Friday, October 14, 2011

Mixed Messages: Life in a Multiracial Family

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Everybody and their mother sent me a link to this story in the New York Times about the continuing struggles with acceptance and racism experienced by multiracial families. The stares. The hostility. The questions. Yep, it all comes with the territory.

Coincidentally, the other day, babygirl and I were at the local dollar store, buying paper towel for a dollar, when the chatty cashier leaned over to peek at babygirl. Ms. Chatty Cathy was Black, by the way. So, she leans over, looks at babygirl and exclaims, "Oh, isn't she as White as snow." It felt more like an accusation than a random comment and I didn't have a response for her. And I didn't really have time to respond because the other cashier quickly ran over to exclaim how beautiful babygirl was. But first she asked, "Is she yours?" I simply smiled and said, yes, the little Snow White baby is mine.

And I left that store and reflected on the incident for exactly one minute. And then I didn't think about it again. I'm so used to the comments, the questions, and the stares after three babies that came out all pale faced and straight haired. But I did pause last night to wonder what it would feel like to have a baby that looked something like me. At least one that had enough melanin that our biological connection would not be questioned. I've never had that experience.

But unlike the family in the Times, I think because I was born Black and grew up in a very White environment where I stood out like Cocoa Puff in a box of Kixx, I'm used to being stared at, questioned, and misunderstood. I'm not saying I like it, I'm just used to it. And my guess is, for White Americans who enter into interracial relationships, it must be shocking to have those multiculti moments thrust upon you after walking incognito through the world. Hmmm...

What do you think dear readers? Do you and/or you and your family get stared at, questioned or even attacked for crossing the color line? Do you care? How do you respond?

I'm listening.



rhapsodyinbooks said...

I think people say rude weird things over anything and everything! I was with one of my sisters who is overweight when, in a grocery checkout line, the woman asked her when her baby was due. It was just awful, and yet, I don't think the woman was *trying* to be mean. But I do think it takes a very thick skin to deviate from perceptions in any way whatsoever!

Alicia said...

I knew that it was going to happen when I adopted two back kids, when my husband, my bio kid and myself we are all white (not "American white", but pale skin anyway), so I was ready. I had a bit of training before being an immigrant in the US, not much for the way I look but by how I talk, let's say that the attention has multiplied.
A white family with black kids speaking Spanish like Argentineans is not very common, specially in this part of the country (Pacific NW). At first it bothered me a bit, now, I just don't care unless they are directly insulting us; if they cross the line I am certainly ready to respond.

Ernessa T. Carter said...

So funny that you should say this, b/c I'm in the same boat. After 6 months in China and 1 year in Japan, most of the time I don't notice people staring at me anymore. Have a biracial daughter is like nothing compared to just walking through some podunk town in China as a black woman. Also, I live in Cali, so more than stares we get biracial women coming up to us saying that our daughter looked just like they did when they were her age.

a said...

i hate it i sent you a fb re it.

LT said...

Yes, people are just rude sometimes.

I hear ya. Thanks for sharing.

I didn't know you lived in China and Japan. You make a good point, it's all relative.

I got your message on FB. Thanks for the positive thoughts.

ElfeDeLaForet said...

Great post! I think the worst for me was when a security guard questioned if my newborn son was mine. I was still wearing my maternity clothes for goodness sake! My hormones where all over the place and I really wanted to hurt him. grrrr. That said, none of our children really look much like either of us. I'm Multi American & brown (African , European and 1st Nation mix), my husband is Euro 'white' (French w/ some distant Asian lineage). They do look like combinations of various family members. So far, to strangers they appear respectively: Brown Ethiopian, Fair Afro-Latino, and Tan South American? lol.

I've learned to ignore weird comments for the most part. I grew up on the West Coast and when I went to school in New York I was surprised by so much "What are You?". I grew to learn that there are many different Afro-something multiracial groups so it can be a type of icebreaker. Also ppl ask I guess to make sure they're not making assumptions about the person's identity and background. It can be quite fascinating when people aren't nasty & hateful about it.