The first year that I attended the ILLUSTRIOUS Clark Atlanta University my daughter, who was then five years old, stayed in Alabama with my mom. My mom thought this was a good idea because she wanted me to focus on school instead of being a mom. Ari would frequent the campus on weekends and certain weeks, like Homecoming week, where we didn’t go to class as we should have. I talked to her each night before she went to sleep, but one night Ari called me in panic…
“Ma! Did you know Nana was white?” she yelled at me.
“Yes I know she is white.” I replied laughing hysterically.
“Come get me! I don’t want to stay with no white lady!” She said crying.
“Why not? What’s wrong with staying with a white lady?” I asked her.
“They’re crazy! White people are crazy!” she replied, still crying.
I had to then explain to my daughter that all white people are not crazy and that Nana loves her very much. She eventually calmed down and decided that she would stay with my mom even though she was white. I assured her that I was raised by Nana and that she wasn’t crazy. Well she was kind of crazy, but I think that was more of a mom crazy than a white person crazy. But that discussion is for another blog, so back to my point. See Ari grew up hearing me and my white mom make remarks about white people being crazy, she was just going off what we taught her.
If you don’t know me personally, I’m “mixed”. I’m not quite sure that they have a politically correct term for “mixed” because I always have to mark “other” when I have to identify race on any type of governmental documents. According to Webster’s dictionary I’m Mulatto. When I was in elementary school the first day of class the teacher instructed all the girls to stand, then the boys. Then she instructed all the Black children to stand, I stood up. Then she instructed all the white children to stand up, I stood up again. She made us do this about three times because she couldn’t figure out why she kept having one extra student in her count. She finally realized I was standing up twice. She took me in the hall and asked why was I standing up twice. I told her it was because I was Black and white. She said what color is your mom? I said white. She said what color is your dad? I said Black. She said, you are the color of your mother unless your daddy is Black. So I went with that, I think I was in the 2nd grade.
The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine who was saying that my mom was different because “she is really black”. Nah, my mama is white. Like REALLY white, like snow white white. She doesn’t even get tans she is so white. When she walks in a room no one mistakes her for a Black woman, no one says, “oh she is really Black because she is cool”. The way she speaks, like many educated adults, changes depending on her environment and situation. My mom, even though she raised two Black children and has encountered some racist situations, still does not fully understand what if feels like to be Black in America. We had a conversation the other day when she made a statement that if anyone goes to college they should be able to get a good job. I don’t even have to expound on this if you are a Black college graduate.
Growing up I had a relationship with my mom’s mom, my Nanny, even though she wasn’t happy about my mom getting pregnant by a Black man. I’m actually her favorite grandchild (Ha! I think I’m everyone’s favorite). One thing I have learned while growing up “mixed” is that even though people can have stereotypical views of other races, there is a strange unconditional love for their family. My Nanny may not have many Black friends but she loves me with all her heart, and will cuss out anyone who says anything bad about me. But with that same mouth that she has cussed out her preacher for saying something about her “nigger grandchild” she can make some of the most stereotypical and racist remarks. I’ve learned how to be understanding to both races in instances like this.
My (Black) friends often tease me for being a ratchet white woman. I laugh and joke with them, because there is a major difference in the way Blacks and whites look at the world. Black people know the history of white men raping slaves and having “mixed” children, but for some reason white people just thought some babies came out a little lighter than others. So there is a big difference when me and my mom walk in a room full of white people. When my mom walks in they see a white woman, when I walk in they see a light complexion Black woman. When we walk into a room full of Black people they see a white woman and a light skinned girl and think “hmmmmm… I wonder what is she mixed with?”
The other day as I was checking Facebook and TMZ for my daily news (Don’t judge me, Oprah said watching the news takes ten years off your life and everyone knows Oprah is NEVER wrong! I need those extra ten years, so I don’t watch the news). I stumbled upon a headline that read “NFL’s Rodney Harrison: COLIN KAEPERNICK IS NOT BLACK…. Mixed Race Doesn’t Count”. Hmmmmm…. Interesting.
I pray every day for my light skinned mixed brother because I’m never sure if he is going to get pulled over and penned as someone who looks like a “bad guy”. In the eyes of a white police officer, he is still Black. Black is Black, they don’t say “Oh he is light skinned, let me ask if his mom is white, if so I won’t shoot him.”
I’ve never dated anything but Black men, both of my dads’ are Black, my uncles and cousins, all Black. I am fearful and disheartened about everything that is going on. I REFUSE to watch another video of a Black man being shot. I simply keep scrolling. It does something to my spirit and makes me an emotional mess. I wonder do my tears and prayers count since I’m mixed?
When Ari went on her first Homecoming date she was caught in the car (I’m going to say kissing because I hope that’s all they were doing) by the police with “that boy”. I was enraged because she was being thotish but I yelled and fussed more because I told her she put his life in danger. I cried and had a long talk not only about her thotty ways, but to explain the danger of the situation and why she can’t do that because she could have gotten him killed. You see those THREE sheriff cars that surrounded the car allowed Ari to leave with her friends but held him until his parents came. I was never called. After our talk, while I was drinking my Hennessy to calm my nerves, I cried because I thought to myself why did I just have a conversation more concerned about “that boys” life instead of the fact that Ari was being a thot? I wonder does my concern and fear still count even though I’m mixed?
I saw Usher wearing a shirt that read “Silence is Consent”. I’ve never really spoken about these types of topics because I’ve always had this undying loyalty to my white mother, even though I’ve been described by a friend as “the most militant half breed trap star they’ve ever met”. The one thing that my mother allowed me and my brother to do was see the world for what it really is. She never taught us to “not see color”, but she showed us that we can still love beyond the color lines. When people make the statement that they don’t see color that means 1) they are not trying to understand people of color and 2) they are living in a fairy tale. My mother taught us that we will encounter injustices and racism, and that even though we do, ALL people do not feel that way.
I do know that we live in a world that is seen from very different views, and some kind of way we have to stop trying to “not see color” and try to understand and recognize the differences between those colors. But I’m not sure if my opinion counts since I’m mixed.
To the Moon….