Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Not to Call My Biracial Child

I strolled around the grocery store with my daughter's car seat wedged in the shopping cart. Normally I'd carry her in my wrap but she was peacefully sleeping and I didn't want to wake her.

I got what I needed with little interruption. I'm used to the usual reactions to traveling with a baby. Longing looks, big smiles, and the extremely intrigued who will stop me and ask about my baby. All of those I'm used to dealing with, but the reaction I got as I walked to my car was a first, and hopefully a last.

An elderly woman, much shorter than me came closer. I had the car seat shade pulled down to cover her face from the sunlight, and preferably, people who say things like this woman was about to say to me.

"Can I see?" The woman pointed to my baby hidden below her cover.

Normally, I'm more than excited to show her off, but she was sleeping and I didn't want to wake her. I hesitantly pulled the shade back to let her see my sleeping beauty.

"Oh, she's a half-breed," she said so matter-of-factly.

What? I couldn't have heard her right. I must have misunderstood.

"What?" I asked with a half chuckle, trying to mask my extreme shock.

"A half-breed," she repeated. I had heard right. I couldn't believe it.

I didn't know what to say. So I didn't. And she didn't stop talking.

"Oh, it's ok I have a couple of my own."

Were we talking about people or animals? The conversation obviously was over my head because she couldn't have been talking about my baby. Could she?

I didn't say anything else. I couldn't because I was a little offended.

I worried about what kinds of things I'd run into having a biracial child but had no idea it would start so soon.

My husband commented to me the other day about how when we were together before our daughter came along we got some stares, but now it's multiplied by a thousand. I don't think they're stares of How could they, as much as they are Awww, look at that cute interracial family. At least that's what I tell myself.

It took awhile for the conversation to sink in.--Even if it was one sided. I tried to wrap my brain around it as I got my groceries and baby--Or is she a dog to some?--Into the car. The words burned deeper into my memory. I was fuming. Mostly angry with myself for not having a better comeback on hand.

I've run into similar nicknames like this in the past when people aren't sure what to "call me." Should I say 'Black' 'African American' 'Negro' 'Colored'? I didn't know my daughter would have the same problem.

I told my husband what had happened when I got home and he wasn't as upset as I had expected. As I had hoped.

It made me doubt my emotions. Am I overreacting? Should I just brush it off and go on with my way? Is it just my mama bear instincts to protect my child from ignorance?


I knew things wouldn't be perfect, I thought we may run into issues from time to time, but I prayed the world had gotten better, I pray it'll get better, and I hope I can think on my toes next time to put them in their place.