As an Irish Catholic-German Jew hybrid, I’m so pale some parts of me are as see through as a Vietnamese Spring Roll. I don’t burn, I blister. I’ve elevated avoiding the sun to an artisanal craft, worthy of a weekend workshop.
My husband (also a whitey-mcwhite) and I are the ecstatic parents of our black daughter. And our use of the word ‘black’ to describe our child’s race was tacitly approved by her birth (biological) grandmother.
While nervously perched in the waiting room for our hopeful baby to be born, we made awkward small talk with our birth mother’s mother, and painstakingly used ‘African-American’ in every sentence where that description might apply. Our birth mother’s mother interrupted my mother mid-politically-correct-sentence.
“Please. You don’t have to say ‘African-American’. I’m not from Africa. I’m from Louisiana. You all don’t call yourselves ‘Caucasian-Americans, right? Just say ‘black’. Don’t worry. It’s all going to be fine.”
From that moment on, I’ve felt as comfortable as I ever will with the terminology used to describe human skin color. My daughter is black. We are white. And yes, I know color is skin deep and that we are living in the best time ever for race relations – and I also know how bad things still are in our country and most of the world in terms of race relations.
So, I strive to learn, to understand and embrace all I will need to know. Our road may not be easy, but as we learn how best to parent our daughter and enfold her cultural heritage into our lives, we are excited to be a biracial family and to share our story- in the hopes that it might help others.