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post #81 of 222
Just sharing a story as someone who has asked that question - not to make a point (not trying to say that it's not insensitive, annoying, and all that!!!) but just as a hopefully interesting story.

I was at Home Depot with DH and I was carrying DD (2.5yo) and we were selecting floor tiles. Very near where we were shopping were two strollers with two children, one about 2 years and the other about 4 years old. DD was looking at them with interest so I smiled and waved and said "hi" to them. They both stared at us but neither gave any sort of response. They seemed shell-shocked or something, and I felt there was something wrong (that they were maybe autistic, abused or neglected).

Just then I noticed that one of the strollers was a double stroller, and there was apparently a baby in the back that I couldn't see because a blanket was covering it entirely. The baby was moving hands and feet trying to get the blanket off, but it wasn't going anywhere. The baby was also crying.

I had already noticed the lack of any attentive parents but started looking around more because of this issue. I wanted to just move the darn blanket but I know a mama bear could rip me to shreds if I chanced that. There was only one possibility - a man and a women who were halfway down the aisle (Home Depot has looong aisle, remember). I had been watching them for some time, figuring they must be the parents, but over time deciding they in fact were not. The strollers were turned away from them, and not once in a period of a few minutes did either of them even glance back at the children, even as they moved further away from them, and even as DH and I approached the children somewhat. I can't imagine any parents with no radar regarding strangers approaching their children. But the baby was struggling, so I called out the dreaded question: "Excuse me, are these your children?"

I wasn't expecting an overly pleasant response, but I was kind of shocked at what I got - the woman got In. My. Face. and started saying "Is there a problem? Is there a problem?" over and over again. I was taken aback but managed to say "There's a blanket over your baby's head." She went over, ripped the blanket off, and -- argh -- the baby was AA (the other two children, and the man and the woman, were all white).

DH said later that the man that was with her somehow managed a few words while I was dealing with the woman. Apparently all the kids were foster kids and she was tired of comments about the baby being AA.

It totally sucked that I played right into that tiring situation... when I didn't even know there was a racial component! LOL.

I sure hope those kids are ok though...
post #82 of 222
When I was a baby and as a young child, there was a big facination with me among the neighbors, Why? Because I was a blonde, blue eyed and freckled kid, and my mom is brunette with dark eyes, hair and skin. But I don't now maybe in the 70's they where very few "blonde" Mexicans, which i don't think they where becuase for some people here, blonde features are for the rich or foreigners, and seriously I'm Mexican and people didn't believed me and my "weird surnames" didn't helped either.We went monthly to the US, and people there thought I was American until I opened my mouth.

My blonde haired disappeared as well as my eyes, I have dark brown hair, hazel eyes, and very pale skin with freckles. My DH is white, with blonde hair and darker green eyes.
Now, DD1 is blonde with green eyes, and when I used to take her to the park or just somewhere out, people used to ask me if she was mine by saying "She's very blonde and you're not" and I was mostly like "So?", seriously DD1 looks a lot like me, she's my spitting image and especially now that she's older, but well people still think she's not my daughter or also becuase of the fact that I look younger than 33 and she 14, so get the picture.

But the winner is with my youngest, she's redheaded and people think she's not mine or that she got it from DH, and she's redheaded becuase my grandma and greatgrandma where redheadeds, she got it from my side of the family not his, and it bugs me.
But, lol we have the 3 main hair colors in our family, DD1 is blonde, DS has brown hair, the twins have lighter blonde hair than DD1 and the baby is redheaded But also, that seems to be a problem for some people think that my DD's are not mine.
post #83 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
Just sharing a story as someone who has asked that question - not to make a point (not trying to say that it's not insensitive, annoying, and all that!!!) but just as a hopefully interesting story.

I was at Home Depot with DH and I was carrying DD (2.5yo) and we were selecting floor tiles. Very near where we were shopping were two strollers with two children, one about 2 years and the other about 4 years old. DD was looking at them with interest so I smiled and waved and said "hi" to them. They both stared at us but neither gave any sort of response. They seemed shell-shocked or something, and I felt there was something wrong (that they were maybe autistic, abused or neglected).

Just then I noticed that one of the strollers was a double stroller, and there was apparently a baby in the back that I couldn't see because a blanket was covering it entirely. The baby was moving hands and feet trying to get the blanket off, but it wasn't going anywhere. The baby was also crying.

I had already noticed the lack of any attentive parents but started looking around more because of this issue. I wanted to just move the darn blanket but I know a mama bear could rip me to shreds if I chanced that. There was only one possibility - a man and a women who were halfway down the aisle (Home Depot has looong aisle, remember). I had been watching them for some time, figuring they must be the parents, but over time deciding they in fact were not. The strollers were turned away from them, and not once in a period of a few minutes did either of them even glance back at the children, even as they moved further away from them, and even as DH and I approached the children somewhat. I can't imagine any parents with no radar regarding strangers approaching their children. But the baby was struggling, so I called out the dreaded question: "Excuse me, are these your children?"

I wasn't expecting an overly pleasant response, but I was kind of shocked at what I got - the woman got In. My. Face. and started saying "Is there a problem? Is there a problem?" over and over again. I was taken aback but managed to say "There's a blanket over your baby's head." She went over, ripped the blanket off, and -- argh -- the baby was AA (the other two children, and the man and the woman, were all white).

DH said later that the man that was with her somehow managed a few words while I was dealing with the woman. Apparently all the kids were foster kids and she was tired of comments about the baby being AA.

It totally sucked that I played right into that tiring situation... when I didn't even know there was a racial component! LOL.

I sure hope those kids are ok though...
That poor little one. Who cares about the comments, care about the kid!
post #84 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marilde View Post
When I was a baby and as a young child, there was a big facination with me among the neighbors, Why? Because I was a blonde, blue eyed and freckled kid, and my mom is brunette with dark eyes, hair and skin.
MIL says that Dh (he's PR) was quite blonde as a child, and he remembers getting lots of attention because of his light green eyes. His eyes are still green, but his hair is very dark now. Our children all have light hair, but it seems that as they get older it will get a lot darker.
post #85 of 222
Thread Starter 

"You have got to be the babysitter!"

"You have got to be the babysitter!"

That's what I heard yesterday as I sat w/my two children (4 and 18 months). I said, "Nope, I'm the mama." I wasn't offended, nor did I have any reason to be b/c the woman went on to say, "You look so young!"

That could have been a quick save on her part, but I took the compliment anyway. :
post #86 of 222
People think that I'm my son's babysitter/nanny or just a friend of the family. I am bi-racial (Black and Japanese) and my husband is Irish/German. So, my little one is more fair skinned than I am.
Here's the annoying part, sometimes I think people think that he's beautiful because he didn't turn out as dark as me - which is completely messed up.
But, I know my child is beautiful, so that's all that counts.
People are just SOOOO STUPID sometimes.
post #87 of 222
I need to say something.
I am sometimes one of those who approaches a mom with obviously biracial kids. Usually only if they're nearby: in line at the store, we're both checking out toys, whatever. I will ask "Are those your kids?" because I want to tell her they're "beautiful".
For me, it's not just about their appearance though. It might sound ridiculous, but I'm so happy to see our society getting to a point where "inter-racial" couples *are* acceptable. Bi-racial children are beautiful to me because they are *proof* that our society is changing. It's beautiful to see children of two ethnic origins because they are our next generation. They and their friends will grow up knowing it's normal and okay to love someone who isn't the same ethnicity you are. Or, at the very least, we are one step closer to being to that point.
post #88 of 222
When you're bi-racial and you hear someone ask "what are you?" or question whether or not that my mother is in fact my mother is annoying and hurtful. None of my caucasian/asian/african american/hispanic friends seemed to ever have that happen to them. When you're little - you don't want to stand out as some sort of anomaly, you just want to be treated like everyone else. I guess that's why I feel that some people only think he's beautiful because he's not as dark as I am. When I was little, I felt the same way...that people were pleased with the fact that I wasn't as dark as my father. Whether it's true or not, who knows.
So, when I'm asked the same questions that my mother was asked it just sends me over the edge ... I mean, the kid looks like me, he's just more fair with slightly reddish hair. I know that he's going to have to respond to the same types of questions, endure the same stares. I birthed this beautiful little boy, I feel that I should be given full Mommy credit.
post #89 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by mercyrus View Post
When you're bi-racial and you hear someone ask "what are you?" or question whether or not that my mother is in fact my mother is annoying and hurtful. None of my caucasian/asian/african american/hispanic friends seemed to ever have that happen to them. When you're little - you don't want to stand out as some sort of anomaly, you just want to be treated like everyone else. I guess that's why I feel that some people only think he's beautiful because he's not as dark as I am. When I was little, I felt the same way...that people were pleased with the fact that I wasn't as dark as my father. Whether it's true or not, who knows.
So, when I'm asked the same questions that my mother was asked it just sends me over the edge ... I mean, the kid looks like me, he's just more fair with slightly reddish hair. I know that he's going to have to respond to the same types of questions, endure the same stares. I birthed this beautiful little boy, I feel that I should be given full Mommy credit.
Sorry, but firstly I *am* bi-racial. As for the "what are you?" question, that's something I struggle with in my own head on a daily basis (see my thread on "white" Natives) even without others questioning it.
If you sit my mom and I beside each other, I look exactly like her, only "white" skinned, blue/green eyed, blonde haired and taller. My features are hers. It didn't stop a security officer from accusing her of kidnapping me and it didn't stop the border officials from phoning my father if/when she tried to cross the border with me to confirm she *was* my mom.
The only reason I ask "Are those your kids?" is because I was in the embarrassing situation once where I didn't ask and said "Your kids are beautiful" to the woman pushing the cart (both she and the children were "white" for whatever that matters) and she *freaked out* about the fact that they weren't hers. I'm sorry, but I don't just ask that question about bi-racial children nor just comment on bi-racial kids being beautiful or cute- I do it to just about every kid I see that's cute or beautiful in my mind. I might do it a little more often with multi-racial kids because of my mind-set from above. It probably doesn't help that I always wonder (when the kid is from a "black"/white union) what my cousins would have looked like if my aunt had been able to have any instead of being forced to have an abortion at 17 because her boyfriend (my uncle) was "black".
post #90 of 222

"He's not a smoothie..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by mercyrus View Post
When you're bi-racial and you hear someone ask "what are you?" or question whether or not that my mother is in fact my mother is annoying and hurtful. None of my caucasian/asian/african american/hispanic friends seemed to ever have that happen to them.
FWIW, I am white and was asked this very question a few years ago by a young lady of biracial heritage. I was offended by the question and she couldn't understand why I was offended by her "curiousity". As I explained to her, it's just rude to ask people that.


My son is biracial and I have been asked:

"Is he mixed?" and "What is he mixed with?"

I was so offended the first time it happened (at the airport, black female security officer) that I simply answered yes. The second time, I also just answered yes. By the third time, I was ready!

"Nope, he's not a smoothie..."

It set the young woman back (Baskin Robbins, young white counterperson) so that she then explained, "My boyfriend is black and I was wondering what our kids are going to look like."

Still, odd experiences for me and quite offensive as I was brought up that it is rude to ask someone about their cultural heritage. I've never been mistaken for the nanny but that's partly because he favors me in coloring and partly because he yells, "Mama, my mama's here!" :

Minxie
post #91 of 222
You're right, it IS rude to ask "What are you?" or "Is/are he/she/you "mixed"?". I honestly was *not* trying to defend that question whatsoever and if it came across that way, I didn't mean for it to do.
All I was saying is that for myself, it's a question I struggle with often with my background and looking like one ethnic group though raised in another and I can't imagine being able to answer someone even if they did ask.

I have asked people about their cultural heritage- ie Are you Native?- usually because I'm looking for a particular item which that ethnic group is more likely to know where to find and/or how to acquire and, having moved across the continent, I don't have the ties to this community required yet to be able to find them myself nor do I know where to get them.
Of course, any reason I have isn't going to be "good enough", so I guess I might as well just say "Well, I'm just rude."
post #92 of 222
I've asked the heritage of my friends, and boyfriends. White or otherwise. But I would never ask something so personal and potentially loaded of a stranger or even casual acquaintance unless for some reason it came up in conversation.

Except I did approach a woman in Toys R Us to ask if that was her daughter - she was a white woman with an Asian baby, and we have been thinking of international adoption for some time... I apologized (probably profusely, knowing me) and acknowledged that it might be too personal, and explained why I asked. She was very sweet and talked to me for a while about the process. It took a lot for me to even talk to her, I'd have been crushed if she'd been offended or laid into me.

I wonder if that bothered her, but she was just too nice to let on? I do hope not.
post #93 of 222
I guess I just don't see it as being a "loaded" question. It's just a part of who each of us is, right? Why should it be a big deal?
Maybe it would be more of a big deal to me if I were more "visibly" a minority? Of course, I kind of get offended that people assume I'm "white" because I look the way I do, so...
post #94 of 222
Thread Starter 
I would just rather people skip the asking if they are mine part and just get right to the compliment! If you're the mom or the aunt or the caregiver, there should be no offense to "Your children are beautiful." If they are with you in the store or at the park, they are YOURS, at least for the moment. No one needs to know the family history to pay a compliment.

Quote:
The only reason I ask "Are those your kids?" is because I was in the embarrassing situation once where I didn't ask and said "Your kids are beautiful" to the woman pushing the cart (both she and the children were "white" for whatever that matters) and she *freaked out* about the fact that they weren't hers.
For that woman to freak out is ridiculous. I'm sure not all caregivers (or whatever she was to those children) would react that way.
post #95 of 222
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I guess that's why I feel that some people only think he's beautiful because he's not as dark as I am. When I was little, I felt the same way...that people were pleased with the fact that I wasn't as dark as my father. Whether it's true or not, who knows.
My sister is the opposite. I think she wishes that my children were darker, like me, but not in a good way. She'll say that my children are cute but it's only b/c of my DH's white genes. Their hair wouldn't be as "nice" and that their skin wouldn't be as light, etc.

She has always had issues w/me marrying my DH but my relationship with her took a turn for the worst after we had children. It's almost like she's jealous of our children. It's very strange. She's never been comfortable in her own skin and although we are the same complexion (both dark skinned), I have.

She has always compared herself to black people w/lighter skin and comments about how lucky they are to have lighter skin and longer hair, but then turned around and hated them b/c of it. "She thinks she's cute b/c she's light skinned." So when my children were born, it's almost as if she took it as a slap in the face.

She also treated my children differently than our nieces and nephews. She felt that my children have the advantage b/c of their heritage and would go out of her way to do extra things for their cousins b/c of it. The reason I said treated is b/c we no longer have her in our lives. She's way too toxic to have around our children who were becoming old enough to understand some of the ignorance she was sharing.

I hope that made some kind of sense. Maybe I need to start a new thread...
post #96 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by olliepop View Post
My sister is the opposite. I think she wishes that my children were darker, like me, but not in a good way. She'll say that my children are cute but it's only b/c of my DH's white genes. Their hair wouldn't be as "nice" and that their skin wouldn't be as light, etc.

She has always had issues w/me marrying my DH but my relationship with her took a turn for the worst after we had children. It's almost like she's jealous of our children. It's very strange. She's never been comfortable in her own skin and although we are the same complexion (both dark skinned), I have.

She has always compared herself to black people w/lighter skin and comments about how lucky they are to have lighter skin and longer hair, but then turned around and hated them b/c of it. "She thinks she's cute b/c she's light skinned." So when my children were born, it's almost as if she took it as a slap in the face.

She also treated my children differently than our nieces and nephews. She felt that my children have the advantage b/c of their heritage and would go out of her way to do extra things for their cousins b/c of it. The reason I said treated is b/c we no longer have her in our lives. She's way too toxic to have around our children who were becoming old enough to understand some of the ignorance she was sharing.

I hope that made some kind of sense. Maybe I need to start a new thread...
I totally get what you are saying. In psychological terms, it's called projective identification. Colorism has hurt people of color so much, but sadly some of us perpetuate it.
Sounds like you made a good decision to let her go for the sake of your little ones.
post #97 of 222
Jumping right in...

Haven't read all previous posts but I also wonder why it's offensive or rude to ask about cultural heritage or ethnicity?

I get asked that a lot because people cannot seem to pinpoint. I'm Filipino but have been mistaken for being Japanese, Chinese, Innuit, Native American and even Argentinian. And I'm really not offended. Maybe it's because I am also interested in other cultures so my knee-jerk reaction when I see someone who looks foreign is to ask where they're from.

Or maybe it has cultural underpinnings too because even in the Philippines, when we meet other Filipinos we ask what part of the country they are from because there are sub-cultures in the Philippines too depending on what region one is from.

A lot of people just seem to have a genuine curiosity on where I come from. Of course there are generalizations and stereotypes but it's a chance for me to educate them on what my culture is like. It's not exasperating on my part because most are happy with the learning experience.

So yeah, I guess I am just not understanding why it is offensive to ask about one's ethnicity.
post #98 of 222

Why is it rude?

Let me try to explain -- with the caveat that this is something that I haven't totally thought through, and I'm writing on the fly. Would welcome others' reactions/input on this complex topic.

I think the "It's rude" reaction (which is what I was taught), comes from a couple of different places. First, that personal matters, including personal appearance, aren't proper subjects for casual chit-chat between strangers (e.g "what's in your purse?" "what size bra do you wear?" "tampon, pad or diva cup?" Would you really ask someone who you just met any of these questions? Even if you were genuinely curious? )

Second, I think that there's the sense/fear that somehow the answer would make a difference to the questioner -- that the person will be categorized, perhaps discriminated against, based on his or her answer. And until recently -- last 30 yrs or so? -- one's answer to that question, at least in the US, could hold legal implications. So, to be color-blind, politically correct, polite, whatever you want to call it, one doesn't ask the question at all.

Also, depending on the person's background, the answer might raise particularly difficult issues. When I tell curious insistent folks that no, I'm "just black," no, not mixed, not bi-racial, "just black" -- I'm giving them the cut and dried answer to a family ethnic history (part of which was lost due to slavery) that is waaaay more complicated than "just black." People who insist that I "must" be mixed with something and press me on the issue are asking questions that I really don't know the answer to, or don't care to discuss. Not nice.

I think that there's also probably a generational component to this too -- that as people's world views broaden, and we learn to celebrate each other's differences rather than use them to pigeonhole, some of the discomfort around discussing racial and ethnic matters will start to subside. Maybe it has already.

But I know that for myself -- a black woman of "certain age" -- I can't help but wonder why the heck it matters when someone asks, "what are you?"
post #99 of 222
I've created a S/O thread on this topic.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...6#post11587886
post #100 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marilde View Post
When I was a baby and as a young child, there was a big facination with me among the neighbors, Why? Because I was a blonde, blue eyed and freckled kid, and my mom is brunette with dark eyes, hair and skin. But I don't now maybe in the 70's they where very few "blonde" Mexicans, which i don't think they where becuase for some people here, blonde features are for the rich or foreigners, and seriously I'm Mexican and people didn't believed me and my "weird surnames" didn't helped either.We went monthly to the US, and people there thought I was American until I opened my mouth.

My blonde haired disappeared as well as my eyes, I have dark brown hair, hazel eyes, and very pale skin with freckles. My DH is white, with blonde hair and darker green eyes.
Now, DD1 is blonde with green eyes, and when I used to take her to the park or just somewhere out, people used to ask me if she was mine by saying "She's very blonde and you're not" and I was mostly like "So?", seriously DD1 looks a lot like me, she's my spitting image and especially now that she's older, but well people still think she's not my daughter or also becuase of the fact that I look younger than 33 and she 14, so get the picture.

But the winner is with my youngest, she's redheaded and people think she's not mine or that she got it from DH, and she's redheaded becuase my grandma and greatgrandma where redheadeds, she got it from my side of the family not his, and it bugs me.
But, lol we have the 3 main hair colors in our family, DD1 is blonde, DS has brown hair, the twins have lighter blonde hair than DD1 and the baby is redheaded But also, that seems to be a problem for some people think that my DD's are not mine.
I hear you, Marilde! I have pale pale skin, freckles, dark brown eyes and dark red hair. Growing up I was the "white" sheep of the family, and although my aunt's hair was lighter even redder than mine, my coloring was constantly being commented upon. My DS is Afro-Brazilian and German-Brazilian on his dad's side and Spanish-Cuban and Irish-Cuban on my side. His dad has dark brown hair, brown eyes and caramel skin. DS came out with his daddy's caramel skin, very dark brown eyes and (for now) very blond hair. I am constantly being asked if DS is mine and where he got his blond hair, especially since there is not one blond in my family; I have even been accused of bleaching it! Go figure..
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