Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thoughts on My TransRacial Family

I think I've mentioned that I grew up as part of a transracial family. If not, I did. After my parents divorced my father married a white woman with three children about the same age as my brothers and me. I was about 10.

What I hope families will understand is that what children try to come to terms with what is normal? I know we like to talk about we are all the same and skin color doesn't matter. Maybe not but because we have different cultural experiences and everyday realities we have different words to express or explain that. Sometimes the same words are used to mean something different. Interpretation and norming is pretty interesting. It's what me and my brother call "do you see what I hear." This is meant to be fun so hope you see the humor.

  • Why don't you wash your hair everyday, won't it get oily? Hope so, beats being dry.
  • You don't have a perm, your hair is not even curly. I know that's why I got a perm.
  • Did you get your hair styled? No. I just got it done. DONE equals wash and set even if it was blow dried.
  • Does your mom every let you wear free hair? I don't know what that is but sometimes I wear it down.
  • Why are you wearing hose aren't your legs already dark? Huh!?! Hose or stockings have more to do with the occasion and attire. I never had or would have associated them with giving my legs a tan color. That explains why I see girls wearing hose with shorts or their cheerleading outfit.
  • If you put on heels it will lift your butt. From where and for what?
  • My daughter has the greatest little body, she has not butt at all. Eeeks -- death sentence for a black girl. Black girls without behinds were said to have a disease called, "noassatall". Celebrate the power of the booty!
  • Does this outfit make my butt look big? Isn't that the point? I will say though that what we usually refer to as butt is the curvature and not the width of hips.
  • Just wear nude hose. Mmmm, nude doesn't come in my nude color.
  • If you're going to wear white pants make sure to white undies. Uh-Uh doesn't work that way -- must wear black.
  • Hey that guy just said you have big legs -- how rude. It was actually a compliment.
  • Can black people get tan? I would imagine unless you think we/they are as black as they can get already.
  • Do you have dry skin. No -- I'm just ashy.
  • You can never be too rich or too thin. My mother always said even dogs want meat on their bones.
  • What are you going to have for Thanksgiving? Standard menu sweet potato pie (not pumpkin), greens/green beans not casserole, dressing not stuffing, that canned cranberry sauce.
  • We're having macaroni and cheese for dinner. Isn't that a side dish where is the meat?
  • The proper way to prepare meat is with a little red in center -- you don't want to over cook it. My mother always said we don't put food on the table that can still run away -- cook it or you will get "the worms."
  • How come all the black kids sit together in the cafeteria? Because all the white kids are sitting together in all the other seats.
Feel free to add your own.


Anonymous said...

OK. I had to laugh at your T'giving food menu. I thought that was a "southern" thing, not a black/white thing. I've always had 'dressing', not stuffing. greens (collard/turnip, please don't add Kale, hate it). We also usually have white beans and corn bread. (Yes, even with the dressing) We have sweet tea and sweet potatoes. We usually have pecan pie though.

(Who is a girl, raised in the south)

VALARIE - Single, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...
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Anonymous said...

You're right, I think. My sister and her family lived in Illinois for a while. She dreaded being invited to peoples T'giving dinner because they always had white bread stuffing. She finally started having the party at her house and making the cornbread dressing.

SWeet potato pie with tofu???? Doesn't sound too appetizing.


VALARIE - Single, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

That's funny! Yea, the sweet potato pie thing were gesture of cross cultural understanding. You was quite proud that she contributed the sweet potato pie made with NO diary. Sweet potatoes, eggs, milk, and butter that's it. Her recipe -- tofu. I didn't tasted so can't tell you about that part.

VALARIE - Single, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...
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VALARIE - Single, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

Hey Jan. It probably is a southern thing if you are not black. I grew up in the north and it was standard fair in all the black homes I went to but very different from my father's home. His wife made sweet potato pie with tofu.

I like your menu. Green without kale -- check. We might have black-eyed peas and cornbread (definitely on New Years Day), sweet tea -- the only kind -- a must, I cook them but don't eat them. There is a restaurant here that makes sweet potato pecan pie. It is the best thing ever.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, sweet potato pecan pie....oh yeah, you got my mouth watering. Definitely black eyed peas and cabbage too on New Years Day. (How else can you guarantee money/good luck) Although, a few hot wings during the football games are good too.

You got me thinking too. What really makes a family? Is it that everyone looks alike? Is it DNA? Is it the traditions you adhere to? Is it memories you create? (In the south, you have a lot of eating around all those memory moments.) All I know, is that I LOVED spending time at my grandparents house with cousins/friends/'family'. (We always ATE but also played games and watched ball games and talked and told jokes, etc) Those are the memories I treasure and I hope to pass those things on to my children. (who happen to come from different corners of the world) SO while we celebrate their uniqueness (Is that a word?), we also create our own traditions that make us a 'family'.

Love your post!


VALARIE - Single, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

We will have to hang out. You make some really good points. I never felt a part of my father's family because there was nothing there that was familiar or comfortable. I was always expected to change, accept, like, or love whatever (strangeness) poor word choice but all things that were completely foreign and uncomfortable for me. My mother's customs and traditions were considered beneath or less sophisticated. The goal was to re-socialize us rather than honor how wonderfully special we already were. Things that I did and liked were considered things I should change to fit it with them and NO effort was ever made to make sure my brothers and I were comfortable. Well...other than the sweet potato pie. We had to change the words we used, the jokes we found funny, our mannerism, and speech. We had to be acceptable vs. being totally accepted. That's the part that is important to all of this. You can't treat the children as if they will be special when have to realize how special they are exactly the way that they are and make some of those changes to accommodate their wants, needs, and heartfelt desires that are innately part of the culture that gave birth to them.

VALARIE - Single, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...
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Anonymous said...

I agree. It's so hard as a parent to recognize the 'specialness' of each child (even the biological ones) and appreciate it and encourage it, especially when it differs from yourself so much. We struggle with that with all 3 and I'm sure we will struggle with #4 when he gets here. I know our family traditions will be different from the traditions I grew up experiencing. My hope is that my children look back with fondness upon them, as I do with my life. Most of all, I want them to know they are loved for who they are, not for saying the things they think I want to hear. I struggle with that in my own family when I go home. If I don't espouse Fox News Network ideals, I'm frowned upon as uppity or something. (Same with the inlaws) I don't want my kids to feel like they have to be different than who they really are.

So if you are ever in the Atlanta area, let me know. We'll definitely get together and trade war stories.


Tami said...

How much did I love that post. That was hilarious! I have to think of some things to add. Give me a few, you know I should be working! ADD I have!

VALARIE - Single, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

Hey Jan -- this was fun. I will actually be in Atlanta next weekend big family gathering with all the food -- probably a fish fry too!

Anonymous said...

OMG, Fish Fry too. I'm so there. EXCEPT, we're heading to Gatlinburg on Sunday to our family gathering. (I'm assuming you're meaning Memorial Weekend)

Do you have a free moment Friday or Saturday? I could pop in and go totally unnoticed in the family. (I'm sure there'll be several very white, overweight women with blue eyes and freckles)

Truly, if you have a free moment, let me know.


Anonymous said...

Ok. I meant that to sound funny, not sure if people reading it will take it that way. I didn't mean to invite myself to the 'party'. (So totally rude by southern standards)

Email me and let me know if you have an hour to go get drinks or something. (See Gran, not inviting myself to the fish fry. WOuldn't want her to roll over in her grave)


Catrina said...

Hilarious! I love your post. It reminded me of last Thanksgiving when I told my white co-workers that black people don't usually eat pumbpkin pie! By the way, I never had green bean casserole until I left home for college!

Christine said...

The last comment about sitting together is my absolute favorite. i still have to remind people today about this.

DWS said...

Absolutely hilarious...loved the mac and cheese comment!


What a Blast!!! I had fun reading. I can relate to ALL the comments.


Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]