My lastest HuffPo piece, “I’m Not the Nanny – Darker Mom, Lighter Baby” has received many responses, generated some interesting dialogue and been highlighted in two HuffPo Live segments (The Problem With Calling Mixed Kids More Beautiful http://huff.lv/16Cgjag and Darker-Skinned Women With Lighter-Skinned Kids http://huff.lv/19LltRx). I wanted to share some people’s experiences and comments. Please feel free to check out the different feedback left here on my site as well.
I knew that my life would be forever changed once I became a mother, but I had no idea of how deep it would be. Being a parent has changed me and expanded my whole perspective on life due to this new role. I am black and race is a part of my everyday life whether it is by my state of being me or stemming from someone else bringing my blackness to the forefront. I knew that I would have to address race, ethnicity and class with my son throughout his life but I did not foresee new issues arising for myself. Yes, I guess it was short-sighted to think that I would have seen the majority of significant racial conflicts that would have crossed my path after 35 years of living but I have experienced a lot.
When do you show your crazy flag to the person you are dating? Timing is key, especially considering what brand of crazy you are working with. At the beginning of my relationship, my strategy was to throw all of my awesome at my new man. I figured I needed to build up a big reserve of goodness before I hit him with the flip side. I have these OCD-esque eccentricities, which are my “customs.” Starting with my strengths seemed to be the smart approach, since I knew I needed some cushion for when my customs started to leak out.
Basically, I am a dude in a lady package. My dude-ness really won Boyfriend over. We enjoyed a host of activities: watching cartoons, debating over Superman vs. Batman, discussing comics, playing video games, watching sports, having push-up competitions and wrestling. Now, the wrestling could turn into tussling, which could go the fun way or it could take a different turn, since there are times when I do not know when to stop and there’s the fact that I am… freakishly strong. But everything was really good between us and we were enjoying that newness stage. That newness feeling is just amazing and it’s during this time that we just liked looking into each other’s eyes, just because. The only “bad” thing about that ooey-gooey stage is that your man really pays attention to you.
One day we’re eating some M&Ms and he gives me three. I asked him if there are any more and he says, “No.” So, I proceed to put one on the right side of my mouth, one on the left side of my mouth and then bite the third in half, equally distributing the last one. It was yummy and even! Boyfriend says, “I think I’ve seen you do that before with Cheez-Its and Sour Patch Kids. Have you?” I fess up that this is my “evens” custom and say, “I like evens.” I do: Evens make me feel good. Now I was on his radar and there was no going back.
I am black. I am a woman. I am a black woman. Those are three different things. Truly. Plus they are all things that you can see on sight. They bring different responsibilities and varied challenges. I’m okay with that. Well of course it’s permanent, but I am still really okay with that.
I do not speak for all black women, I do not speak for all black people or all women, athletes, Brooklynites, those under 5’6″, right-handers, etc.
It’s tiring to always represent your race or gender, but I have been successful at it and am happy to do it well, which I hope is most of the time.
Sometimes, I am the first black woman that someone has interacted with, dated or developed a friendship with. At times, I am that “one” that surprised you. And there are times where it doesn’t matter who or what I am, because you knew who I was the instant you saw me.
I love me for all that I have experienced. I wanted to be as tough and strong as my dad and show that I was cut from the same cloth. I wanted to show some that I can do as much as they can and surpass them (I am competitive — very). I wanted to suffocate the hate and doubt that I saw in people’s eyes by my performance and fair conduct with others. I wanted the hateful doubters to either learn from me or be vexed.