Friday, March 25, 2011

The Color of My Children -- A Mother's Musing

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

How many of you have heard about the most recent story of the Ohio born twins, where one was Black and one was White? Didn't hear about it? Well, here's a story about it so you can get all caught up. The truth is, the multi-hued kid story always makes the news because it just seems soooo unusual, but for those of us in mixie marriages, not so much.

In fact, as we await the impending birth of baby number three in the kinky gazpacho household, we are already speculating what she will look like. But unlike those in "monoracial marriages," we're not just wondering if she'll have mommy's eyes or daddy's nose. We're wondering if she will be toasty brown like her eldest brother or as pale as her younger brother who has often been mistaken for White, Asian and/or the kid I'm babysitting for. And the hair. Oy vey, the hair. We're trying to guess just how curly it will be. Will they be tight, brown curls like the older kid or big, black, loose curls like the younger. Or will she surprise us with a whole new texture and color pattern all her own?

It's funny, when I was younger and imagined what my daughter might someday look like, I always envisioned a mini-me with chocolate brown skin, black kinky hair and a brilliant smile that would light up a room. Now, I have no idea how she will turn out. But that's kind of cool too. I mean, I already know she's a girl. I pray to God she's healthy. So the anticipation comes from imagining just how different she may look. Different from me, her father, and her brothers. But at the same time seeing what she does capture from my family genes and those from her Spanish family. Since my family carries the DNA of Black, White, and Native American ancestors and el esposo's people come from as far away as Morocco, Malta island and Europe, baby girl has a lot of looks to choose from.

So, Meltingpot readers. What does your family look like and how do you reconcile the differences between you all? Personally, I don't see my family as multi-hued, I just see my family. It's only when others point it out that I take note. And of course now as we wait for the wee one I can't help but wonder. But still, as soon as she gets here, she'll just be one more in the Kinky Gazpacho mix.

Let's hear your stories.

I'm listening.



Anonymous said...

My husband and I joke that we have a complete set: oldest looks African American like me (tawny with kinky-coily curls), middle child looks Mediterranean like neither of us (olive with loose, dark curls), and youngest looks Scandinavian like hubby (pale skin, blond hair, green eyes).

People never think we're all together when we go out.

Teresa said...

I have a sort of "opposite" situation. I have half-, step- and whole siblings (9 total) from a variety of marriages of my two biological parents. Mostly, none of us have the same 2 parents. Yet, most of us look alike (tall, blond, fair to medium skinned). So we often get awkward comments like "boy, you sure can tell you're sisters" (said most frequently to me and my youngest sister who actually have no blood relation--her mom married my dad; following?). We've learned to just smile and nod. A lot. It's easier than explaining.

Nif said...

I would like to point out that there's a caption in that article you linked to claiming that those twins were born 11 MONTH premature!!!


Nif said...

I have two perspectives on this, as a mixed race person and as the new parent of a mixed race child who is not biologically mine.

My father used to say that when my brother and I were little and out alone with him and people would ask, "Is that your boy?" he would answer, "My wife tells me he is!"

Not that my father had any doubts. My mom is white, my dad was black, and we look like both our parents. At my paternal grandmother's funeral, people who were perfect strangers to me took one look and said, "Oh, you're Bill's daughter."

It is interesting (sometimes painfully weird) to look enough like my dad to be obvious to anyone who knew him, and yet I pass all too often. I do know that this is probably as much because of cultural markers like how I talk and dress as because of the texture of my hair or the color of my skin.

Then we come to my son, born of my Jewish and very pale partner, paternal genes supplied by an anonymous donor with African American and German ancestry. Our boy is a brown that matches me quite nicely quite now.

How dark will he be later? What color will his eyes be? What will his hair texture be like? He's 4 weeks old! It's too soon to know!

He doesn't look like me, although fond friends/relatives engaging in wishful thinking or unobservant strangers might think so. He looks like my partner in some ways, or perhaps like relatives of hers.

I definitely feel this fierce sense of identification with him for being a mixie like me. I will teach him about my experiences and his grandparents' experiences, and he will teach me about his. They are bound to be very different, me being from Massachusetts and him being from Philly. It's quite an unknown adventure we are embarking upon!

LT said...

This is kind of funny. You should get a set of our Same Family, Different Colors T-shirts!

Thanks for sharing your story! You never know how many people experience a version of the we don't all look like family experience.

Congrats. I didn't know you guys had the baby. And a boy! How fun. And thanks for sharing your perspective here. It's really insightful to hear the perspective of both mother and child. Good luck new mommy.

esper_d said...

Mine's the same way. But a mix of New Mexican Hispanic, Panamanian, Navajo, Black. All the spectrum of hues as well. I think ppl are confused by us. Oh well :)

Guess my family and yours would go together well! haha

Charli Canaday said...

Family history:

My mother's family ethnicity, according to mitochondrial dna testing, is Dutch and Ethiopian. On my father's side, I know there is Jewish, Blackfoot Indian and Black. I am a lighter mocha color with curly hair.

Mu husband is half German and his father was a mix of Irish, Scottish, and british. However, his father was from the south and his father had very tight hair and "tanned very well. Within the black community, we know very well what this means. A black, or Creol man, trying to pass. My husband has curly hair, tans well, with blue eyes.

We have one son, three years old. A gorgeous boy with walnut colored hair, which used to be super curly, but has now, to my extreme disappointment, has gone straight, but I know it will curl again! Keeping the faith!

My siblings, although their father is of German decent, and most likely, according to his aunt, of African decent, have always identified more with being African American, even though they are hard for the outsider, especially whites, to identify them as black. One sister has found it particularly disappointing when her "friends" have forgotten her ethnicity and have made nasty remarks about "nigger."

I have to admit, that even though my family is so multicultural, that I have a sense of anger when it comes to identity. My mother is a very strong, radical hippie generation woman who contributed greatly to the civil rights movement.

I look forward to the day when we all look alike. But, for now, I look at my son and I wish he looked more like me! I think you have been lucky enough to bear 3 children and be amazed by the differences of their ethnic characteristics. I don't think I'll be that lucky...

Thanks for sharing!!!

Holistic Locs said...

Firstly, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all your work and this blog!

My family is African (from my dad) and Spanish (from mum) and I have one brother. It's funny because we both have the upper half of our face like my Spanish side but the hair and lower half of our faces like my African side - but as I have locs and my brother wears his hair straight most times, people don't know what to make of us and ask where we come from all the time, especially in my home town of Madrid! I have a cousin who is mixed Spanish and Cuban too and it's always interesting to hear/see people's reactions as she is totally different from her brother.

Keep inspiring ;o)