Saturday, May 9, 2009

How very inappropriate, thank you

I'm on a writing roll, since my husband has taken the reins of watching Tallu, and since I will be blogging for an upcoming arts festival. I've gotta get in the habit of writing more often, so you all get the benefit of me posting three times in one day. You also get the benefit of my political incorrectness, as I have spent the last week watching the original Bad News Bears, Richard Pryor Live, and simply being Samuel Green's daughter.
This picture is of Tallu and her dad on a tractor at his grandparent's house, which is a 12 acre farm. It hasn't been a farm in many years, but it's in the process of becoming one again. When I saw her on the tractor this memory came to mind.
My maternal great-great grandfather was white (so miscegenation seems to run in the genes...)
My dad loved to kid my mom about my grandmother and her siblings working on her white grandfather's plantation. Dad would cackle every time he said this, and he said it a lot, and I would giggle to myself (more because my dad's laugh was contaigious, not because I wanted to laugh at my grandma, plus the mental image was funny.) As my husband put Tallu on his lap, I could her Dad cackling in my ear. I smiled to myself and thought, oh lord, this poor child is gonna be running through these fields picking weeds and shit like gramma!
I ran into an acquaintance, Gil, just outside the supermarket yesterday. A woman walks past us, but stops when she sees Tallu in the stroller. The lady looks down at Tallu, then to me and says: "Is that your baby?"
"Yes," I respond.
"She's mixed, isn't she," stranger accuses. I affirm my daughter's mixed-ness. Madame Clairvoyant continues, "Her father's white, isn't he?" "Yes, he is." Conversation over. Lady walks on to the supermarket. I looked down at Tallu and said, "Sorry, kid, for the rest of your life people are going to be asking you that question."
Gil was taken aback, and asked me if that happened often, and if it bothered me when it happens. I said it doesn't happen often, and that it doesn't bother me, because her father is, in fact, white. I said to him: "Hell, I know who her father is. We're married, in a loving relationship. It's cool."
When I related this story to friends (both of whom are white) at dinner that same evening, they asked if that happened often, and I had to admit it doesn't. What does happen is people- black people- will stare at Tallu, then look at me, then stare at Tallu. That pisses me off more than the question. What I want to say is "Don't stare at my child. You got something to say, speak up, punk. Otherwise, move the fuck on, cuz we ain't bothering yo stank ass! Don't be mad cuz we're both cuter than you!" But I don't want to infuse Tallu with that chip-on-the-shoulder attitude. So I just make direct eye contact with the starer, blank-faced.
I have not been asked if she's mine, or how long I've been a nanny, as my friends said their friend was asked about her child. A stranger even asked the mother if she was sure she was the child's mother! (I'm still waiting for that question to come up. I should start carrying around the picture of Tallu's placenta on the hospital tray, just in case someone does ask for proof.) Then the husband said: "It's 2009. Seriously. Are we still having this conversation?"
Yes. Yes, we are.

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