Ian Stewart as a child, with his father
Courtesy of Ian Stewart
I recently read this fascinating article by Jenée Desmond-Harris on The Root, which is about people who have very small amounts of “Blackness” in them, like say one parent was half-Black and the other was White, so they’re 25% Black. Or maybe they have one full or half-Black grandparent. But physically they look “White.” First, I encourage you (yes, YOU) to go ahead and read the article before proceeding with mine:
Beyond Biracial: When Blackness Is a Small, Nearly Invisible Fraction
Now, this is a topic I have thought of before. With my particular mixed background (White father, Black mother), it is very possible that if I were to marry and have a child with a White woman (or even a White/Hispanic woman) the child could come out looking “White.” Heck, even if I married a really light-skinned Black or Mixed woman it’s still possible. Me and Alicia Keys or Mariah Carey could have “White” kids. I was actually kinda “White” (or pink-ish) when I was born.
Me, one week old.
I just darkened up a little after a few months.
So I’d pretty much have to marry a Black woman who looked like Lupita Nyong’o to make sure I had a “Black” kid, and even that’s no guarantee. Genes are unpredictable.
But the question is, who cares? Why should it matter? It’s not like I’m a member of the New Black Panther Party or Nation of Islam, I love all people. My child would be my child, period.
Except, to be honest, I think if I had a child that looked completely “White,” meaning that no one who looked at them without knowing them would ever guess that they had a Black father, I think it would kind of bother me. Yeah, I hate to say it, I know it probably makes me sound horrible but, hey, what’s the point of setting up a blog if I’m not going to be brutally honest when I write?
So, yes, that’s the truth, it would bother me. If I had my little boy (Alexander LeMar) or girl (Jennifer LeMar) and they didn’t look anything like me, I would love them to death, but there would some disappointment. First, I am BLACK (not African-American), and for all the obstacles Blacks still face in America, I’d want my kids to have the Black experience, for all the good and bad that entails. And I think I’d be worried that we wouldn’t be able to relate to each other as well as we could if we didn’t share that common experience with me. And most importantly I think I’d always be worried that at some point in their lives they may decide to reject ME. That maybe they will choose to “pass” as White, and go live their lives as White people, leaving me behind, like I’m something to be ashamed of. Heck, I’ve known Biracial folks with brown skin that’s darker than mine who try to act as White as possible, so I can see the temptation for those who look White to want to pass.
Again, I know it’s rotten to say this, and if I were a White man who said he wouldn’t want to have a child with a Black woman because he was worried that his kids would come out looking completely Black, folks would be screaming “racist!” at him…
For the record, I’M NEVER GOING TO HAVE CHILDREN. Ever. With anybody. Seriously, I have no interest at all in being a parent. So all of this is effectively moot, and is strictly a hypothetical situation.
This made me smile. My daughter looks like a female version of her dad. I mean, physically, we look NOTHING alike. She’s got brown blonde hair, and is so white she practically glows in the dark. People seriously question whether or not she’s mine. Drives me up the wall.
My son however, looks exactly like me, but with bright red hair. I suppose it makes sense. My husband is Irish/English/miscellaneous white, and I’m Scottish/Palestinian/Mizrachi Jewish. It only makes sense that my kids would have light skin or red hair.
I do worry that my daughter will deny me one day in order to fit in with her peers.
I remember being ashamed of my heritage and offended when people would ask me. I always refused to answer. It really is weird how much we internalize racism, and I think that’s what bugs me the most about the whole looking nothing like me thing. Is she going to hate the part of her that is me? Is she going to deny her identity?
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Yes, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. And I realize that these thoughts probably are a result of internalized racism. It sucks.