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.
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.