Please tell us your name: Zjien Relician
Please tell us your age (if you’d like): I am 32
Where do you live? (City, State, Country): Sydney, NSW Australia
Did you grow up in a Multiracial family? If so, please tell us about that. I was born in Dallas, Texas, to a southern Christian family. My family was predominantly Black, (though we are now discovering just how synonymous that word seems to be with multiracial/multi-ethnic).
There was always talk about our Cherokee great grandmother (who died far before I entered the world); but I dismissed it as a form of self loathing at an early age. In certain subcultures within the Black community, we try to distance ourselves from “African”, or “Black” as much as humanly possible. No one likes to articulate this truth, but it does exist, (remnants of the decadent fire known as colonialism, and colonisation).
I did find out later in life, however, that my dismissal was completely off base.
Despite the psychological ethnic limbo which reared it’s head ever so often, (fictitious or otherwise), my four brothers, two sisters, and I, (being the youngest) were raised Black, and all that it entails.
Culturally, everyday was damn near like Christmas. With Earth Wind and Fire, Donnie Hathaway, The Spinners, Curtis Mayfield, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Merry Clayton, Mavis Staples, Canton Spirituals, Aretha Franklin, Shirley Caeser, Mighty Clouds of Joy, and many more as the musical backdrop to my rearing, even during the hard times, music and culture got us through…and there were many hard times.
We grew up in West Dallas, an urban warzone where bullets would fly into the kitchen, while we attempted to have some semblance of normalcy during dinner. It was hell, but much better than the boonies of grayson county, (my birthplace), where my mother had to fend off rats the size of cats, trying to eat my youngest sister and I. A few years in this warzone, and we uprooted, and moved to Oak cliff Dallas, still a turbulent place, but much more civil than West Dallas.
As we settled into this neighbourhood, we saw how diverse in characters this all-Black community seemed: from Muslims, Militants, and Ministers, to pimps, prostitutes, paedophiles, all overlapping one another. There was no shortage of unique and bizarre characters.
Despite the drug addicts, drug dealers, killers, and other…we grew up in a real village mentality sort of place; a place where any mother or father could verbally chastise a child. We looked out for one another, and kept each other in check.
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). I am married to a South American, Uruguayan woman, now living in Australia.
There are a great deal of parallels between our respective cultures, especially due to Uruguayan culture being highly influenced by West African culture, via slave trade.
Not only in music, and worship, but also in every day living, we share parallels of the best parts of life.
The political radicalisation of many Uruguayans aged 43 and over, is quite paralleled with the the emergence of militancy amongst the Black community, arguably in nature for the very same reasons.
The only difference is exposure. My wife is a Latin woman, and was born into a world far removed from the racial dynamics like that in the U.S. For this very reason, she may not understand in full some of the frustrations I, or members of my ethnicity/race may express. Subtleties in some of her favourite songs, written by Black artists, are lost on her, until the reality and relevance of the plight is explained to her. By no means is she an knowledgeable woman. But what lay outside of our personal realities are understandably things to which we may not be privy. Like many other educated, world citizens, she has taken it upon her self to learn of the culture, and the plight; but lacks the knowledge of just how deep the well goes.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned from her is to move beyond anger, and turn mistakes and missteps into teachable moments. Sometimes a phrase or a greeting rife with micro aggressive racism and alienation may just be done from a place of ignorance, and a misguided attempt to connect. People respond more to explanations, rather than accusations, and shame.
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.
When I first came to this country, my wife and I would always get funny looks during every outing: from the local Iranian butcher, to the Chilean shop owner; and from the Italian banker, to the Anglo-Australian console operator at the petrol station. Let it be known, my wife has a very racially/ethnically ambiguous look. Given the light, or the angle, she may look anything from Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, straight up White, and even eastern European. So all who look at us, believe her to be one of theirs, and a traitor to said Ethnicity.
I even caught a few looks from my own people, particularly Black women. And I had one Sista contact me, to discuss why I had chosen a White woman to wed, as opposed to the many beautiful Sistas surrounding me…to which my reply was, LOVE.
Beyond that, many people here, (young and old), try to bridge the gap through misguided ways. Some think appealing to stereotypes will win me over, whilst others think making crude jokes about my complexion or race, will show me that they are okay with me being what I am.
Some, will even walk up to me and play the “guessing game”; a game comprised of invasive and presumptive questions to do with your origin. A reply of the nation in which you were raised, is not a suitable answer. But if the question is turned on them, in the same probing manner, they give you the country in which they were raised, and too often than not, can go no further than that. It’s a fantastic game, (said with all due sarcasm, and exhaustion).
That is just two of many occurrences.
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 in the fields below. Unfortunately not.
What do you think are the biggest misapprehensions or misunderstandings that people have about Multiracial people and/or Multiracial families/relationships? That due to their Ethnic make-up, they are somehow suspended in cultural limbo. not knowing where they stand with others of their respective cultures, race, and ethnicity…
Or that identifying more with one ethnicity/race rather than the other(s), somehow makes them self loathing.
Though this may be the case for some, it is not always how things are. We navigate our way through life with the hand full of horrible experiences being the most noticeable, and flamboyant; so flamboyant and noticeable in fact, that we completely ignore the thousands of positive affirmations, welcoming embraces, and extended arms gifted us during our travels.
We have ALL been there in some way or another….
at least in my experiences, that is.
Do you have a favorite Multiracial celebrity or celebrity Multiracial family/couple? If so, why? None that I can think of at present. I’m more of an obscure music, and philosophy kind of guy.
Zjien Relecian personal website http://www.zjienrelician.com/
Links to Your Work (Youtube, Soundcloud etc):
Zjien Relician on Soundcloud
Zjien Relician on Multiracial Media
Zjien Relician (author page) on Facebook
Zjien Relician personal Facebook page
Here’s the link if you’d like to create your own profile for us: Multiracial Media Profile.