Hi Meltingpot Readers,
In honor of last night’s airing of CNN’s Who is Black in America (which I have not seen yet, because I don’t have cable. But I plan to catch it online or on rerun at my sister’s house), I thought I’d share a funny story with you.
So, last week babygirl and I were waiting for my older son to finish his guitar lesson at the music school near our home. As we always do, we sat in the hallway and passed the time picking tiny pieces of garbage off the floor, getting on and then off the benches, and jiggling the doorknobs of all the classroom doors. Actually, that’s what babygirl was doing. I was trying my best to read a magazine with one eye, while the other eye followed babygirl on her adventures. Soon, we were joined by our new friend, Cindy, and her dad. Cindy is six and takes piano lessons. She has an adorable smile, cornrows with red beads and she loves iCarly and SpongeBob.
We often coincide in the hallway with Cindy and her dad, as Cindy’s lessons begin as soon as my son’s end. We’ve gotten in the habit of playing a little game together called Guess Who? One person gives clues as to what famous person they are and the other person guesses their identity. The first time we played, I did horribly because Cindy kept choosing characters from iCarly. I don’t know who that is. I am also terribly ignorant when it comes to SpongeBob as well. So this week, when Cindy asked if I wanted to play Guess Who? with her I said, yes, but please no iCarly characters. She agreed.
I went first and gave Cindy the following clue. “I have wings, I only come out at night, and I love teeth.” It took her a couple of guesses after I gave a few more clues, like “Nobody can see me and I leave children gifts under their pillows.” She quickly figured out I was the Tooth Fairy.
Then it was Cindy’s turn. “I’m ready,” she said after a moment of thinking.
“Okay, remember no iCarly characters,” I reminded her.
She nodded with a happy grin and then announced, “I’m white!”
I waited for more. Nothing.
“Are you Frosty the Snowman?” I asked.
“No, I’m a baby,” she said.
“Do you have any magical powers?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said, after only a moment to consider the question. I glanced at her dad for a bit of guidance, but he looked as confused as I felt.
“Are you a boy baby or a girl baby?” I inquired. For some reason I had it in my mind she was thinking about Baby Jesus.
“A girl,” she said and ruined my Jesus theory. And then I noticed where Cindy’s gaze was directed. I put two and two together and got…
“Is it her?” I asked pointing to babygirl, the only white baby in sight.
“Yes!!” Cindy shouted gleefully. Her dad rolled his eyes and threw his head in his hands. I, on the other hand, laughed out loud. Babygirl does look white and to a six-year old Black girl, that might be kind of confusing. White baby, Black mom? Or maybe it was just interesting enough.
Dear readers, you know I’ve written about the fact that my children are three different colors and that babygirl is particularly pale. You should know by now that her coloring makes for decidedly interesting theoretical conversations about race, identity, color and DNA, but in the day to day, I just love on babygirl like crazycakes. That being the case, when other people, like Cindy, point out the fact that my daughter doesn’t look like MY daughter, I do take a moment to mourn. But just a teeny, tiny moment. I’m human. But not all is lost, when it comes to babygirl and I sharing some physical characteristics.
It’s true, babygirl is truly a mini el esposo in her features. But as she gets older –babygirl is 16 months old now — it is becoming glaringly apparent that babygirl has inherited her mother’s body, big shoulders, big booty and short legs. Yes, babygirl is already beginning to look like a small football player, just like her mama. Nice and solid. So, when you see her face, you don’t see me, but from behind, she is definitely MY child. And that’s kind of cool.
At the end of the day, it just makes me realize that there are so many different ways to claim your children. It doesn’t have to be because their face is a carbon copy of yours. Color matters in this race obsessed culture of ours, but it doesn’t have to matter so much.
Thanks for listening. And now it’s your turn. Tell us your best stories of people getting it wrong about your family. Or maybe you got it wrong and stuck your foot in it. I’m listening.