That’s weird, your kids are blonde.

10849754_10204305547613352_5778162503430965234_nBrian Parra,
Oxnard, CA.

Without fail, the first thing a person remarks on, upon seeing my kids, is that they are blonde and I am not. I’ve gotten used to odd looks and the consistent recitation of a poor understanding of genetics, “Mom must have some strong genes!” Some have literally questioned whether they are truly my kids. When my daughter strays from me at a place like the grocery store, as kids do, I can always tell that the store manager or concerned stranger helping reunite her with “daddy” is a bit surprised to see that it’s me. My Mexican and Puerto Rican relatives are very fair on both sides and I inherited a blonde recessive gene from my father’s side. My hair color genes are BROWN-blonde, thus my hair is brown, and paired with my wife’s BLONDE/blonde genes, a random grouping of each half from each of us make the entire gene of our offspring a possible BROWN/blonde or BLONDE/blonde. Each offspring had a 50% chance of being blonde, same as any family with blonde and brown-haired siblings from blonde and brown-haired parents, and yet me being obviously Hispanic makes that harder for some people to grasp. I think people assume that Mexicans or Puerto Ricans are all brown-haired, but the truth is that there are variations throughout the genome that make all sorts of coloring possible and there is a long history of racial mixing that challenges our notion of what races are. Because people’s assumptions about race are heavily based on “color,” I endeavor every day to make my children’s understanding of their race based on heritage and culture, independent of color. It’s very important to me that they understand they are a mix of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, even though the world will see them as white. I don’t want them growing up with de facto white privilege and lack the appreciation for what others, who share their heritage, have to do to achieve the same treatment and benefit of the doubt my children will get for what was a genetic roll of the dice.


Tweets by Michele Norris