Thursday, October 11, 2012

The way to make my spouse lose his ability to speak?

My daughter: "What's the KKK?"

Yes folks, someone has dropped the race ball...and that someone isn't me. Now, to be fair...we lived outside of the US between her years of 7 and 14. Canada has a very different history when it comes to race. We didn't have the same sort of conversations because the context was so very different.

Moving back to the state has reminded us that there are some areas in which our child has no deoth of knowledge.

Terrance reacted out of fear yesterday, driving Emily to tears and me to exasperation. He tried to explain that there are people who will hate her for her skin color, and she said "But I'm not black, I'm biracial..."

And his head exploded again.

Later, I tried to explain that to some people her skin color designates her as only black. That those people can't imagine the concept of people being more than one thing at the same time. I tried to find the words to explain that her father wants to protect her and that part of that protection is for her to identify as black.  I had to explain the history of the more favorable treatment of light skinned black people, and the idea of trying to "pass" as white.

At all of these things I feel inadequate. Terrance is angry at Emily' lack of knowledge...yet he does not move to fill in the gaps, opting to lecture me about our failures as parents. When he paused for breath mid-lecture, I interjected: "It is as if you are asking me to teach her what it is to have a penis. I can't do that. I am not qualified to do that. I don't have that base of experience. The best I can do is to tell her what I think  it may be like to have a penis, which isn't the same."

I can't tell her what it is to be black.

2 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn. I agree with you, but I think the piece you're missing is that neither of you can tell her what it is to be a bi-racial American girl raised in Canada. He can and should do all he can to share his experiences of race with her, as I'm sure you share your experiences of gender. But at the end of the day he also understand that if she doesn't end up fully understanding/adopting his racial perspective of the world, it's not necessarily because of some huge parental failure. It might just be because her experience in the world and her viewpoint are different from his. And they might always be. And that's ok.

Amy Y. said...

I feel you. I'm a white girl, formerly white, Catholic girl who never thought much about race until my husband who is 3rd generation Japanese(he is MORE american than I am) had some idiots make "ching chong" noises at him in a Taco Bell in New Mexico. That was back in the days when it didn't take too much for me to start a conflict that could only be resolved by law enforcement and Dean dragged me out of there saying "Drive thru ONLY for you on the rest of this trip."

And then we had kids.

I got an e-mail from a white supremacist board on the internet- not going to mention them by name but I found out who was hosting their site and led a one-woman e-mail campaign that eventually resulted in them shutting the site down. Problem is, another one just pops right up somewhere else.

I guess I consider us lucky that we've always lived along the West Coast and now that we live in Silicon Valley, well those whitey-mcwhite kids seem to be the minority and not the majority.

Man it chaps my hide, though, when people post comments to my blog about how my 'mutt' children should be put down (and alot of these people call themselves 'Christian' (not exactly a good way to sell your brand of religion folks)). Anyhow, my kids seem pretty immune/unaware of racial bias at this point so maybe things are changing a bit- at least in my corner of the world. And I will give you that I am sure it is very different to be biracial Asian versus biracial Black.

◄Design by Pocket