Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dumb things people say educational value at all... :)

Hey! It is dumb things people say day!!!! Yay!

My karma must be off. I apparently am attracting, again, people who have dumb things to say about mixed race. These are well meaning people who, under the guise of education, have decided to put my family on trial for "mixed race authenticity". There is a little twist, mixed race is not being contested, our membership to the mixed race club is...

We have moved, and we love where we live. I have a great job as a professor and diversity professional. I somehow imagined that the people I worked with would have a better sense of what you might say to a diversity professional ... diversity etiquette if you will... Nah.

In the past week I have been told: you are too dark to be mixed... you are soooooo dark... your daughter couldn't have "white hair" it has to be nappy like yours (paws through my child's hair to find a nap). Sigh...

It has been a long time but I am starting to feel like a zoo animal, my skin, my children's skin, and our hair has been touched, felt, pawed...while people who know perfectly well this is unacceptable look on.

I know I am whining but COME ON PEOPLE... turn on a television, read a BOOK... Ask before touching. And yes, my child IS blond... nature is a beautiful thing....

I don't think I have anything educational to say about this. I will say that when we engage in these behaviors, asking questions that are founded in no research of our own first, we are performing or re-performing a racialized harm. Should we learn from each other? Yes. Should we make people feel like I feel right now, like not wanting to teach anyone a blessed thing; well that might be counterproductive.

Three different people this week challenged my mixed race identity based on how dark I am. I realized that they had never really bothered to SEE the differences in skin tone amongst people of color. We aren't ALL THE SAME COLOR. Stupidly I tried to redirect these folks attention by telling them that my students of color always know that I am mixed race because they see me in a different context. THESE PEOPLE REFUSED TO STOP TALKING AND ARGUED WITH ME ABOUT MY OWN GENEOLOGY. "my biological father is white"... "HE CAN'T BE" "my children are light because I am mixed, they are second generation, really third because my biological mother was mixed too" "you aren't mixed you are too dark"... Actually, I am tooooooo pissed.

I am upset because I erred on the side of diplomacy and preserved relationships and really I just wanted to hit someone. I wanted to ask why they were so obsessed with my genealogy. I wanted to ask if they had ever heard of Google. I am saddest about the fact that my daughter had to experience this. She had her hair picked through (did I mention that I got asked this week if I got things lost in my afro?) and her arms compared for color (she was lighter). I had one young woman looking at family pictures proclaim "oh see, your boys get dark, I KNEW they had to get dark". WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!!!!

Folks: If you are curious, do some research, Google, READ A BOOK... Then approach someone with a specific conversation in mind that will advance your relationship, and the topic as a whole, forward. We are not freak shows... we are people with rich histories, genealogies, and lived experiences to share. Believe that we know who and what we are and where we are from. If you don't understand it... that is on you. And while we are at it... your sense that you can negate what I tell you about myself is the epitome of PRIVILEGE and POWER unchecked.

The best part of this week was when my 10 year old daughter looked at me and said "seriously? That girl is obsessed with color? What is UP with THAT?" What IS up with that?

more soon...

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