"Trick or Treat, I'm an emanciapated slave!"

Monday, September 05, 2005

My husband is transfixed by the news. He has family down south and he has started calling clients in the south to try and get news of the extended family. As he is from Detroit, and his grandfather was a Cajun man - our ties are well within the affected territory.

The longer I am married to a black man - the more ashamed of my race I become. To see white people walking with guns looking out for the niggers to shoot? Disgusting. Kanye West wasn't that far off the mark with his statements. I keep waiting for a black woman to get a hold of Bush as he wanders around saying stupid things and lay into him. My mother in law would, if she had the chance.

My daughter is blessedly oblivious of it all. She plays with her toys and neighbor friends and is worried about her first grade concerns.

And of course, the topic of race revisits our conversations always. Yesterday my bi racial daughter announced that she wanted to be Addy for Halloween. Now - for those of you without a 3 to 14 year old girl in your home - Addy is an "American Girl" character. She is an escaped then emanicapated slave who finds and reunites her family in Philadelphia. She is a strong young woman and Addy's story was a way for my husband and I to begin to raise Emily's conciousness to the issues and history of her two races through a story that she could relate to.

Emily had her costume all planned out and announced this to our oldest and dearest friends at dinner on Saturday. They listened to her explanation of the character and then looked at my husband and I for our reaction. I dryly commented, "I will have to hang a sign around her neck saying "I am an emanciapated slave" as she trick or treats in our ALL white state of New Hampshire."

Later, my husband and I talked about this dilemia. As a biracial child, she needs to understand the complexity of race relations in the US. We have raised her to identify herself as black and to be proud that her mommy and daddy loved each other so much that they wanted to have her - our beautiful baby girl. We want her to understand the seriousness of Addy's story and be proud that she has roots in such a courageous and strong people. But.... we can't let her dress up like a slave - even an emanciapated one - and send her out trick or treating.

So I called my mother in law in Detroit and asked for mommy advice. Would she have let her children trick or treat like a freed slave in Detroit? "Hell no!" came the response. Could I expose my daughter to the ignorance of uber-white new hampshire in the guise of trick or treat Addy? Hell no.

So, we explained to her that Addy was a real person - a characted to be sure - but based on the experiences of real people and that Halloween was a time to be made up people. She seemed to accept this explanation. Daddy then told her that to be Addy for black history month would be more appropriate. She was perfectly content with these explanations and decided to be Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk.

And we navigate the waters of race relations again...

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