When our first baby was bundled up and handed to us, I held her tight and knew our love would protect her from any racial bias or pain.
I was living in a delusional dream world.
Our love was important and gave her a safe harbor to come home when the open sea rocked her, and the storms rage. However, as she sailed forth, there were big storms and small squalls.
We’ve weathered them all, but I wish we would have been a little more prepared.
In no particular order, here are the types of things you will hear if you have an interracial family or don’t live in a predominantly Black community.
- Sometime during elementary, your child will come home from school and say, “Everyone stares at me when we talk about slavery.”
- By high school, your teenager will mention, “People say I sound white, so I’m going to start sounding Black.”
- There will be a yappy little kid who thinks he’s funny when he raises an Oreo during lunch and says, “It’s like I’m eating you right now. Black on the outside and all white and squishy inside.”
- Older, blue-haired white women will feel compelled to reach over and pet your child’s hair and then make predictable remarks such as, “Your hair feels like wool.” “It’s like a duck. Water rolls right off.” “Have you ever tried straightening it?”
- Your neighbor will say, “I like Blacks as long as they don’t act Black.”
- The waiter at some restaurant will adopt a Southern accent when asking your child what she wants.
- An aunt will prepare fried chicken, assuming this is your child’s favorite meal.
- In a gesture of solidarity, your daughter’s friends will repeatedly say, “I wish I could get tanned as dark as you.”
- These same friends will compliment your daughter by saying, “You are so pretty for a Black girl.”
- The same person who says he doesn’t “see color” will expect your daughter’s favorite singer to be Black and will begin every conversation by asking how she feels about Black Lifes Matter or whatever Black issue is trending.
Often conversations about race become tortured, palpably awkward, and loaded with triggers. Eventually, however, you will start to find humor in these conversations.
Your love, the love you thought would shield your child but doesn’t, will be strong enough to carry you through.
If you have comments or suggestions, please, feel free to add to this discussion.