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August 31, 2006

Comments

Starfoxy

There is a pair of twins that were featured on Snopes who make you last paragraph especially clear. It is sad to say that they will most likely lead very very different lives from eachother.

The Gonzman

You can barely tell my Lenni Lenape heritage, but my own cousin, who is as predominately white as me, looks like he's barely white at all.

Go figure.

Hugo

Gonz, I had to google Lenni Lenape, to my embarrassment. Is the Wikipedia entry credible?

Starfoxy, that's a fascinating story. Million to one odds, but you never know. I will show that one to my wife.

Dan S

One thing that happens when a white person marries or adopts trans-racially (as opposed to trans-nationally) is that you lose a bit of your "white privilege". Nasty people can be rude about your family setup, but even nice, well-meaning people are curious and intrusive. It just comes with the territory, and as annoying as it is, it is but a small sample of what black Americans receive on a daily basis in terms of expectations and stereotypes about their capabilities and intentions.

Mermade

We talked about the pair of twins in my Anthropology 1 class. They're amazing! My teacher asked us if the "whiter" twin was really "white." Interesting to think about...

DaveTheRave

Both are verbatim quotes from our acquaintances. The last one was particularly infuriating. Is blackness an "it" to be seen?

Yes I think 'it' is. I think you're worrying too much about semantics here. We've all heard the phrases "I can see his mother in his face" or "I can see his father when he smiles". Blackness cannot be described with a personal pronoun, hence 'it'. I don't think there's any intent to be racist, but it's just curiosity. All races are 'it's when you describe them.

My son is half-Japanese, half-white. Actually no. I can't say 'Japanese' as that's not a distinct genetic race. I mean 'Asiatic'. I can't say 'white' as that's not technically a race, it's 'caucasian'. Does it matter what words I use here? Only if they're intended to offend. My son has two 'its' in him - Asian influence and his caucasian influence that mix together to make his distinct genes. In Japan, my son is known as a 'hafu' (derived from the English world 'half'). The term 'hafu' can be racist if the intent to be racist is there. 99% of the time it isn't. It's not the word, it's the intent behind the word.

I think it's human nature to be curious as to which physical characteristics a person takes on from their parents. If their parents are of different races, I think the curiosity is even greater. I hear all kinds of comments about his hair colour, skin colour etc. It doesn't bother me because I don't see any racist intent with these comments, just human curiosity.

The Gonzman

More or less - like most Wiki entries there is a lot of oversimplification, and only touching high points, but yes, there's nothing hideously inaccurate about it.

Weefz

I obviously don't know how the people Hugo knows emphasise the "it" but I have to agree with DaveTheRave that comments like that are often meant more in the sense of "Oh, I thought you were pure Irish but come to think of it you do have some features that aren't common in Irish ancestry at all." In my case, pale skin and freckles but very dark brown eyes.

Hang on, I didn't intend to say that "Yes, there is an 'it' to be seen", but perhaps there is in that sense. I suppose it depends on how you frame the "it".

Ed

Hugo, another spin on this: has your wife ever been asked which ethnic group/hometown/home area her Nigerian ancestry is from?

This happens all the time if one happens to have any Philippine ancestry - and the ones who ask this sort of question are usually other Filipinos. I know this annoys some people in my family, especially since they were either born here or have been here for most of their lives. It seems that declaring one has Philippine ancestry is not enough - one has to know the area from which their blood is inherited.

On the other hand, other Filipinos ask this because they simply want to make mental connections with their listeners - Is s/he from the same province? If yes, is s/he from the same (or nearby) hometown? If yes, what is her/his clan name - can we claim her/him as a part of our "family"? My family has had some interesting results from this type of conversation - for example, we found out several years ago that some distant cousins work in a touristy fruit plantation/park in Kauai.

(Just for the record: My father is from Pangasinan province in Luzon and speaks a southern dialect of Ilokano, while my mother is from Capiz province (the home of the capiz shell, btw) in Panay and speaks a Visayan language known as Capiznon.)

Hugo

Ed, you are certainly right that "Nigerian", like "Filipino" doesn't always answer the questioner's curiosity about specific ethnic origin. Tribal differences (I use "tribal" non-pejoratively) do matter more than nation-states in many parts of the world.

FWIW, we know very little about my wife's grandfather other than he came from Lagos -- beyond that, alas, remains a mystery he took with him to his grave.

everchange

Well, I was not expecting that...Hugo, it comes down to curiousity. And I daresay you would do the exact same thing if you discovered one of your favorite bloggers had a link to a place you are very familiar with.

Could it be that some of your annoyance towards the fixation on her "african" heritage has more to do with a bent towards color-blindness than a desire to truly embrace difference? Her ethnic heritage is different, and it is fascinating. How often do you come across colombian and nigerian in the same person? Not very much...

I'm not sure now whether my statement was inappropriate or not, because it is seems ridiculous for a nigerian to apologise over being intrigued that you have a connection to Nigeria. I think your reaction to it is a bit uncharitable.

Hugo

Everchange, had your comment been placed in context, that would have been very different. But as it was, it just hung out there, no explanation provided, and it reminded me of remarks I hear quite often.

I don't advocate color-blindness. I am just always annoyed when one particular color gets all the attention.

everchange

I see what you mean...I just didn't feel like going, hey look at me I'm Nigerian. But it's understandable how the comment by itself can be misconstrued as something else.

Burton

"Your wife is quarter Nigerian? Nice."

Yoruba? Ibo? Fulani?

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This happens all the time if one happens to have any Philippine ancestry - and the ones who ask this sort of question are usually other Filipinos. I know this annoys some people in my family, especially since they were either born here or have been here for most of their lives. It seems that declaring one has Philippine ancestry is not enough - one has to know the area from which their blood is inherited.

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