Thursday, May 22, 2008

"When I Walk Out Of This Room, I'm Black."

So I get this instant message this morning from The Dean this morning that led to a pretty lengthy conversation about picking a racial identity for one's children.

It starts out with The Dean asking me, "So will you have black kids one day?" and wound through to, "What will YOU consider them?"

Mrs. Axinar stumbled in at that moment and said, "Uh ... 'my CHILDREN'??"

I almost hit the deck laughing.

I wish I could find some on-line reference to that interview I saw with Halle Berry's mother years ago where she said something to the effect, "I never seriously entertained raising her as anything other than Black."

However, I did find an interview with Halle Berry HERSELF from around the time of Losing Isaiah. She explains it pretty well:

"I'm half black and half white. When I walk out of this room, I'm black. I'm very aware of my white family, but I must face any discrimination that a black person might. I can't say, `I'm half white, so I shouldn't face that.' It doesn't work that way.

My mother was white and my father was black. I was raised solely by my mother. My father left the family when I was in the third grade and I grew up in a largely white suburb of Cleveland, but I always knew of my black heritage. You don't always have to be reminded of your culture every day. My mother saw to it that I had a sense of background.

I don't draw the line, I just react to people around me. You have to know the enemy. Racism is the enemy - not white people. I face it every day. Sometimes I think I can't beat it."

But the Dean's question is a little difficult to call ahead of the event.

I can make an educated guess that any children of Mrs. Axinar and I would likely be identified as "Black" in this culture.

Not "half-black", not "mixed" but solid Black - a little maybe like Denmark Vesey - but hopefully without the raving about The Illuminati.

However, as I have reminded Mrs. Axinar, although she is what many in the African-American community would generally consider "of medium complexion" and having "African-textured" hair and having African-associated facial features, her own documented Irish and Native American ancestry just might team up with the dormant genes I'm sure I inherited from my flamingly redheaded mother and, yes, there just might be some sort of "genetic freakout" and it might be easier under those circumstances for them to identify themselves as White.

Of course then there's the whole "Lonette McKee" scenario - but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it ... :)


At May 30, 2008 at 4:54 PM, Blogger Denmark Vesey said...

"Of course then there's the whole "Lonette McKee" scenario - but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it ... :)" Axinar

Now THAT... is FUNNY.

Seriously funny.

I'm impressed.

But ... um. Let me help you out Ax. Cuz you my favorite white boy and I like ya.

Black, has very little to do with color.

I know some white boys look like John F. Kennedy blacker than James Brown.

And I know some brothas look like Kevin Garnett less black than Harold Ford Jr.

Black is intangible. Like a second wind. Hard to describe, but you know it when you got it.

Lonette McKee! ROFLMAO. Good one.

At May 30, 2008 at 7:48 PM, Blogger Axinar said...

"Black is intangible. Like a second wind. Hard to describe, but you know it when you got it."

Well, yes, I figured THAT.

But the fact of the matter is one of these days, my friend, it's entirely possible that, particularly if Mrs. Axinar is having "trouble", I am going to have an appointment with someone wielding a pen over our child's birth certificate and I'm going to have to make SOME sort of decision when this child is likely not more than 24 hours old and the Dean's ambiguity just ain't cutting it for me ...


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