When we go out in public, people frequently comment on my children’s physical appearance. My blackness is put on display as their minds search for an answer to my children’s appearance. Some people are brave enough to ask, and some make general comments.
As a mother, it has always brought a great sense of pride when comments are made about their beauty. As they age, I now begin to wonder if the compliment have deeper meanings.
As the compliments are given, I often notice that people scan me. They scan my hair, my finger for a ring, and my face. It is subtle, but it’s happened so often, I am used to it.
As they are ogled for their skin complexion, “They are so lucky they don’t have to tan” and their curl pattern “I wish I had hair like that” it makes me wonder if the compliments are more due to the fact that people are drawn to their exoticism. I don’t share their complexion, and my blackness does garner the same type of attention.
At six and four, they are beginning to notice the endless compliments. They are not at the point that they can connect it to race, but one day they will.
In fact, my six-year-old has asked me why people always say they are beautiful. I simply tell her, because you are.
As they get older, I know the questions will be directed at them-especially when I am not around. They may be asked by peers and adults why don’t you look like your mom?
I want my kids to know that they have the option to not discuss our family’s racial identity if they choose not to.
Research shows that kids see race by the age of 5. However, the biases that come along with an observation come from the adults around them.
As a black mom, I worry about how my kids will feel when they discover that racism and discrimination is still alive and well.
How will they feel know that this is still very real for ME? How can I protect them from discrimination based solely on my interracial marriage?
I know that I can’t shield them from all the bad, but motherhood has given me that desire.
I worry about how they will internalize slavery. In our home, our conversations don’t center around race, but instead we discuss things that are alike and different about us.
For now, I feel that is an age appropriate conversation for them. But I want them to understand that life for others may be different from the life they have.
I want my kids to know a world without boundaries based on their skin color. For them, that may come a little easier because they are light-skinned. That sounds terrible to say, but it’s the absolute truth.
Making my children aware of my blackness is not just about me, but about having empathy for others around them. Having empathy doesn’t always mean that you agree with someone who is different, but that you can have enough compassion to listen to their story without diminishing their experience because you haven’t experienced it.