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Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "He Looks Just Like His Dad" Comment

So I was twittering while trying to clean out my inbox...a futile cause it seems sometimes...when I saw a tweet from @AroundHarlem about this video

How To Tell People They Sound Racist

It's ironic that I saw this cause I've been dealing with this issue ALOT recently. Now that the weather is warmer I've been taking Daniel outside more. This of course bring us back into the public eye and all that come with it. Add to this my interesting need to connect with other mothers via social events. Both normal activities any mother does right? Yet being a black mother of a bi-racial child seems to add some flavor to what should be normal mundane things.

I've been noticing a common feel between what people say to me in person and what people say to me online. Even some of the comments left here on BBN have the same feel / tone/ wording. There's been some odd things said about Daniel's appearance compared to mine. For the most part I'm prepared for it and come to expect it. BUT the "he looks just like his father" comments are the ones that make me grind me teeth in frustration and annoyance.

It's bad enough coming from strange people I meet while we're out and about. It's super annoying coming from other mothers I'm trying to bond with. Even worse when another black women in an Asian Black relationship makes this comment. Side note - An Asian women in an asian black relationship saying it is also bad but on a different level because their racial history with the "lighter skin" issue is comes from a different place. Argue with me about that later. Ok?

So, what's my issue? First none of these people has seen Daniel's father! How do they know he looks "just like his dad"? It's the light skintone and curly hair that they get caught up in. If they really LOOKED at my son they'd see he looks just like me. Or better yet...a fair mixture of BOTH of his parents. Add to that if they ever asked me they'd know I have mixed race in my background so not all that "light skin tone and curly hair" comes from his dad. Ugh

Then, for someone to say that my child, MY CHILD does not look like me...moreso another mother?! It's a rude and hurtful thing to say to another mother! What mother wants to hear her child doesn't look like her? And that this racial mixture is what makes my son adorable? NOT this mother. I don't want to hear that!

Now I've tried correcting some people by pointing out..."but you don't even know what his bad looks like, so how can you say this?" Or by asking, "why do you say that?" But some people are to skin struck to get the clue and only further shove their foots in their mouths.

I know for the most part people are not thinking about what they're saying and how it coming across. I secretly think people feel it's a compliment and I should be happy my son is so asian looking. I'm not kidding. I've seen many women online say they hope their child comes out looking more asian then whatever race they are. *rolling my eye*

I was at a loss on how to deal with this issue. I don't want to become anti-social or a racial militant mother. I want to help people see what they're saying isn't right without brow beating them with the "you need to be more racially aware and open" points. But seeing the video lets me know...yes I can and should hold them racially responsible but keep it about the issue and don't let the convo get twisted into a personal attack. Good point. Lets see how I do going forward.


parenting BY dummies says:
at: March 19, 2009 at 8:47 AM said...

Hey Nikki! Saw your info on MBC and wanted to check you out, so here I be! Anyway, just weighing in on the AA mom to biracial (dad is Mexican)children debate. I've found that many of my neighbors and/or community members are pretty ignorant of what a Mexican person looks/acts like so they tend to assume that my husband is a really light skinned black man (he looks more like a white man to me, but heh?).

They figure since he doesn't have an accent, went to college, and is married to someone black he's probably black too. People have even made Mexican jokes to him (good thing his sense of self is fully intact!).

When people do determine that my children are biracial I too get a number of insane comebacks. My fave of all time: are they yours? 'Cause I'd really run around town with a whole crap load of bad kids that are not mine. Right? Anyway. Just wanted to share my 2 pesos:)

at: March 19, 2009 at 12:18 PM said...

Hello Nikki! I was one of the people who made the comment about little Daniel looking like his father. It was not my intention to offend you. I suppose every mother who is involved in an interracial relationship has a unique and different attitude about the outcome of their child's physical appearance and strangers reactions to it. I also come from a very, very racially mixed family like you. Among all of my friend's and family we do not like the comments of others...especially strangers bother us. OF COURSE, our children DO look like us regardless of who their father's are....Mexican, Black, White, Indian...) We are their mothers!
: ) Nevertheless, if you prefer you can easily remove my previous comment from your blog. I will also delete my bookmark to your website and not return here.
Take care!

NYCity Mama says:
at: March 19, 2009 at 12:47 PM said...

This is so my experience...and I get the whole "are they yours?", but what I especially love is when I say, "Yes, they are mine" they respond, as if you are lying, "but they have green eyes" or "but they are blond", or "but they look like 'gringos'" (I got that last one from a Dominican woman on the street yesterday. Yes, they have all those things, but they are MINE. LOL!

Looks like your last point of people not taking it personal is going to be a tough one. Good luck girlfriend...I got your back...from a mama who consistently has to defend her motherhood to her white babies. LOL!

at: March 19, 2009 at 1:02 PM said...

NYCity Mama and parenting BY dummies thank you for your POSITIVE comments. I love hearing stories from others who can relate to what I'm blogging about. Makes it worth it to blog! :)

at: March 19, 2009 at 1:08 PM said...


I find it interesting that after reading what I wrote and commenting on how you and your friends are also affected by comments made regarding a mother and child appreance you then turn around an throw a mini tantrum.

If you choose to delete the bookmark to my site and NEVER visit this site again then understand that it's YOUR choice based on something YOU felt the need to do. I don't know what is going on internally for you after reading my post. But I truly hope that when you become a mother then you will understand my words and feelings in a different light.

Thank you for your visit and comments anyway!

Issa says:
at: March 19, 2009 at 6:34 PM said...

That guy in the video was so on point! Wow.

Okay, so I know that I asked, "So I guess Daniel looks like his father, huh?", when we were at the Central Park Zoo. Stupid thing to say, Issa (I get that). However, you totally diffused it with, "Well, I guess you would have to see his father to know that he really looks like the both of us", and then I looked at him again and we both together started pointing out where he looks exactly like you. Your reply IMMEDIATELY reminded me that I didn't know what the HELL I was talking about. Maybe you intuitively got that I wasn't being intentionally insensitive and so you didn't get offended, but I thought you handled it beautifully and we were soon fast friends. Keep handling comments like those exactly the way you did with me and you won't go wrong, Mama. :-)

at: March 19, 2009 at 6:58 PM said...

So many people said this to me so please don't think this blog is just about you. Trust me, I've heard people say worse. LOL

I knew you meant you harm and asked out of curiosity so I just nudge you to look again. Which you did and then we both were able to deal with it and move on to other things. You didn't get defensive or insulted and let that stop the start of our mommy friendship. For that I say thank you.

at: March 22, 2009 at 5:37 PM said...

Love him! He made very good points in this video. But to respond to your blog...I prefer to think my family/friends/stranger are not all racist because the call my son Bruce Leroy ...hey I loved the Last Dragon just like everyone else in the 80's but Bruce Leroy he is not! They are not racist when I hear someone say “your son is beautiful because he is half Asian”...Ummm my son is beautiful because he is my son (what are you saying? Black children are beautiful?)! Or maybe when someone says he is going to be so smart since he is half Asian...I take the education of my son very seriously...that is why he is so smart and he is my son! (...did you catch that...going? He is smart!). But I have to mention my favorite…Wow I thought he was going to get darker since you are so dark! That is the one that actually left me speechless and I know I can talk. But I know I learned about DNA and how it worked in High School but maybe they missed that class? As I said I don’t like to think that these people are racist but just really ignorant. I felt it had gotten so bad that when I went out I always had him covered to avoid these comments from strangers.
But after long conversations with me…and friends I decided to be open and honest in conversations about race with people; as the guy said…hold people accountable for what they said. The last thing I want is people to pigeon-hole me or my son because that is what they think. I feel that if I don’t say something they will go back to their circle who believes the same thing and perpetuate the same stereotypical belief. I prefer to think that if we have an open and honest discussion (angry discussions rarely work) to hold people responsible about what they said maybe they will go back to their circle and teach them also. I may be naïve in my thinking but it is what I have come up with to keep myself sane from all the crazy questions and statements. I really hope this made sense and did not sound like the ramblings of a crazy woman hyped up on caffeine…LOL.

Lashun says:
at: March 25, 2009 at 2:47 AM said...

Oh yeah now we're talking! I get that all the time.Esp with Beverly.When Frankie was a baby,people would always say he look just like his dad. Franks Look just like me Just a lighter version.the only thing frankie has is his dad's eyes.I can't stand it sometimes and you are right it is rude and hurtful for another mother to say things like that.I just don't get into it.I try to be upbeat about it, and laugh at it. But your right.. sometimes the shit is just not funny.

niqnaq23 says:
at: April 23, 2009 at 11:02 AM said...

Well of course I just had to come read.. :o) Now, everytime I have seen Daniel, my first remark is he's a cutie... And being that he is a cutie, 24 chromosomes from mom, 24 from dad, I'd say he is a cutie because of his parents. Not one more then the other. But so often people do get caught up in the skin tone, the "good" hair syndrome... It has also happened to mines. My number 5 child is browner then the others. His hair is a different texture, and I get "he looks like his dad, but has my hair."..lololol It doesn't offend me, cause I guess out of 7 children, it's ok for one of them to look like hubby...lololol

M says:
at: May 1, 2010 at 10:57 PM said...

Hi Michelle ( newbie to your page ) here, I know this is an old post. Your blogs are very interesting & I have enjoyed reading them over the past hour or so. I just wanted to add by saying that I would never come out & say that a child looks like his father if I never saw him before :) I do think that is completely rude & pretty ignorant. They may not have meant to sound rude or anything it's just that lots of people don't think before they speak. People see the light skin & eyes & they automatically assume the child has to look like the father. Glad you are here to educate.

Miss Glamtastic says:
at: July 13, 2010 at 10:09 PM said...

Tactless, rude, ignorant. Why don't people just say he's cute, precious, adorable (all of which is glaringly true :) and leave it alone?