Danelle Hoffer
Cabot, AR

Michele, thank you for this amazing project!

I am the incredibly proud white mother of a 16 year old mixed race daughter who is accomplished, bright and has the warmest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. My husband is white and we married when she was 4. He adopted our daughter at a young age and he’s the only Father she’s ever known. We are constantly faced with what we consider inappropriate questions, odd looks and varying treatment depending on the situation about “who she is”. It’s like a “guessing game” ensues when we meet new people. From teachers to people passing by at the grocery store and even at our own non-profit, place of business, I’ve had to become extremely intuitive about people and attitudes. I easily recognize “the look” and when questions are on the horizon. It’s sometimes humorous to wait and see how long it takes for someone to ask after “the look”, has come our way. But still to this day, I find myself a bit stunned when the questions come. I myself come from a large family of brothers and sisters with nieces and nephews from all races and interesting places in our beautiful world. Mixed race children were born with the ability to have a unique voice in our communities. It’s one of equality and pushing people to their limits on acceptance in some cases, however sad that may be, especially where we live in the South. As old or small as this may sound when I know there is a situation where she’s been treated differently, I still ask myself the same question I’m sure other people ask themselves “why does it matter?” and “who are you to judge someone or treat them differently in any way based on skin tone?”

My grandmother always told me I was a bit naive, even after I turned 40. I still to this day wonder why all people weren’t born with the same set of eyes my parents were. They unknowingly passed their compassion and warm hearts along to me and my two brothers, it’s a gift we are thankful to have received and passed along to our children. And to be perfectly clear, no, my daughter is not adopted.

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    I have tears in my eyes.

  • nellie

    i love this piece, and this article. i want to comment on it, but i also don’t want to seem like i am discounting your experience.

    i know it can’t be easy to always have these conversations and to also think about race in this way. as a person of color, these are conversations and dialogues that i am confronted with all the time – to always have to articulate and validate my being here in this country, in this space.

    i’m dating a person who is white, and these are conversations and dialogues that he has never had to have, but will have to have one day, if we choose to have children (who will be mixed race). and this, this has sparked many conversations about the idea of white privilege.

    to clarify, my mentor (a white woman) explained white privilege to me once as the difference in conversations she would have with her kids versus the conversations i would have with me. she would be able to teach her kids (similar to your parents) to love and accept everyone, no matter their skin color. my conversations would be centered on teaching my kids to be okay with the fact that people will always comment and question their racial/ethnic backgrounds, and that this may even be a reason not to like them.

    so, what i’m trying to say is that perhaps, this is a manifestation of this privilege that you have had, and you experiencing what it’s like to not be a part of the privileged group, to have to validate someone else’s right to be, simply because of their skin color.