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LA FAZ

A Celebration of Race


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Note from the Editor Dear Reader,

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Thank you for taking the time to explore the delicate and delightful topics that we highlight in our magazine. We’ve named it “La Faz” which is spanish for one’s countenance, or identity. Each of us has a racial identity that we present to the world around us each day.Yet, more importantly, each of us shares a human identity that is more binding than any of the countries from which we come. That is what we’d like to appreciate through these issues.Yes, to observe, and highlight and learn from our differences. But to use them to bring us together. May you find that as you leaf through these pages. Enjoy!

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Inside La Faz

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The Color of DNA

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A Trip to Italia


A Lesson Worth Noting 24

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Features

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7 I’ve Always Wondered... 8 Brazilian-American Identity 10 The Jones Family 12 Photo Essay 5


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The Color of DNA by Meagan Miller

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have spent a good majority of my senior project looking at a certain type of human DNA:mitochondrial DNA. Without going into all the specifics,what we try to do in lab is predict human migration based on certain mutations that take place in a population over a period of time.Our research does not examine race,culture, etc.because DNA is not colored,does not have any traditions,and is not biased to tell the human story one way or another.(Pretty reliable,right?At least most of the time :)What we do look at are distinct polymorphisms (changes in the DNA) that occur at a location in a population.For example,

someone fromAfrica may have different set of changes than someone fromAsia or from me;it just depends on how our ancestors moved across the earth,where they decided to settle,and for how long.Most of the time they are pretty similar to your neighbors,but soon these methods of predicting human movement wil be rendered unreliable.Why you ask? Given the ease of human transportation across the globe and intermixing of populations it wil be almost impossible to trace lineages and migration patterns from here on out.People may not realize that even on the genetic level,we are homogenizing as a species.The coolest part about looking at DNA

this way is acknowledging that our ideology of becoming one is being expressed in our genes. Even with these collective minute differences,we are much more alike than anyone ever imagined- except for maybe Darwin.In his book,The Descent of Man, he states that“even the most distinct races of man are much more like each other in form than would at first be supposed�(1).And he’s right.Though we may have a few point changes within our DNA that creates a rich diversity in our species,we are all Homo sapiens.That for me is reason enough to see past our artificial differences and enjoy what makes us all, well,human.


I’ve Always Wondered...

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've always wondered why Americans seem to have a problem with personal space? When travelling abroad, or even when spending time locally with friends from different cultures, there seems to be a discrepancy in the appropriate amount of perceived personal space. Non-Americans will stand right up against you on public transportation, or will sit right next to you in a row of benches at a park, even if you're the only two people on the bus or in the park! Americans will skip a row, or even place themselves on the opposite side of the isle. Why is that?

“Non-Americans will stand right up against you on public transportation, or will sit right next to you in a row of benches at a park.” 7


My Brazilian Identity

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eing born in the US and having parents who were born in another is, at the same time, both good and not so great.  Both my parents and my sister are originally from Brazil while I was the only one born in the US. I have always been proud to say I am Brazilian but also glad that I am an American.  Unfor tunately, not everyone believes I have the right to say I am one or the other.  Brazilians tell me that I am not Brazilian because I was not born in Brazil.  Americans


By: Nadja Pessoa I had made while in Mexico, they made me realize it even more.  I then decided to write down, whenever asked what race or ethnicity I am, that I am Brazilian-American.   I realized that it does not matter what others say you are, it all really depends on what you think.  Go with what you truly feel.  Everyone will always have their own opinions but the biggest one that matters is your own.  This has made me a stronger person and made me not care much for what others have to say about my race.  I can say proudly that I am a Brazilian-American.

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have told me that I am not American because both my parents are Brazilian.  That then left me wondering, “what should I consider myself?” Finally, after making new friends when I went to Mexico for school, they helped me realize that I can be considered both a Brazilian and American. Although they made me realize this, they told me that they would gladly accept me as a Mexican and I would joke around saying that I was Mexican and not Brazilian or American. Throughout high school I always thought of myself as both American and Brazilian, but with the new friends

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The Jones Family LA FAZ

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have always I had a friend in the 8th been intrigued grade that had mixed by something parents. In theAfrican about race:the American community I idea that if a have heard this situation child is mixed referred to as“One drop with Black that they are makes you whole”. It is automatically also“Black” assumed that you wil and not much else. I be associating with black have been aware of this people,going to black since I was in elemen- churches,and basically tary school and have wil be a part of the black had mixed friends that community whether you I have watched move or they like it or not. I was through society. Grant- raised in mixed neighbored,my experience has hoods and have gone mainly been within to predominantly black theAdventist school churches as well as mixed system and mostly in churches. This does not Adventist society,but I mean that the black find it true even now.  people in the commu-

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nity welcome mixed kids or people with open arms.It seems in a lot of cases that it is more with a sense of resignation or even just plain inevitability. It’s not always wilingly accepted. I have seen plenty of resentment, as in“who do they think they are”,seen eyes rolled in their direction,etc. My 13 year old daughter Alexa is mixed,and has said on more than one occasion that she is“obviously black”in appearance.This is a running joke for our

family since she looks Spanish or even East Indian. Her coloring is lighter brown and her hair is loosely curled. The school she goes to is mainly white with very few black or mixed kids in it,but she moves freely within her class and school circles.There have not been racial issues as far as I know yet. I find that most issues arise when people start to date,and I am not looking forward to any of that regardless of race!  I like to think at times that race is

not as important,but I am not stupid.She wil have issues of some sort,but hopefully not as many as others have had,and hopefully not based on race or the mixing thereof. It helps that we live in California,and mixed race families are growing by leaps and bounds as far as I can see. It would be great if she wil be,as Dr.King famously said, “Judged on the content of her character,not by the color of her skin”, but if not we are ready to support her and do all we can to help her.


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Photo Essay: Multi-Racial Kids

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“Through a child’s eyes World is a space for humans Neither the boundaries Nor their skins matter.” -Anonymous

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A Trip to Italia 18


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by Lisa Barcelo 19


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t was as I dangled twentyeight thousand feed above Sicily that it hit me. Of course, for the last twelve hours, a lot had been hitting me. I had been lugging 1 Girlsworth of suitcases—it is an SI unit—across two continents. I couldn’t look another airplane peanut in the face, not to mention watching another cheesy safety information video. On the bright side, I am aware that I must first secure my oxygen mask before helping others in the cabin. But now, as we reverently descended into the Sicilian skyline, I realized that I was about to peek into another frame of reference. Europe. The next two months would be replete with experiences which never ceased to astound, challenge, and even amuse me. Although my pretense for visiting was to teach English to the locals, I knew that it would be my form of expression that would be more profoundly altered. Looking back, I revel at the ways I learned to adjust to life with Italiancolored lenses. In almost no time, I was roaming the quaint cobblestone steps of the village, bartering for a half-kilo of olives with all the vigor of a local. Pasta, basil and mozzarella became staples, as did the ubiquitous crusty bread which as of yet, finds no North American rival. Midnight would find me

“I realized that I was about to peek into another frame of reference. Europe.”


shower-free), faulty internet connection, and language barriers.Yet in spite of the odds, I chose to focus on the essence of Italy, that which was distilled to the surface. And there were certainly several situations which augmented my appreciation for all things foreign, though I was uncertain which contributed most to my mental metamorphosis. It may have been the morning I spent bus-hopping with a friend through the anarchic streets of Milan as we fought our way to a local café for a cappuccino e cornetto. Or maybe the lazy afternoon I spent sipping Fanta® as an Etruscan grandmother told

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sipping acqua frizzante in the plaza, chatting with other students about the town gossip. I also picked up the habit of sprinkling my conversation with animated gesticulation. Even my mother commented that my phone voice smacked of the distinctive lyrical style characteristic of the Italian language. I attempted to pinpoint when exactly I surrendered my North American habits and attempted to completely absorb the beauty of Italian custom and diversity. Doubtless, there were difficulties along the way—it can’t all be sun-soaked gallivanting, now can it? Homesickness finds no solace in broken water pipes (three days

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me her secrets. Then of course, there was the dashing young carabiniere who offered—perhaps teasingly?—to jail me unless I could show my passport. My friends insisted he was flirting, but I failed to see the romantic side of threatening to escort me to a holding tank for delinquents. Or maybe it was relishing fig gelato on the Spanish Steps, while a violinist filled the air with an earnest, hopeful melody. In any event, I returned to my homeland with a deeper appreciation of the golden

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thread that weaves its way through the stories of us all. I learned that there are other options to using your credit card, and that not everyone has heard of Abercrombie. I learned that a change of pace, and a change of perspective, is health for the bones—even if it puts you out of your comfort zone. I learned that by listening, we learn, and by observing, we grow rich. In travel, as in life, the art is best enjoyed in silence.


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A LessonWorth Noting

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by Frank Barcelo

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have a friend from graduate school who is a visionary enterpreneur and also a brilliant academician (a PhD in Epidemiology and a subsequent MD degree).

My wife and I had invited him to our home for thanksgiving and he gladly consented to join us for this festive occasion.  We had also invited a large group of extended family members who all arrived and made themselves at home in our comfortable house in preparation for the festivities.

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The meal began in fine form, with everyone happy and energetic.  Soon, however, one of the family members (who loved to instigate provocative conversations) began asking questions that we knew could become dangerous.  He began to question the social appropriateness of interracial marriages and wondered about the opinion of those present. Did I mention that my special guest and friend is an African man who was born in Zimbabwe, raised in England and a recent arrival to the US for graduate school?  Oh, and did I mention as well that many of the members of the family who were present at this event had a difficult time not only with interracial marriages, but also with controlling their tempers and mouths in the expression of their opinions?  Oh, and did I mention that my friend had already been married to and divorced from a Caucasian woman? The ensuing spectacle (for it cannot properly be called a dialogue, or even a conversation) lasted about 3 hours of straight pandemonium.  It vaguely recalled earlier times when gladiators were turned into spectacles for the bloodthirsty Roman crowds and when their lusty yells reverberated from the walls of the coliseum.  Not a proud moment for our family!  However, in the midst of this pandemonium, I stepped back and observed my friend and was able to glean a valuable lesson for filing and for use in later life:

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“The target of prejudicial attitudes and even insults need not succumb to despair and dejection, but rather can rise up and still triumph over bigoted closed-mindedness.”

He was giving as well as getting in the arguments and made some good points, which often fell on deaf ears (deafened by people’s own shouts) but were occasionally leaving some of the most vociferous members of our family without any cogent response. He clearly and coherently articulated the reasons for his past choices and his current tastes in dating partners, voicing arguments that dealt with culture, language, tastes of refinement and education as well as theological points.

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Near the conclusion of this unfortunate event, one of the members of our family who had been most vocal about his opposition to Blacks in general and interracial marriages in specific, was finally able to be honest with himself and declared, in a moment of blinding veracity, that he would be able to accept someone like my friend, although other members of his ethnicity were still suspect. One small step, indeed, but an important one for the acceptance of all mankind.  My friend was able to withstand the enormous pressure exerted by a number of loudmouths and yet retain his grace and aplomb.  The target of prejudicial attitudes and even insults need not succumb to despair and dejection, but rather can rise up and still triumph over bigoted closed-mindedness.  A great lesson to learn even if you are not the victim of racial prejudice; a good lesson to store for life!

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