Category Archives: bi-racial couples

Native American View on “Two-Spirits”

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An article by Cecelia LaPointe, who refers to “Two-Spirit”

which addresses and rekindles awareness of Native Gender

identity, was in the Ohio “Outlook” magazine. This was my

resource which I used finding great Christmas music lists

and an article about Bette Midler in December.

 

In November, Cecelia came to OSU campus to host a poetry

workshop and speak on racial identity and the “Two-Spirit”

existence. Ms. LaPointe has also visited Columbus during

both Native American Heritage Month and Trans-gender

Awareness Week. (Two opportunities I missed last year to

feature in my monthly calendar.)

 

Indigenous communities of Native Americans use the “Two-

Spirit” label to denote gender variations within their people.

In the world, they consider Europe and American cultures

“binary” genders. “Two-Spirits” become a third or even fourth

gender among native societies.

 

“Two-Spirits” are denoted or designated from birth, through

a ritual. This belief of a person embodying masculine and

feminine spirits, two ‘identities inhabiting a single body’ is

not considered ‘weird,’ ‘strange’ or ‘inappropriate.’ Instead

the Native Americans ’embrace’ the different way of life.

 

Two things mentioned in this essay about Cecelia and her

tribe’s belief in what sets these particular people known as

“Two-Spirits” apart:

1.) They dress and change their choice of who they are from

day to day. They are not all ‘one way’ in their feminine or

masculine clothing.

2.) They may choose to carry out tasks or labor, not dependent

on their outward appearance. Gender roles are not delineated

or dictated in the “Two-Spirit” existence.

For example: A person could go out on a hunt or go to war, but

at other times may dress in women’s clothing and carry out

domestic chores. Women could become  ‘warriors’ or chiefs

over their native tribes.

 

Interestingly, according to Ms. LaPointe,  “Two-Spirits” were

not only tolerated, but they were ‘revered.’  For instance, they

were well respected and considered, ‘powerful.’ They often were

given special roles such as healers, mediators and counselors.

 

There are instances where bigotry of “Two-Spirits” has been

carried out. When historians bring up the arguments of their

contributions and respected positions it is to counterbalance

those who say Native Americans are “transphobic.”

 

Sometimes, Natives would bring up “tradition” as a reason to

exclude people who chose to carry out their ‘birthright’ as

“Two-Spirit” people.  They would be acting close-minded to

the long history of the revered members of their tribes.

Ancestors of Native Americans were not against “Two-Spirit”

people, elders were often of this delineation.

 

Ms. LaPointe brings up Spanish missionaries as those who

planted the ‘bad seeds’ which germinated prejudice against

“Two-Spirited” people. “They (Two-Spirit) were essentially

the first victim in the campaign of colonial violence against

the native population of the Americas.”

 

Ms. LaPointe considers herself of  ‘mixed descent’ and feels

she is part of “both cultures, both worlds.” She grew up in a

Detroit suburb and lives in the northern town of Manistee.

She travels to her reservation in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula)

regularly. She is a descendant of the Anishinaabekwe Tribe,

native of the Great Lakes region.

 

Cecelia LaPointe says her reservation is very small yet it is her

“home.” This is where she goes to be with family members. Some

of her own family members hold leadership positions within her

tribe. It is part of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Being

located far from the city means it is a positive place for her to

retreat. It is also good since. . .

‘There is less influence from the dominant culture there.’

 

Ms. LaPointe reaches out to others, through her writing

and public speaking. By going to college campuses, she

can share her poetry and also, her viewpoint where the

students may be encouraged to be ‘themselves.’ She hopes

to reverse the history of discrimination against both the

Native Americans and also, those who are filled with what

they call, “Two-Spirit.”

 

There was a wonderful piece of artwork that accompanied

this article in “Outlook,” November issue. It has the artist,

George Catlin’s (1796-1872) painting called, “Dance to the

Berdache.” This was drawn while the Sac and Fox people

of the Great Plains were engaging in a ceremonial dance to

celebrate the “Two-Spirit” person.

 

Here is a part of a poem that talks of her emotions,

“Poem: Ajijaak Dodem Anokil

It is so precious,

Those tears on my hands,

Covering my face,

This grieving is beautiful,

You see we had felt those knives turned inward

On ourselves,

On our family. . .”

 

You may wish to check out Cecelia Rose LaPointe’s poetry

or speaking schedule and other special events at:

http://www.anishinaabekwe.com

 

My youngest daughter and I recently saw, “The Imitation Game,”

which depicts an underlying sadness within the main character.

It is a true story about Alan Turing, a genius. He was the inventor

of a de-coding machine that ‘beat’ Germany’s war coding machine,

“The Enigma.” This British machine helped the Allies win World

War II against the Germans.

 

Apparently, Alan Turing was a man who faced accusations and

there were parts of the film which eluded to his sexual preferences.

This movie brought up the problems that people historically have

faced (and are still overcoming).  The end of the movie has details

about large numbers, unfortunately, of people who were thrown in

British prisons, due to their homosexuality.

 

The actor is one I enjoy as “Sherlock” on PBS and also, has been

in the “Dr. Who” British television series. His name is Benedict

Cumberbatch. You can see him in more than one 2013 Academy

Award nominated movie, since he played in “12 Years a Slave”

and “August: Osage County.”

 

The woman who befriends him and who is very talented in

decoding and helping with the Turing Machine, is played by the

wonderful actress, Keira Knightley. My favorite role she has

played was in, “Pride and Prejudice,” but there are many more

films to see her in.

 

After the movie, when I talked with my youngest daughter who had

cried (as I did, too) during some of the tender and intense parts of the

film, we both agreed upon deep emotions we have in common.

We also share values my parents and siblings embrace.

It is hard to understand why anyone would be so offended by

someone’s personal choices.

 

Sadly, the United States has had many different areas where

numbers of people who chose to be ‘different’ from what some

may perceive as ‘normal’ or ‘mainstream.’ Obviously, numerous

people are still either bullied or face judges in court rooms.

 

Persecutions in the United States have been appalling and we

talked about our abhorrence of this.

 

No country is totally ‘innocent’ of negative practices of prejudice

and persecution. “Racial profiling” has been a problem within our

extended family.  (My oldest daughter’s father of little Micah is

bi-racial. Mainly, since 9/11/2001, he has had taunts and threats

due to his outward appearance. In his younger years, he says at

least in Delaware, Ohio, he found people wanting to be his friend

throughout his schooling and working years.)

 

The numbers of those imprisoned, at the end of the movie, were

such that we just shook our head and looked at each other through

teary eyes, in disbelief. Felicia asked me, “How can anyone feel

they have the right to judge someone else?”

 

This article about Native Americans and “Two Spirit” individuals

was saved in my WordPress drafts.  It helped me to feel that there

is a positive force to include gays and lesbians within the Native

tribes. Their ‘explanation’ or interesting philosophy towards people

who choose to follow two different genders created new thoughts

in my mind. Mother Nature has some unique qualities which I

embrace, sometimes intuitively.

 

Of course, I have mentioned before. . . I have hope for our future

in the possibility that all peoples can accept and embrace our

differences.

 

Written in Memoriam of Alan Turing, scientist, original computer

inventor and mathematician who committed suicide at age 41, a

few weeks before his 42nd birthday in  June, 1954.

Queen Elizabeth II gave Alan Turing a post-humous “pardon” in

2013 for his criminal charges and offenses.

 

Musical Legend: Mavis Staples

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Wishing an early “Happy Birthday to Mavis Staples!” Her birthday will be

July 10, 1939. Wow! In her 75th year of singing a rich and still fresh

combination of blues, soul, folksong anthems, and Gospel music, she

just put out another album in 2013!

Way to go, Mavis Staples!

Mavis’ newest album is titled, “One True Vine.” I learned more about

her personal journey through her life and also, a definite proposal

and romance I had no idea existed! You may not guess which famous

singer asked her “Pop’s” for permission to have her hand in marriage!

Mavis’ “Pop” put together the family singing act called, “The Staple

Singers” long ago, while she was at the tender, young age of 8 years

old! While the Peace Movement and Civil Rights Movement were the

ones who ‘took her there,’ the popular song, “I’ll Take You There,” was

what got the group on the top of music charts!

Listening to the lyrics, knowing it was originally a gospel song that

was intended for the listener to believe in going to a place called

“Heaven,” makes it even more spiritual and inspiring.

During the sixties, being on stage with Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King,

Jr. made her inspired and gave her so much encouragement for the

world. Her life was spent traveling around to big cities, performing and

feeling the wave of love and hope rising amongst African Americans.

On an interview with CBS Saturday Morning, (5/17/14), Mavis said that

being around MLK, Jr. was to feel ‘unbelievable joy.’ To be in his ‘presence’

brought her so much meaning to her life.

During this timely period in the United States, there was another

young ‘mover and shaker’ in the music industry. Mavis spent a lot of

time with that curly haired, good looking Bob Dylan.

There came a time, Mavis recounted that,

“Bobby told my Pops, ‘I want to marry Mavis.'”

Pops responded,

“‘Don’t tell me, tell Mavis!'”

While grinning happily, telling the interviewer this love story,

he asked with some excitement,

“What did you say to Bob?”

She reflected, smiling and said,

Well, remember I was very young, so I told him, ‘Let’s wait awhile.'”

She went on to say (the essence of this moment being the real meaning

in her words, paraphrased here):

She wondered what changes her life would have had, how marrying Bob

Dylan would have impacted her life and then used a phrase that I will

tell you the interviewer had to ask her to repeat and explain.

Mavis wondered what it would have been like to make ‘chrome-crushers’

with Bobby.

The words meant, children or babies with him. She was pondering this

and looking happy, still. She felt that she had been attractive, I

forget if she called herself a ‘fox’ or what, but he was definitely

someone she had love for and a huge crush on, too!

Mavis says that her life was spent ‘coming at it with her heart.’

When Mavis Staples won her first Grammy, she remembered that her

Pops had said not to worry about that but they were (basically)

singing for the Lord and “to reach people.” It was a great piece

of philosophy, not to worry about your awards in life, just what

actions you do and how it effects people.

At the 55th Grammy Award ceremony in February, 2013, Mavis Staples

won the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, looking very

stunning and vibrant. If you punch in her name and Grammy 2013, you

will see her the way she still looks. So beautiful inside and out!

She performed, by the way, in a tribute to Levon Helm, with the ‘likes’

of Elton John, Zac Brown Band and Mumford and Sons that fantastic

evening show to remember!

Mavis laughed, saying that she did, “Buy a stand for that Grammy,”

though!

The upbeat tone in her speaking and singing voice wins you over,

despite her vocal range not being as wide as I am sure it was in her

‘heyday!’ She has two songs that were very special to me.

I have sometimes, like many people do, worried about my appearance

and this song, “I Like the Things About Me,” including her comments

in the song disparaging her hair and her lips. She uses this verse,

“I like the things about me, that I once despised…”

“There was a time I wished my hair was fine…”

“There was a time I wished my lips were thin…”

In the end, the message was similar to today’s artist, Lady Gaga’s.

Mavis’ lifetime of having racial hurdles to overcome, make her

simple songs even more powerful. And timeless…

“Love yourself.”

(The essence of the lyrics was she came to the point in her life,

when she could accept ‘the me that I am.’)

The lively and pretty song, “Freedom’s Highway,” still has a world

wide application. As she mentioned the children (girls who were

kidnapped in Nigeria) and ‘everywhere looking at America to see what

we will do.’

“March each and every day,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around.

There is just one thing,

I can’t understand, my friend.

Why some folk think freedom

Was not designed for all men,

Yes, I think I voted for the right man,

Said we would overcome.”

She repeated that ‘the whole world is wondering why America

is not stepping in to help those girls.’

Mavis Staples’ songs to look up on Youtube and listen to are:

“You Are Not Alone,” (2010)

“Eyes on the Prize,” (2007)

“One True Vine” (2013).

I was uplifted by Mavis’ energy and her loving nature shown in the

interview this Saturday morning. I needed only to see her face, to

remember that, not too long ago, Grammy Awards Show.

Where I had really listened to Mavis Staples’ singing and messages.

Adding to everyone’s loving voices raised in tribute to Levon Helm.

(If you were a fan of “The Band,” you were listening to his drumming

and percussion skills.)

Now go out, sing dance and march to the music!

Family Life in Darryl and Samantha’s ‘Kingdom’

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Inspired by my humorous ice cream drama debate this week at

work, I decided to write a poem, with some rhyme and comic

relief!

Darryl calls Samantha, the Queen, and he is the King of the

Household up north in Marion, Ohio countryside.

Family Life

in Darryl and Samantha’s ‘Kingdom’

The flag outside their door, whipping and about to unfurl,

The red, white and blue blowing on this winter’s day a’twirl.

Mom held close and tight by Dad, while they take a whirl,

He looked at her fondly and said, “That’s my girl!”

She smilingly said to him, “Our society’s become a blended swirl.”

He held and touched his baby’s forehead, untangling her curl,

As those wild boys proceed outdoors to go nuts over the squirrel.

Evening set and children’s toys are given a hurl,

All are ready for their bedtime story with Dad, who has some ‘burl.’

Robin O. Cochran
Written affectionately on January 18, 2004

Young Couples who are coworkers

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I am friends with a few younger couples who are coworkers that are

my children’s ages. I relate to their struggles with young children,

sympathize when the little ones are sick and give them enrouragement.

I tell them, “This too will pass.” I love the way they seem to deeply care

about their partners and they celebrate in simple ways their love.

The first couple I have mentioned the male part of the couple, Darryl.

He and I have jokes about running away and robbing a bank to get cash

to support his and my families.  Then, I tell him that I can get away with it

more than he (he is black and we laugh because he would be my “fall guy”

in case of arrest!) This may seem inappropriate, along with his trying to

cheer me up when I am down, while giving me his “evil eye!” I like the way

I can tell him, “I was out with my younger daughter at Brooklyn Heights

on Wed. “hump night” and he will ask, “Well, Robin, did you find a man to

‘hump’ you?” The other way we started a little running joke, is to ask each

other, totally in jest, of course:

“Did you get drunk last night?” or “I have a hangover and I need out of

here!” (Neither of us drink much, and his wife, Samantha, knows about our

jokes. She asked, “Why does she get to rob banks with you, Darryl? She

should stay home and watch our little hoodlums!”)

Awhile back, I had told you that he and his sons were not so sure about

the idea of a baby girl entering their family. His wife, Samantha, was very

excited and Darryl had complained, “Everything pink is being bought from

her clothes to her newborn baby diapers!” I had told him, “That special

little baby will have you wrapped around your baby pinky in no time!”

Darryl and Samanth had their new addition to their family on Sunday, the

same day I was celebrating at a baby christening party!

Their precious baby girl, weighed a healthy 8 lbs. 6 oz., measuring 22″ long,

and they named her “Dondria.” I am going to make a zoo themed baby name

picture for her, I have been ‘warned’ that the boys will then be asking, “Why

can’t that lady make ME a picture, too?”

I have Dondria’s adorable newborn photos on my cell phone. Most coworkers

already have seen that precious, all pink-wrapped up like a present, new

baby girl! Her brothers, who the parents call rowdy all the time, who liked

this summer runnning around “buck naked” in rainstorms, are very gentle

with her. The littlest one of the brothers, (all start with D letter names) held

the baby and put his finger out for the baby to wrap her whole hand around

it. They keep saying he screams the word, “Bee-bee!” and startles the baby!

It is a sign of love and excitement in this one’s joyful shriek!

The other couple is Garret and Courtney. This couple’s love story is sweet, with

a little history wrapped in thier longer love story. They were best friends in

kindergarten. They were both considered a little “pair of dominoes,” is what

Courney called them. They liked the Stevie Wonder and Paul Mc Cartney duet

song, “Ebony and Ivory,” with Paul Mc Cartney. The couple say that song

represents how the two races need to get along better. This is their wish

for their personal lives to not get so many stares at their contrasting colors.

Courtney says, “People still stare, even though it is so much more common

in our culture.” Of course, the lyrics include the phrase “Why can’t we live in

harmony?”  …like the black and white keys on the piano do.

Courtney’s grandfather still calls their son, “a mixed race rugrat” to her sister,

who tells him, “Shame on you, Grandpa!”

Courtney claims they had a “falling out” in middle school, when Garret

flirted with her best friend.

She says,

“Garret started to consider me ‘boring’ and ‘just a friend’ so he broke my

little heart.”

Courtney later, she says, not on purpose but truly decided to move on and

had a ‘crush’ in high school that she claims “devastated Garret.” I told him,

“Well now, who feels like the ‘old shoe?'”

Anyway, this sweet couple got married only three years ago and have a cute

as can be, little boy named, Te’Sean. I just did a baby name picture for

him, since I have become closer to Courtney once she moved to our bin

order fillers department. She now eats lunch with us older people, Anna’s

seat now filled with her. She asked me to do all sports related details and

use red and bright blue in the picture.

Te’Sean loves Michael Jordan in “Space Jam” movie. Garret and Courtney

bought it more for themselves, since it was filmed while they were younger.

That is the movie where Elmer Fudd is in the cast and Michael Jordan does

a fine job interacting with the animation. The movie was made in 1996 and

this would mean Garret and Courtney were only 16 when they “kissed and

made up” from both their crushes on other people and went out on one of

their first “real dates!”

Courtney is more of a worrier than Darryl and Samantha, along with her

husband, Garret. She is not so sure that love can last through all the years.

This is a good question. I feel very ill equipped to give advice or even tell her

too much of my history of marriages. I do tell her that it is so great that she

and Garret are very actively involved parents. Their one and only child, gets

to go to play areas, the zoo, different parks and the toddler reading programs

at the library, too. I tell her that their life together has made their bond

very strong. Tammy (whose Fence Post buddies story included friends

throughout their growing up years), is very open and a caring “mentor”

for Courtney. She tells her that they will get “closer and closer through

the years.”

I include these young struggling couples in my prayers, along with my son

and his wife, my oldest daughter and her partner who backed out of their

January wedding, but still lives with the two boys and her. I include so many

people in my thoughts. I have faith in our God to bless them and keep them

safe.

The sanctity of marriage and faith in God seems to be mirrored in these

couples who love each other. I hope that the children will help to keep

the parents focused on their family. It is a very challenging world we live in,

let alone, having to face some people who still show a lack of understanding

in their differences. Acceptance is still the key to support peoples’ right to

love one another. We all know marriage and raising a family isn’t an easy path

they have chosen, no matter who they are!