Episode 1: Ruth Hallows

Mixed Identity’s first guest is my sister, Ruth Hallows – K’sm Lxskulgan, Women of the Cedar Mat. Ruth is a white-passing Tsimshian woman, with 4 amazing children and who is working hard on completing her degree. She has a passion for nutrition and how food can make us better and happier people. Join us as we discuss how we have juggled our own perceptions of self and the identities given to us by society.

Mentions:

Daniel Tiger

If you do not have a toddler, or recently had one, you probably do not know Daniel Tiger – or at least his reincarnation on PBS Kids, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. But they name might be familiar to those who grew up with Mr. Rogers. Daniel Tiger is based on the puppet in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He like Mr. Roger’s helps kids learn to process their emotions. To be truthful, Daniel has helped me to learn to process my emotions better. Ruth and I talk about song “Having Mixed Feelings”.

Peloton Bike

Peloton Bike
Peloton Bike – My Health Plan

Some people call it a cult. I call it, the amazing product/service that gets me to exercise on a regular basis. Some days I can dedicate two hours to myself; 45 minute bike ride (with great music), 10 minute cool down ride, 5 minute stretch and 5 minutes of meditation, followed by a shower. Other days I can only squeeze in a 15 minute ride and quick shower. But I can make time almost every day of the week! It also has a community and digital aspect that helps to keep you engaged; getting/giving high-fives from other riders in the on demand classes, getting shout-outs from instructors during live rides, monthly challenges, achievements for days or weeks in a row. All of these things make me want to get on that bike. I am at a 10 week stretch! I am almost to 75 rides!

It is an investment but at my age my health and my children are my top two investments. Plus, I figured my partner and I were paying for gym memberships. After 1 year of no gym memberships is equivalent to the price of the bike. The monthly membership fee is half the cost of one gym membership. We now exercise 4-7 times a week, with the gym memberships we were lucky to get there once a week.

PS I do not make a commission on this post. I truly dig this bike. BUT if you want to buy one mention my name and rider name #skookumjam and I will get some $$ for the overpriced peloton gear!

The Beginning of Mixed Identity

The impetus for Mixed Identity was my family – I have 3 brothers and a sister; we all identify differently. We all have the same parents.

MY FAMILY

A dad who is mostly Irish, with little knowledge to the cultures and experiences that created his people.  He has spent much of his adult life looking for this through genealogy. A few Christmas’ ago I purchased him a DNA test – he was nervous to open the email when it came. I do not think he has found what he desires, a belonging. He too has research my mother’s genealogy. He loves finding family. When I married my partner he started looking into their history as well.

His mother came from beaver trappers in Canada. They were definitely not French Candian – made the mistake of asking my grandmother this once. Definitely not French.

His father was adopted in Kansas City, Missouri. His adopted mother passed away when he was young. He was raised by an adoptive uncle in a boarding house until he was 13 when he took off on his own.  

A mom who is Tsimpshian and Iowa Farmer stock.

Her identity is strongly tied to her Tsimpshian side, my grandmother. Tsimpshian culture is matriartical and so too was my family. Tsimpshian identity – as well as our family’s religious identity – dominated our lives. We only visited the reservation – a small island in Southeast Alaska, accessible only by Puddle Jumper or Ferry – once when I was a child. It was very expensive and more so for such a large family. But our Tsimpshain family came to us often. Through my mom’s mother and sisters but also many more aunties and cousins; who in western culture would be once or twice removed but as a Tsimpshian they were just my aunties and cousins. My mother taught us the stories and even some S’malyak (the Tsimpshian language).  She made sure we knew who we were, where we came from.

Most of growing up I did not now or meet much of my maternal grandfather’s side of the family. The first time I met any of them, except my mother’s half-brother, was when I was almost 30 and just graduating from my masters’ program. But what I did know growing up is that we could trace this family back to Lord Horatio Nelson – they guy who kicked Napoleon’s ass at Waterloo.

This childhood informed our identities. But then my brothers, sister and I went out into the world. The world used our appearance to define us. This too has a large affect on how we identify. Our identities are fluid too. This fascinated me. Why did we identify so differently? What where the causes? What were our experiences? Stories of mixed-race people are compelling and each and every one is different.

OTHER MIXED FOLKS

My interest in mixed-race stories increase the more I met.

I can count the number of mixed-race friends from childhood on one hand.

Amy – The world identified her as black. Her mother is white, father black. They belonged to the same religion as us. We lived in similar socio-economic standards.

Her identity changed, depending on who she was with; when we were together she was punk rock, when she was with her school friends she was more ghetto mouse. I looked down on her at the young age of 13-16 when we were friends; I thought this was fake, that she didn’t know herself. As I have grown I have seen that identity is fluid, beyond race to socio-economics, gender, sexuality, you name it if it is part of your identity it can fluid. I can see now both Amy and I were pushing up against out religious identities, as well as our racial identity. I too switched depending on who I was around.

We never discussed race. It wasn’t what you did in the 90s.

Erica – her mother is Scottish and Japanese, her father a White supremacist Puerto Rican. She came from money. We were friends in high school and then most of my adult life. I don’t remember our identities as mixed race people playing a big role until we had been adults living outside of Southern California for awhile. Growing up in Southern California, we were just two more brown girls on the spectrum of brown. Outside of So Cal – we were racially ambiguous. Depending on where we lived we went from white-passing to exotic. We would spend hours and hours discussing our mixed identities. I am blown away at how we identified changed through out our lives. She went from identifying as white/Asian to embracing her Hispanic identity. Even as an adult, this felt at first as fake. It took me some time to accept that her father had taken this part of her identity away from her, like so many people in the past and currently, assimilation was a the quickest and safest way to achieve success in our western culture.

Her story and stories like hers has pushed me to creating this podcast.

Mat, Tim, Samira, Janice, David, Sandra, Nick, Diane, Rob, Mike, Emma, Noah, Jenny, and more –

 I have met more and more mixed peeps, along the way; each with their own story, their own way of identifying, their own way of making it in this world where everyone wants you to choose a box.