Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Sardonic Sister: Everyone's Favorite Sibling

our sardonic sister...

Aloha nui loa, Hip Hapa Homeez. With daylight savings time just around the corner, it feels like spring is on her way. Even though Your Hip Hapa is looking forward to the sense of renewal and rebirth this time of year brings, I find myself still attached to the past.

Like, remembering the first handful of people who contacted me shortly after I re-launched this blog in 2008—one of them being Renee Tecco, this month’s featured Hip Hapa Homee. You may know Renee because of her writing and by her “stage” name Sardonic Sister. Well, here's everyone's favorite sibling:

Q: Renee, how did your parents meet?

A: Both of my parents are African American and were a part of the great migration of blacks from the south to the north (my father after he served in WWII and my mother in the late 50’s). They met through my cousin who was dating my mother's close friend.

Q: Where were you brought up?

A: My father left when I was young and I was raised in the projects--all African American, of course. It was the early 70’s and, even in Cincinnati, they were just beginning to integrate the schools. My first memory of realizing things were different for us was when I participated with my mother and older brothers in a walk to help provide busing from our area to the local school. The school was predominantly white. It wasn't until I went to junior high that I encountered other ethnicities. 

Jim and Renee
Q: How did you meet your husband, and what are some challenges of an interracial relationship? 

A: I met my husband nearly 10 years ago in a Yahoo! group that discusses Asian American-African American issues. He’s Korean American and was adopted into a white family when he was a baby.

There have been no challenges to our being an interracial couple; most of our disagreements are cultural issues that stem from me being a Cincinnatian and his being a Clevelander.

kids J2 and Mimi, with Filmore
Q: In what ways did you two help your children shape their identities?

A: The children are grown now, but we tried to raise them with the knowledge that self-identifying and connecting with community is more important than the external acceptance of strangers. 

My daughter is African American and my (step)son is Korean-African American. It's interesting trying to see race through their eyes. My son has black step-siblings with his mother so he self identifies as blasian when people often ask him, "What are you?"

My daughter has half-white siblings through her father, although she doesn't get to interact with them much since they live on the West Coast. Of course, she self identifies as black, but I have often pondered that my relationship to blackness isn't the same as my kids’. 

Ejiro in Hapa*Teez
Q: With all of your passionate pursuits, do you consider yourself an activist?

A: I don't consider myself an activist, but more of a person who is really, really curious (sometimes passionately so) about almost everything. With my blog, I want to connect people to ideas and an openness of understanding. I blog about LGBTQ because a lot of my friends are in that community, while at the same time I can relate to those who are wary of them because I was once that way, too. 

I blog about being black and trying to navigate the rise of other minorities, whether it's them surpassing us in population or in the workplace. 

I blog about being nerdy; I love science and I am a trivia fanatic (I think they made the magazine Mental Floss just for me). 

I blog about music; I am a black rock music fan, but I am also a KPop fan. I know, they seem diametrically opposed, but when I am out on a jog it all blends well with the electronic/dance music I am undoubtedly listening to.

Cassie in Hapa*Teez
Julia in Hapa*Teez
Q: Why do you call yourself “Sardonic Sister”?

A: I came up with the name Sardonic Sister for my main blog because I felt after the age of 35 I had graduated from being sarcastic to mordant. Plus, it has a better ring than Pragma-Sis, which people probably wouldn't get.

Q: What’s in the future? Any final thoughts?

A: For the Sardonic Sistah blog, besides continuing to look at race, music, and science from an Ohioan perspective, I also plan to update more on my family and fiction blog.

Eva in Hapa*Teez
Each person relates to the world in a different way, but in minority communities we soften out the edges to give the illusion of unity. For the last 20 years or so, the definition of who is black and even who gets to be black has been getting kicked around among laymen and scholars alike. For a brief moment, it seemed to restrict and looked as if black youth culture was obscuring it. But looking at my kids and their generation, it seems as if they are figuring it out and strengthening it. Which is not to say that sometimes they don't feel isolated from some African Americans or some Asian Americans, but they have learned to move on and find compatible friends/communities where they can express themselves and grow. In regards to race, we tried to get across to them that in life they will run across people who may want to pull your race/gender card (you aren't acting black enough, Asian enough, masculine enough, feminine enough), but the only person's opinion that matters is their own.

And mine, of course.

Just kidding. 

As a writer, I have always been interested in reaching out to marginalized voices or older voices to have them heard. I am generally an introverted person. So, I am not my favorite subject, but people in general fascinate me and I have never shied away from an interview or conversation with people from all walks of life. Under my maiden name, I have written freelance for The Cincinnati Herald (a local black newspaper) and worked with the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company (CBTC). With CBTC, I have done public relations as well as written and adapted a few plays. 

Carol in Hapa*Teez
This year with the Sardonic Sister blog, I want to focus on education. When my daughter was young and I was a single mother, I was always looking for low-cost ways to help supplement her education. Some things I got her into, others I missed out on. A lot of people gave praise and criticism to Amy Chua for her book (and mostly her attitude) about being a “Tiger Mom”. I realize that a lot of African American women in poverty are also “Tiger Mothers”--we just don't have the resources or we don't know about certain programs because no one is telling us. I know because I was one of those mothers who knew just enough to search out information and not rely on my local school.

The feature on my blog will run biweekly and can be located by searching the tag “The Urban Mama's Guide to Educating Children”.  I have already written two articles on the subject and more are forthcoming this year.

Robert in Hapa*Teez
Mahalo nui loa, Renee. You are one busy and prolific Sardonic Sister. Your Hip Hapa is sooo hapa to have known you from the start.

Here’s a link to an article that cited Renee’s story for a story written in The Cincinnati Herald.

And, here are the Sardonic Sister’s blog links again:

Just like Renee, you Hip Hapa Homeez can also get involved in the multi-culti movement. Get active by: liking Watermelon Sushi and Hapa*Teez on Facebook. Join our discussions on the Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook. Check out our vid clip of Hapa*Teez on YouTube, and buy one at Café Press.

Until spring arrives for real, and beyond, I will always be

Your Hip Hapa