April 16, 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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Who I am is not what I am

by Michele Dortch

While in college, I worked as a teller. I remember a regular customer who came in every week to deposit his paycheck. As I completed his transaction, we’d engage in friendly small talk. But he always stared – examining my demeanor, my speech, my hair, my skin. I could see his question, though he never asked. Then one day, he walked in beaming with self-confidence and proclaimed loudly for all to hear, “I figured you out! You’re a sista!”

And once again, I was reduced to what I am, rather than who I am.

Yea, I’m a mixed girl – half Black, half Japanese. And I’ve spent a lifetime responding to the most annoying question ever, “What are you?”

It’s a game to some…like the customer from my teller days. I think he wanted a gold medal for figuring out one half of my ethnic makeup. You should have seen him proudly saunter out of the building, topping his exit off with a quick wink back at me and snap of his fingers that said, “Gotcha!” – as if I was hiding.

But it was no fun for me, and it’s taken years for me to finally feel comfortable in my skin – my mixed up, multi-ethnic, not-one-checkbox-on-the-stupid-census-form skin. But, I’ve finally arrived and now I’m raising a three beautifully blended children of varying hues, from deep chocolate to honey caramel.

The question has changed though. It’s now become, “What are they?” – as if my children are a herd of wild zoo animals for sightseers to examine and pet – “oooh….their hair…aaah…their skin…”

But, this is our world. It’s a place where we long to belong and we are eager to put people where we believe they belong. So as I raise my children to be confident in who they are, I am grateful for resources like Tara Michener’s children’s book, Who I Am is Not Who I Am.

Tara graciously sent me a copy of her book to review and I looked forward to sharing it with my kids. The story follows Janelle, a young girl who explores what it means to be bi-racial. We see the questions her racial background raises at school and the questions she brings to her parents as she learns to celebrate who rather than what she is. Tara offers an insightful and engaging story that teaches children of all races how the unique qualities that make up their individuality goes far beyond the color of their skin.

This is a book that all children will enjoy. Schools around the country should embrace it as a tool to teach empathy and understanding about cultural differences, but more importantly to celebrate the individuality that makes each of us who we are.

To learn more about Tara Michener:
Visit her blog at http://whoiamnotwhatiam.blogspot.com, where you can purchase the Who I Am book, as well as her latest release, 100% Real. Also follow her on Twitter @taramichener.

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Enlightenment to endarkenment: grab the mic

by Catherine Anderson

I am always on the verge of choosing which kind of person to be. I blink, and I choose again. I choose several times a day, every day. I wake up and I have to start choosing all over again.  I am talking about how I engage with understanding race. Or all the things that I miss. I talk about it because my children live with it. I talk about it, because I want all children to understand what they understand about it.

My kids are black and mixed. I am not. I am as white as the page on which I type. I am the kind of person who used to take that for granted 100% of the time, but who only takes that for granted 95% of the time now. I’ll never know how enlightened, or how about a new term for racial awareness as a white person- endarkened- I have become. This is because I will never know the starting point. I will never know what it means to begin at fully aware, to begin as a person of color.

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Guest Authors

We love publishing diverse articles from diverse men and women. If you have something to say and would like your voice heard on We of Hue, please head here to submit and article or here to inquire about joining our team of talented regular authors.

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