Home > Communication, Family, Parenting, Personal, Reflections > Race outside these walls

Race outside these walls

Race didn’t matter much to me when I began dating a black man.

Back then, I believed racism was in Ku Klux Klan parties and racial slurs. I had no reason to understand it was much more likely to express itself in sneers, glares, patronizing speech and other microaggressions that sail under the radars of the inexperienced.

My turning point was my now-husband’s stark proclamation that our baby would experience racism someday. There was so much more I’d discover in the years ahead, but that was when I began my journey to seeing not only through my own eyes but also Anthony’s.

As I read and observed more closely, I came to understand I hadn’t seen racism before because I’d had the luxury of not seeing it. Not because it didn’t exist.

Nine consecutive months of rain annually sent me running from my Oregon hometown.

I needed more light. More warmth. These were the biggest factors in my decision to return to Los Angeles a few years after finishing law school.

Then I had a child. And another one. What was important to me shifted as my focus became less on how to make each current moment a winner and more on how to set up my children for their own paths to success.

I felt great pangs of longing when I’d open Instagram to pictures of my sisters playing with their kids. I should be there, I’d think. My kids should be here. Weather is not that important. Not by comparison to the opportunity to be there.

Anthony started sprinkling into our conversations sentences that began, “If we lived in Portland, I’d …”

At first the idea seemed preposterous, just a fleeting fancy to take our mind off our daily routines. The more times I heard it, the more it started to feel like something that could actually happen. I could actually be there with my sisters, my brother and the little ones I now only see a couple of times a year. What wonder! What joy!

I got irritated when my husband expressed concern about being part of a very, very visible minority in the nation’s whitest city.

“You’re not keeping me from my family because of a little discomfort!” I snapped.

I know you know better than that, he said with his eyes. With his lips he said, “Anything I experience, our sons will experience, too.”

Oh. Right.

Come on, now

Come on, now

We have revisited the question of moving a dozen times since.

“I don’t think most people will be hostile,” I say. At least not overtly, or intentionally, in broad, sweeping strokes. “I think it’d be much more common to find good intentions matched up with not great expression.”

I envision it being as explained in the intro of this video on how to talk to black people: good intentions, little experience.

“Mm,” my husband replies. I wonder how much I’d want to be someone else’s learning experience instead of just myself.

Not very much, it turns out. But, damn, do I want to be with my sisters. I want my kids to be with my sisters’ kids, who will see them for their hearts, not for the color of their skin, no matter what anyone else does or does not see.

I’m in Portland with my sister now.

Shortly after landing, we visited Powell’s bookstore and went in search of water. We found it at a salad bar across the street.

An upbeat young woman stood behind us in line. “What are you, part of a baby walking group?” she asked me as my sister paid for water. Both my sister and I had babies strapped to our chest; my niece rode on my brother-in-law’s shoulders.

“Nope, sisters,” I told her. “I’m up visiting from SoCal for a few days.”

She reached to stroke my baby’s hand. “His skin is so dark!” she murmured.

Teaching moment or direct answer? I asked myself before opting for the latter. “His dad is black.”

“Oh, halfies are the best!” she gushed. “They’re just the cutest!”

Did she actually just say that? I asked myself before returning to my teaching moment/direct answer question.

I just wanted to drink a bottle of water with my family. I didn’t want my son to be seen for much more than his beautiful two-tooth smile, which best reflects who he is now. I didn’t want to be a teacher giving roving lessons on how terms like “halfie” are heard compared to how they are uttered.

I wasn’t sure what I’d say. Beside, she meant well; there was no derision or scorn in her cheerful expression. She was just trying to have a conversation she probably didn’t get to have very often.

“He sure is cute,” I agreed instead.

My baby son is not a halfie, or a mulatto, nor most accurately described as anything that can be prefaced by the word “a.” Yes, he is black. He is exuberant. He is driven to move however he can with his growing coordination. Like his older brother, he is my joy and my sunshine.

Downpours and all, I would love to be nearer my sisters and their kids. No matter what teaching moments my kids faced outside our homes, there would always be ample love without need for teaching within them.

But do I want my sons to be prepared to be other peoples’ learning experiences whenever they set foot outside? Can I accept that as part of their formative experience, delighting in the broader fact that their lovingkindness could be instrumental in shaping an understanding that each of us is more, so much more, than the color of our skin?

That it really is such a small thing compared to all the love within our hearts?

I’d love to have a clear answer. To make this a decisive post.

But the truth is I don’t know.

I just don’t.

Not now.

image

What I do know now is that I love seeing baby cousins at play.

Within the walls of my sister’s home, it is oh so simple. I wish it could be so simple outside these walls.

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  1. October 28, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I’m still a bit shocked that woman actually used the word “halfies”…WTF?

    • October 28, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      It was my first time hearing it! What was more startling to me was having it tossed out within 30 seconds of meeting someone. As the boys get older, I don’t want them to think that is the most interesting or telling thing about them, you know? When that is the first point if discussion, I feel it pulls us back toward a past where it was a huge distinction … where we were more likely to be defined as certain of our parts instead of whole, multifaceted people.

      • October 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        I’ve never heard it before either. I’ve heard OTHER terms, but not halfies.

        And, yes, it’s sad that’s the first thing she commented on. I’m actually kind of glad the twins have two biracial cousins, so they’ve grown up with them and harbor no racist tendencies. Not that they would have learned any from me in the first place…

  2. Jen
    October 28, 2014 at 9:11 am

    This is such an excellent, thought provoking post! I’m kind of shocked by the “halfie” comment… I have never heard that one before? Loveeee the baby pic!!!

    • October 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you! Seeing the two boys together was such a treat! They visited a couple months ago buy weren’t really interacting. This time they played, and it was so sweet. 🙂

  3. October 28, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Wow. I can’t believe she said that. My keyboard is even insulted it won’t let me repeat her comment. Unbelievable.

    • October 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      She said it so sweetly that it was hard to be grumpy, buy it did make me wish I could quickly have a real dialogue. “Quick” and “real dialogue” don’t usually mix well, so I mulled it over and wrote while everyone else slept. Of course I see now a dozen areas I could have clarified, but this is surely closer toward expressing myself well than I could have come impromptu in the salad line!

  4. October 28, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Babies don’t remember their experiences, but they are impacted by emotions. School age children start recording experiences for visual recall, each child in a different way. My oldest son remembers very little of his childhood, my daughter remembers many experiences in detail. My youngest son remembers very little of a trip we made to Australia when he was 8, and he wishes we had done that when he was a bit older so he could remember his cousins and the experiences we had there better.

    Eventually Portland might be an option for you, but there’s no need to rush. At least you don’t live on the other side of the country or world from your family.

    • October 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      There are so many reasons I want to move, many not (precisely) related to the kids. If I did, I would prefer sooner than later so my kofs could grow roots without being upended until they choose to leave. Of course, real life is nor academic, so we mosrly get as close to the ideal as life and circumstances permit. We shall see.

  5. nicciattfield
    October 28, 2014 at 11:26 am

    It’s so hard, the weight of race, or the need to do all of the work. It’s such an unjust world, when your baby son can’t be seen as just himself. I so hope we can transcend (but not ignore) the psychological, material and social impacts of race in this lifetime, and your son can have a different experience of life to the ones Anthony has faced.

    Privilege blinds people because it’s unconscious. But I hope your two lovely sons get to be seen for just who they are. Particularly because Li’l D sounds so kind, sensitive and aware, that knowing people see him just for himself will give him the most beautiful mirror.

    • October 29, 2014 at 10:39 am

      I love this comment. Everything about it. I loved it when I was pacing back and forth through the airport trying to get my sweet little one to sleep (victory, if only for 20 minutes!) and I love it again now.

      Your hopes are ones I share. Thank you. ♥

  6. October 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Well, besides being appalled at the “halfies” comment made to you , I feel a lot of soul searching going in within you from the words of this post. Time and contemplation are what will give you the answers with regards to move or not to move. There is so much to consider beyond the scope of race, but being open to what is best for everyone in the family is what is important. I went through similar emotions when I moved to the Central Coast away from my entire family and friend network. I’d love to share with you, but I’ll save that for a phone call or email when you return home, perhaps. 🙂 Lots of hugs! XOXO-Kasey

    • October 29, 2014 at 10:46 am

      So much soul searching! Every hour I seem to reach a different conclusion. The good news is life is never boring this way, though it can be a little more challenging.

      I never thought I’d say this, but … can you believe I miss the rain? It’s what sent me packing, originally, but I grimaced when I stepped into the sunshine yesterday. I miss the calm, slow pace that comes with not wanting to spend too much time outside daily on account of getting drenched. Hiking and walking and running and playing at playgrounds when the sun comes out, yes, but none of this always-on-the-go-ness here in SoCal!

      The “halfies” comment didn’t really bother me that much, honestly. It surprised me, but it wasn’t the real source of my discomfort. That was more about how quickly the conversation turned toward skin color. My sons will have such different experiences than me on account of their skin color, and those will probably be different than their dad’s. These are complex matters that benefit from slow introduction and time for real discourse, you know? When it’s just a fleeting “this is what’s most interesting to me,” I am concerned that my sons will come to feel they are most interesting to others for the color of their skin.

      If it’s the third or fourth stop in conversation, great! But I’d rather not be talking skin color with a random stranger because that’s what they find most interesting about me and mine. I learned a little more about how I feel about that by this conversation, of course. If I had it again now, I think I’d just smile and say, “Yes, it is darker than mine” instead of offering additional detail … which could understandably be taken as an invitation to go further down that same path!

  7. October 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Well coming from someone who is mixed. I myself is mixed with black and white as well and I’ve never heard of the term “halfies” before. It’s kind of funny hearing this for the first time. Personally I don’t know if I would have laughed in her face or what. I grew up in the southern of the state of Georgia. The terms I would get the most was “mixed” or “mut” or sometimes just flat out called me the “N” word. I fought sometimes. But of course that never solved anything. However, my parents got it worse than us kids. My father is black, my mother is white. My father worked very hard for his family. Sometimes, my mother would go up to his job to drop off lunch or just go visit him, and almost every time, my dad would get fired the next day. This happened 4 times. I don’t think it was a coincidence, but somehow they got through it. We all would get stares from people when we went out as a family. Now, it’s much different. I don’t think it’s like it was back then (back then meaning the 80’s). It’s a lot different for a black man than it is a black woman. Black men are stereotyped a lot. But that’s going into another blog I guess lol. Hopefully, your son’s will not have to experience it. Our world can be so cruel sometimes. I love Oregon by the way! lol

    • October 29, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Your comment about fighting reminds me of the first time I actually heard folks say something overtly racist: https://deborah-bryan.com/2012/12/22/racist-intent-sweet-truth/

      There was such a lesson in that for me. Their words were meant to be derogatory, but interpreted differently, were so hopeful. I took from that an excellent opportunity to reflect on whether or not to fight when I heard like–or potentially worse–words in the future. It’s so innate to me to fight, to protest, to kick and scream, and I do think there are times for that, but now … I’m trying to take a different tack, create a place for safe dialogue and see if I can’t be part of the change I’d like to see that way.

      This actually reminds me of something I wrote in another post, on watching my husband be a father:

      I don’t believe I can undo people’s prejudices–against dads, moms, or people of any given skin tone–with any words I use, no matter how carefully chosen or deeply felt. Chances of changing anything are even less if I speak from hostility.

      What defuses anger and hostility more than fiery words? In my experience, love. Instead of writing a lengthy, frustrated post, I thought I’d share what love looks like to me, in the form of fatherhood as I have come to know it.

      So much to think about! I’m grateful for insight into your experiences, and have so much to mull over through this comments. It makes me wonder what my next post will look like. What will I take away from this? What will my son take away from these conversations? So much that only time will reveal!

      (I prefer the term “multiracial.” Funny that my un-PC mom should be the one to use the term I’d later come to favor!)

  8. October 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    When I was born my father wanted to change his very Jewish surname so that I wouldn’t experience the prejudice he had. My mama refused to let him (rightly). I have experienced prejudice and unthinking slurs. And face them, as your boys will, in balance with the experience/attitude that was built at home.

    • October 29, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Awesome food for thought! It’s the slurs and ill intentioned comments (unlike the “halfie” one incorporated here) that affirm for me the importance of having these discussions with our kids. If we don’t have them, after all, others will be more than happy to have them on our behalf … eep! I know that skin color comes up, sadly, because of comments Li’l D has made about “dark” being “bad” (like here). It’s my job to balance what he hears outside the home with what he sees and feels from within it. The more considered conversation we’re able to have without, the better, IMO. 🙂

  9. October 28, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Okay, I liked the word “halfsies”, it was so sweet and upbeat! All four of my nieces and nephews are mulatto, and I don’t like the word mixed. I think they were made that way, not mixed together, but halfsies was a fun way to put it! Of course, having said that down here, we all just use Mixed. It’s a big part of our culture, almost everyone is half of one and half of another!

    • October 29, 2014 at 11:06 am

      It’s really not the word that got under my skin, honestly. It’s how quickly a stranger turned conversation that direction. Li’l D already picks up on these points of conversation and takes away from them different understandings than I’d hope.

      If someone wants to have a real conversation with me, awesome! But when it’s just an idle, “Hey, this is what’s most interesting to me about your kids, I’ll let you deal with what they take away from it” in the salad line, that’s not as awesome to me. I don’t meant that in a judge-y, how-dare-she! way, because (a) I think it’s important to look at intent and the intent here was not the least bit hurtful and (b) defensiveness and grumpiness are more apt to hurt than help.

      But it is a learning experience, and a chance to reflect further on something that hardly ever crossed my mind until about six years ago. At core, I do not think skin color is a super exciting or useful conversation topic. Discussing the impacts of how other people perceive it, OTOH, is a fascinating matter with the potential to truly impact change.

      Like Anthony, I look forward to it no longer being a conversation starter, nor even part of the conversation because “everyone looks like the Rock” and we have moved so far beyond that. I am, of course, dubious we will live to see that day, but I like to dream it. 🙂

      • October 29, 2014 at 12:43 pm

        It’s a good dream, but in the 15 years that the twins have been alive, I can’t remember a conversation with a new person where the subject of their race didn’t come up! My sister now has a 1 yr old and 3 yr old, again, both mixed race (I say that cause my sis has never been married, and all 3 pregnancies have different fathers) and among her kids, they discuss the difference in their colors, too.

        I’d love it not to be a discussion, but for us, it’s a very real thing and we encounter it all of the time. I guess we’ve just learned to go with it – it’s us, our reality and we just embrace it.

        But, you are much newer in the journey, so my reality is totally different than yours! 🙂

        • October 29, 2014 at 1:07 pm

          It almost sounds like geography might be a bigger factor than years of experience here! (In L.A., I’ve gotten maybe one comment per year on Li’l D, mostly of the “where’d you get him?!” variety.) Perhaps, then, I’d acclimate to the social landscape of that geography, and quickly become acquainted with a new normal? One thing’s certain: It would be better than the TV show was!

          • October 30, 2014 at 6:59 am

            Good point! There is a massive difference between Texas and California! 🙂 And, thanks for having a grown up discussion about it with me! I love those that I can chat with, even about what could be very touchy subjects, and even have different opinions on, but come away with even greater respect!

  10. October 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Oh I wish the world was as loving as our home!!

    I learned something… I didn’t know “halfie” was offensive to some!

    My husband is half Arab and calls himself and his brother that.. but maybe it’s okay for the person to say about themselves but not for others to say about the person?

    I don’t know… regardless I will stop using that term… I never want to offend people if I can help it 🙂

    Thank you for sharing and your little man is very… very handsome!!

    • October 29, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Even though my head understands a great deal of the complexity of these discussions, my heart is still kinda bemused why it’s still important to use terms like “mixed” or “mulatto” (that being one of the few terms that really does sit wrong with me without context) or “halfie,” honestly. Aren’t we so much more than these tiny fragments of our whole? Why can’t we have a conversation with strangers that defaults to these terms?

      It really wasn’t the term “halfie” that prompted me to see more clearly certain concerns Anthony has expressed about the prospect of moving to Portland. It was how the conversation happened. How we jumped straight to skin color in a setting not remotely conducive to true discourse, you know? Here is awesome, because we can think and talk it through together because we have chosen to engage in discourse. But in the salad line with a stranger an hour after landing? That’s a different matter than, say, discussing here or talking with my godmother, where we have ample context and background together to know that we’ll learn and enjoy the conversation no matter which way it goes.

      It’s hard to figure out the balance, though. All things considered, I think I’d rather someone use a term like “halfie” and show they do see color than call themselves color blind, you know? We see what’s out there. It’s how we process the world and navigate through it! I see color, but strive to be color impervious in the sense that I don’t ascribe too much to it or believe I know much about who someone is based on that.

      I have to say, I am so grateful for all the comments on this post! These conversations help me get closer to understanding things I feel but would never otherwise be able to articulate. I am so glad for people participating in the conversation, because without it … I’d still be back where I was the first time Anthony shocked me (yes, really) by telling me racism still exists outside the South. I’ve learned a lot since then but, man! There’s so much more to learn, as long as folks are willing to talk to me knowing that I’m really just trying to figure this out. Like, I suspect, everyone. 🙂

  11. October 28, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    He is your “joy and sunshine.” That’s all the matters. Sending you warmth and hugs from California!!

    • October 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Thank you! It’s so true. All these conversations are academic compared to the bone-deep truth these little boys light up my every moment. My every single one.

  12. October 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I haven’t thought of it this way before … that is one who doesn’t see racism, but then will witness it in their child. … Ouch (as I shake my head in shame) … Cheers to your positive efforts.

    • October 29, 2014 at 11:26 am

      I’m glad Anthony cautioned me about this early. Our first conversation on the topic was mind-boggling to me. Such heartache, too! But the conversation also paved the way for lots of reading and time to prepare. And, wouldn’t you know? It hasn’t been as huge as I feared based on that early conversation.

      • October 29, 2014 at 11:39 am

        Good on many counts … thanks … and good luck.

  13. October 28, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Ugh, so hard. Did you hear about the woman who got black sperm at a sperm bank on accident? To me it didn’t sound like she was upset about the fact that her child would be black, but she was upset because she knew what kind of bullshit racism her kid would have to deal with and she was afraid of that. Maybe there’s more to the story but that’s what I chose to take away from it. But, change will come, bit by bit – those cousins will be color-blind for sure 🙂 Love that.

    • October 29, 2014 at 11:59 am

      I hadn’t heard about that, but I’m going to look the story up momentarily!

      I am so heartened by the change being worked in many small ways each small day. It can be so disheartening to recognize that huge, sweeping change is virtually impossible, but what’s within our power … all of ours … is our love for those with whom we’re walking.

      Even when they make you scratch your head. :p

  14. October 28, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    What the Hell?

    Anthony is right. Your sons will be Black. They will for as long as they live run up hard against racism. Hopefully by the time they are old enough to know it, maybe it won’t be as bad as it is now.

    There will be things you will know and understand. There will be other things, as a white woman you will never know or understand. Take it from me, someone who has lived there, where you are for much of her life (without children). We don’t live in a color blind world and some people do not understand how to keep their opinions, as irrelevant as they are, to themselves.

    I love and adore you. Love you the family you have built. Your sons, their cousins they will be just fine.

    • October 29, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      You should know that Anthony loved this comment. He read through them all quietly, then pointed at yours and exclaimed. I explained our relationship and the inevitability of your understanding. 🙂

      He and I recently had a Ferguson-inspired conversation in which I explained that I was glad for our son’s light skin, which will make it much less likely they’ll be wounded or killed in any police interactions, but simultaneously horrified to be thinking that way. Anthony seemed a little saddened by that, and recommended an older novel about the demerits of hiding. I explained that I didn’t mean to hide or conceal who they are; I fully expect him to teach them things I will never–as a white woman–be situated to fully understand.

      Though I do not see my kids as “black” kids, just my beautiful kids, I understand that’s how much of the world will see them. I understand that is how their dad identifies and now, it seems, how Li’l D is starting to identify … positively! If I don’t want to see them or have them seen for their skin color in the ideal world, I have to accept that we don’t live in the ideal world, and there’s a whole lot of history here I am only just beginning to comprehend.

      Have you ever watched Parenthood? How they handled that was amazing. Nearer the end of an episode introducing “the n-word,” a white dad looks upon his biracial son sleeping and agonizes at the understanding he won’t be able to experience or prepare him for everything in his son’s life. I’m not a dad, but oh, I get that feeling. I well up even remembering how heartbreaking and amazing it felt to see my feelings written upon his face.

      I love you. I love the way you point me toward hope.

  15. October 29, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Huh. That term is new to me. My rule of thumb is not to comment on people’s appearance, or on their kid’s appearance. In general, but especially when in a customer service situation. She’s lucky you didn’t raise a ruckus because she could have found herself in hot water.

    It’s all silliness anyway–race is a purely social construct, with little or no basis in biology. There are actually more differences among “races” than between them. In other words, genetically speaking a pasty white fellow such as myself has more in common with a black person than my equally pasty neighbor. Plus, if you go back far enough, everyone has black ancestors, because we all descended ultimately from Africans living in what is now East Africa. If you want to see what the first homo sapiens looked like, look up the Bushmen of Africa. They’re direct descendents of the first human beings.

    Point being. We’ve constructed this whole messy race thing. Which makes it no less real of course. It’s a social reality, but it isn’t “real” in the sense of biology or, well, humanity. Which makes things all the more frustrating, really.

    • October 29, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      I actually replied to this in the car. My specific response? “YES.” Then I decided that probably wouldn’t sound like appropriate consideration and opted to tuck my phone away.

      Wouldn’t you know? “YES” still pretty much says it all.

      YES.

  16. October 29, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Something I really don’t understand – please forgive me for being obtuse – is why your sons will be “black” when they’re half you, and you’re white? And your husband – is he of exclusively African heritage? Do we really have to buy into that stupid “No such thing as part black” concept? And what about your grandchildren … If your sons marry white women, will their kids still be black? Or does the designation change when the skin color finally dilutes to the point that they look white? I know I’m putting this very badly, but I just hate all this racist bullshit, and having to pussyfoot around trying to figure out what to say that won’t offend. I grew up white in apartheid-dominated South Africa, and I came to America expecting to find something different. Sometimes it truly seems to me that racism runs deeper, and is more pervasive, here than there.

    To ask my question in a different way … Would it be possible for you, when people focus on skin color, to respond as you might if they focused, say, on hair or eye color? I’m a hazel-eyed brunette and my daughter was a blue-eyed blonde (she’s now brunette, but her hair is lighter than mine). People would comment, usually in a complimentary way, and it never occurred to me to find the differences between us anything but an interesting display of genes doing their thing.

    • October 29, 2014 at 10:33 am

      A lot of your questions are ones I’ve answered over the last four years. While not everyone will have read every related post, posts like these are intended to address one aspect of an issue already considered previously from other angles. While I could try to touch on each point in every single post, that would be boring and tedious for me; not my goals in writing. Here are others, which together present a more comprehensive overview of my experience and understanding to date:

      * “Our baby is going to experience racism someday”
      * Skin color and the power of words
      * Race & the willingness to see (or: “Don’t be Bob”)
      *
      Race & my mother’s footsteps
      * MLK, Jr. through my four-year-old’s eyes

      From the “mother’s footsteps” one, here’s a response to a portion of your questioning:

      This neatly sums up how I felt the first time I had to check off Li’l D’s “ethnicity” on a medical history sheet. I stared at the page and went, “Holy cow, there are other boxes, aren’t there?” Immediately following that, I thought: “But that’s so irrelevant!” (Yes, this was despite the fact my anthropology background informs me that certain illnesses are more prevalent depending on ancestry. I wasn’t thinking about that then, though!) I checked off a box for me and a box for Ba.D., then moved right along.

      This is a process of learning. I learn a little more as I listen, as I write, and as I talk. What I write now is unlikely like what I will write in five years, or fifteen, because I am learning and growing and seeing more right along with everyone else. What will unlikely change is feeling some chagrin when a random stranger’s starting point for conversation is the color of my kids’ skin, as if that is the most fascinating or interesting thing about them.

      • October 29, 2014 at 2:11 pm

        Thank you for such a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, response. I had in fact read all the posts you referenced (apart from the one about Li’l D asking, “What’s white? You’re not white, you’re sort of yellow” – lol. And like you, I was sickened and saddened by the comments around the blackness of some Hunger Games characters.

        Really, for me, it’s like slamming into an invisible wall. I just. Don’t. Get. it. WHY does it matter what race a person is? Okay, when filling out a medical form, I get that some groups are more prone to certain ailments than others. But outside of that, why can’t we just … set it aside? Forget about it?

        Why can’t I?

  17. October 29, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I think the woman meant “halfie” as kind, even though it came out clumsy, without thinking. Maybe she later kicked herself. In your situation, you’ll see the worst of people but also the best. You’re a beautiful family.

    • October 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

      I have to say I’m genuinely surprised how people locked onto the “halfie” 200 words of my 1,000-word post. This was a post about so much more to me, but I think that’s probably the easiest part to respond to.

      The lady was lovely. I suspect she has friends whom she lovingly calls “halfie” because that’s the kind of relationship she has with them. I hope she’s not kicking herself, and am in fact glad for her giving me an opportunity to see how a situation I’d only vaguely envisioned would play out. I learn more with every conversation, and then again in challenging myself to write about it. 🙂

  18. October 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    My son’s cousins are black. For the first time this year they are in the same school. When he introduced his cousin to a friend the kid actually said, “How is SHE your cousin?” as he eyeballed her beautiful, mocha skin. Without missing a beat, Jimmy said, “Time to revisit health class in 5th grade, dude. Her mom had sex. That’s how babies are born. Duh.” Simple answer.

  19. November 4, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    So interesting and insightful, Deborah. Being someone else’s learning experience sounds so tiresome.

    I, too, am from Portland. But compared to where I live now — in Northern Nevada — it is quite a diverse city. During seven years of single life here, I had a long-distance relationship with a black man from Houston. When he came to visit in 2002-2003, there was hardly a non-white around. Once he startled me while I was driving him around town. “Stop,” he shouted. “What? What?” I asked, confused. “There is a black man on a bicycle!” The population is starting to diversify now, but we have a long, long way to go.

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