Mulattos and Mutts; Half-Breeds and Hair-Dos
When last we met it was to discuss Interracial Marriage. Do you know what the frequent result of Interracial Marriages is? Mixed-Race children! Scandalous! How does this happen? Well, that’s an entirely different topic…
I have always identified myself as being multi-racial. I can actually remember being asked in elementary school what race was I and my answer was black and white. I was then informed that no, I was black. I responded no, I was two colors. The adult in question attempted to argue me down. Little did she know who she was talking to.
In high-school it became a larger issue. People I went to school with were actually angry that I claimed my full heritage. I actually had at least two different instances where in homeroom, my ENTIRE class was trying to argue me into saying that I was black and that was it, my mother didn’t matter. It was bad—to the point where the teacher had to intervene. The principal once accused me of being intentionally disruptive. Perhaps I was, because interestingly enough, I wouldn’t relent. Ever. I refused. If anything, the insistence of those around me to deny half of my identity just made me hold onto it even tighter.
But being a mixed race child was not just hard on me. It was hard on my mother as well—not so much my father, as far as I know—but for my mother, going out in public with these little brown children, frequently brought stares, glares, even negative comments. It was a challenge at home as well. The fact of the matter is that there are differences genetically speaking between races—mostly having to do with hair I think—and did you know babies don’t come with handbooks?
My brother’s hair was more like “white people” hair…mine “black people”. There are those who will say it’s good-hair vs. bad hair. It think it’s just different hair. His was satiny and leaned towards dry. Mine was thick and leaned towards oily. Did you know that lice are a mostly white hair problem? Mom learned that one when my brother came home with a head full of lice from a birthday crown at school. She feared them getting in my hair. They did. Where they promptly suffered a gruesome death by suffocation. Who knew?
Then there was the subject of perming. The word perm means VERY different things on white hair vs black hair. On white hair it means giving the hair curls, bounce and fullness. On black hair it means taming it into submission, making it as straight as possible. Not knowing that information, mom looked in horror at my third grade teacher when she asked why mom hadn’t permed my hair. The idea of making my hair MORE curly was horrifying. Until it was explained to her. The hallelujah chorus played. Angels sang. Almost instantly mom’s premature arthritis began healing because with that wonderful perm, doing my hair was no longer a daily battle.
So in my world there are two main problems with being a mixed race child. The first is the superficial differences in hair—and sometimes skin, and rarely genetic disorders—which really just need to be explained to moms and dads who are one race and have children who are mixed. If you are friends with such parents, help them out. Make their lives easier. Especially the perm thing. Save them from this (Mom doing my hair BEFORE I had a perm):
Give them This (Me right after my first perm):
The second issue is the bigger one…society. People, in a world where so many children are unloved and don’t have homes, let’s not criticize parents who have children with skin different than theirs. Maybe they’re “guilty” of race mixing (not so bad in my book) or maybe they’re adopted. Who cares? And whose business is it anyway? The fact is that the children are being loved and cared for, and isn’t that what really matters?
Let go of the prejudices tied to interracial relationships and their offspring. Accept that love is what matters, and it truly is blind. If we, as a society, could truly embrace people for who they are, and not what they look like, we would be a lot better off.
To close out this little racial exploration of mine, I want to share a quote from a ridiculously funny movie, Bulworth. At one point the main character—who is very clear for someone completely out of his mind—is going on a tirade about rich vs poor being the real problem and not race. And he says:
“White people, black people, brown people, yellow people, get rid of 'em all. All we need is a voluntary, free spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep fuckin' everybody til they're all the same color.”
Procreative racial deconstruction. Sounds like fun.