Color Me Blind – Intricacies of Race

2 Aug

Race can be a tricky issue, made all the more complex when people try to classify others they know nothing about.

This is something that often happens to people of mixed race.   Indian-American writer Nandini D’Souza had the misfortune of having been mistaken for ‘the Nanny’ when she was out with her daughter, whose father is of Irish and German descent.  Naturally, its considered quite offensive to pry into people’s personal business, but to have someone, a perfect stranger, articulate that your baby can’t be yours because “it’s too white” or to ask you what your “weekly rate is” is abhorrent.   There’s a thin line between being a little presumptuous and just plain rude, particularly when it comes to questioning the ownership of a child to its mother.

In her article for Harper’s Bazaar, D’Souza shares more about her personal experience raising a child who looks more like daddy than mommy and what parents of mixed raced children need to come to terms with.  While there is not a whole lot than can be done about outsiders looking in, the main issue is making sure that the children have a sense of confidence and normalcy.  She discusses how she and her husband were curious about what their baby would look like, of course, but their racial backgrounds were never much of an issue among the couple.

Coming from interracial parents myself I can say that D’Souza’s experiences are not just her own.  My own mother was asked if she was the caregiver rather than the mother when I was an infant. Granted, that was over 20 years ago, it’s sad to say that not much has changed when it comes to the public’s ignorances about genetic mixing.  Not every yellow person is hispanic and not every brown skinned woman (or man) will necessarily have chocolatey children like them.  Peoples have been mixing for generations and there’s no such thing as “pure” anymore.

D’Souza put it quite eloquently, when asked by her four year-old niece what it means to be mixed race: ” ‘It’s the difference between fluffernutter, peanut butter and Nutella. All different flavors, but all tasty’.”  Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best of all.

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