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Offensive "compliments"

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
I am wondering if any other moms on here have had this issue before... well-meaning friends and acquaintances have made comments about your kids, thinking they are complimenting but actually offending you?

For example, when my first son was born, the very first time my best friend held him, she said "He's so cute, he doesn't look black at all!". Now my bf LOVES my kids (I have 2 now) to death, and she loves me and my hubby as well. So when she said this (almost 4 years ago) it shocked me and really hurt my feelings. Now that my DS1 is almost 4, he has gotten slightly more "ethnic" looking (for lack of a better word) but is still extremely light skinned.

My second son also looks very white (right now anyway) and I've gotten a few similiar comments about him this past year (he just turned 1). When hubby is out with the kids and I am not with him, he has told me he gets "looks" from people, prob wondering why he is walking around with 2 white kids (his words, not mine). Both of my kids have "white" hair as well.

Thankfully my family has never made any comments about my kids' racial mix.

Have you guys ever gotten any comments like this, and how did you respond?

My family:

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a1...7/105_1575.jpg
post #2 of 40
I don't have anything useful to offer, I did want to say that your boys are adorable.
post #3 of 40
Your family is gorgeous!

I have not gotten any such comments about my kid, but I do know the "totally inappropriate and offensive compliment" routine. My husband has a friend with a particular knack for it.
post #4 of 40
I have to agree...your kids are adorable.


With your bf have you tried just mentioning that comments like that hurt your feelings? She probably didnt' mean them to do so.

With strangers...people suck and that's all there is to it. My DH is half Mexican but looks very white (actually, "looking white" runs in his family. One of his uncles has pale skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes but is 100% Mexican... something about Spanish genes) It's entirely possible that one of our kids will turn out dark so I'm prepared for looks (I'm pale skin, blue eyes, and brown/red hair) Just remember that most people probably don't mean to stare and the ones that do aren't worth your time.
post #5 of 40
I don't really have any advice to offer but I just wanted to say that your family is beautiful! Those boys look like their daddy a ton and anyone who says differently is crazy!
post #6 of 40
Quite honestly, your husband doesn't look all that "black" either. Here in PR, he would be considered "trigueño" or "moreno", someone who is of mixed origin (usually African with European or Native American). If I saw him walking down the street, I definitely wouldn't be thinking what the "black guy" doing with white kids. Wouldn't even make a blip on my radar.
post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 
You guys are so sweet, thank you.

People really have diarrhea of the mouth, you know?

I also find it ironic that people think they are "complimenting" me when they mention how white my kids look, when in reality I had really hoped they would have had darker features (and thicker hair)! lol
post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFTB1177 View Post

I also find it ironic that people think they are "complimenting" me when they mention how white my kids look, when in reality I had really hoped they would have had darker features (and thicker hair)! lol
I can relate to this for different reasons. My parents don't like my husband so I hoped DS would come out with brown hair and brown eyes and dark skin.
post #9 of 40
You know what, OP. I think sometimes (white people in particular) people just don't know how to address color/skin/racial differences. I think the most offensive part of your friends quote was more implying that he could pass for white (as if it's a good thing he doesn't look black) rather than her acknowledgement of blackness (or lack thereof). ETA: ok so now after reading your next post I see what you meant and I guess I don't need this part after all.

Really our white dominant culture just doesn't know what to say about people of other races or ethnicities. Do we address it? Do we not? Should we pretend that this person looks just like us or do we acknowledge the difference?

In our family - we just note the difference. We have a few different mixes. DH is black, I"m white, oldest 2 DSD's are black/white, next two DSC are black/mexican, and youngest DD is black/white. We're a little more comfortable about being descriptive than my extended all-white family. DH's extended family are much more comfortable describing people by how they look or their (presumed) racial/ethnic heritage. In my opinion, it's all about tone and delivery. You can note someone's black without it being an insult, just a descriptor, it's all in the tone.

IN fact, these days I find myself sayign things like "that white dude over there" rather than not describing a white guy's race since that's almost always the social default. I find looking more at differences in description only mode seems to help people around me (IRL) realize that yes we are different and it's ok to note that. It's not OK to make that the sole reason for judging a person. But just like you notice Sally's eyes are blue, you can notice that Bobby is Latino. It doesn't have to be an insult.
post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Equuskia View Post
Quite honestly, your husband doesn't look all that "black" either. Here in PR, he would be considered "trigueño" or "moreno", someone who is of mixed origin (usually African with European or Native American). If I saw him walking down the street, I definitely wouldn't be thinking what the "black guy" doing with white kids. Wouldn't even make a blip on my radar.
Yeah, many people ask him "what he is"... most foreigners think he's Moroccan, some think he's biracial. He's definitely black- both parents, grands and great-grands are/were black, but I am sure (as it is with most African-Americans) he has some white ancestors.
post #11 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teenytoona View Post
You know what, OP. I think sometimes (white people in particular) people just don't know how to address color/skin/racial differences. I think the most offensive part of your friends quote was more implying that he could pass for white (as if it's a good thing he doesn't look black) rather than her acknowledgement of blackness (or lack thereof). ETA: ok so now after reading your next post I see what you meant and I guess I don't need this part after all.

Really our white dominant culture just doesn't know what to say about people of other races or ethnicities. Do we address it? Do we not? Should we pretend that this person looks just like us or do we acknowledge the difference?

In our family - we just note the difference. We have a few different mixes. DH is black, I"m white, oldest 2 DSD's are black/white, next two DSC are black/mexican, and youngest DD is black/white. We're a little more comfortable about being descriptive than my extended all-white family. DH's extended family are much more comfortable describing people by how they look or their (presumed) racial/ethnic heritage. In my opinion, it's all about tone and delivery. You can note someone's black without it being an insult, just a descriptor, it's all in the tone.

IN fact, these days I find myself sayign things like "that white dude over there" rather than not describing a white guy's race since that's almost always the social default. I find looking more at differences in description only mode seems to help people around me (IRL) realize that yes we are different and it's ok to note that. It's not OK to make that the sole reason for judging a person. But just like you notice Sally's eyes are blue, you can notice that Bobby is Latino. It doesn't have to be an insult.

totally agree with everything you said!!!!!
post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFTB1177 View Post
You guys are so sweet, thank you.

People really have diarrhea of the mouth, you know?

I also find it ironic that people think they are "complimenting" me when they mention how white my kids look, when in reality I had really hoped they would have had darker features (and thicker hair)! lol
I'm about as "white" as they come... in fact I'm not "white"... I'm translucent. People even comment on how extremely pale I am like it's a bad thing. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I also have the extremely thick and coarse hair. I'll trade your boys!
post #13 of 40
Excellent post Teenytoona. I think you're right on.

OP--you've got a gorgeous family!
post #14 of 40
Obviously I don't know you or your friend, but I wanted to add another possible motive behind her statement. Before dd was born, I worked in a daycare that had a lot of black & multiracial kids. I am white & so is dh. Now, before I worked there, I assumed that biracial kids who were black & white looked black. Boy, was I wrong! I NEVER would have guessed that some of the kids there who had a VERY dark parent were biracial. NEVER. Maybe your friend was surprised that your son looked light. I also know now that even v dark native Africans can be born light-skinned & their color comes in as they grow. This was just stuff that I did not know, but I do now. I would not comment on a baby's color now, but I might have a few years ago b/c it would have surprised me. I would not automatically assume maliciousness on your friend's part, maybe just ignorance (the lack of knowledge kind, not the rude kind)
post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JFTB1177 View Post
... she said "He's so cute, he doesn't look black at all!"...
Maybe she meant. "He's so cute. (Separate thought) He doesn't look black at all." Which would be less offensive. Maybe you were being over-sensitive. I'm really sensitive to any mention of my baby's race. I get this "offensive compliment" a lot: "Oh! Half-Asian, half-white babies are the cutest!" Offensive to me.
post #16 of 40
And chance your friend meant that as two sentences and not as cause and effect? Like
He's so cute!--compliment
He doesn't look black at all!--surprised observation

If she did definitely mean that she thought he was cute because she doesn't think he looks black, then I'm really sorry for you and hope you can educate her some how.
post #17 of 40
aside from skin color, I think you and your dh look a lot alike.

your kids are definitely your kids and your dh's kids. DS1 already has your family smile.
post #18 of 40
I agree with the compliment/observation assessment too. Probably because people always wonder how a mixed kid will look.

OP, you do have a cute family!
post #19 of 40
I was thinking the same as the PP's - that it might have been more unfortunate timing in placing the two thoughts together than latent racism. But, yes, the way it came out I can understand why you are feeling offended. I'd talk to her.

And I'm not saying this is the case for you, but sometimes I think we read into these sorts of comments because of our own hangups. In my case, when people comment on how different my two children look (which is true, and I can't blame them for commenting) I always worry that they'll wrongly assume that my white-looking child can't possibly be my husbands, and that I must have had an affair. It makes me feel really defensive even though it shouldn't.
post #20 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
:

your kids are definitely your kids and your dh's kids. DS1 already has your family smile.
Aw thanks
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