2014-12-03

Biracial Identity: How will people know who they belong to?


With the election of Barack Obama back in 2008, I heard many white people get upset and proclaim that "Well he's really biracial, not black." anytime it was mentioned he was the first black President of the United States.   They held on to that "his mother's white!!" ideal for a really long time.    If you don't know, the President identifies as black.

I totally understand now.  Many white and biracial people like to say that black people hold on near and dear to the one drop rule, the rule in which if you have one black biological relative, that essentially makes you black; however with two biracial children myself, I can guarantee you, white people hold steadfast to this rule as well.

I'm going to be perfectly blunt, skin color wise, my children are lighter than me, pretty significantly lighter than me, but they are also significantly darker than their father.    It's crazy, but they are a color that is a mix of his whiteness and my blackness.  Let all that seep deep into your minds.

My daughter and son both have my brown eyes, and not their father's green eyes, both of them have hair lighter than mine.   However, no one ever questions if they are mine.  No one has ever asked me how do people react when they see me out in public with my children, no one has ever assumed that people will assume that people will mistake them as someone else's children when they are with me.  However, people CONSTANTLY ask if their father has experienced this. If you look at my daughter and my son, they do kind of look like him.......probably because HE'S THEIR FATHER.  However, because he's white, and they look less than white, he must run around getting strange looks and people proclaiming they aren't his children. This has never happened, but white people always assume that it does.  I've never had a black person say this to me.  Ever.  I've been asked by black people if they are "mixed", but otherwise it's been crickets in regards to them assuming that either me or their father have a hard time with people identifying them as our children.  

Shout out to all the nice white people who don't think my white husband kidnapped his own children; or should I say shame on you mean white people for turning the other cheek at a white man stealing brown children because in your mind brown children don't matter.

I now understand why biracial people tend to identify as black, just not due to societal prejudices (we all know they can't do the same things as white kids and get the same treatment), but because mainstream society sees them as black no matter what.

2014-10-15

Ebola Infected My Sanity

"In reading The History of Nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities, their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.”
-Charles Mackay

 The past week or two, I've been living in Bizzaro World. It's all because of Ebola. No, I don't have Ebola (I don't think), thank goodness; but I feel I'm surrounded in a vacuum of tomfoolery that I cannot escape. It's a combination of mass fear, xenophobia, narcissism, and conspiracy theories. Not on some random internet forum dedicated to such things, but in my general life and on facebook from people who should know better, but just don't. I think that is what bothers me most. I think people in general should know better, but they don't.

 I blame the media. We have the media posting "possible" Ebola cases every hour on the hour. It's the hot new topic, and I know this sounds horrible, but I can't wait for something else to happen that they find more news worthy. We have places like CNN providing multiple hypothesis for how Ebola can evolve and spread with headlines that indicate that Ebola is already airborne. You know, click bait, like this blog. You're damn right Ebola is going to be a keyword for this entry.

I'm going to also blame the internet for people speculating about Ebola and how it is spread with their "expertise" in public health and disease. Usually people who share their "expertise" have no experience or background in public health or disease. They develop an echo chamber and make their speculations truth, which is worrisome and lowers my expectations of humanity. Especially when people say they heard "insert myth about Ebola here" from some person they know or on some blog on the internet. In the age of internet access and the ability to access information in a matter of seconds, this shouldn't be happening. No the CDC did not create Ebola, there are no zombies in Liberia, and no you can't get Ebola from living within 50 miles of a person infected. Here is some information on Ebola, it's history, and how it has spread in West Africa; but it might not jibe with the theories on the internet, so proceed with caution.

 I'm going to blame xenophobia for people insinuating that Thomas Eric Duncan of coming here to get cured so he could use up our precious resources, even though statistically between his layovers in Brussels and Washigton D.C. he could have gotten better access to care than in Dallas. People believing wholeheartedly in American exceptionalism, they don't acknowledge healthcare rankings putting America below Belgium. Let's not get started with Texans and their arrogance. It's often said that Texas is it's own country. It acts like it, and I can say that because I'm a lifelong Texan. We are some cocky people. Washington D.C. outranks Texas in terms of healthcare. We also need to wonder why the brown man with no insurance was sent home from our exceptional hospitals the first time he sought help. I'm not knocking Presbyterian Dallas, it's a great hospital, I had both my children there. I was just there yesterday for a doctor's visit; but I am going to question how he got turned away, and I can't help but to think that had he been an insured white person who said that he had recently been to Liberia, the reaction would be different. I'm also going to question the treatment he received versus the treatment of other patients with Ebola. No, Ebola didn't all the sudden have me questioning this, I've been questioning disparities in treatment for years, so have other people. Don't trust me though, I might have ebola.

I'm also going to blame narcissism. This current epidemic of Ebola has been going on since about December of 2013. It's October 2014, why now is America all concerned? Oh, it's hit close to home, and as we all know people tend not to show concern or care until they think it can happen to them. Let's see in West Africa we have had about four thousand deaths since the outbreak. Barely a peep from the media or concern from people in America. In America we have had one death and two confirmed cases of Ebola, with a ton of scares. Now everyone has lost their minds and are making up all kinds of theories to have us ready ourselves for the end of times. Now that we are in the "It could happen to me and not those poor brown people over there!!" stage, we feign concern.

The narcissism, xenophobia, internet, and media has caused my facebook feed to look absolutely insane. It has caused me to hear some insane theories, and downright awful statements about the one patient who has died on U.S. soil. These have made me lose my sanity. Ebola is infectious in more ways than one to the general public. The same general public who will more than likely never ever be actually exposed to the disease they now fear so much.

2014-08-29

Black Breastfeeding Week Offends People


This week is Black Breastfeeding Week! The purpose is to spread the awareness of breastfeeding to black women, who typically are the least likely to breastfeed.  Reasons for this is usually due to socio economics, but there is also a cultural aspect. From my own personal experience, the concept of breastfeeding past six months is considered absurd to many in the black community.  
With my first child, I breastfed for 26 months. Yes, I breastfed her for over two years.   The comments I received from well meaning friends and family for doing this were at times, downright offensive, other times just out of plain ignorance.

I have received comments about me breastfeeding because it was a sexual thrill; trust me, it’s not.   I have been told that only poor people breastfeed when they can’t afford formula.  I’ve heard that formula was superior to breastfeeding.  For the record, there is no proof formula is better than breastfeeding.  I’ve been told my breasts would be ruined, and my husband wouldn’t want them anymore, as if my boobs belonged to my husband, and breastfeeding would give him an excuse to cheat on me.

We also need to discuss the fact that many black women do not have jobs with maternity leave.  That ability to pump at work, might not be as readily available.  These are more of issues of class, but still issues that would encompass many black women.

I recently went to one of my favorite pages on Facebook, Best for Babes Foundation.   They are happily posting some great information about Black Breastfeeding Week.  It is being met with the usual backlash of any type of celebration or acknowledgement of blackness in America.

“Why isn’t their White Breastfeeding Week?”

“This is why we are a nation divided. How about just breastfeeding week?”

Then we have these gems:





I’m going to deviate from the issue of Black Breastfeeding Week and ask some questions:

How do white people equate into Black Breastfeeding Week, and how are they being blamed for “Blacks Problems”?

Why do we mention slavery, but never the subsequent century of segregation that happened afterwards?  

What exactly are the special entitlements and benefits received by blacks?

Why is it always assumed blacks need to “pick themselves up”?

No matter what the conversation about black people or black americans in particular, why do these “concerns” always come up?  This is about breastfeeding.  Not about slavery, not about entitlements and benefits, just about encouraging a group of women with low breastfeeding rates to actually breastfeed.   Why is it that black people are no longer allowed to have spaces that feel safe for them? Why is it we must be relegated to the backseat of all conversations to address the concerns of the majority?  The focus can never be on the minority, we must first address the needs of white people, and then any concerns or questions specific to a minority group can be discussed as an afterthought.   The fact that anytime a minority issue does come to the forefront, the discussion from white people is to discuss and critique it’s very existence is the definition of white privilege, but it won’t be acknowledged or questioned, because some in white America will gladly pat each other on the backs and convince each other in an echo chamber that they aren’t racist.

2014-08-02

Five Years Gone

August is a weird month for me. It’s a month where I can be insanely happy and also a month I can be supremely depressed. August 2009 I should have had Lillian Jean. Lillian Jean was my daughter who was born way too early and died in April 2009. August 2009 is when I discovered I was pregnant with Rabbit. I really don’t call her that anymore, but it’s the name I originally gave her here, so I’m sticking with it. I decided just to use Lillian’s name because she never got the chance to have a nickname, and unlike Rabbit, who I see and touch everyday, she’s abstract to me. Sometimes it feels as if she was nothing but a dream and a nightmare rolled into one. Finding out I was pregnant will Lillian made me extremely happy and losing her made me almost lose my mind. Something I often wonder if I ever wish she didn’t exist. The problem is she did exist and I’m not willing to give up the brief happiness I had with being pregnant with her, so I answer no to that question often. So for that reason alone, I’m not going to make up some silly name for her, I’m going to respect her enough to use her name and let the world know she was here, and I still miss her.

Talking about dead babies doesn’t make one really popular. It makes people uncomfortable. They don’t know what the say, and to be fair, there isn’t much to be said about dead babies, except “I’m sorry”. For that reason, I don’t get to talk about Lillian, and it makes me feel guilty. She deserves to exist, and even if she’s no longer here, it’s not her fault people are uncomfortable about it.

What I can talk about are my kids that are here. Yeah, I said “kids”. I have two now. Rabbit and He-Man. He-Man, if you cannot tell, is not his real name. He also goes by Mr. Hopper and Gaston, depending upon who you ask, so really I could have gone with any of those names. People like discussing the happiness. I can talk about Rabbit and He-Man all day long. The pictures of them I happily share. The pictures of Lillian, I keep those to myself. They are in a box, scared for me to look at, and the only time I acknowledge them is when I see the box, which is usually when I miss her terribly and I want to see the few things to prove she existed, so I know it wasn’t some horrible dream I just can’t shake.

It feels so horrible at times to be so happy for the two I have. Being so happy Rabbit and He-Man are here makes me think I don’t miss or love Lillian enough. No one really mourns her, except me, and I do that often silently. Maybe my husband. I think he doesn’t so much mourn her, as he empathizes with me. He mourns for my ache and he fears the crazy months that followed after I lost her might return. It won’t. I can’t let that happen again, because I have two kids to take care of now.

So I typed up this mess of a blog post to let the world know I still miss her. She still existed, and that I acknowledge her. I’m publicly acknowledging her to let people know that, yes I moved on. I had the living babies wanted, but I still ache for her, and no matter how well I’ve moved on, she is still gone, and so is part of me. That’s ok. It’s life, and shit happens.

Lillian, I’m still sorry and I still miss you. You are loved, and the hurt is still there, I just had to move on for my sanity. I’m no longer sitting in the floor in a puddle of tears, but I miss you Lillian Jean. My biggest regret, I think having Rabbit and He-Man has to some people, made them think I forgot about you. I didn’t. I won’t. I can’t