March 20, 2008

What would happen if an Irresistible Force met an Immovable Object?

Last year, I purchased the Land Down Under Toob for Arun last year and it came with the little fella you see above. Arun called him "Daddy" for awhile. While X was mildly amused, I thought it was hilarious because besides not being Aboriginal, X is not even nearly as dark as that dude. So, I would giggle maniacally, which only served to encourage Arun even further. Naturally, Arun has always noticed darker guys and has usually been drawn to them. And I think it is sweet.

I have always thought it painfully trite to claim that "children do not see color" because truthfully, kids do see color - they simply do not assign a value to it. It does hurt me to know that someday, my children will encounter someone who cannot hide the fact that they think their father is a lesser person simply because his skin is darker and his passport foreign. It will be one of many disappointments in their lives that I will not be able to prevent.

But it begs a another question - what race will my children consider themselves to be? I doubt they will jump on the Indian Rickshaw of Ethnicity, but I hope that they at least harbor a sentimentality for their heritage - much as I do for things of the Irish and Scottish persuasion. It helps that my smoochy love affair with the Indian subcontinent of Asia began in 1989 and is still going strong - I am very excited to share that affection for India with my children. The fact that they both house some spicy, curried DNA of their very own only makes it all the more important for me to do so.

Recently, I was filling out some forms for Anjali for her pediatric dermatology appointment (she has sensitive skin and we needed to rule out eczema, which we did.*relief!*) On the form, there was a blank for "race" and I was puzzled as to what I should write. I wanted to simply write "American", but the form was medical and that would not have helped Anjali at all. So, I wrote "White/Asian Indian".

I am aware that many folks in America will never consider my kids "white" simply because they are mixed. I realize that most Indians will not even consider my kids to be "Indian". In the grand scheme, it is not such a big deal, I do not think. I love that my children are exactly what it means to be American. And besides, their father is living the American Dream - lock, stock, and barrel.

A few weeks ago, our Indian friend S from Boston became a US citizen. I was absolutely thrilled for her. No, I am not going to drone on about how this is the best country in the world blabbity blah blah. Actually, I am beginning to suspect the best country in the world is Sweden. But alas,, I would not want to live in Sweden. I would rather live here. Because this is still a pretty cool spot in which to live.

Okay...Okay.... I do not see all of us joining hands across America and singing in harmony as we drink our bottles of Coca-Colas. However, I would still argue that this country is a kinder, gentler country in which one can be "melted".


Anonymous said...

I agree. It's funny, I think of your kids as white. Anju is so fair. Not that it matters, but maybe it's because I know you better than X that I assign YOUR race to them. I wonder what the little angel would say, if she even knew what that all meant. She never, ever comments on the race of her many-colored friends at school when describing them. She'll say they have black hair, or curly hair, or red hair.

Mamma Sarah said...

My hope is one day the race card will not be so important other than for medical purposes.

It's amazing what kids notice about color. I remember Alex seeing his first black woman and having a confused look on his face. Then he realized that she was just like me only with a different skin color. :-)

Me said...

I don't know why people are biased anyway - blended kids are always so beautiful. Not that my kids aren't adorable, but man, they're really WHITE.

My kids don't seem to notice color either, although, at the park tonight the Little Miss was a little freaked out by one of the dads who was black - she couldn't figure out if she should flirt with him or hide from him, so she did a little of both. She did chase a litle hispanic boy up the slide trying to kiss him, though, so I think that redeems her colorblind eye.

Christy said...

My husband is REALLY white - complete with freckles and everything. Anyways, Porgie was looking through a magazine one day, pointed to a picture of a black man, and said, "Da Da." I am not really sure what the connection was, but apparently my husband kind of resembles a sexy black man.

Moderndayhermit said...

A friend of mine is half Japanese and half "White" and has struggled with her identity. She has traveled and lived in many parts of Asia and is often times considered a traitor to her race and heritage for not speaking the language. It has been and continues to be a struggle for her.

There are some books written by people of mixed race and backgrounds that I've picked up that talk about the challenges they've faced externally and internally.

My son gravitates towards girls and women with dark hair, especially of the Latina and Indian variety. We just about can't take him to a Mexican or Indian restaurant due to his flirtatious behavior. It's embarrassing!

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

bwahahahahahahaha to the "Daddy".

I think of your kids as American, as mine will be, whether I end up with someone from my own culture, or another.

Anonymous said...

Delurking to say that my kids are biracial in the black/white way. Its funny that this topic came up because what attracted me most to reading your blog over the last 6 months was the striking resemblence my daughter (Sydney, 7 mo.) has to Anjali. I also have a 9yr old son and I LOVE what you said about kids noticing color just not assigning a value to it. That was awesome. My son is just now starting to realize that to some people he isnt white enough and to others he isnt black enough. My daughter is lighter than he is and you wouldnt believe the stares and questions we get. Anyway, I have written way more to you on this subject but I keep deleting it because it was getting too deep. I just wanted to say I have enjoyed reading your blog for a while now and I really appreciate what you had to say on this particular post.

Anonymous said...

Most of the mixed indian-white american kids I know start considering themselves "Indian" at some point in elementary school. I think a lot of it depends on how large the desi community is in your area and whether or not you are really a part of it.

What really cracks me up is our son (9 mos, and indian-white american) looks very similar to Anjali except he has brown eyes. Depending on where we are in the country, he is either very fair (Bay Area) or has "nice skin tone from his Daddy" (Mid-west).

I occasionally think about the race issue in regards to parenting, but to be honest, it seems a bit strange to anticipate it. I know it's there as an issue that will crop up, but I don't know to what extent, what it will mean, etc, etc.. There are just too many variables for me to wrap my head around. I'm sticking with the head in the sand approach until further notice!