Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mama, Am I Black?

Yesterday we were reading a book about the post Civil War years in the South. The book kept referring to the former slaves as Black Americans.

Suddenly, Wenxin interrupted. "Mama. . . am I black?"

Then without really waiting for me to answer, he answered himself. Closely observing his own arm he concluded, " Ummm. . . not really black. I think I'm dark tan."

We had a quick little conversation about the labels people attach to race. I shared that when people say black, they are usually referring to people whose ancestors came from Africa. I told him that when people look at him they probably call him Asian, because people born in China, Thailand, Japan, Korea and the Philippines -- all countries in Asia -- have similar skin and hair color.

When you love someone intensely -- the way a mother loves her children -- things like race and skin color seem to disappear.

But they don't really disappear, do they?


  1. Sam always called himself a "brown boy". But then, he called his African American friends "brown boys" too!!! I loved that he saw no difference between them.

    And to answer your question, as the mother of a "brown boy" and a "white girl", those colors disappear to me too... I forget that I did not birth Sam. Feels like I did!!!!

  2. Hi Dana!

    I find your post today in The High Calling feed of bloggers. And reading this, I thought you might be interested in a series being hosted by our editor, Deidra Riggs, at her personal blog. She's been talking a lot about race on her blog lately, and it's been so fascinating. Here's a link, if you're interested:


    You've got a beautiful family. I love the variety of colors in the world, and think that all of our different colors make the world a much more beautiful place!

    Blessings upon you and yours in 2013,
    Jennifer Dukes Lee, Contributing Editor at TheHighCalling.org

  3. Hi Dana!

    My good friend Jennifer sent me to you! I'd love to invite you to join the conversation at JumpingTandem. We don't talk about race every day, but we do talk about it. It would be fun to have you join us at the table!

  4. My sister is adopted from Korea. When she went to college she joined a Korean cultural group. To which I rather careless asked why she was doing that. She said, "Well I am Korean, you know." She proceeded to tell me that she fit many Asian stereotypes (very smart, graduating first in her class, wore glasses, played violin...) I was so shocked. It was the first time in my life (and I was a well grown adult by that time) that I had thought of my sister as non-white.


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