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29/30 – Colour

July 17, 2013

29/30 - Colour

It’s not until my two girls sit side by side that I remember one is white and the other is brown. It’s not that that I ever exactly forget that fact. More often than not that fact of race is something that simply slips my consciousness.

The skin colour differential becomes even more jarring when the Doodle plays with her gayby friends at the park. After starting the skinny-splash padding trend at a family pride event, the Doodle stands out in a sea of lily white baby bottoms.

At a glance you might think my toddler spent too much time in the sun this summer. That a lovely, yet dangerous, bronze adorns her skin. I am sometimes even tricked into thinking that for a minute. Then I remember that my toddler is partly South Asian.

When my daughters sit side by side on a bench the one who is not of my flesh or biology is the one who looks most like me. My adopted daughter is the child that strangers inquire about. Our age difference leads to wild guesses about our relationship: sisters, twins, and always last, mother/daughter.

The child who stretched my skin and wiggled deep inside her uterine home displacing my organs in every direction could be mistaken for a stranger. The only strand that connects us in public spaces is the ownership of language when she calls out for her Mommy. Otherwise I’m mistaken for her nanny or some other adult caregiver.

I’ve been thinking a lot about race lately.

My Asian/Caucasian son passes as white and is culturally white. When we invested in building cultural connections for the big kids we were focused on their Aboriginal heritage. We only found out in their teens that we had been propagating a falsehood. The Aboriginal comes from their mom and they’re 1/16 or 1/32 at best.

But Bubaloo’s father is Chinese. That means that he is 1/2 Chinese. But what do you do about your identity when you’ve lived it thinking you’re one thing only to abruptly find out your something entirely different?

In Bubaloo’s case, he’s chosen to stay his course. He doesn’t feel Chinese. He doesn’t look Chinese. So maybe he’s just not Chinese. What makes someone Chinese is more than a visible difference, and when you have neither the characteristics nor the cultural connections, then I guess it means that you are not that.

Or does it?

I’ve been thinking about race a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about how to create those cultural connections for the Doodle. Particularly when her only connection to an entire race and culture of people is through her donor who resides a province away.

I’ve been thinking about a kid with two white moms who thus far has always been perceived as white. Even though when you look at her, you may suspect that she is not.

How do you talk with your kids about race? How do you build, or give your child the option to build, that identity?

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