Shades Of Gray


For those of you who don’t know (and less for those who don’t care ) neither my wife nor myself consider ourselves fully any one race.  What I mean is this…

On my side, my mother is of Choctaw Indian and Irish descent.  Her maternal grandfather was a first generation pale Irish immigrant with green eyes and her grandmother could’ve been named Pocahontas.  I only have a few pictures of my mother when she was younger.  She had long raven-black hair all the way down her back, and the most beautiful sun-kissed blemish-free skin you could ever wish for.

My father has similar ancestry.  Although his father was a very dark-skinned man, his maternal grandmother was the true definition of a red-skinned woman from Missouri. As a percentage, I’d say African actually comprises maybe 10 to 15% of who I am.  And that’s being generous.  But yet, for all intents and purposes, I am considered a black man in the best sense.

On my wife’s side; her father, who is black, was born in Philly and has blue eyes because of his paternal and maternal grandparents.  As a matter of fact, every single one of his siblings has either blue or green eyes and now in their golden years they all have stark white wavy hair.  Have you ever seen a naturally blond, green-eyed boy with a deep brown complexion?  Those are my wife’s nephews whose mother would often be questioned about whether or not they were her kids because she has brown eyes and black hair.  My wife’s mother was born in Canada and is of German descent.  Her mother actually has dual-citizenship (which I didn’t know could be passed on to your children).

Still, Dre does not feel the need to choose between black and white, but rather fully embraces all of her heritage.

My point is that people often look at us and have already determined that I’m either 1) Black or 2) Hispanic, and she’s either 1) Anglo or 2) Jewish.  We somehow reflect what people consider the stereotypical interracial couple.  Wow.  Really??  I would think that based on the multitude of places around the world that each of us could trace our roots we’re probably more alike than we are different.  It’s fascinating when you think about it.  I just wonder why there’s a tendency to stop there when there’s so much more to our ethnic story.  I mean, what are we really?  Dre’s father identifies himself as black, but she is rarely if EVER described that way by others.  Most people don’t even bother to ask her ethnicity.  Maybe it’s because in lieu of the possible embarrassment of being wrong, it’s easier to assume.  But still it begs the question: Are we considered a particular race based on our ancestry or purely because of our complexion?  Something tells me it’s more the latter than the former.

I have to wonder what people will say about our children.  Being of such diverse ancestry, they will probably epitomize those who legitimately check the “other” box when identifying themselves on most forms.  We will never force them to identify more with any one race.  Besides, I think culture, in its most basic form, is determined more by how and where you are raised, than what country your ancestors come from.  In that vein, I pray that they will remain a comfortable shade of gray and that they will grow to appreciate everything that came together to create the honorable people they will undoubtedly become.

So today, I salute an America that embraces my children as a product of a dream come true.

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Categories: family, marriage, personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Shades Of Gray

  1. Yeah, I had a Hispanic lady in Walmart once ask me, with a big smile, if all my kids had the same father. Odd question to ask of a stranger, but then, she didn’t seem to think that it would be at all embarassing or complicated to have such a situation. So I didn’t feel offended, more bemused.
    It’s also odd because I definitely identify with my mysterious ethnic background more than I do my traceable ethnic background. My mom was adopted and isn’t sure where her ancestry/ancestries hail from. My dad’s side of the family is all English/German. Yet I identify more strongly with my mom’s assumed “black” heritage than I do with the European heritages in my family tree. It might be black, Hispanic, Pacific-Islander, Jewish, or all of the above for all I know, but that’s what feels like the core of who I am. At the same time, people who know me see my outbursts of ethnic influence as odd, sometimes amusing snapshots of my quirky personality or something. They see me as “mixed”, if they think of it at all, but normally assume I see things the same way they do.
    But there it is–“they”. I don’t feel like I am the same. It gets confusing for me….

  2. I love this! I actually got tears in my eyes reading it! What a rich heritage and beautiful tapestry of cultures you and your wife have given your beautiful children! 🙂

    My family is very interesting….we have family members who are Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, Korean, Chinese, Dutch, German and Danish! And some are a mix of several of those!

    I have a beautiful niece whose father is Caucasian and mom is African American. My niece looks African American…but loves both of her “sides”. 😉 As a teenager when she had to pick a RACE on forms, she would get upset…because she didn’t want to just pick White or just pick Black. One time when a lady pushed her to chose, she marked the box “WHITE”. The lady freaked out because my niece does NOT look white. But her choice was just as accurate as African American would’ve been! 🙂 It’s a fun, funny story we like to recall at our family gatherings! 🙂

    HUGS!

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