What’s She Mixed With?

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.

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Buggy, reading one of her library books

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?

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Game Time

The World Cup (the largest futbol/soccer tournament in the world that happens every 4 years) is in full swing this summer.  I grew up playing soccer, and have always been a huge World Cup fan, watching every tournament since I can remember.  I have even attended two World Cup tournaments (France ’98 and South Africa ’10) in person, something so amazing that I can’t even begin to describe it.  Like many Americans, my family dressed in red, white, and blue on Sunday night to watch the USA play Portugal.

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Buggy is all decked out in her red, white, and blue to watch the USA 

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Buggy also cheers for the host nation of Brazil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the pre-match show I learned that the German born American coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, recruited five German-American players to play for the United States.  The players are sons of US Servicemen with American fathers and German mothers.   I always thought that to play in the World Cup you had to be from the country you played for, and it never occurred to me that some people hold dual citizenship.  I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this – I have a friend whose dad was in the military and his mom is German. So why was I surprised that the USA coach was recruiting dual citizenship players from his native land?  I guess because to me the World Cup represents a chance for countries from around the world to demonstrate their soccer skills, sportsmanship, and to show the world their culture. Players act as ambassadors, representing the traditions and style of their country and in my mind players who are recruited from foreign countries to play for the USA are not really American, because we had to recruit (and in my mind recruiting means convincing) them to join us.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized I was wrong.  Recruiting players is not the same as convincing them to join our side.  America is a melting pot.  We have citizens from all around the world whose families have come from hundreds of foreign countries to live in our fine land.  We are a diverse bunch; a colorful country. From the poor to the rich, from the city dwellers to the country folks, and even those who live abroad, we are all American.  If the USA coach wants to recruit German-Americans to play for the American team in the World Cup then let him.  He isn’t breaking any FIFA rules, and he is creating a more diverse and interesting team, making the beautiful game more exciting and uniting all Americans as we cheer for our team in this tournament.

As the USA prepares for their game against Germany on Thursday I am preparing my daughter to become a citizen of the world.  I am showing her different cultures, traditions, and practices from all around the world.  From Ghana’s choreographed dance after they scored a goal against Germany last week, to the South African vuvuzela made popular in the 2010 World Cup, to the chanting drumming Chilean fans I saw at the 1998 World Cup in France, I hope to instill in my daughter a curiosity and interest in different cultures and an excitement for the world’s most popular sport.

Teen

Attempting to play my vuvuzela at a World Cup game in South Africa 2010. Someone told me their mom played the vuvuzela better then me… and they weren’t kidding!

You’re Too Pale To Have a Black Baby

The first comment about my biracial daughter Buggy’s skin color came when she was just 2 months old.  The rental agency for apartment we rented was coming to do a yearly inspection, and gave me a window of time in which they would be stopping by.  Buggy also had her 2-month check up that morning, so when the apartment inspection person wasn’t here within their time frame I began packing up the baby.

She was already buckled in her car seat, with a cover over her when the doorbell rang.  The inspection lady did a quick walk through of the apartment, taking pictures as fast as she could because I told her we were on our way to the doctor and she needed to hurry. Right as she was leaving the baby made a happy gurgling noise from beneath her covered car seat.  The lady bent down, lifted the blanket, and stared at my daughter.  She looked a bit shocked, and then turned to me and said “You look too pale to have such a dark baby” I very quickly shooed her out the door, nearly slamming her hand as she waved some papers toward me, and then I knelt down on the carpet and kissed my baby and told her how much I loved her, and how special she is.

Tears were streaming down my face as I made my way to the car to take her to the doctor, and later that evening as I retold the story to my husband it became clear that her words made me both sad and angry. I do not think that this lady intended to upset me, nor do I believe that she meant to invade Buggy’s personal space and insult both of us with her comment, but the fact is, she did.  She had no right to uncover my baby and get right in her face, or to make a comment about either of our skin color.  The truth is, I am pasty white, and my daughter is dark brown.  But we are both beautiful, and to suggest otherwise is insulting.  Do we look alike?  Not particularly, but do we need someone pointing that out to us?  No, we don’t.

Buggy exploring her car seat.

This comment was made many months ago, and in the time since I have reflected back on that moment when, with a tear stained face, I kissed my baby girl and told her I love her.  I have often wondered why I was so sad.  What was behind my tears?  It was just a random comment from someone I don’t even know; it shouldn’t have bothered me.  But this was the first time a stranger pointed out to me that my baby and I look nothing alike, and it was also the first time I realized that none of my future babies will probably look a whole lot like me either.  My daughter is gorgeous and I absolutely love her dark curly hair and big brown eyes, but she will never be fair skinned or have my blonde hair and blue eyes.  It took grieving over a lady’s unnecessary comment for me to recognize that having a child who looks nothing like me makes me a little bit sad.  And to realize that it is an okay thing to be sad about, because it means she looks a lot like my husband, and he is the most handsome guy I know.  Buggy truly is a beautiful baby, and now that I have identified my feelings as sadness and anger towards this lady and her rude comment I can focus on what is really important, like teaching my baby to be the best little bug she can.

Biracial Buggy

I was inspired to write this blog about the challenges and joys of raising a biracial child in today’s increasingly mixed world after several strangers made less then polite comments about myself and/or child.  My husband is Black (and I refer to him as such because that is how he refers to himself, more on that later) and I am white.  We have a child together, who I will refer to as Buggy.  Buggy is beautiful!  She has golden brown skin, dark curly hair, huge bug eyes, and a great big toothless smile.  We look nothing alike, and people often remark on our differences.  She is the spitting image of my husband, right down to her dimples and extra large feet.  When they go out without me strangers will say she is cute and looks just like him.  When I go out with Buggy I am told I’m too pale to have a dark baby, asked what she is mixed with, and and even where she was adopted from.  These comments hurt, but I am learning how to handle such curious, and often negative and ignorant remarks with grace and dignity.  I am teaching my daughter that although people are curious they can also be rude.  It is how we reply to these situations that builds our character.  Through humor, sarcasm, and yes, sometimes tears, I remind my daughter of her beauty and my unconditional love for her.