I Refuse to Raise A ‘White Girl’

Whatever you do, don’t call my Baby Girl ‘Black.’ She has made it clear to me that there is a difference between her complexion and mine, and that I am firmly in the area that we call ‘Black,’ while she is not. She made this declaration when was a tiny thing buckled into her carseat. I might have mentioned this before, but one morning I was backing the car out of the driveway, and she pointed her little sausage finger at me and declared: “I’m not Black. You’re Black. But I’m not Black.”

Yeah, so don’t do it.

But here is the thing: Baby thinks she’s white, and I can’t have that. A couple of weeks ago when Baby sat at my vanity, and began to play around with my makeup. After a few light sweeps of a brush, she declared: “Yep. I’m still white.” I know where she is getting that load of hoo-ha! Strangers have overstepped the boundaries of politeness and called her a white girl, or light bright, out in public. Yet we all know that girls like Baby Girl are considered Black, not just in the eyes old racists who adhere to the depraved tyranny of the “one-drop” rule, but those who, in my opinion, correctly recognize that in terms of one’s racial identity Blackness speaks to the tone of your skin and whether your parents are descended from Bantu-speaking people on the African continent. That is it. Baby Girl definitely looks biracial, like one of her parents is white and the other is Black. And I would actually compare her complexion very closely to this vlogger, Asari, whose channel I came across while checking out videos about repatriated Nigerians and Ghanaians.

With dark features, tightly curled hair that leans toward an afro, and full nose and lips, Baby Girl and Asari could pass as sisters!

With dark features, tightly curled hair that leans toward an afro, and full nose and lips, Asari could pass as Baby Girl’s big sister.

Anyway, I had to correct Baby right away, because as light-skinned as she is, the child doesn’t look like a white girl, and in this world when you are a woman and you’re not white, people tend to respond to you differently, less favorably, than they would if you were white. Why should my daughter be naive about human nature and how other people’s attitudes could potentially affect her life? Why should she be in for a rude and cruel awakening in a country that is backsliding toward racial tyranny?

If only there was a way to silence the strangers in the street, or the rude little boys at school, who sometimes look at her and say: “Hey, white girl!” But that’s a pipe dream. The casual “white girl” name calling might be child’s play now, but this country is looking more and more scary, for various reasons. I wouldn’t be a responsible and loving parent if I didn’t prepare Baby Girl to protect herself, whether it is from an assault that gets captured on a video that goes viral, or calculated attacks from white women in her work place. In America, where people of European descent still make up the plurality of the population and wield an overwhelming amount of social and economic power and influence, the “standard” here is still white. People judge and respond to us by our proximity to that particular phenotype. Anyone who is a shade or two darker than what is typically represented in the media, or whose facial, body and hair features fall outside of that slice, is considered something else. Then the questions start: “So … what are you?” I just don’t want my daughter to develop the tragically misguided notion that she is white, because I honestly don’t believe that whites can offer her the kind of grounding that she will need to navigate life in a healthy way as a Black, biracial Christian girl. Whites say absurdly lazy and offensive things like “I don’t see color,” and “Just love the child.” You wouldn’t say you “love” your child and then send them into a blizzard in tennis shoes and a hoodie, would you? Informing your biracial kids about who they are, as they make their way in the world, is the best kind of love.

Parents, remember that “loving” a biracial child includes opening their eyes to the realities of the world around them. Inform them of Black history from the beginnings, not the Middle Passage. Answer their questions, give them books that engage and inform them about their backgrounds, and keep talking about “the racial stuff,” always at age-appropriate levels with lessons that aren’t scary and demeaning. I’ll never know if those boys at school or the random strangers harbor malicious intentions by calling my daughter “white girl.” For all I know, it might be a friendly term of endearment. But after watching Baby experiment with my finishing powders at my vanity, I got the feeling that she was trying to change something about herself. Shame on those racists for taking their depravities out on people like me, so that people like my daughter feel unsure about who she is.

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