"I remember when I was a little kid, my father took me out for a hike in the country and we were looking for a hawk that we thought had landed in a line of cottonwood trees . . . and he said, 'Now, Billy, look carefully, in these trees--you may be able to see the hawk better than I can.' For me, this is just a little emblem in my life . . . because I remember the jolt I felt: could I see the hawk before my father would? And his tone of voice just said, 'Maybe you can, maybe you can't . . . give it a try.'" --William Stafford, poet
Yesterday we hosted a welcome barbecue for my Danish relatives who are visiting for a couple of weeks. At some point I turned to my Danish cousin and had a quick conversation with her in Danish while a friend looked on. "You really do speak Danish!" she blurted out. "It's not just the little songs and things. I mean I knew you spoke Danish but it's so different to see it in action." I thought her phrasing was so funny: she was "seeing" the language--and seeing my Danish-ness. I think language has been one of the touchstones of my difference as a biracial and bicultural person. As soon as I speak Danish, my bicultural identity becomes more visible. We're talking about this on our show, Mixed Chicks Chat this week. I'd love to hear what other folks think.
I do believe that Carly considers herself to be multiracial and that is perfectly fine too. Who knows what her grandmother endured, marrying a Jewish man? I would really like to find out more information on her grandparents (the Heinemanns). Anyway, researching families, I found some more info on Carly's Mom. I included some pics with links. They have obviously lived well as whites and maybe suffered some of what traditionally Jewish people have faced. But, because Richard L. Simon was very wealthy, they may not have faced overt racism. Maybe you can interview Carly or any of her siblings Joanna who is the girlfriend of Walter Cronkite, or musician composer Lucy, or their brother famous photographer Peter.
Carly made a song about her parents' romance in a video dedicated to them. Andrea Louise Heinemann is unmistakeably biracial and was very beautiful. They siblings definitely took after their mother. Peter has the hairline of his father, but his looks are from their mother. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VfGo6MZEiw The song "Hello Big Man" was what they said to each other and it was probably love at first sight. As she was a telephone operator in Simon's company (that probably caused more scandal than the race thing and she probably had mega white women mad at her). Anyway, he said to her: "Hello Little Woman" and she said: "Hello Big Man" how romantic!
Carly Simon: It's pretty interesting. It didn't matter as much because I'm a singer, not an actress, but my face is more acceptable in a way now than when I first came on the scene, because I'm part black. My mother's mother was black. I'm Jewish, black, Cuban, and French. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1285/is_6_34/ai_n6095018/pg_3
Because I grew up culturally Danish only at home--I never attended school there, or lived there beyond vacations and summers--I am now not quite sure what counts as "Danish" or what counts as my own family's dysfunction, er I mean, tradition. This must hold true for many families, blended or not. So here's my list of five customs or traditions I think are "Danish" but could just be quirks of my own family:
1. You must greet visitors at the airport waving Danish flags (if they are Danish, that is).
2. You must display the flag (could be in the form of a toothpick display on the cake) at birthday celebrations.
3. You must write songs to Danish folk tunes about the honored guest for round (30, 40, 50, etc.) birthdays. (There's a funny story about that concerning my cousin's 40th birthday last week.)
4. A copy of said songs from Number 3 above must be given to the honored birthday guest in a special song holder (inventiveness is operative!) and handed out to each birthday party guest so that everyone can sing along.
5. A Danish saying: If you sing at the table, you will have brown babies. (Note: This rule does not apply to round birthday celebrations which require singing at the table.)
A messy to-do list is probably the sign of a messy mind. The list below is not a recent one, but as you can see it's just a fright. The Festival draws closer; the Danish cousins arrive tomorrow (hooray); short stories must be submitted before the literary journals close their reading periods in the next few weeks. The list grows ever longer. Still, I'd have to say I'm happy these days--though a little bit tired.