Four posts in one day today...
On August 22, I put up some links, including one to this excellent post on interracial relationships and children at Alas, A Blog. I wrote, almost as an aside:
Someone recently asked me what my wife and I would tell our children (when, deo volente, we have 'em) about their ethnic heritage. The long answer: Indigenous Colombian/Jewish/Nigerian/English/Croatian/German/Austrian/Scotch-Irish/Czech/Welsh/Spanish. Short answer: a beloved child of God and two adoring parents.
It's funny: my wife is only one-quarter African (what would, in a racist era, have been called a "quadroon"), but that's the one-quarter that seems most fascinating to most folks.
your wife is quarter nigerian? nice.
Now, as it turns out, Everchange is a Nigerian blogger, which helps me put the comment in context. I admit, that before I clicked on the comment to find out who this person was, I was deeply annoyed.
My wife is one-quarter African. I don't post pictures of her as I wish to protect her privacy. To most people, she appears to be of mixed race. Folks often ask her (or me) about her ethnic heritage. When I give a full answer, it's amazing how often folks fixate on the African quarter. I sometimes hear:
Wow, she doesn't look black.
Yeah, I can kind of see it in her.
Both are verbatim quotes from our acquaintances. The last one was particularly infuriating. Is blackness an "it" to be seen? My wife's father was born in Montana into a family of Czech-Croatian ancestry (think Willa Cather novels), but hardly anyone focuses on that aspect of her heritage. That strikes folks as dull by comparison! Her mother's mother is mestizo Colombian, which also seems less intriguing than her mother's father's Nigerian background.
Race and ethnicity is not my field of expertise. But I've been amazed, over the year of our marriage and our several years of dating, how my wife's perceived "blackness" and her African heritage are regularly singled out by my family and friends for unique scrutiny. It's certainly reminded me of why using the term "exotic" for human beings ought to be a misdemeanor!
Even in multi-cultural greater Los Angeles, black-white marriages and romantic relationships seem to attract significantly more attention and fascination than Asian-white or Latino-white or Latino-Asian couplings. It's not surprising, of course, given that black-white relationships have a unique and special history, a history often charged with sexual stereotypes and horrific abuse. But it's still quite eye-opening to encounter it as part of one's own life.
Children can look like both their biological parents, neither of their parents, or one of their parents. Or they can closely resemble a grand- or great-grandparent. It is with some curiosity -- and trepidation -- that I muse over how our future children's visual appearance and skin color will affect how they are perceived in the wider world.