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An Interview with 'Laura Parker Castoro' (Part 2)

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  • multiracialbookclub
    The following is Part 2 of the Generation-Mixed interview with author, Laura Parker Castoro. AP: As a person
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 23, 2009
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      The following is Part 2 of the Generation-Mixed 
      interview with author, Laura Parker Castoro.

       

      AP:

      As a person who is of an MGM-Mixed ancestral lineage, have you ever

      either been mistaken for or felt any pressured to "pass" yourself off

      as being a person of FGM-Mixed lineage (i.e. allow others to assume

      that your parents were actually 'partners in an interracial-marriage'

      rather than actually being `people who were of a Mixed-Race lineage')?

       

      LPC:

      Author Laura Castoro (aka Laura Parker)

      I've been mistaken for white by blacks

      and whites ever since I left home for college. 

      As a child I'm a product of the segregated south.

      My parents were very active in the Civil Rights movement.

       

      I knew who I was, went to segregated

      schools, and so I was never interested in

      `passing.' It was only after I left home

      that I realized just how `white' I looked.

       

      Have others thought I was passing?  Maybe. 

      But that was their assumption. 

       

      All my friends and even most acquaintances

      who know me as a writer have heard my story

      so my background now often precedes me. 

       

      Now that biracial couples and families have become more

      common, and people of mixed-ancestry are talking about those

       blends, people will ask me which of my parents was white.

      They often don't know what to make of

      my answer that both were black.  LOL

       

      AP:

      Can you share with us a little about these

      experiences; your reaction to them; and any advice

      that you would have for anyone else `in your shoes'?

       

      LPC:

      I don't feel the need to make sure everyone

      knows who I am every time I enter a room.

       

      Other times something comes up in casual

      conversation or something is said that allows me

      to let someone know who they are speaking to. 

       

      However, it can be even more effective to counter a

      prejudice without anyone thinking, oh well, she's black. 

      Of course she would think that.

       

      My favorite piece of advice about dealing with, really,

      any unpleasant situation came from my grandmother

      who liked to say, "Consider the source." 

       

      That means when something happens or

      is said that you don't like, stop and think:

       

      Is the person or situation important

      enough that I have to deal with it?  

      Will it really change a fool's mind, or

      just make things awkward or worse? 

      What's the purpose in that? 

       

      As long as no one is standing in my

      path, I can mind my own business. 

      I'm not everybody's mother or teacher.

       

      My grandmother compared the crazy things

      some people say and do in public to dog poop. 

       

      If it's on the street – it's not harming you – she

      said to pass on by the poop and feel no obligation

      to clean it up or deal with the offender. 

       

      In other words, I didn't have to get involved

      with every situation that came along. 

       

      That makes for your own craziness. 

       

      She did say, now, if someone dumps dog poop on

      your doorstep, you might need to deal with that. 

       

      It's been great life advice on so many levels. 

       

      And it always makes me smile to think of a problem like

      prejudice as someone's else's pooper-scooper problem.

       

       

      AP:

      Do you feel that the Mixed-Race people who are of MGM-Mixed lineage

      (i.e. born to one or two parents who are of either a known or an observed

      multi-racial -- rather than of a mono-racial -- ancestry) feel any pressure

      to downplay or to otherwise make very little note of their full-ancestry?

       

      LPC:

      My husband and I reared our three biracial children

      to love and respect all aspects of their lineage. 

       

      We told them it's human nature to want to belong. 

       

      Many people are uncomfortable with complexity. 

      They want to be one thing.  Simple. 

      No more decisions required. 

      But nothing is that simple. 

       

      The more we accept about ourselves and the

      complexity of the world the better off we are.

       

      I don't have to be like you for you and me to both be okay. 

      It takes the pressure off. 

       

      What I've found, and my grown children say they have found out the

      same thing, is that once I begin talking about myself, whoever I'm

      talking to is eager to share their own complex family relationships. 

       

      If you downplay your heritage, or part of it,

      you cut yourself off from a lot of experiences. 

       

      And that breeds shame. 

       

      No one should be ashamed of what

      they are because they were born. 

       

      That's only the starting point in any life.

       

      AP:

      Can you expand on some of the thoughts, observations,

      or any or theories that you may have concerning this matter?

       

      LPC:

      Categories based on skin color and hair texture are artificial. 

       

      These things can range widely within families, with sibs. 

       

      So then, how can one brother be `black' while the other is labeled

      `white' when they come from exactly the same gene pool? 

      They are genetically the same:

      half of their mother and half of their father. 

      The genes just expressed themselves differently. 

       

      Most of this nonsense is about belonging or not.

       

      Only the person him-herself can decide what they

      value, or what to include in their definition of self. 

       

      Who cares what anyone else thinks, especially

      someone expressing an opinion counter to your own? 

       

      As my parents would say,

      What have they done for you? 

      Did they rear you, feed you, help you in your life in any way? 

      If not, they have no right to suggest an

      opinion that should matter to you." 

       

      It feels so good to stand up for yourself,

      in a positive and polite way. 

       

      There are other people in the world who agree with you. 

       

      Be with them.

       

      AP:

      Have you ever felt obligated or pressured "to `prove' your

      loyalty" toward and / or prove (or even "justify") the pride

      that you have for your African-American (AA) Ethnic

      heritage and / or for any given part of your racial-lineage?

       

      LPC:

      I've been challenged to when I was much younger. 

       

      But that's a kindergarten trap, trying

      to prove something to someone else. 

       

      You can't `prove' you like someone, or love someone.

      Either they believe or they don't.  That's on them.  

      If you try to prove something to someone you will

      forever being asked to prove it, over and over. 

       

      That's not faith, that's not friendship, that's

      about exercising power or control over you. 

       

      And that's not good.

       

      Thank goodness today young people have so many role

      models out there that taking sides is less of an issue.   

      Today with everyone from The Rock to Prince to Alicia Keyes to the

      President ( I know you can reel off dozens more) there are so many

      reference points for multi-ethnic  persons for the public to see

      succeeding on their  own terms that it's not the issue it once was. 

      People talk more openly and freely and that's very good.

       

      THE UNIQUE RACIAL LINEAGE FOUND

      AMONG MANY OF THE MEMBERS OF

      THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN (AA) ETHNIC GROUP

       

       

      AP:

       

      Dr. Luigi Cavelli-Sforza (the director of the Human Genome

      Project and the world's foremost authority on human genetics)

      has published many very well respected works which have

      made note of the fact that `more than seventy percent (+70%)

      of the people who are born to two (2) parents who are BOTH

      of the African-American (AA) Ethnic grouping are also of an

      MGM-Mixed lineage' – and -- the research as well as the PBS

      documentaries `African-American Lives', hosted by Dr. Henry

      Louis Gates (of Harvard University ) seems to have very

      strongly backed-up and supported this claim found

      in the published research of Dr. Luigi Cavelli-Sforza.

       

      Many people (most of whom are not of the AA Ethnic

      grouping) however, still tend to find it to be rather

      surprising to discover that there is such a large

      number of people within this particular Ethnic

      group who have a racially-admixed lineage.

       

      Based on your knowledge and observation of the AA

      Ethnic grouping --- are you surprised by any of the

      results of the research by Dr. Cavelli-Sforza, by

      Dr. Gates and by many others–why or why not?

       

      LPC:

      Not surprised at all. 

       

      Black people have a long long history in America . 

      Some were here before slavery. 

      There were sea captains from the Canary

      Islands off Africa and other sailors from

      many nations to docked on our shores.

      We came as whalers and all kinds of workers,

      trappers and so forth, not just slaves. 

      Many slaves escaped and went north and west. 

       

      After more than four hundred years of being in

      America, I'm certain we are part of every kind of

      ethnic group who was here, and came after us. 

       

      It wasn't only master/slave relationships

      that made for interracial alliances. 

       

      Left alone, people do what comes naturally. LOL

       

      My family has a long oral history, and we've done some

      genealogy recently, to prove its many-branched lineage. 

      We are African-American, French, Spanish,

      Irish, English, and Native American. 

       

      Most of these ethnic blends repeat through

      all four of my grandparents lines. 

       

      Who else?  We aren't sure, yet. 

      Many black people I've talked to about this know

      their families have more than African ancestry.  

      If you live in the south, we tend to know more.   

      Now my children can add

      Italian and Sicilian to that lineage.

       

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvUiWmBX2rE&feature=channel_page

       

      AP:

      Can you provide us with any advice that you would have for

      people who are of a Mixed-Race lineage (particularly those

      who are of an MGM-Mixed lineage and / or also share in your

      African-American (AA) ethnic heritage as well) and want to develop

      pride in and fully embrace ALL parts of their full-ancestry

       

      LPC:

      Learn all you can about your family histories. 

      Knowledge is power.

       

       

      BACK TO WORKS AND CAREER

       

      AP:

       

      Your novel Love on the Line focuses on the life experiences of a

      very light-complexioned woman who is of the African-American (AA)

      Ethnic grouping; is of MGM-Mixed racial-lineage; was also a spouse in an

      interracial-marriage and is the parent of a white-complexioned child whose

      lineage is, thus, that of being an "FGM-of-MGM-descent" person.

       

      Is the subject matter of your novels (ex. Love on the Line)

      written from the perspectives of personal experience or

      observations and / or of some other source of inspiration

       

      LPC:

      I think my upbringing and appearance give me a unique

      perspective on the subject of identity, how it is defined, and

      even how it is often mistaken as a matter of importance

      in situations that really have nothing to do with race. 

       

      In LOVE ON THE LINE, I wanted to portray a dramatic, but not soap

      opera drama, story of a light-skinned African-American mother

      and her biracial daughter dealing with issues I know well. 

       

      I am a light-skin, fair-haired, green-eyed African-American. 

      I've reared, with my husband, a daughter

      and two sons of biracial heritage.

       

      In a very real way, you could say I have lived my heroine's

      life, though not shared all of her particular problems. 

       

       

      It was very important to me that the characters don't hate

      themselves, or that someone in the story is a `bad' guy.

      These things are easy. 

       

      How to make a marriage work,

      that's what I wanted to write about.

       

       

      New releaseLOVE ON THE LINE is a companion to a

      book CROSSING THE LINE (2002) that

      specifically dealt with issues of racial identity. 

       

      LOVE ON THE LINE takes the story further. 

       

      It continues the story of Thea Morgan

      — business exec, widow and single mom,

      woman in love — and her fiancé charismatic

      African-American Xavier Thornton wealthy

      former football star, man of the cloth,

      returning missionary  AND their

      families,  associates and challengers.

       

      But wait, there's more. 

       

      Thea's biracial daughter Jesse is leaving for

      college Simmons in upper New York State .

       

      Her white father's parents, of THE Philadelphia

      Morgans, not only support the college, there's

      a building with their name on it on campus.

      Jesse's trying to hide that legacy, the

      fact that she's a virgin, and that she's

      biracial in order to reinvent herself.  

       

      She wants to be liked and loved

      just for herself, not because of the

      many labels that have been attached to her. 

       

      What she learns is: no baggage doesn't equal no problems!

       

      Through it all, Thea tries to keep

      the mother-daughter ties strong at

      the same time she and Xavier start a

      new life together and her career heats up.

       

       

      That would seem to be enough for

      any marriage but there's more:

       

      Though Thea and Xavier have a same-race marriage it

      does not appear that way to Xavier's new parishioners,

      who have many eyebrows to rise concerning his "white",

      citified, businesswoman wife and her outsider ways.

       

      They say "love conquers all" but it

      certainly has its hands full in this story!

       

       

      AP:

       

      Can you share with us – some of viewpoints and observations that

      you have concluded about life ---- from the perspective of being a

      person who is in an interracial marriage; is of an MGM-Mixed

      lineage; and is of the African-American (AA) Ethnic grouping?

       

      LPC:

      I believe that for each situation, the choices can be different

      and that`s okay, as long as the issue is not ignored or denied.

       

      YOUR PERSONAL VIEWS

       

      AP:

      What do you feel is the foundation of love and do you think any of it

      ties into respect, equality, commitment, unity or some other matter?

       

      LPC:

      I believe that love, mature love, must be based on the desire to put

      the other person first, believing that they will put you first, too. 

       

      That doesn't mean buying anything

      you want, or just doing what you want. 

      That's being selfish. 

       

      I mean wanting the person you love to

      be happy, and trying to help that happen. 

       

      Sharing the good and the bad. 

      Sometimes a person just needs a shoulder to lean on. 

      The other person doesn't have to fix the problem. 

      Adults know that.  That's why adults should marry. 

       

      And – very important -- marriage

      is a business partnership

       

      My mother told me that marriage is two people setting up a

      family business with assets, responsibilities, bills, and a future. 

       

      You need to be certain you agree or are

      working to agree on the major things in life:

      work ethic, having children, rearing children,

      money (earning and spending) and plan for

      what you want to have in the future: a home, etc. 

       

      Love isn't enough to make a marriage but I believe

      you should be in love for marriage to work.

       

      Last but not least, it's a spiritual journey. 

      God should be in the blessing of the union.

       

      AP:

      Thank you so much for your consideration in taking

      time out of your extremely busy schedule to chat

      with our fellow community members, Laura.

       

      It has been such a pleasure speaking with your and your sharing

      of your thoughts on these important subject matters are and

      have been so very appreciated by both myself and all

      the members of the Generation-Mixed community.

       

      NOTE:

       

      To read more about the person, the works and the world

      views of our fellow Generation-Mixed community

      member – prolific author, Laura Parker-Castoro –

      feel free to visit any of the following web sites.

       

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