Hi! My name is Sarah Ratliff and I founded Multiracial Media with a man named Alex Barnett. We began the site in March 2016. Starting today we are launching a new feature on Multiracial Media called the Multiracial Media Profiles. Quick Q&As about people in the Multiracial Community. I’ll start but below will be a link to a form so you can fill it out and others can learn more about you.
The Multiracial Media Profiles is open to all within the Multiracial Community: Meaning a Biracial / Multiracial / Mixed Race person and/or parents / guardians of Multiracial kids.
So below is me: Sarah Ratliff in a Multiracial Nutshell.
Please tell us your name: Sarah Ratliff
Please tell us your age (if you’d like): I am 50.
Where do you live? (City, State, Country): I live in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Utuado is in the interior of the island about 2.5 hours from the capital city of San Juan. I was born in the Netherlands (Holland), have lived in Nigeria, France and four U.S. states and the capital of Washington, D.C. I grew up in New York City.
And Now for the Really Personal Information About Sarah Ratliff
Did you grow up in a Multiracial family? If so, please tell us about that. I did. Both my parents are deceased now, but my mother was Black and Japanese and my father was German, Dutch and Irish. I recently did my DNA test and learned I have 15 ethnicities. They are: Benin/Togo, Nigerian, Cameroon/the Congolese, Mandinka (from Mali), Bantu/South African and that I also have English, French, Greek, Italian, Iberian and Finish in me. (Some are obviously greater percentages than others.)
I have two brothers. One is a dark caramel complexion who can easily (and did) grow out an afro and the other is a shade or two darker than I am with long slightly wavy hair. I don’t have any recent photos of us but this from when my oldest was 14, my middle was 13 and I was 10—before my hair went boing!
If you’re in a Multiracial family or relationship currently, please tell us about that (and if that differs from the family setting in which you grew up, please do tell us about those differences). It depends on your perspective. I am married to a monoracial person (meaning that he is one race). My husband is African American. He grew up with two Black parents but like most Black people in the United States, he is actually Multiracial, due to miscegenation because slaves were routinely raped by their slave owners. This is evident in his medium brown complexion. I consider us to be in a Multiracial relationship. Others may not agree.
Have you ever experienced racism directed at you or a family member (or relationship partner)? If you’re comfortable doing so, please tell us about that. Rarely have I / do I presently experience(d) racism directed at me. I am very light complected and in the U.S. I moved through the world as either a White or a Hispanic woman (this is what most people assume I am). My oldest brother has experienced racism directed him. My parents received some horrific racism directed at them. They were married in 1960 before it was legal throughout the United States for them to be married. My father received a lot of negative comments from former co-workers and friends. However, the worst racism they received was from his own father, who disowned my father for marrying my mother. I never met his parents.
My husband has been on the receiving end of racism too many times to count.
Since we’ve been living in Puerto Rico, it’s dramatically reduced. We both look Puerto Rican and so people assume that’s what we are. Depending on where we are on the island, reactions to my husband can range from curious to somewhat hostile. When I say depending, it’s dependent upon whether there is a light, medium or heavy concentration of dark complected / Black Puerto Ricans or not. The interior of the island, in particular the mountain region where we live, doesn’t have too many Black people. The coastal areas have many more because that’s where slaves were mostly lived.
In your job/career, do you work on issues relating to the Multiracial community or the Multiracial experience? If so, please tell us about that. If you have samples of such work that you’d like to share (jpegs, links to video or music, etc.), please do send along. I am an activist and a writer and most of my writing is advocacy related. I co-authored a book called Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide.
Good, bad, ugly and illuminating—everyone has an opinion on race. As Biracial people continue trending, the discussion is no longer about a singular topic, but is more like playing a game of multi-level chess. The anthology, Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide, cites the experiences of twenty-four mixed-race authors and parents of multiracial children of all ages and backgrounds, from all over the world. It blends positivity, negativity, humor, pathos and realism in an enlightening exploration of what it means to be more than one ethnicity.
My co-author is White and she’s married to a Black man. Together they are raising three Biracial children in England. Being Biracial, as we affectionately call it, is on sale exclusively through Amazon in the U.S. and in the UK it is on Amazon and in Waterstone’s.
My writing can be seen on my personal website. I am also one of the two founders and publishers of Multiracial Media.
What do you think are the biggest misapprehensions or misunderstandings that people have about Multiracial people and/or Multiracial families/relationships? How much time do you have? Sarcasm aside, I’ll make a list.
- That we (Multiracial / Biracial people) are stuck up and think we’re better than people who are one race. Get to know us; we don’t bite and there are jerks as well as nice people among us.
- That Multiracial / Biracial people are healthier and/or more beautiful. People, we’re not dogs. Our parents weren’t / aren’t breeders who looked for the best traits in each other so they could make a master race of genetically superior kids. Shocking though it may seem, our parents—like yours—fell in love and wanted to make a family.
- That our parents didn’t think about the implications of having Biracial / Multiracial children. Quite the contrary, they spent long hours talking ad nauseam about it. They stayed up late and worried how society, their families, the cops, the schools, the neighbors, their coworkers, etc. would react to their kids. Parents of Multiracial and Biracial kids are continually shocked when people treat their kids like they’re normal. That we know we’re all normal isn’t the issue.
- That our musical taste, interest in art and other forms of culture, sense of style, the way we talk, etc. are tied to being Multiracial. I don’t love rock, disco, funk, hip hop, jazz, salsa, classical, reggae, etc. because I am three races and 15 ethnicities. I like those genres because I have eclectic taste. And guess what? I know monoracial people whose musical tastes are similar to mine. I know people of all races who dress the way they want to dress not because they’re Biracial but because it’s what appeals to them. I know … shocking!
- That I don’t wear makeup because I think because I am Multiracial I am prettier than monoracial people. I don’t wear makeup because I feel it’s artificial and I want people knowing what I look like.
- That we like complete strangers touching our hair or asking questions about. People, please! Again, we’re not dogs, dolls or some science experiment.
- That we’re exotic. Lord, if I hear one more person call me exotic, I might actually scream. We’re not dolls. We’re people, just like you. Please stop fetishizing us!
- That we only have Multiracial friends. I have friends from all over the world—most of them are one race.
- That we have or don’t have a “type.” I have dated men from various monoethnic groups as well as a few Multiracial men. I am interested in someone for what’s going on in their brains and hearts, and they may or may not correspond to his race / ethnicity. I have known Multiracial people only date… Like you, we’re all different and you can’t shove us in a box.
- That our parents had children with each other to be different or unique. Going back to the second bullet, my parents were actually pretty reluctant to get involved with each other. They met over the phone and my father had no idea my mother was a woman of color. They broke up over it several times. They were together during the Civil Rights Movement and at a time when it was illegal for them to marry in many states. They really didn’t want to bring any personal, societal or legal trouble on themselves.
There are many others, but I think those could be the highlights.
Do you have a favorite Multiracial celebrity or celebrity Multiracial family/couple? If so, why?
I have a several celebrity crushes and some of them are from “back in the day.”
- Ed Norton (he’s White, I think of Irish descent)
- Nicholas Turturro (he’s Italian)
- Henry Simmons (he’s Black)
- Daniel Sunjata (he’s Biracial)
- Erik Palladino (I think he’s Italian)
- Esai Morales (he’s Puerto Rican)
- Jimmy Smits (he’s Surinamese and Puerto Rican)
- Michael DeLorenzo (he’s half Puerto Rican and half Italian)
- Malik Yoba (he’s Black)
- Eriq La Salle (he’s Black)
- Mark Consuelos (he’s half Italian and half Mexican)
- Wentworth Miller (he’s both Biracial and gay, but I think he’s fine)
- LL Cool J (he’s Black)
I am not noticing a pattern here. 🙂
That’s me: Sarah Ratliff in a Multiracial nutshell.
To Reach Sarah Ratliff on the ‘Net
Sarah Ratliff’s personal website
Sarah Ratliff’s content marketing agency website
Sarah Ratliff’s co-authored book, Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide
Sarah Ratliff’s eco-organic farm website in English
Sarah Ratliff’s eco-organic farm website in Spanish
Sarah Ratliff on Facebook
Sarah Ratliff on Twitter
Here’s the link if you’d like to create your own profile for us: Multiracial Media Profile.