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Friday, September 16, 2016

About My Test Results

So, it's been a while but I wanted to post this video I made. I was asked to do it by another Dominican on Facebook who told me that many young Dominicans are posting videos discussing their results to raise awareness about our mixed heritage.

While I was born in New York City, as were my three maternal sisters and some of my paternal siblings, my parents from different parts of Santiago in the Dominican Republic, including el Cibao and Gurabo. Areas there like Franco Bidó and La Cumbre de Juan Veras were named after my ancestors. I am a direct descendant of the Diaz-Veras and Paez-Franco-Bidó-Deschamps families.

My maternal great-grandfather Demetrio Marerro-Vasquez was born in the Dominican Republic but his mother was Puerto Rican. And no, he's not why I'm so light-skinned. He would be considered black even in the Dominican Republic.

My paternal grandfather Simon was so white, he was called "Blanco."

Every single person in my family would be considered a different race based on phenotype in the US. I consider myself a mixed race Jewish Dominicana.

My mother is a descendant of the Franco-Bidó family who themselves were descended from a Spanish count and were part of the political landscape in the Dominican Republic:

There are two Dominican vice presidents in my family tree:

Domingo Daniel Pichardo Pró, the father-in-law of my 5th great-uncle, who was vice president from 1857-1858

And  Eugenio Deschamps Peña, my 4th great-uncle, who distinguished himself as a speaker and journalist and was exiled after publishing a controversial piece on freedom criticizing the current dictator Ulises Heureaux Leibert in one of the many newspapers he had founded. He was also highly critical of the United States occupation of the Dominican Republic. He is remembered as one of the greatest orators of Dominican political history.

And the equally if not more famous, two famous generals:

Major General Máximo Gómez Báez, my third cousin seven times removed, who fought  in Cuba's Ten Year War and Cuba's War of Independence

And Juan Luis Franco Bidó, my 6th-great-uncle, who was a Brigadier general who commanded the cavalry in the Dominican War of Independence

I can trace my maternal ancestry in the Dominican Republic to my 6th-great-grandfather Captain Agustin Franco De Medina Guerrero who was born in Santo Domingo in 1768.  He was taken prisoner and exiled by the Spanish and sentenced to death under the accusation he was a French spy by Haitian king Henri Christophe. The charges were dropped when he proved to be a Dominican native.

His father, my 7th-great-grandfather, was Spanish count, Agustin Joaquin Franco de Medina Trinidad whose father was a Spanish lord, Don Manuel Franco de Medina.

The most recent ancestor I have been able to trace back on my family tree was my 9th great-grandfather Agustin Franco de Medina was born in 1675. I can trace his lineage to my 13th grandfather.

As a poor kid growing up on welfare with my single mom and two sisters in Washington Heights, I certainly never imagined that my ancestry was so colorful and included such noteworthy ancestors.


Correction: I meant to say that I am 100% Dominican, I have never thought or considered myself 100% European! I consider myself a person of color because I am mixed race despite my fair skin. I am very proud of my ancestors and my ethnic heritage.

Just click on the photos below to zoom in.

Results from my two full sisters:

Results from my father's brother. Neither of my parents wanted to take the test though I bought tests for them. My uncle was really proud and surprised that he had Jewish ancestry.

Monday, July 25, 2016

"You're Jewish?"

"Well, they let black people do anything these days. Thanks, Obama." And that's not even the best quote from this video! Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

In the Wee Hours

I have a sleep disorder, delayed sleep phase disorder which means that I wake up around 11am or later and go to bed around 3am. 

It's strange to be up in the wee hours after everyone has gone to sleep. It's hours of time that I have to myself and have never really known what to do with. 

I read, of course. I've always loved reading. I also have late night talks with the insomniacs in my life as well as the Israelis and British friends abroad. 

My husband handles my son waking up. Like his father, my son is a morning person rising every day now thanks to daylight savings time at sometime between 7 and 8am. I'm not up until 11am or after. 

Right now I am in bed typing on my phone after just having finished Lady Midnight, the latest in.... I still love young adult fiction. It reminds me of long ago, of being a high school English teacher to students who long now been adults themselves. 

Now it's only 1am and there are miles to go before I sleep. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Color of Us: 50+ books about Mixed Race Families

Check out this amazing list of books featuring mixed race families:

50+ Picture Books about Mixed Race Families

Almost all the of these books are on Amazon for purchase. They're also now on my son's birthday wish list as there is almost nothing he likes to do more than "read" books to himself or have books read to him.

My son is a only a little darker than my husband me. And I never saw faces like mine in books. Sure, it's difficult for Mickey Mouse to share my racial and ethnic identities but far and beyond, anthropomorphic or not, most of the characters of the books I read were white. In fact, correction, ALL of the characters were white. However this did not hold true for television, where I saw the Cosby family and Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. And of course, television was also the one place to see other Hispanics on Univision. But I was too young or too sheltered to even expect to be represented in books.

In my mid-teens, my aunt pointed out that when I drew portraits or other figures from life or magazine, I drew only white women. At that point in my life, I was in high school studying fashion illustration. My first response in all cluelessness was "Well, the paper's white."  As it turned out after her comment, I started to love draw striking people of all ethnicities and races. I started drawing African-Americans and Latinas more and more.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Overscheduled and Scared: Life without Morphine

In an attempt to get out of the house, I've now become over-scheduled. Once a week, it's Mommy & Me music class. Twice a week, it's swim lessons for my son. Twice a week, it was (see emphasis, WAS) Mommy & Me yoga with my son. And then there's twice a week with a personal trainer to cope with the daunting task of staying in shape without hurting myself at the gym while having Ehlers Danlos. It's been all about quantity, not quality and getting outside the box...aka my actual home.

So far, I'm having a rough transition at this stay-at-home mommy thing. I wrongly--don't laugh--thought that being a Mom would be a gateway into a whole new group of friends. Mom friends. I've made a bunch online. Don't get me wrong. I am THE QUEEN of online support groups because you have to be when you live with chronic pain and are basically chained to your home. But as far as things go, in person, I'm still struggling. I've made one friend in the past 11 months and the jury's still out on friend number two. Someone likened making friends as an adult to dating and I was never very good at dating. I'm still not quite sure how I ended up married. Right place at the right time.

Now I don't know where my schedule or my need to have friends is going now that I'm about to make the big leap OFF of morphine. I was put on morphine after having my son. Yes, that's quite a step up from the regular here and there Percocet tablet. It's striking when your doctor tells you that he thinks you have such terrible pain you should be on morphine.

Unfortunately, it's also just as striking to figure out slowly while you're on it that he's right but that the side effects may be too much for you. Side effects of morphine and/or related medication: Zombie Aliza! A general numbness about life that does not abate no matter what you do and bonus points for the lack of sleep that morphine politely covers up daily. And so, we're going off the morphine that has kept us regular and almost but not quite "normal" for the past year.