook group featuring photos of drug deals, hazing rituals, and semi-naked, unconscious women.
According to NBC News, a college police department filed a search warrant on 30 January after getting tipped off about the existence of two secret groups by a former member of Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho chapter.
NBC affiliate WJAC reported on Monday that the private groups were accessible to both current members and alumni – a total of about 144 people.
The affidavit of probable cause alleges that the first hidden group, titled “Covert Business Transactions”, was shut down after a female victim found a topless photo of herself posted to the group and threatened the fraternity.
About eight months later, the fraternity allegedly created a second Facebook group, called “2.0”.
The affidavit says that the former fraternity member who tipped off police was a member of the 2.0 group.
According to The Daily Collegian, the informant turned over his Facebook account to the State College Police so that they could raid the group before the fraternity shut down the account and deleted the incriminating photos.
Police downloaded and printed out about 20 photos of “nude females who appeared to be passed out … or in other sexual or embarrassing positions,” the warrant said.
Other pictures showed sales of marijuana, ADD medication and cocaine, WJAC reports.
Police got multiple warrants and searched several computers in addition to the Facebook group, but they said that 2.0 had been wiped clean by the time they conducted a search.
School spokesman L. Reidar Jensen told NBC News that the Penn State Interfraternity Council sent a cease and desist letter to the fraternity on 3 March, based on the “appalling” evidence:
The evidence offered by the Facebook postings is appalling, offensive and inconsistent with the University community's values and expectations.
Police said that Kappa Delta Rho is facing charges of invasion of privacy and harassment.
No arrests had been made as of Wednesday, but the investigation is ongoing.
State College Assistant Police Chief John Gardner is urging potential victims to get in touch:
Certainly for your own peace of mind, I would encourage anybody to come forward who was at a party and may have concerns.
At this point, we are looking for any potential victims to come forward and contact the State College Police Department to help with prosecution and so we can provide any type of victims services for anyone victimized at the fraternity.
The Daily Collegian reports that Kappa Delta Rho’s national headquarters placed the chapter on a one-year suspension after the allegations arose.
The Penn State chapter will also undergo a full membership review and reorganization.
Penn State’s Interfraternity Council had already placed the chapter on full chapter suspension pending the completion of all investigations. While it’s on suspension, the fraternity is banned from hosting or organizing any social, philanthropic or intramural sporting events.
New members are also prohibited from visiting the chapter house.
Current fraternity brothers are still allowed to live in their frat house, given that it’s a private residence not owned by the university.