So I’m pretty blessed. I get to raise two fiercely beautiful, dynamic, funny, smart kids who happen to be biracial, or as I like to say, ethnically astounding. My husband is white and I am a black woman. Both of my children are rather light. I won’t be cute and say that I don’t see the difference in our skin color, that I only see my children. I most certainly do see color – I see their OWN beautiful and perfect color. It’s a combination that reflects my and my husband’s ancestries.
Granted, my kids resemble their father more closely in color than they do me. And that does make it easier for him when he’s out with them. Nobody calls into question their paternity when he has them. That isn’t the case for me. Just today I had the misfortune of dealing with this kind of crap…AGAIN!
How The Day Started
This morning I walked with my kids to the post office. Everything was going well. The kids were happy, I managed to get the double stroller through doors of the post office, and my coffee didn’t spill on me during the walk. Life was pretty sweet.
While I was filling out the address for my package, a woman came up to my children. She poked her head under the stroller canopies to look at them. First off, that irritated the hell out of me, because I had the kids in what I call “Darth Vader” mode – it’s when I have the stroller canopies pulled DEEP over them. (When it’s pulled all the way down, the canopy looks like Darth Vader’s helmet.) You have to really get up under them to see my kids when it’s like that, so I didn’t appreciate her making the effort to get that close to them.
The Most Unnecessary Question Cometh
Nevertheless, I know they’re cute kids, so I was prepared to hear something come out of her mouth about how they look. And I was right. She gushed about how cute they are. I said “Thank you,” which I meant. As I was about to finish addressing my envelope, this stranger asked me how old they were. So I smiled and told her “Westley is 22 months and Scarlett is 5 months.” She smiled back. And then the insensitive moment came. “Are they both yours?” She asked…innocently…ignorantly.
The Maternity of My Children Is Not Up For Discussion
Now here’s what happened…in my mind. I cut her some mean side-eye and went off. “Lady, are you friggin’ serious? Why WOULDN’T they BOTH be mine? These two look exactly alike aside from Westley having hair! Clearly they’re siblings.
Why are you questioning me if my kids are my kids? I get that we look different in color but still? You feel better knowing now? Now that you know they are both mine? Is your curiosity satisfied? What did you get out of asking me that? You already complimented them so what happens now? Is whatever’s coming out of your mouth next going to be so profound and enlightening because you know both my kids are my kids? You know what? I gotta go!”
Now here’s what happened…in real life. “Oh yes.” And I smiled, politely. Then she continued and said, “So cute. Oh are you next in line?” And then I said to her to just go ahead of me.
Seriously? This type of tasteless questioning of the maternity of my children happens more than I like to admit. The day before, a different woman addressed me as if my kids weren’t mine at Target. I can only assume that our color difference is the trigger for regularly and ignorantly getting asked stupid questions. Maybe I’m being sensitive, but being that their maternity is questioned on a regular basis when they are with me and never with their father, I highly doubt it. I know this happens to other people too. My sister’s girlfriend has been made to feel like she needed to provide a birth certificate to prove to a stranger that her biracial children were hers. How dare someone make her feel like it is impossible for her children to be hers because of superficial difference in their skin tone.
Nothing Is Gained From Being Ignorantly Curious
Look, I get that people are curious about the difference between the color of my skin and my kids, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to satisfy their curiosity by questioning me. Like, what does a stranger gain by knowing if my kids are mine or not? Would that woman have been unable to go about her day, get a good night’s sleep or go on living if she didn’t ask her irritating question? Is there some sense of relief that comes from knowing that a woman of my complexion can have had kids as light as these two?
The truth is, it hurts to be questioned on a constant basis about whether I’m the mother of my children.
It is an ignorant way of drawing out our differences for nobody’s satisfaction other than the person posing the question. It’s hurtful and demeaning because I know the veracity of other parents that are the same color as their kids isn’t questioned at nearly the same rate. Nobody ever questioned my mother or my father about whether my sister and I belonged to them. I can’t imagine how we would have felt hearing that day in and day out. And I won’t fool myself into thinking that the day won’t come when my children turn and ask me about why a stranger is questioning our family. Seriously, it makes me even angrier when I think about how they may feel when they start to process this kind of ignorance.
You’ve Been Put On Notice
So I’m done being complicit in this game by saying nothing. The next time, someone questions me, I’m going to answer his or her question with a question and ask, “What caused you to call into question the maternity of my children?” And then I’ll smile. That may seem a little you-know-what, but I don’t care. I care more about making the “ignorantly curious” think twice before they ask something so unnecessary, stupid and hurtful to me, my children and to other families in the same boat.
To the “ignorantly curious”, you’ve been put on notice.
For those who have experienced this kind of nonsense, what do you do when you encounter this type of foolishness? Any advice?