Episode 18 of the I Am Multicultural Podcast is the story of multiracial parents of mixed heritage Ilene and Jorge, how they met and how they are raising their daughter to love her mixed heritage, which includes their Jewish Russian Filipino, Puerto Rican + African American, Colombian and Mexican heritages.
We had a fascinating conversation about cultural identity and how it significantly shapes everything from personality to relationships, to communication styles, traditions to raising kids.
We talk about:
- Growing up in a bicultural, bilingual, dual religion family and being made fun of for not looking Filipino or white enough and for having “stinky ethnic food”
- Learning about yourself and your identity while growing up with Russian – Filipino parents who are unapologetically proud of their heritage
- Why Ilene naturally gravitates to people who are different and what it means to be Afro-Latina
- Overcoming communication issues at the beginning of your relationship as a Filipino Russian Jewish Afro-Latina multiracial couple
- Preparing to meet each other families and facing their reaction for being a Filipino Russian Jewish Afro-Latina multiracial couple
- Creating love languages to better understand each other and one’s cultural upbringing as a Filipino Russian Jewish Afro-Latina multiracial couple
- Raising your daughter to be comfortable for being multicultural by exposing her to multiculturalism as much as possible
Ilene and Jorge visiting New York with their daughter. As someone who grew up hyper aware of her race, religion, ethnicity as a result of growing up in a bicultural, bilingual & dual religion household, Ilene learned to embrace and gravitate towards others who were different.
Ilene and Jorge met in New York and have been married for 7 years.
Ilene’s father is a 2nd generation Russian and Jewish and her mother is Filipino & Catholic. Jorge grew up in New York with parents who were Puerto Rican + African American, Colombian, Mexican and self-identifies as Afro-Latina.
Ilenee’s father is a 2nd generation Russian Jew and her mother is a Filipino & Catholic. Jorge is grew up in NY, Puerto Rican + African American, Colombian, Mexican.
Ilene and Jorge’s adorable baby girl Celina.
Ilene Squires Lacourt shares:
- 12:14 – I always knew I was different. Other people’s behaviors around the things I did and what my family did affirmed that we were different. I learned to accept that, and I think that it always made me want friends that were similar to me, different in their own rights.
- 27:28 – You have to be better than your parents. It’s like two people with two separate agendas, but you still have to find a way to make it work if that’s what you want. We just had to find new tools to resolve issues.
- 36:29 – The only way to make a relationship work is to speak the other person’s language even if it’s out of your comfort zone you have to learn to do it.
- 39:51 – The real job of parenting doesn’t begin until the child is two and our daughter is approaching two now. The first year and a half you’re just trying to keep them alive. After that, there are a lot of values that you have to teach, and those are extremely difficult to teach.
- 47:51 – It’s hard to know somebody until you’ve met their whole family.
Jorge Lacourt shares:
- 34:25 – As a man of color, you’re always very aware of how people perceive you. It is sort of ingrained in me that when you go to someone’s house you’re respectful, you’re polite because you have this burden of every other black and brown person on you.
- 38:00 – Becoming a parent is when you start to have greater respect for your parents. When you become a parent, you start to understand how challenging it might be to be a parent. You’re responsible for this person, and you’re responsible for directing them to be a productive person. It’s the most challenging and most rewarding job at the same time.
- 46:17 – As cliché as this might sound, listen to your partner. Listening is important. Be an active listener, understand the love language that they’re speaking, what’s important to them culturally.
- 46:39 – Find the commonalities, and then you’d learn to appreciate that. That’s especially important in the multicultural relationships. Understand the other. Try to really understand the other person’s culture.
Get in Touch with Ilene
Ilene and Jorge’s Favorites:
- BOOK: The unbearable lightness of being by Milan Kundera
- BOOK: Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas
- MUSIC: The Chronic 2001 – Dr. Dre
- MUSIC: Nas
- MUSIC: Rakim