Saturday, January 19, 2008


The King and I are rapidly approaching our 10-year wedding anniversary. While I don't believe that The King remembers this, I let him choose the flavor of our wedding cake. He chose "marble." Many of our guests thought that we were making a statement. If you haven't figured it out yet, I am white while The King is black.

We were not making a statement.

We never really worried about what effects or consequences would be of our actions. We were in love. And love was (IS) enough.

10 years later we find ourselves still together, still in love, and with two beautiful little girls. The Princess, age 7, and The Dragon, age 5.

The King has never been much of a fan of celebrating his "African-American Heritage" - he's not from "Africa" after all. He considers himself an American - and he truly is one. He's just not a fan of the "classification of race" system. He feels that "it doesn't matter." If the form that he is filling out has an option for "Other" with a blank line to be filled in with whatever kind of "other" you are, The King has been known to write "Human."

I never had a problem with it before, and I still continue to check my little "Caucasian/White" box. But now I'm starting to have issues with it... sometimes I know that the people who want to know are going to extrapolate (incorrectly) that because I am white, the rest of my family is white. And I wonder, what box should my children check? There can be advantages in being able to check the "African American/Black" box, so maybe they should be taught to choose that one. But maybe they don't want to embrace that part of their lives, and the "Caucasian" box is good enough for them. I personally feel that they should be able to check both.

Well, with Monday being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, there has been a lot of talk in school about who he was and what he did. The Princess got pinpointed by her teacher because she is African American. Now before you go blasting her teacher, you need to know that The Princess was OK with this. But honestly? I'm not sure The Princess knew she was African American before this happened. Not really. It's brought up some questions, and maybe even some hurt feelings, and most certainly, some interesting discussions.

In watching a movie about Martin Luther King, Jr., The Princess felt bad for how black people were treated. She's been watching movies like this since Kindergarten (Ruby Bridges), so it's not new information for her, but maybe she understands a little bit more this year. She has a hard time understanding how people could hate someone just because of the color of their skin. I think a small part of her is worried that this might happen to her. I've explained that things are different now, and I think she gets that (obviously she can use any drinking fountain she wants), but it's still hard to grasp that just 45 years ago, things were very, very different.

The Princess has decided that she is black... but I don't think she's very happy about it. The Dragon is convinced that she is absolutely, positively, white.

They wanted to know if they had labeled themselves correctly. For something that is simply an issue of "black or white" I discovered that the answer wasn't "black and white."

What to tell them? After all, their Mommy is white and their Daddy is black. What are they really?

I studied their legs, their arms, their bellies. I looked at their faces, and examined their necks. I leaned in really close and smelled the sweet smell of their so-soft skin. And the giggles ensued as I nibbled on their finger tips...

"Chocolate," I said. "You are rich, milky chocolate."

And for now, that's going to have to be enough.


Blogger gorillabuns said...

i think i like your husband's response the best, "human."

that's what your children are - beautiful humans.

7:02 PM  
Blogger dubby said...

I'm chocolate chip and proud of it.

And I have joined the "it's none of your business what race I am" club. Unless it has to do with medical research, I think it does more harm than good in further dividing and stereotyping this country.

I agree with MLK "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character"

7:12 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

My husband is part Hawaiian. It is unfortunate that he feels he needs to check the "Asian/Pacific Islander" box when he gets the "equal opportunity" forms in the mail after applying for a job. Because even though they say it has no bearing, why do they even send them?

I also like your husband's choice of human much better. I wish the world would just stop with the differentiation, because, really...who cares.

I suppose it was nice that Joel got so much funding for all the tons of schooling he did from various Hawaiian scholarships, but I still think our world would be a much better place if we just stopped being concerned about "race" at all.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Great post, Karen. I am just old enough to remember some race riots at my junior high and high school in Columbus, Ohio. It was a terrible, rough, time. Especially for my precious friendships that never seemed to have anything to do with race before.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

I really like this post! Our kids are both adopted and little man is hispanic - he is 2 right now and obviously had no idea that he is "different" than his sister. People always ask, "What is he?" or "Where is he from?" He's a cute little boy from Utah!! That's "What he is."

10:55 AM  

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