Behind The Scenes Of A Mixed Race Family – Cassey Toi


In case you’ve missed it, we’ve started a new series that will pop up here on the blog every Friday.

Recently I have been inundated with content about racism in every shape and form – from issues with mixed race parents or cross racial adoption to being asked to write about it on Heritage Day.  There is just so much that we could say on the topic as it’s still touches a very raw nerve in South Africa (and rightfully so).

Besides the odd intentional racist, I feel like a lot of the hurtful comments are actually just brought about through ignorance of how their words will affect other people.  Thinking only of our own personal situations with little regard for others, because that’s all that we know. So in an effort to broaden what we know, I thought I would interview a wide range of South Africans that have a variety of different situations – from mixed race couples to single race couples that adopt cross racially to couples that share the same “race” but differ vastly in terms of culture.  A bit of a mumble jumble of everything really.

So let’s get started!

I want this to be a safe space where we can share stories and encourage each other to be more accepting of our fellow South Africans of all races, cultures and situations.  So while I want to encourage you to comment and open a discussion, I will not tolerate any abusive or troll like comments here.

I love that there are so many people that I can interview for this series.  Today we get to met Cassey who I have also had the chance to meet in person a while back, but will have the pleasure of seeing again at the #CTMeetUp next week.  Can’t wait!  Cassey also blogs over on Bits and Pieces.

IMG-20150407-WA0001

Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do, what you like to spend your time on etc

I’m a work-from-home mom. When I manage to have a moment to myself I tend to read, watch series or game. Moments not to myself also tend to involve gaming 😉

Tell us a little bit about your partner – what they do, what they like to spend time on etc

Jerall is an information officer. Surprisingly his free time doesn’t involve feeding me chocolates or giving me massages, but rather gaming 😉

Give us a bit of insight into your racial/cultural backgrounds.

I’m coloured, culturally I don’t think there is much to it, besides things that my family of origin and extended family tends to do – or at least in terms of what I feel important to teach Keiden isn’t from my culture, but more what I grew up with and see as particular to my family of origin and extended family. Jerall is Chinese, and culturally there’s a lot more Keiden will get from that side than mine.

2014-12-20 09.40.27

Where do you live? Does how you are “accepted” change when you visit different places?

We live in Stellenbosch, and it’s pretty pale…so people do tend to notice and remember us. It’s not been an issue really, and Stellenbosch is more accepting than the southern suburbs. When we lived in Kenilworth, I got asked if I speak Jerall’s language, and where he’s from.

Tell us all about your kids – brag a bit – it’s OK 😉

We have a very busy one year old, Keiden. He loves climbing onto everything, eating all the food – seriously, there are days when he out eats his dad – laughing and books.

2015-03-26 11.57.54

How do you and your partner view race in your relationship? What kind of role does it play in your family? Does it even feature?

It does not feature besides laughing about the ignorance we encounter. If you don’t laugh about it, you’ll be walking around exploding at everyone for being stupid.

Are there big differences in your marriage relationship that are affected by your heritage/culture?

The biggest difference is food. But we’re both extremely appreciative of that difference 😉

How have your families reacted to your relationship?

At first there was some tension, but it’s all resolved now.

What kind of experiences have you or your partner had when you have been out with your kids (alone with them or together as a family)?

Mostly it’s talk about how cute our son is 😀 But there’s the occasional dumb question about Jerall.

20150311_152317

What are some of the ignorant and hurtful things that have been said to you and your husband about this issue?

So far there hasn’t been anything said about Keiden. But Jerall and I have had our fair share of idiots. For me I get a lot of the you speak so well, and “do you work here?” in stores. When I managed stores I also got a lot of people – mostly older, white men – trying to argue me down and treat them as special snowflakes by not applying store policy to them. Jerall also gets the you speak so well, do you work here, but most often where are you from – Port Elizabeth by the way.

What do you think we can do to combat this ignorance/stupidity?

There’s not much that can be done besides education. Although I would love it if people would just recognise that it’s none of their business. Where my husband is from, what we speak or how well we speak is not of any importance to them, so how about just not asking?

2014-12-15 15.15.20

Did you have any fears about parenting mixed race children before you had them? Have any of those fears changed since becoming a Mommy/Daddy to kids with mixed genes?

My race specific concerns were about what box he’d tick on forms asking about race, and his hair [hair is a very big deal in my family, and try as I might to get over it, I just can’t seem to get away from it]. Jerall was just whatever about it all. The rest of the fears/concerns are the normal things everyone would worry about, like education, raising him not to let people walk all over him etc.

Do you have any advice for those new to this experience?

The only way to deal with the stupid is to ignore it, and when you can’t, laugh about it. Yes, it’s mean laughing about people being ignorant, but laughing at them is better than slapping them.

 

Thank you Cassey for joining in on this series!

If you’re in Cape Town and want to stand up to racism in our City take the pledge here.

If you would like to join in and be featured in this series or know of someone that would, please feel free to get in touch with me on cindyalfino@gmail.com.

Like what you’ve read here?  That’s flipping awesome – feel free to share it with your friends.  Also come hang out with me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram where you can expect to find a whole lot more of this, just shorter.

Go on, tell me what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s