Norwegian with nappy hair doesn’t fit.

Posted · 7 Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWilmaS
Seattle, WA

If I had a dollar for every time I was asked if my sons were adopted…It’s happened a lot. A complete stranger approaches my family, usually in a grocery store or some other public location, and compliments me on my family. “Your sons are so handsome,” the person will say, and by now I can almost tell what they’re going to say next. “Are they adopted?” “No,” I say, “they are my biological children.” The stranger looks bewildered for a moment. I can see she is trying to make sense of the puzzle before her, white parents, two black sons, one white son. What’s up with that? It doesn’t fit in the tidy categories this person has in her mind. Our brains are constantly making associations and categorizing information, and when something doesn’t fit, we try to make sense of it, even if it means making a fool of ourselves by asking a white mother, a complete stranger, if her black children are adopted or not.

There are other ways this causes confusion. A job interviewer receives my son’s resume, his Norwegian surname prominently displayed at the top, and then a black man shows up to the interview. What? No, he didn’t lie on his resume, but the effect is the same.

There’s no appropriate box in the “Diversity” section of a survey or census. “Mixed-race.” What does that mean? Afro-Caucasian? Norwegian/Northern European and Afro-American? At the end of the day, it means my sons are black. That’s the way the world sees them. Because of that, it means I, their white mother, viewing the world from my privileged, white perspective, am ill-equipped to raise my black sons. This was never more apparent to me than after the shooting of Trayvon Martin when I suddenly realized I had not had “the talk” with my sons. You know, I hadn’t told them how to handle being stopped by the police.

I will never know what it’s like to be a black man in the United States. There are certain things that, because of my white experience, I will never know nor be able to teach my sons. They may not look like me, but they are my sons, my biological sons, my flesh and blood, and I have tried to prepare them for the world the best I can with love, discipline, and humor. Sometimes, when a stranger asks if they’re adopted, I look at my sons with a smile and say, “No, we’re still trying to figure out who their mother is.”

Comments and Discussion

  • Jimmie R

    This guy is one seriously delusional cueball.

  • What

    @jayquanjohnson:disqus

    Das raycis, check ur priv cis scums.

  • Hannibal’DRB

    It has recently been determined on a scientific basis (DNA tests), that visible skin color and features such as hair texture, are by no means an indication of one’s predominant racial identity.
    Due to the various stigmas attached to people of visible Black African descent in our past, literally thousands of “mixed-race (“passable” as White) folks in our long forgotten history relocated throughout this continent and blended in with communities of various European origins.
    This woman’s story is not anomalous. There are countless White Americans who carry recessive Black genes (AND DON”T KNOW IT!). When two White people whose great-great ancestors were of African descent have offspring, there is a possibility, (depending upon how far back it is in their family tree), that their subsequent offspring may exhibit traits that are visibly African.
    There are many documented cases of this nature. The most renown case occurred in S. Africa during apartheid. Two White parents were medically proven to be the parents of their two visibly Black children.
    To belittle this woman based upon crass conjecture, is to miss her point entirely. Ironically however; you have made the circumstances of her dilemma more clear.

  • BroadwayBaby

    Who said anything about her cheating? Her white husband came into her life AFTER her first children were born.

  • HU4MX

    This issue was settled right after Columbus arrived to the New World
    Technically your sons are Mulatto or Mulato, Caucasian + African.
    other mixes are
    Caucasian and Mongolian (including amerindians) = Mestizo
    African + Mongolian = Chino

  • mischling3rd

    If you are supposedly ill-equipped to raise your sons because they are “black” (really dark mulatto) and you are “white,” why don’t these liberal racial web site promote the view that “black” parents are unfit to raise children who are “white” (i.e., “looks white”)? In “Imitation of Life,” the white mulatto daughter is unjustly condemned for considering herself “white” while her mother is “black.” What’s wrong with that?

  • justAnormalGIRL

    I just stumbled upon this “site” and thought I`d read a little bit when i came to read your comment….now there is ony one thing on my mind: shouldn´t you ask yourself “WHO THE HELL AM I TO WASTE THE TIME OF EVERY READER BY FOOLISHLY INSULTING A WOMEN WHO IS OBVIOUSLY A VERY CARING MOTHER?!?”