When Buggy was six months old we went to the library for story time. Our downtown library is full of characters from all walks of life, many of whom who sit on the steps out front to soak up the sun on nice days. On this particular day we were running late, so I was literally running into the library, diaper bag on one shoulder, Buggy on my hip. At the entrance of the library a young Black lady waved at me and hollered “Hey! What’s she mixed with?” I replied “Excuse me?” Because I was confused if she was talking to me, and also not sure if she was seriously asking what races my daughter was mixed with. She replied again ”What’s she mixed with?” So I said the only thing I could think of “Her dad is Black and I’m her mom” That seemed to satisfy the lady, as she went back to chit-chatting with her friend, but she left me with mixed emotions.
I kind of wish I had been a little bit more creative in my response (a lady in my watercolor class said I should have replied “She’s mixed with mom and dad”), but in the moment I was too surprised to think of anything. It was bizarre to have a complete stranger confront me in this manner. I mean, who just randomly asks someone what race they are like that? It also felt invasive. Nobody in my 28 years of life has ever asked me what I was, so why would someone ask what my daughter was? Because we are so obviously different in terms of our skin color the lady must have assumed Buggy was mixed, but couldn’t tell which races. For some reason she was brave enough to ask me about it, something I would never dream of asking anyone, even if I really wanted to know. Which left me curious about her curiosity. Why did it matter? Who cares? How come you think it’s ok to ask that to a stranger? My questions remain unanswered, as we very quickly rushed into the library so as not to miss story time.
This event didn’t really upset me like the lady who said I was too white to have such a black baby, but it did leave me wondering what other people think of us when we go out. Are there lots of people who wonder what she’s mixed with, but are too polite to ask, or is it obvious she is half black and half white? To me she’s just Buggy, my perfect little baby, not some biracial poster child to be questioned by strangers at the library.
Have you ever been asked what your child is mixed with? How did you respond?