04 January 2006

Human Stain

I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to rant about today and it’s been hard. I didn’t want to start the New Year with one of my angst infused tirades and I didn’t want to go off on the nuts that post foolish threads on BV, but I still haven’t come up with anything that moves me enough to write. Well, that was until about 30 seconds ago.

I was watching the movie Human Stain, which is about a college professor who has lived a lie for almost his entire life and it’s not until damn near the end of the movie that it’s revealed. Actually, it’s revealed a little before that, but I wasn’t consistently watching the movie, so I didn’t pick up the clues. The title throws you for a loop because it conjures up so many connotations, but it bares truth to the roles of the main characters, a professor who has an intimate relationship with a woman half his age. Each character bares their own stain and deals with it in a myriad of ways. I know I’m about to lose some of you, so I’ll get the point. The professor loses his job because the board feels he made a racial slur against two students he’s never seen. Blown totally out of context, he’s fired and while he could have prevented his termination, he accepted it, and moved on with his life. The professor was half black, but looked and passed for white. Being the parent of a bi-racial child I’ve often wondered what would have happened if she looked more white than black or “beige” as I affectionately call her.

My daughter’s father is on the darker side of white and could probably pass for being "of color". In spite of his ancestry, which is German, Austrian, and Lithuanian. Basically white, white, he could be considered the “neighbors kid” compared to his sisters. He was blond as a child, but his “darkness” manifested, as he got older. I am on the chocolate shade of black and the combination of our genes into our daughter is a beautiful shade of caramel, golden brown, “beige”, or however one can describe her shade. The funny thing is that she could pass for being a Latina because of her looks as much as she could pass for being a light skinned black girl. Whichever it is, does it really make a difference? She shouldn’t have to choose which side of the race scale. From the time I thought she could understand, I’ve educated her to know that she will face people who will dislike her because she’s got a white parent and those who will hate her for having a black parent. She’ll face jealousy because she’s beautiful, got pretty hair, and a slew of other things to hate her for. I’ve chosen not to sugar coat life for her because if I don’t keep it real with her, who will? She’s been raised to accept people for who they are and not the shade of their skin.

At an all too early age (preschool), my daughter faced an incidence of racism from a classmate whose father apparently doesn’t like blacks. The little boy who had previously played with my daughter came to school and called my daughter a little nigger. It’s safe to assume the father saw me picking her up and she was no longer a good playmate. What the *)*%_ is that about? (Rhetorical) Teaching racism at that age is a hate crime in itself. Naturally, I informed the director of what was said and insisted that the issue be discussed. Let me forewarn you, what this blithering idiot said to me was equally offensive. This man began to tell me about his black friend Darryl. “Black friend Darryl”, I repeated in my head. "Is this man shitting me?" Was my next thought. What in the name of all that is Holy would possess this man to twist his mouth to identify his friend by race? The worse part is that the story he went on to tell me bared no relevance to my daughter being called a nigger. I don’t recall all the details of the conversation, but I did promptly, firmly, and with all restraint, politely tell him that there was no way in hell that I would condone his dismissing what was said to my child as harmless and that the offending child didn’t know what he was saying. While that could very well have been true, that instance would be the first of many more to come if not properly addressed. I demanded an apology from the parent even if it would be insincere; it was the principal. The man needed to acknowledge that while he may feel promoting racism was his right, my right was to serve and protect my child from ignorant Asses such as himself. The meeting was held and the apology was extended. Oh, and one was later issued by the dumb ass director for his attempt of downplaying the incident.

Since that day, I continue to raise my daughter with a good sense of self. I encourage her to explore who she is, what her roots are, and to embrace her multi-race and cultural background. I don’t promote her blackness over her whiteness and I discourage her from doing the same. My daughter has friends of all races, is accepted by all races, and in my opinion doesn’t really care much about the color of her skin. Her mixed background does NOT make her a stain on herself or society. To further promote her sense of self, I discourage my daughter from being caught up in her external beauty. I enforce that she be a good person from the inside out. I encourage her to excel in school and all her activities and when she’s overly complimented on her looks, which tends to irk her, I tell her to tell the person that she’s an Honor Roll student and good athlete as well. By doing that, she removes herself from being a one-dimensional person into a whole being.

My insistance on her being viewed as a whole will reduce the need for her or anyone else to think she can get by on her looks alone. There is more to life than that and true beauty is not based on looks. Hell, look at Naomi Campbell; top model with the outer beauty only. She’s a mean spirited and nasty woman. Talk about a human stain. Sheesh! I refuse that to be the legacy my daughter leaves behind. Hellto da naw, not my kid, sorry!

I could go on and on about this issue, which for obvious reasons is sensitive to me, but I won’t. I’ll leave it at this…we are all, for the most part, a mixed bag of races. Unless someone can do a true genealogy study of their roots to determine themselves otherwise, let’s try to embrace people for who they are; that being the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

My mind is now at peace. :-)


BlaqRayne said...

Racism seems to be a disease that will never be cured. I can recall playing for basketball coaches who worshipped the court that I played on. I got in the comfort zone and felt accepted by them. During one game, I sat out during the halftime warm-ups to admire my then kid sister playing in the bleachers. She was playing with my coach's son. My opinion of my coach was shattered when I heard his son tell my sister that she wasn't normal because she's from Africa. Despite many instances like these from going to predominately white schools, I am not a racist. However, I have learned that not all people represent themselves truthfully and there are many people who will like you for the benefit(s) that you bring instead of who you are.

zeek59 said...

Those who are racist will never be able to appreciate all that is beautiful.

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