An Accordion Player Comes to Dinner.
John, Suzanne, Ruby & Solomon, Philadelphia, PA
With his brilliantly artistic parents and equally precocious, spirited little sister Ruby. Dad would never drink a bad wine, 7 yr. old Ruby assures me as John offers me a glass. Race does matter, he says. Solomon (above) would call out answers in class at his previous school, because he didn’t want to be seen as stupid. Even though he doesn’t look “black,” the teachers knew he had a black father. So we put him into a different school and now he’s at the top of his class.
Solomon has so much to say he anxiously raises his hand during dinner to make sure he gets the chance. There are actually more brown skinned kids at this private school than there were in the public school. And yeah, you adjust your life to avoid certain situations, e.g. consider where you go on vacation etc. But Philly is a really bi-racial friendly city. We realized we have to step it up as parents and make sure we’re really around for them, Suzanne explains. Before she goes to bed, Ruby wants my opinion on her outfit for school the next day, so she carefully lays out some options. I happily oblige and hang out with the family long after dinner.
Suzanne and John want to make sure their kids feel as capable and entitled as any other child, so they let them speak their minds, ask questions and be who they are. Even at the dinner table.
Fine Food and Not Giving a F*@%.
Albert & Katie, Philadelphia PA
We have so much in common. We bought each other the exact same John Stewart book as a present one time. Eating (especially) is a big thing for both of us…visiting farms, cooking…We used to have a food blog called messyandpicky.com. Our food tastes have even merged, like I (Julie) eat a lot more spicy foods now and use chopsticks. Our parents probably made a bigger deal of us not having a wedding than about race. I was the youngest of three (Albert) so the rules were different for me, my parents were broken down by then. And really we both don’t care much about what people think . We do our own thing.
But, Albert will definitely be more into incorporating the discipline, the law and order, of his Korean heritage, into our family. They both laugh, which seems to come naturally. I had them try and make serious faces and that had me cracking up. Before leaving the two kindly left me with a litany of the best places to eat and imbibe in Philly, complete with descriptions of patrons and ambience and vibe. A few of their favorites: Royal Tavern, South Philly Tap Room, Devil’s Den, Southwark (credited with bringing back the artisanal cocktail)
White, Black and Pennsylvania Dutch.
Erica, Philadelphia, PA
My mom is Afro-Cuban and my dad is German-Swiss. My dad was a Lutheran pastor and my mom went to his church... I'm fascinated with geneology. I've discovered I might be related to James Buchanan, he freed his slaves.
My dad's dad wasn't thrilled at first when my parents got together. But then he invited them over for dinner and my mom cooked Pennsylvania Dutch and then all the concern went away. They shared culture....I hate stereotypes because they make people think they can or can't do something.
I was awestruck. I'd never heard of Pennsylvania Dutch black people? Emily and I spent the afternoon sharing stories about only dating white men because that’s what was around growing up, about hating our hair as children and how much inner turmoil that caused. It was as if we’d known each other for years. She told me how her father passed away from AIDS, something she still isn’t comfortable talking about; the pain of deceit and a daughter’s undying love for her father. Something I could understand because my own father had been a complicated figure in my life before he died when I was 19.