I haven’t really talked about this with a whole lot of people. In fact, mostly just my husband.
When we first started dating in 2004, I was 23 and optimistic; yet, very aware that bi-racial relationships weren’t that common, especially where we lived in upstate NY. Walking hand-in-hand in the mall, I was always on the lookout to see if people were staring at us. Now 8 years later and living in Los Angeles, that just seems funny. But back then I was also more self-conscious than I am now. I’ve come a long way… or so I thought.
When I was pregnant, I couldn’t help but wonder what shade my baby would be. I have very fair skin – my husband says I’m translucent. His skin is medium brown like milk chocolate. Would my baby be somewhere in between? Fun to think about, except I worried if people would wonder if she was mine. Then I felt bad about it – who cares what people think? Maybe I’m just a little too sensitive. But I couldn’t shake it. A while ago, I read an article in a magazine about a mom who was mistaken for the babysitter on a regular basis. Would that happen to me?
Fast forward to her birth– after her first breath, the greyish blue tint left and we could see that she was as light as me. Her skin color didn’t look like she was mixed race at all. You could definitely tell that she shared physical features with my husband, but not from her shading. Our friends who visited us at the hospital teased by asking if there was something I needed to tell them.
I honestly wasn’t expecting this scenario. In my naivety, I didn’t know that mixed babies could be this light. I mean, look at Seal and Heidi Klum’s kids. Granted Seal is a lot darker than my husband. I, at least, thought her skin would be darker than mine. Early on my husband would comment that she looked darker that day – then the next he said she was as white as me again. We even asked the doctor if her skin would change. He said by 9 months her eyes, skin, and hair would be pretty much set.
I recently asked my husband if when he takes Zoe places without me, does he wonder if people question whether Zoe is his. He said it crossed his mind, but he doesn’t worry about it like I did.
Many people have told us that she looks like both of us. No one has really said anything out loud about her color. Is it taboo? I guess… I probably wouldn’t bring it up if it was someone else’s baby. But I have made comments to people about Zoe’s skin. I have mentioned that I thought she would be darker. I just haven’t told anyone how much I thought about it before.
My husband and I discuss what it’s going to be like for Zoe. By the time she’s in school, will kids ask about her parents and what color she is? If we’re still in LA, I’m sure it won’t be an issue. But what if we were still in Atlanta? What types of people will she date? Will she even notice color?
My hope is that one day, as bi-racial marriage rates continue to grow, mixed kids won’t even have to think about or deal with any color issues. I know racism still exists – thankfully, it has not affected us.
A long time ago, before I was even dating my husband, a member of my family made a comment about mixed babies that I can’t forget. It bothered me then and still does a little. Neither of us could have guessed my future. I doubt that family member even remembers the comment. You never know the impact and power your words have to help or harm.
Through exposure and experience people’s hearts and minds can soften. Our society has come a long way. I mean – we have a President that’s mixed! I am continuously learning to pay attention to much more than just the color of someone’s skin. I thought I was “advanced” because I am a social worker. Life is a better teacher. I rarely catch myself worrying anymore – I am too overwhelmed with the love and joy I feel when I look at my husband and daughter.