The Day My Daughter Rejected My Blackness

The Day My Daughter Rejected My Blackness



"Mommy, I don't want to be black like you." 

It came so unexpectedly, in the bath and beauty department of Target, while I was precariously perched on one foot attempting to get the last Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie from the shelf overhead.

Almost instantly, I could feel the eyes of strangers upon me. It was as though a spotlight had suddenly appeared overhead, and dozens of shoppers spontaneously generated behind me, all eager to see how I would screw up this moment.

Any second I expected a voice on the intercom to come on alerting the oblivious shoppers to the incident.

"Attention Target shoppers. We have a black mother dealing with an identity crisis on aisle 3. I repeat, we have a black mother dealing with an identity crisis on aisle 3."



Of course none of these things actually happened. In reality, I took a deep breath, took my daughter hands in mine, and hugged her.



Because the truth is, in that brief moment, I was terrified. I didn't want my daughter to be black. Because to be a black woman in 2017 is a lot of things. And none of them are easy.

It means pretending not to hear comments that are intentionally designed to provoke a reaction of you.

It means you'll battle with double consciousness and are more likely to silently struggle with depression.

It means you'll deal with daily micro-aggressions that will eat away at your self-worth.

It means struggling not to buckle under the unbelievable pressure of being the model minority.

It means that no matter how many injustices you have experienced, someone, most likely from your inner circle, will have a counter argument at the ready designed to undermine and invalidate your experiences.

But mostly, it means your journey will be emotionally and physically exhausting.



The reality is that my daughter is so young she likely doesn't yet understand the complexity of racial identity, or the heavy burden that comes along with being black. But, she's not so young that she's hasn't started to notice the subtle difference between my husband and I, namely our skin color. And that's why this conversation was so important. I couldn't afford to wait until someone else took control and led my daughter down the path of self hate.

Control the conversation, or let it control her.

Unlike myself, my daughter will have a whole new dynamic of racial identity to explore. And that's something I can't figure out for her. In that moment, I realized that no matter how eloquent my speech, my words could not physically protect my daughter. In a manner of speaking, biracial kids are in a giant paradox. While they are simultaneously two different races, they are never fully able to exist as one or the other. That's a lot to process. Even as an adult.

So there, in the bath and beauty section of Target, I took a deep breath asked, "Babe, why don't you want to be black."

"I dunno." She she whispered, looking down at her feet.

"Being black isn't a bad thing. I told her.  "In fact, I'm black. Right?"

She looked at me for a moment, "Yeah."

I continued on, "And you love mommy, right?" She nodded. "It's just sometimes, as a black girl, you have to fight some bad guys that others don't notice. It's just like being a superhero. We just don't always wear a cape."

She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment before asking, "So if I'm black, does that mean I get a cape?" 

I hugged her again. "It sure does. In fact you can get a matching one. Just like me." 




In that moment, I realized that it's wasn't that my daughter didn't want to be black, she was simply struggling to deal with her perception and understanding of who she is.  Realistically, I know how the world will view her, and I can't shield her from it. What I can do is make sure she knows who she is, that she is loved, and that she loves her self, fully. I can make sure that she owns every bit of melanin in her body, no matter how much, or how little.

Too often I hear other mothers proclaim "I don't teach my children to see color," and that worries me. The world is a colorful place-- whether or not we choose to accept it. We can either have the difficult conversations with our children while they're younger, or wait for the world to teach them how to treat others. Color is a part of life. Just as I want my daughter to know about her heritage, I expect her to know and understand others. When you understand, you can appreciate.

As she gets older, more questions will come.  I'll be better prepared and have a more eloquent speech. Like most parenting moments, you fumble, you struggle, you prepare, and you pray that next time it gets better.

And sometimes it does.





16 comments :

  1. Thank you for sharing this important story!

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  2. You're both beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. You handled this situation very well. Having conversations with our children about difficult things such as race is very important. Like you said, there are way too many folks out there waiting to pump their minds with the wrong ideas if we don't step up and fill them with the right ones.

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    1. So sad, but it's true. I foresee many more talks like this in the future. But I'm ready :)

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  4. This touched my heart in a way I can't understand - I have no children. But what a perfect answer to a difficult statement. You are beautiful and because of that your daughter will be, too!

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    1. It takes a village right? And not everyone has a child in the village, but I love the fact that parenting sort of transcends that. Thank you for your kind words. They are truly appreciated <3

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  5. You know, I've never once thought about this conversation with Nova. Several about how being a girl will sometimes make things more challenging, but it never once occurred to me that she might one day decide she didn't want to be black. Thanks for this.

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  6. Thank you for this. You are both so beautiful!

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  7. Love this article!

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  8. Such a great post. Thank you so much for sharing

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  9. Thanks for sharing and what an awesome response you came up with, its probably something she will remember forever.

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  10. Thank you for sharing. You handled it well. I'm happy I followed Andrea's recommendation. You have a new reader :).

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  11. Thank you for sharing. My 3 year old daughter actually had a similar yet different situation. She was upset because I am "black" and she is not. She is biracial as well. As you did I explained to her it was okay and that everyone doesn't have be the same and it's great to be you.

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  12. You are a wonderful mother & you have a glorious child. This brought tears to my eyes.

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