Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Racism: an Inevitable Conversation in any Mixed-Race Family

Racism is a difficult conversation, but one that I have discovered is inevitable in a mixed-race family living ANYWHERE.

My birth certificate has my race written down as BROWN. What race, seriously, would that be?

I don't know but I am darker than both my parents and my "brown" look caused me a few growing pains while growing up in Asia. My "white" grandmother once looked at me, smirked, and loudly agreed with my aunt that I was, "Qué fea!" (How ugly!) My "yellow" grandmother, on the other hand, never favored me because I didn't have the porcelain skin of a China Doll. My own mother noted I had the face and coloring of the native Filipinos in her old prints, a compliment coming from an art collector (I guess). Growing up in the Philippines and Hong Kong, the former with their colonial mentality and the latter with an abundance of "brown" domestic helpers, I guess I always felt a little insecure about my color and sometimes inferior to family and friends who were fairer. As I lived away from Asia though, my coloring really grew on me. I learned to love my skin and even prefer it now when it darkens in the summer.

I am now married to a "white" American and our son, although fairer than both of us, has Asian coloring. We live in Small Town, USA and most of our friends and people we interact with are White. Who says that children don't see colour? They are wrong. When he was two, my son asked me: "Am I White, Mama? Like Daddy? Why do I have to look like you, Mama?" His questions both shocked and hurt me a little but I understood where my son was coming from. He just wanted to fit in and, obviously, his Mama is not White.

I hope my son learns to disregard the color of other people's skin. I hope my son will be comfortable in his own skin sooner than I was. I hope he understands that what matters most is inside each and everyone of us. And at the end of each day, I look at my son with big black eyes just like mine and whisper: "You are beautiful just as you are."

Some links to share:
Mixed Nation - a Facebook page full of photos celebrating people of mixed races
Mixed Blood Exhibit - I'm proud to say that a cousin curated this show in China.

1 comment:

  1. A while back, GHF posted an article about teaching your children not to have prejudice. Many of the comments were along the lines of "they learn by example" or "that is a learned behavior", but I think it is a necessary conversation. Kids notice differences and just like any other subject, it's good to talk about it. Thank you for your post - it was lovely, and your family is beautiful!