Hitting Close to Home

 I was six the first time I realized I was not the same race as my mother.  I remember the day vividly because I was in second grade. A boy in my class pointed it out to me. I of course thought he was a liar and punched him in the nose.  When I got home, my mother told me I was biracial.  I just figured I was tanned since I lived outside 99% and paled in the winter.
I had no idea what that even meant. I paid no attention to it at all. Until I was nine and my mother who owned a lawn mowing business lost a customer because I got out of the car and came to find her. The man didn’t approve of a white woman having a mixed child. She was really angry at me for coming to find her but never told me why, until years later.
As I grew up I began to notice differences. When we’d go to North Kansas to see my grandparents and we went out to eat everyone would stare at me and my older brother. Later in life I’d find out that my grandparents disowned my mother for adopting biracial children. I guess in the 70’s that was not the in thing to do.  Their disapproval must not have lasted long. I spent many summers with them and we were really close.
There weren’t books like “Pretty Brown Girl” when I was a child. My mother had no colleagues who were a different race. I was twelve when I met other people with the same shade of skin or darker. The only exposure I had was my brother and Mowtown. My mom had a collector’s edition. I grew up with the oldies, Barbara Streisand and the Eagles, John Denver and every musical known to man.  I didn’t really think much about color until middle school when everyone broke off into cliques.
I didn’t really fit in any group. Groups at that age were so important. I was the odd girl. I didn’t know how to groom my hair like other people my color or understand their dynamics. Slang wasn’t allowed in my house growing up and I’d had a limited exposure to anyone not in my mother’s small circle of friends.
 I remember those years vividly because of my mother’s inability to let me find my way or to help me understand the diverse cultures I should’ve been exposed to made it that much harder to figure out who I was.
My grandma always used to ask me when I was going to find a nice white boy to settle down with. First, I was like fifteen and so not ready for that. Second, I used to always tell them I wasn’t white and they’d smile and say they knew. They used to drive me bat crazy with that phrase and I’d leave the room frustrated because of the color reference.
When does color shape that?
Should Color shape anything?
My answer of course in a perfect world would be no but we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in one where people judge for what I like to refer as ‘shit and giggles’.
Every time I think the color barrier has been bridged and things are good, there is always someone to knock it down again, leaving me frustrated and having to start over again.
I was in my mid twenties when I finally gave up on trying to please everyone in my circle and realized, some people were just not going like me and oh well. Now I’m in my mid thirties and although I still feel the same way, it’s hard not to be insulted and to remain cordial when people in my circle who don’t feel that I am “Black” enough to be with my fiancé. That because I let my daughter dye her hair with blue streaks, my son dye his mohawk bright red that I am too lenient, or that my youngest has a smarter mouth than she should and I don’t jump down their throat or hit them…(much).
I can’t help that I was adopted by a white family and grew up differently.  I won’t apologize for who I am and what I choose to do. And yet at every gathering with family and friends I have to deal with this particular person who goes out of her way to make me uncomfortable.
Others in our in our group of friends continually call me to apologize for this person’s behavior and I tell them it’s okay. I know it’s really not and that I shouldn’t have to be subjected to that type of behavior but people are who they are and if they don’t care for me, there’s  something wrong with them, not me. Not that I’m perfection, I’m continually working to be better than I am.
I never thought I’d be in my Mid Thirties and defending myself to a person of color still. I thought this world I live in has grown past that. 
This is one of the main reasons I love writing inter-racial romance.  I feel there is much silence from those who share my complexion and downplay or hide what they’re going through. That it isn’t real if it’s not talked about.

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About mahalia2010

Mother, Sister, Friend, Author

Posted on October 15, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Beautiful article, Hales. I really enjoyed it! You would think things would have changed, at least a little bit, but there is always that one or two in the bunch that refuses to let go.

  2. Hey Wanda! Thanks for commenting! It’s just crazy to me at least but yeah.

  3. Color is like siding. Each house we live in has a different siding and roof. These bodies are merely houses that we live in, so I never could figure out what the deal was about the color of the home we each reside in.

  4. What a great analogy Ablueice! Thanks 🙂

  5. As far as it seems we’ve come sometimes as humans, it’s amazing that we still need to have these conversations again and again… I’m so sorry this is still a part of your life, Hales, and look forward to the day when really we’ll all be colorblind in the best possible way!

  6. Hi Hales, great article! I have a step daughter thats mixed. Shes a bit darker that my own kids but not by much andher mother is mixed as well. As of yet, there have been no problems but we are, unfortunately, always on guard ready to support her if an issue ever arrises. Her mother was adopted by a white family and she refuses to even acknowledge that she is mixed in any way. With the hurtful things people say still, I wonder if we ever left the 1950’s era.

  7. Beautiful, personal share, Mahalia. I think we all need to reminded every once in awhile of how hurtful some issues remain for many people-doesn’t matter that it is 2012!

  8. Thanks Krista. It can be insane. I swear at times I felt like my mom just wanted to erase what little color I had out of me and ignore that I wasn’t biracial. Interesting how your step daughters mother sees herself. We are all a product of how we are raised whether we admit it or not. The only choice being changing factors once we are able to steer our own lives. Sadly sometimes people are used to being a certain way and not feeling as if they need change or rocking the boat. I wasn’t allowed to date black teens when iwas growing up or listen to black music. I rebelled and blared Bobby Brown and Public Enemy until she took the cassettes away lol. Dated a pseudo gang member too just to piss my mom off. That didn’t work out well for me.

    • I’m really glad you take the approach you do! We butt heads with my step-daughter’s mother often. In a public park once, there was a black man walking through the park and we happened to be there doing a public exchange with my stepdaughter, picking her up from her mom and when she saw the man, she screamed and started crying and her mom protected her like he had the plague. My husband and I both got so mad and that night had to sit down and have a major talk with her. She’s mixed for cryin’ out loud, we can’t have her acting like that toward any person, black or white. That’s just what her mother has been filling her head with tho. Color doesn’t make a bit of difference, a person is a person plain and simple. We just try to stay very open with her at all times.

  9. Hey Davee, thanks for coming by 😛 yeah. I now choose not to let it hurt me though it is still irritating as hell.

  10. That sounds very traumatizing for your step daughter. I hope you all have some books she can read about her culture if you don’t hit me up on Email and I’ll give you a list of some great ones. I often think of writing a few myself. Child and teen ones. We’ll see if that ever happens lol.

    • Thank you ! You should definitely write some 🙂 I’m only glad she doesn’t spend too much time with her mom becuase it is hard on her. She’s only 7 and that’s alot for a kid to have to deal with, especially coming from her mom. A list would be great and feel free to email me any time. She’s not the best reader but maybe in another year or so she’d be able to comprehend better what she reads. I’m only glad so far there has been no trouble at school with the other kids. Kids sometimes can be so honest and in turn hurtful and not realize it!
      Thanks again for this great post !!!

  11. I agree, color doesn’t make a difference. It’s what a person does with his or her life. For me, growning up female was almost as bad because I wanted to do everything the boys were doing. Also, my brother was valued much more than I was because he was a boy.

  12. You’re right Ella that can be just as bad. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hales, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I had two black friends when I worked at TWA, one was bi-racial and the other didn’t believe in mixing black and white or any other color for that matter. I was able to be friends with both because I believe in letting people have their opinions. My opinion is that God intends us to be one race, but it’s going to be a long time coming.

    My niece and her husband adopted a little girl from China, and they are determined to let her learn about her heritage.

    The person your friends apologize for all the time: I would call her on it. She’s being rude. I don’t know what the circumstances are, Hales, so you have to be the judge of what to do.

    Hugs,
    Sandy

  14. Thanks Sandy! I know a lot of people who are or were against interracial dating some have changed their minds and others haven’t.
    I think it’s great that people adopt children who need good homes but it’s imperative that they make sure they teach culture esp now that there are so many good books made for children to understand the many parts that make up who they are. For a sense of identity and self esteem.

    Oh she knows and she’s been told by various members of my fiance’s family incl his mother. Yet she hasn’t changed or apologized. But it’s okay I don’t need an apology that isn’t heartfelt and I don’t expect one.

  15. That was one of the most heartfelt and touching blogs I’ve ever written. Thank you for sharing.

  16. I need a proof reader to check my comments. I meant:

    That was one of the most heartfeld and touching blogs I’ve ever READ. Thank you for sharing.

    Since I write silly things in my blogs, my first attempt at a comment was truly nonsensical.

  17. Hi Liza, I figured you meant Read lol. I need a proof reader for comments too! It was something on my mind.

  18. The latest anthropological theories say that we are all black, descended from an African female whose mitochondrial DNA lives inside each of us, traced through our mothers. It is only passed from females to their children. Some of our ancestors moved further away from the equator, so in order for the sun to penetrate our skin to mix with the cholesterol in our blood enough to create the vitamin D every cell needs to be healthy, some of us had our skins become lighter with each new generation, and our cholesterol levels got higher. That’s why many very light people have high cholesterol even if they never consume any animal fats.
    So in actuality, we are all black. Jokingly, I guess that would explain why so many kids want to “act black”, since it’s “cool”, unlike being white which while the dominant power color still, is “not cool”. What I want to know is in the very near future, when white people become the minority in the USA, as we are in the whole world, and minorities become the majority, will we still refer to people of brown colors as “minorities”? What a crazy, skewed viewpoint! To an alien, we are all “human”. That’s enough definition for me…unless you want to separate the world into those who actually use both lobes of their brains, and those who don’t! Grin.

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