Holding On To One’s Heritage, Not Race

Holding On To One’s Heritage, Not Race

The race card. It’s something we’re all familiar with and yet, it’s still a sensitive subject when we approach it.

National Public Radio continues its Race Card Project where people have submitted thoughts and cultural ideas in six words or less.  But on occasion, NPR host Michele Norris will dip into those six-word stories to explore deeper issues surrounding race and cultural identities.

Wilma Stordahl is a prime example.  She is Norwegian; Stordahl and her husband are both white.  Together they have a 15-year-old son; but she also has sons Kevin Stordahl, 25, and Kazon Stordahl, 19, who share a black father.

Wilma Stordahl chose to give her sons her last name so they could relate to her family heritage.

In her interview with NPR, Stordahl said “Typically, we think of Norwegians as being tall and blond and blue-eyed. And my sons are tall – but they’re not blond and blue-eyed.”

Stordahl recalls being repeatedly corrected on her sons’ race.  Storadhl, like most parents of mixed-race children, would like people to move away from “instinctive” labels basked on skin color or appearance.

Kazon Stordahl answers that he is mixed-race when asked but Kevin on the other hand, answers that he is mixed-heritage.

Kevin, sociology major, is focusing on studies of mixed-race identities, and has taken an interest in his Norwegian background.  He is also pursing Scandinavian studies and learning to speak Norwegian.

Wilma Stordahl admits that her sons may not look like her at first glance. But if people look hard enough, they’ll see the Norwegian heritage.  Her sons are tall like her and they share the same eye shape.

“They are a part of me, and I a part of them. And yeah, I want that to be acknowledged,” she said in her NPR interview.

Why do you think people are so quick to judge?  What would happen if people took the time to get to know a person instead of basing assumptions on skin color?

To read the full article, visit NPR’s website here. 

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