Saturday, May 29, 2010

The face of race as seen by my daughter

In about a week I travel to Wisconsin and Chicago with the girls.  There is a lot that I'm nervous about, but Layla is 3.  3 years old.  You know what happens at 3?  Kids become aware of racial differences.

Our journey will take us to my parent's home in small time Wisconsin for a week or so, where we'll meet up with my brother and sister and their families.  And the entire clan for the insertlastname family reunion.  All of them, every single one of them, white.  The girls will eat what Mike likes to call white food.  German potato salad, casserole, perhaps some lefse.  It will be a wonderful time spent with one side of her family, getting to know cousins and customs.  I'm excited.  Hell, I'm stoked.  The girls will be introduced to family members that I never thought they would meet.  And every single one of them will be white.

That's okay.  There are lots of white folks in Alaska.  But the second half of our journey brings us to Chicagoland to visit Mike's parent's house and what I'm certain will be a gathering of everyone that my inlaws can wrangle from the neighboring 3 states.  Lots of black folks.  Lots of food that will be completely different to what they'll be getting at my parent's house.  And there will be questions.  And observations.  And I am so excited to watch her little brain process these differences, and more importantly, the similarities.  Because above all, what I hope for Layla to leave this trip knowing is that both sides of her family love her so very much.  And that even if she's eating lefse one week and spicy catfish the next, she will be surrounded by those who will always have her back.

Game on, kid.  We're entering the big leagues.  And if the word dammit slips out of your mouth, I'm gonna hang you from the rafters.  You can be hard core.  Break out the "what up, lefse?  Where you at?"  And own it.  Own who you are.  Love who you are.  May this be a step in the direction of fully understanding, not who you are, but where you come from.  Child, you make your own destiny, customs, and traditions.  But here, right here, is where your father and I are coming from.

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