Monday, March 09, 2009
Funny Story with a Meltingpot Twist
I was home in Milwaukee this past weekend, speaking at the Spring Writer's Festival hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It was a great time and I met this woman there who told me her story.
"I really related to your book, Kinky Gazpacho because I'm mixed," she said.
I looked at the woman who had skin the color of a cashew nut and straight brown hair with streaks of bottled red. Had I seen her on the street, I wouldn't have thought anything but White, so I had to ask.
"What is your mix?" I asked. (Isn't that an awkward question? How do you phrase that politely?)
"Well," she started, "We always grew up just thinking we were Italian. Mom was northern Italian and Dad was southern Italian. But my grandmother was really dark and she had all of these really strange customs and ate weird food. Finally, my father told us that his mother was Ethiopian!"
I laughed for a full minute when she told me that. Can you imagine? This brought to mind James McBride's wonderful memoir, The Color of Water where he tells the story of his Jewish mother passing for Black and telling anyone who asked that she was just light-skinded.
Do you have a story like that in your family? Please share.