April 20, 2014

On seeing color

On seeing colorI’ve been in an interracial relationship since 1997. It’s been a long time. In the beginning, I was adamant that I did not see color- that I was colorblind and that love is colorblind. In fact, when were were both attending college, I wrote an article for the campus newspaper bashing the student population for all the crazy crap they would say and said loudly that color doesn’t matter. Oh, to go back and change that article now!

At 34, I am no longer naive enough to believe that skin color doesn’t change things. I see it more as half of an interracial couple and the mother of a biracial child than I probably did ever before. I see it at family functions when I am often the only Black person because my side of the family is not local. I see it when we travel or go out to dinner. I even see it when we are sitting at home watching a movie or homeschooling. When cashiers think that we are two separate customers I know it’s because our skin color is different. When we go to the doctor’s office and he stands to come in with me, I see the double-take by the nurse as she has to figure us out. When the woman in the grocery store called me the “nanny” as my family of three finished our shopping, I knew it’s because of my skin color and nothing else. And as much as I want to say color doesn’t matter, it obviously does.

So, we talk about race and color a lot in our home. With a 5 year old who says, with pride, that she is “Tan,” color is something that is present and will aways be present. She knows that I am Black and that her dad is White and she recognizes that our family is different from others because we are not the same color. And we, as a family, embrace those color differences. We acknowledge that the assumptions made about us and those that we make about ourselves are in large part due to our skin color and how we are treated because of it. We have made it a point to teach my daughter that color does not designation intelligence, beauty, nor anything else.

Recognizing how color has driven people throughout history and how it continues to do so can make us more sensitive to the challenges that others face. It can help us to see  that the world is not an equal place for all and that as much as we would like to say that things are changing, some things are very much the same. I firmly believe that recognizing color and all that doing so entails can encourage us to make real changes to create a better world. So I say very loudly that “I SEE COLOR!”

Are you embracing the diversity of color in your life?

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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On differences

For children growing up, family represents the beginnings of our sense of societal cohesion and those experiences influences our ways of defining different. As the mother of mixed children, it occurred to me that I would inevitably be called upon to answer some awkward and even appalling questions regarding these differences ; race relations in the US being as they are. But, what I never imagined was that I- progressive mom extraordinaire could and ultimately would, struggle for years before finding the answers.

One of the more comical albeit awkward moments happened in a NYC playground between my son Jordan when he was about 4 (now approaching 18), and a boy he befriended who was about the same age. After a few hours of play, the close of their time together drew near and, the other child’s parents’ called him to leave. The children mournfully said their ‘goodbyes’ and, just as the other child turned to exit with his parents, Jordan said, “Hey, is that your mommy and daddy”? His new friend nodded and Jordan, still staring turns, looks up at me quizzically and says, “How come his mommy isn’t Black?”

Cue the chemical onslaught; emotionally, I’m flooded: laughter, sobbing, anxiety, trembling-I’m reaching new heights on my internal awkward-o-meter. “Well, because Jordan… his mommy is different from your mommy. Some families don’t have Black mommies”. Of course, Jordan is now talking about [insert toy, show, insect] and I’m well, flummoxed; we don’t talk about race, like ever. I’m so embarrassed, where could he have learned such a thing?! It occurred to me then, Jordan’s tiny social circle- until this fateful afternoon, consisted of our mixed race/multicultural friends and family; a group of people who shared the same unspoken differences.

Fast forward a decade or more and our second child, Yael, has made yet another high volume tear and snot laden entrance after being called a “half-breed” and ridiculed for being “not really Black”, by two children in an AZ playground. Hmph, now I’m looking quizzical- okay livid and quizzical. After a brief tirade, I gingerly deliver the same lame, vague speech about differences. But, all the while, I’m thinking, “Uh, yeah, so what. There’s nothing wrong with being  not really blackHalf breed isn’t the most diplomatic term, but…well, have we gotten too diplomatic, too politically correct, too hypervigilante, too homogenous”? Are we so focused on explaining the pedantics of our differences that we have turned a blind eye to the ways differences enrich our single commonality?

To expect our fellow humans to ignore our differences is not only disingenuous but insulting as it undermines the beauty of our individuality. You see, it isn’t about looking different or being differently abled that continues to plague society, but a willful ignorance and indifference to the fact that we are all different; even those of us who look the same. If we, as a society are ever to achieve on a macrocosmic level, the cohesion that exists in families on a microcosmic level, we’ll need to begin with asserting ourselves and affirming our identities as unique members of the human race.

So, if you pass the playground and overhear a child declaring that they “are not half anything but completely, 100%, one of a kind”, that one belongs to me.

T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen-Mercado

T.Allen-Mercado is a mixed media artist, award-winning essayist, student of anthropology, blogger, wife and, mother of two.

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Speak English?

by Mommy Niri

With me living in Boston and my sweetheart living in DC, flights were pretty common place. Since I wanted to maximize time with my honey I always took the super early flight out back to Boston. I always tried not to make conversation as I tried to catch my 40 winks before the plane left the runway. I intentionally skipped coffee and just wanted my sleep. On a flight where I was lucky enough to score the exit row, aka the legroom row, I was awoken by a flight attendant.

As I said I tried not to speak so I did not have to fully awake. She asked the regular questions about whether I would be able to “help in case of emergency” type questions that are part and parcel of sitting in an exit row. I nodded. She then asked if I spoke English. I nodded again.

Then she asked me to say a sentence to show I really could speak English. I was ready to smack her.Yes, yes, I know that it was a valid question since what if I was just nodding and did not understand English, but I also knew that the chances of being asked that question had I not been glaringly brown were pretty slim.

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