11 February 2011

My Son is Not Hawaiian

I read this post today, written by my friend Kelly.
You should go read it.
It struck me, deeply.
There are only two ways I’ve experienced my race.
Not Black.
Black Enough.
This is my son, Gabriel:

Gabriel 1/17/11

People have said shocking things to me about my son. 

"He's light enough that his race shouldn't be a problem."
"With that blond hair and those blue eyes, I wouldn't worry about his race."
"You can just tell people he's Hawaiian.  He looks Hawaiian."

I am not worried about Gabriel's race.
I am, in the sense that he's something other than white in a country where being something other than white still matters.
But I'm not worried about his race the way people, even in liberal California, seem to assume I am.
I do not need to gloss over my son's heritage.

Gabriel is not Hawaiian.

My son is black.
He is also Irish, and Scottish, and Welsh, and Italian, and a direct descendant of Pocahontas.

What will his experiences be like, growing up?

How will his race shape those experiences?

I don't know.

I don't really know where this post is going, so I don't have a handy way to sum it all up. 
The presumption that my son may need or want to infer that he is something other than what he is appalls me.
He is lovely and bright and I want him to grow up into a lovely, bright world.

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