Although I know you will never actually read this, I wanted to put it out into the universe that I feel your pain. When you brought up the topic of your unborn baby’s skin tone being a subject of interest to your husband’s family I could feel your pain with every cell of my being. And I am so sorry that you had to endure that!
The peculiar thing about racism to me is that it doesn’t necessarily need to come from a race different from your own. No, racism is such an evil thing that it can and often does come from members of the same race in my experience.
Similar to your unfortunate ordeal, I too shocked my husband’s family with the colour of our most recent baby. And my goodness I did not know whether to laugh or to cry at his parent’s sheer stupidity. Honestly to this very moment I remain dumbfounded by their lack of love.
Just hours after our newborn arrived and my in-laws got to see her for the first time, their greatest concern wasn’t for how she was doing, but rather the horror of the colour of our little blessing’s skin.
The confusion for them over how I could have possibly given birth to such a black child was- well- indescribable really. On one hand it’s ridiculous, because both my husband and I are of colour. But it also amused me that they didn’t consider this fact- even though they are people of colour themselves!
Apparently, there is a caste system, however, which I didn’t know much about. But basically, if I had birthed a baby with my father’s beautiful blue eyes, one which had no resemblance to my hubby – a beautiful Caucasian little bundle of love opposed to my beautiful dark chocolate piece of heaven, she would have been celebrated as though she were royalty.
Is It Really True?
Instead of receiving phone calls congratulating us on the safe arrival of our baby, all I ever got was phone calls coming in from all around the world with my husband’s curious relatives inquiring if the rumours were indeed true. Had I honestly delivered a child that was darker than her father… as it was, his family considered him to be darker than acceptable.
It makes me sick to think about it. Then again it equally infuriated me the way they would rejoice in the colour of our youngest son. His complexion is far fairer than any of his siblings and I remember telling my in-laws that their joy would be short-lived because eventually he would spend enough time outdoors, soak up that glorious sun and as he gets older he obviously wouldn’t be as ‘white’.
Typing that made me just realise why they must find it so hard to accept me… I don’t fit into their idea of wonderful. And I go directly against their concept of beauty.
Racism Can Happen Anywhere!
I guess what I am trying to say is that racism can happen anywhere, whether it be in a royal palace or behind the closed doors of our own homes.
What’s important is that we convey a clear message of unity, understanding and acceptance to our children by showing them how racism has no place in our own hearts.
It’s challenging for me, especially when the radical ideas being given to my children are coming from their own grandparents. It’s even more heartbreaking for me when my eldest daughter asks me to please do something about my skin so that it can be the same colour as hers!
I can’t even describe how bad that feels. She should never have been forced to see different skin tones. And I resent that my in-laws made her feel so insecure.
Say It Proudly!
Moving forward, however, the word ‘Black’ forms an integral part of my newborn’s name to show her how beautiful and courageous this word truly is. I believe she is going to be a fierce little character who has a strong sense of self that will not crumble under the pressure of being singled out as darker than acceptable by her relatives.
This being said, who knows whether I will continue to allow people into my children’s lives who aren’t able to look past skin tones…
Perhaps I will simply take a page out of Meghan Markle’s book and create ‘space’ between my family and anyone who questions the colour of my children’s skin.
Can we really ignore racism simply because it comes from the ones closest to us? Sometimes the ones even in our own family… Often it’s not the racism from strangers but that from one’s own family members which hurts the most.
Have you or your family ever been subject to any kind of prejudice or criticism from other family members? Tell us in the comments below.