5 Things You Probably Shouldn’t Say to an Interrracial/Multiracial Family

In the last week or so, we’ve received a few comments from strangers that have been a bit….annoying. 95% of the time David and I encounter no issues, no discomfort or violence (verbal or otherwise) or discrimination being in an interracial relationship and family. We sometimes get a few lingering smiles and stares, but that’s it. At the very beginning of our relationship we did have some strange and rude reactions from people, but only three or four times. (One man started yelling and screaming at us, but it was something along the lines of “good job” but over and over, increasingly more manic sounding. Another young man looked at me with disappointment and shook his head “no” at me on the train. And another made lewd gestures at me after staring at us for some time).

Now that we have two girls who, at this time, have very different skin tones and hair types, it seems that these comments have picked up a little. And I’m bracing myself.

Here’s my list of things you probably shouldn’t say to an interracial family:

1. Is she yours? Is she BOTH of yours?

First of all, why do you think it’s appropriate to ask a stranger this question about their family? What do you plan on doing with this information? And do you even THINK about how this sounds to the CHILD you are inquiring about? Don’t you think that it might be hurtful if you are insinuating that the child’s parents are not their “real” parents? If you’re asking if they are our biological children, then yes, yes they are. But what if they weren’t?? Do you really think we would want to tell you, stranger, our long and complicated story? What does it even matter if we are biologically tied? CLEARLY we are a FAMILY so that’s all that matters!!!! I really feel for adoptive families on this one. I think the best way to answer this question is to just pause and stare.

2. Oh, but he looks so _insert the race of one of the parents_! 

Um, OK…..and your point is??? Are you trying to say that only one of us is the “true” parent? Are you trying to compliment us?! Because that’s a whole other set of problems right there. Just. Stop.

3. She’s Got That Good Hair!

Ok, I realize that this one has been talked about to death. And this really only applies to interracial families with a black parent. But I DON’T CARE IF YOU THINK YOU ARE JOKING. I don’t want to hear about “good hair”, even as a joke. Because the thing is, it’s not funny. People STILL think this way today. It’s not funny that coarse/kinky African hair is considered “bad” and straight hair is considered “good”. Its not a joke. Don’t bring it up. If you bring it up, it means you’re thinking about it. Just, no.

4. *Staring Hard(

I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was putting on a show for you. I didn’t realize that my family and I were actually in a zoo for your ogling pleasure. It may seem strange, but we’re not out here trying to make a statement. We’re just a family. That’s all we are. And no, I don’t care if you are staring and smiling because you “approve”. Thank you for approving, but we don’t need it. Just let us enjoy the park/museum/theater like everyone else!

5. You’re Going to Have Such BEAUUUUUUTIFUL Kids!

We got this a lot while expecting Mia. They would look at me, then they would look at David. Then at me, then at David. Then they would look us up and down. And then, “you’re going to have such beeauuuutiiiiful kids!” In other words, “so exotic! so cool! so DIFFERENT!” We are not breeding so that we could produce some cute race of humans to show off. Don’t exoticize us.

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This weekend we went to a “sexual diversity” parade to support the LGBTQ community in Santiago. We actually had a few people taking pictures of us there, but it was the only time I didn’t mind because, well, context! We were there to celebrate diversity and I’m sure people were happy to see a diverse, heterosexual family with young kids openly supporting the rights of gay people. Particularly after civil unions were recently legalized a few months ago. It’s not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. I was surprised to read that it was actually former president, Sebastian Piñera who introduced the bill.

Being at the parade also made me wonder about what kind of rude and inappropriate comments same sex couples with children get from strangers! Oh man, I can only imagine! But things are changing and I´m hopeful about the future.

Septiembre

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted in over a month!

It might be because September was…well, September in Chile! The end of winter, the anniversary of the coup, independence “day” (I put it in quotes because it definitely lasts longer than a day! More like independence month!) and for some reason, lots of birthdays. It was also the anniversary of our required 2 year stay here in Chile, which means we are now counting down the few weeks we have left until we go back to the United States. Strangely, I’m more anxious about leaving Chile than I was about coming here two years ago. Maybe because we have two children now instead of one, or maybe because we will be moving to a place where neither of us has any family, friends or roots…who knows. It will be a new adventure for sure.

Here are some pictures from our fun September:

September 11

I wrote a long post about this day last year. This year we paid our respects to those who lost their lives on the 11th at the same national stadium. We also realized that we could actually enter the stadium and were able to see incredibly touching photos and literature from that time. Being able to walk through the space where thousands of people were held captive, tortured, killed and/or “disappeared” on the 11th, was moving.

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Our First School Pageant

There’s something disconcerting about the anniversary of the coup and Chile’s independence day being only a week apart. One week people are mourning and protesting and remembering all the atrocities of the country’s past. And the next week it’s music, partying, food and celebrating the country’s birth.

“Dieciocho” refers to the 18th of September which is Chile’s independence day. Dieciocho came a little early for us this year since Mia was in a pageant at her daycare, celebrating the various cultures of Chile. She had to dress up in two separate costumes, but she enjoyed her fish costume so much that she refused to take it off once it was time to change into the second one. Oops!

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Dieciocho! 

This year we spent the weekend of the 18th with David’s wonderful uncle and aunt who were so kind to invite us to their home in the country. It was GORGEOUS! And Mia had a blast. There were trampolines and bouncy houses right outside of our cabin, lots of food, treats, music and dancing.

Our cabin.

Our cabin.

A view from a restaurant

A view from a restaurant

OMG. the BEST mote con huesillo I've ever had. Ok, I've only had it about 12 times in my life, but still.

OMG. the BEST mote con huesillo I’ve ever had. Ok, I’ve only had it about 12 times in my life, but still.

MEAT CENTRAL on Dieciocho

MEAT CENTRAL on Dieciocho. Loved it.

A "Terremoto". Looks harmless right? Like a dainty, light little drink. Do not be fooled. NEVER. AGAIN. Pineapple ice cream plus white wine (plus, and I didn't know this, some kind of RUM) will MESS YOU UP. I mean the name should have been a warning, but I was fooled by the appearance.

A “Terremoto”. Looks harmless right? Like a dainty, light little drink. Do not be fooled. NEVER. AGAIN. Pineapple ice cream plus white wine (plus, and I didn’t know this, some kind of RUM) will MESS YOU UP. I mean the name should have been a warning, but I was fooled by the appearance.

Lots of cacti and beautiful plants

Lots of cacti and beautiful plants

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Very serious while she gets her face painted.

Very serious while she gets her face painted.

Dancing the "cueca". A traditional dance that is a little flirtatious and romantic.

Dancing the “cueca”. A traditional dance that is a bit flirtatious/romantic

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All in all, we had a wonderful month!

Food, Glorious Food

Sounds of Santiago from our neighborhood this late morning:

The low rumble of a wooden cart rolling slowly along the black tar. It pauses and a loud voice pierces the still, clean(er) air; the surrounding buildings bounce back a faint echo. His voice is nasally, sing-songy and high-pitched which helps it penetrate the secluded worlds of every apartment on the block. Naraaaanjas, Manzaaaanas, Alcachoooofas! This loud, articulated shriek ends abruptly. He pauses for a few seconds and then repeats it several times, wheeling his old cart further along the road.

Naraaaanjas, Manzaaaanas, Alcachoooofas! I wonder if anyone will come out and buy something. I think about stepping out myself. Did he really say “Alcachofas”? Artichokes are back in season?! 

But then I remember that we still have a huge stash of fruits, vegetables and more, from David’s weekly trip to La Vega a few days ago.

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cashews, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and lots of plastic.

 

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from Peru. It’s delicious on potatoes

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lúcumas are back! I have no idea what to do with them…

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But they smell like maple syrup and dreams. yummmm

Ah, La Vega. It is one of our favorite things about Santiago. I haven’t actually been in months; the last time I went, I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant and was completely exhausted by the time we left, but I do enjoy waiting for David to come back every Sunday morning with a cart filled with fresh, local, seasonal fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seafood, cheese and ham.

La Vega is a very large central market with probably hundreds of vendors selling mainly produce for far cheaper (and tastier) than what you find in the supermarkets. It was actually featured in the NYTimes recently. The author describes it as, “one of those raucous food markets of unfathomable scope that can keep a budget traveler entertained for a morning, fed for a day and depressed about American supermarkets for life”, which is very accurate. 

Besides having an incredible range of cheap and fresh food, it also has quite a few mini-restaurants/eateries which offer traditional Chilean food, Dominican food and now–Mexican food (and more). There are little cake and pastry shops and Peruvian women that sell freshly squeezed juices right outside the market. The juices are my favorite part. The sellers have metal shopping carts filled with grapefruits and oranges and on top, a simple, manual juicer. We usually ask for a pomelo-naranja (grapefruit and orange) juice and they are insanely cheap and absurdly good. 

If there weren’t so many people every weekend, I would go all the time. But I´m a weirdo and get very antisocial, claustrophobic, and grumpy in big crowds nowadays.