Thursday, January 13, 2011

Color.


      The other day Riley came up to me and said "Mommy brown" pointing to my skin.  I asked her what color she was and she said "Riley tan. I asked her what color daddy was, she said "Daddy pink" :) I've written before how we don't talk about color in our home, at least not yet. There's no need because at home we're simply a family. It's so different when we leave our home though...

  I roll my eyes when parents say they're teaching their kids to be "color-blind" and they accept everyone. To me thats simply ignoring the fact that there are other types of people out there besides your own. Being color-blind in theory sounds good, but what good does it do a child if they never learn about other cultures or learn that there are other ethnicities besides their own. Other cultures should be respected, the person as a whole should be accepted. Colors and all.

  Today I experienced a bit of racism. I'm still in shock and a little frustrated. Not frustrated because of the situation but my friends responses. I made the "mistake" of posting this in my status: 

"This man just parked next to me, looked over at me then backed up and parked in another spot. One of the reasons I hate Chilis"

  People responded of course, some just being surprised a person would do that, others defending Chilis, and then in a way defending the man. They knew what I was getting at but its hard for people, especially here in California to grasp that there are still people that are going to dislike others because of their color. Even if they have a black person telling them about different experiences they laugh it off nervously, making excuses or even sometimes calling you "too sensitive". Thankfully no one did this but people offered suggestions like "Oh its because you're a woman driver" (which in itself would have also made me upset... ;) Or maybe I did something to offend him, all joking of course. Yes, I did offend him, by being black. I got fed up because people either weren't taking it seriously or they were making terrible excuses. I don't blow up on facebook because its a waste of time, but when people I consider friends make jokes or defend someone who was doing something to spite me, I think I need to say something. 

   I can't describe the feeling when someone looks at you with such disgust and you begin to feel as if you don't belong there (And as Leif said, I didn't. We hate Chilis, haha.). I think what made me really upset was the fact that my children were with me. They don't understand now but one day they'll ask me. I don't want to hear someone tell me about how far we've come, believe me I'm aware. But are you aware of how far we need to go? Its sad but whats sadder is the fact that people deny that there are others out there that are still racist. Even here in California. I just got off the phone with my mom and she had to give me some tough love. I cried. Because there will be more experiences like this, and not just for me but my kids. That kills me.  

I try not to talk about race because it makes people nervous. It used to make me nervous and I avoided it and stuck to me "only white friends". I'm a bit embarrassed about that time in my life, I was basically in denial. I know that a lot of my friends are too, despite the fact that here I am, living proof of certain things. I don't want to change anyone, but I would like people to be aware. The older I get the more I notice things and the more passionate I become. My children should not have to grow up surrounded by ignorant people, who will dislike them simply because they're brown. Its part of life though and the best I can do is prepare my kids. God made us this way and I never want my children to be ashamed, but to celebrate who they are. 

10 comments:

Mrs. K said...

Wow...well said. I am sorry that you had to go through that. My husband and I don't have children yet but like most ppl in interracial relationships that fear of how one's children will be treated is there. I really don't like when people make comments like that either (like "you're too sensitive"). I usually tell them that they are being insensitive for trying to make excuses and not trying to empathize.

 E said...

I agree that teaching children to be "color blind" is in essence teaching them to ignore the fact that it's not color we're trying to blind, but the painful past of ignorance. If we just accepted that there was no black, white, brown, yellow, etc. then there would be no need for "color blindness". It's not like we walk around "teaching" our children that blue eyes and dimples are really mutations, but to not treat those with blue eyes and dimples differently, they're really not mutants. There is not black, white, brown, yellow, etc. there are just people, who's wonderful and smart bodies tailored their genes to help them survive native climates. I am sick of every "race" creating this barrier from one another like it's something that still needs protecting. It's not race that needs to be protected or even celebrated, it is the culture. There is a huge difference. You and your family are worthy. Just like anyone else's family is worthy. Worthy of love, and worthy of respect. All of which I extend to you. All the way from Miami.

Tiffany said...

Hi Miss Margaret-
This is my first ever comment to you but I am an avid follower. I love your beautiful family and special hearts.

My best friend also shares a bi-racial family and I too have seen her struggle with the shallow ignorance that yes...still exists in our culture. She too did not teach her children color differences and I think that you are exactly right...there is no color division...we are humans...with souls...hearts...and love. That is all that matters.

I just wanted to send you warm thoughts and love after an experience such as what you have had. We all want everyone to share our love and respect for each other...unfortunately some haven't learned how. Do not let their ignorance hurt your heart...easier said than done I know... but rest assured that as long as you handle those situations with dignity and grace...your children will learn strength from your strength...and God will take care of the rest.

Sending love your way from Texas♥

Yvonne said...

Big hugs to you Margaret. I'm not really sure what to say, but people are freaking idiots. Honestly, I'm so sick of talking about race, but even when I want to forget, someone will remind me in, no uncertain terms, that I am black. Don't get me wrong, I love being me, but there is so much more to me that just my race.

As for some of your friends, it sucks but they can't emphasize. It's like a male telling you what it feels like to be a guy. Regardless of how much you want to understand and emphasize, you will never be able to truly be able grasp it. Your white friends don't have to think about color or race, minorities have no choice in the matter. We are told daily we are black by little looks, snide comments, stereotypical remarks, or parking in another spot. Most of it is very subtle, but it's obvious when it happens. It's not being overly sensitive, but very observant. You're not looking for things, but you aren't blind either. So I'm sure your friends weren't trying to be uncaring, it's just really, really hard for them to even try to relate.

Now for a little levity....
When my daughter was 4 years old, she made the same comments your daugther made. My husand wanted to take it a step further, so he started to ask her more question. It went like this:

dad: what color is my skin?
dd: Beige.
dad: What color is my hair?
dd: Brown
dad: What color are my eye?
dd: green
dad: What color are my teeth?
dd: (she hesitated for a moment and without cracking a smile said......)
YELLOW!!!

LOL!! We still laugh until our bellyaches everytime we recount that story.

Not making light of your situation, but I'm sure that this wasn't the first time you experienced subtle racism and it won't be the last. Find humor is others stupidity.
ps...Chili's does suck!!

Samaria said...

While I have not taken the color blind approach(and think its silly too) I never talked about race with my son. But as he has done everything else he brought it up to me. We talk openly and honest about it.

Samaria said...

I am also sorry about what you experienced. I honestly believe no one understands it until they go through it. This was the way I felt about my own husband. Then one day a man had no clue we were together and made a racial slur against me and my boys and my husband was so upset. While I hated it happened. I was glad for him to finally witness just a small bit of what it is like.

Beautifully.Conjured.Up said...

This is the one subject I'm worried about when I talk to my future children. My background is different than yours, and my experiences made me cognizant of race and culture (being from the south, you have no choice). On one hand, I want to verbalize the reality of society and how they will be viwed; on the other hand, I don't want to embed a negative ideology of race relations (mostly because they will be from an interracial couple) when I speak to them about imperative subjects such as the African Diaspora, the Civil Rights Movement, etc.

No matter what I will teach them, I know I will teach them about their history and culture from both sides of their family, and that ultimately, the human race is one entity, no matter what others say.

mimi said...

great post! i liked reading it, hated hearing about the guy in the car. i am sorry there are people like that out there. i realize i don't know exactly where you are coming from (white girl white baby white husband). but i hope you are successful teaching your children to be proud of who they are and their background, as everyone should be.

ps they are gorgeous!

MsBabyPlan said...

I like this post. very thought provoking.

Fri @ Wedding Nouveau said...

What a beautiful post margaret. I am currently grappling with when's the appropriate time to talk about color, because like you, I believe it's naive to think "color blindness" doesn't exist, or is necessarily a bad thing.

I've absent from babycenter with all the hooplas of wedding nouveau, the first ever wedding style guide dedicated to interracial couples. I'm happy to say that we're launching our mag soon, and insights as candid as yours are exactly the sort of inspiration that readers should be privy too.

Cheers, photography and love.

Fri Forjindam
Founder, Editor - Wedding Nouveau