Sorry, I Just Have to Ask

Minneapolis, MN.

As the saying goes, if I have a quarter for every time… In my case, if I had a quarter for every time an adult said to me, “I’m sorry, I just have to ask–your daughter–what is she?”

I know what response each of these inquisitions intends. With quizzical eyes trained on me and then back to my daughter, the person waits politely–anxiously– for a racial designation, knowledge of my husband, a genial explanation that quenches the thirst for understanding how I, this white woman, could have this beautifully brown daughter in tow.

I want to reply, why do you need to know her genetic make-up? What box have you already placed her in? Will my answer give my daughter more or less advantage in this already hard-to-navigate world for our children of color. What will you meaningfully gain by knowing?
My answer to these people: she is a 4-year-old.


Tweets by Michele Norris