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The following Featured Post comes from Relationship Group 5, thread 21.

1. Lightening the Mix?
Fri, Oct 1, 1999 - 3:53 PM/EST
taz

I am a Black female engaged to be married to a Caucasian man. I am dovirced with a Black son. My ex-husband is a Black proffesional.

One thing that I have run across and disturbs me are people of color looking foreward to "lightening" up their kids.

I have heard Black associates say, "We (me and my fiancee) are going to have pretty babies with light skin and "good" (yech!) hair and I have heard Asian associates say things like they are happy that their kids won't look so "chinky" (yech!) or they are really happy that their kids can "pass" ...Thoughts?

2. Pretty Sad, But True
Fri, Oct 1, 1999 - 5:17 PM/EST
maytime

It's unfortunate that people feel that way. Their reasons may be twofold. 1)they could turn out with that standard "Hollywood beauty" like Vanessa Williams, Halle Berry; 2)if they "pass" they might not have to deal with as much discrimination, etc. I am white, my son is bi-racial black. While many times he may "pass" (actually sometimes people don't really know what he is), he is very proud of his African American heritage and never hesitates to say so, which makes me proud.

What's sad about it is by promoting it as beautiful and "passing," it is sending a mixed message to the child that a part of their heritage is ugly and shameful. If they are to grow up with complete self-esteem, they need to be proud of ALL that they are. Your children WILL be beautiful; but only because they are yours, not by the skin tone and hair texture. I wish you much luck and happiness.

3. Taz
Fri, Oct 1, 1999 - 6:16 PM/EST
madre2

It's true. I've even heard Hispanic/Latinos refer to that process as "mejorando la raza," which in English means "improving the race."

I think, in the U.S. at least, that it comes down to people, at some gut level, not wanting their children to experience the discrimination they have felt. On the other hand, in South America people commonly refer to kinky hair as "pelo malo," or "bad hair." So it goes on across the Americas. It's not just a U.S. phenomenon.

It's a form of self-hatred. It's sad. It's a result of the powerful machinery on Madison Avenue and in Hollywood that sends out images to the rest of the world that the Anglo-Saxon standard of beauty is THE standard for the entire globe. That's why you have Argentine girls starving and bleaching their hair blond and girls in China having their eyes surgically "rounded" to look more European.

4. What Color Will My Baby Be?
Sat, Oct 2, 1999 - 5:29 AM/EST
historian

I find myself wondering what color my unborn child will be. It's like some huge biological experiment. How will my African-American (with some Irish and Native American and God knows what else genes) mix with my husbands straight Anglo-Saxon genes to produce this new life? I honest want the child to have some color if only to avoid the insensitive comments of people who not knowing his mother is AA might say something that he may find hurtful.

Yet, that nagging feeling instilled from childhood that lighter skin, straighter hair are better haunts me; and although it pain me, I have to to acknowledge that part of me still taunted by self-hate. That almost unconcious childhood desire to be lighter in a family of light skin people, to have my hair grow as fast and as long as my mom's seem to grow. With my short natural and brown skin, I feel good about my looks today and alot of that has to do with the fact that my husband loves me this way and I'm aware of the negative messages about my African-American looks. It's still a battle, but I do want our child to have gifts from both his parents. However, I'm still damned curious about what color he will be. Ah, an American to the end.

5. Historian: Colorism
Sat, Oct 2, 1999 - 1:10 PM/EST
madre2

Don't feel so bad. The same thing happened to me. It's weird, but it almost feels like we are proving to ourselves that we really are just normal human beings. Look! We can actually reproduce a human child with a "white" man, right? As it turns out, my son has blondish, light brown, straight hair, blue-green eyes and light skin. Even my husband has had to admit that he doesn't look anything like the stereotypical Hispanic/Latino. Not even his surname is Spanish. So, the world will brand my son a "white guy." How sad and simplistic. It breaks my heart. He has this beautiful spirit that I want others to see beyond his looks or ethnic heritage.

An anecdote: I was in a trendy bookstore with my son when a little "white" girl stopped to admire him in his carriage. I looked over and smiled. She realized he was with me and said in a loud, incredulous voice to her mother's embarrassment: "THAT's his mommy?" Her mother hurried away with the girl. Even at her age (about three) the little girl had internalized racism. She probably thought I was my son's nanny.

Anyway, historian, I'm sure your child will be beautiful no matter his or her skin color, hair texture, eye color, etc. I look at it this way: By having a half Hispanic son, my husband is loving Hispanics in general. By having a half "white" son, I am loving "whites" in general. That's how barriers are torn down.

And remember, children are God's way of saying the world should go on.

6. COmments.......
Mon, Oct 4, 1999 - 8:55 AM/EST
taz

All of the comments are interesting. I am "brown-you-can-stick-around" Black. My grandma and others of her generation told me of the way Black viewed each other and unfortunately, it still goes on today. We may not say "Light..you alright" or "Black..get back to our brothas and sistah's but we do perpetuate the notion of "white-ness" in all its permetations as more beautiful. Because I am Christian and have a world view, I really don't care what the child me and my future husband will have. What I do have to prepare my kids for are the assumptions that Black and whites will make about them.

Many Black girls will despise my "daughter" if she gets wavy/straight hair and many men will see her as being superior to someone who looks like me. My "son" could be viewed as a pretty boy by Black girls or less masculine by other Black boys because he may take on my husband's features. I don't want them to get caught up in the "hype" and insanity. It will truly be a challenge! *smile*

7. Be Happy to Be Nappy
Tue, Oct 5, 1999 - 4:10 PM/EST
historian

I was listen to NPR and Kojo Nnadi had bell hooks on talking about her new children's book...Be Happy to Be Nappy. I felt myself wishing for my son to have "nappy" hair rather than so called "good" hair, in a way, it would connect him to me and my culture (I wear my hair in a short natural). Anyway, I'm going to get the book and whether my baby has extremely curly African-American hair or looser locks, and read it to him and with him when he's older. It just felt good to hear something positive about black hair. We spend alot of time talking about it, but AA women rarely have something positive to say about the natural state of their hair. It's difficult to be positive when society doesn't foster a positive image of natural black hair styles and we don't either.

But I like the idea of connecting with my son through this book.

8. Coincidence?
Tue, Oct 5, 1999 - 5:49 PM/EST
maytime

Funny how sometimes things that you may need in order to help you grow have a way of coming to you when it's needed. In many ways this is an example. You were looking for a way to connect with your child about the true beauty of the African-American human. This sounds like a good book to read together, regardless of the outcome of his looks.

Read more featured posts here or continue reading thread 21 from Relationship Group 5.





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