By July 16, 2010 0 Comments Read More →

Mistaken for the Nanny


photo by Tina Tyrell from Harper's Bazaar

I thought this was an interesting Harper’s Bazaar article and wanted to share it. The writer is an Indian American who has a biological mixed race baby that does not share her color (she is brown, her baby is white). I love how she learned through the process of trial and error how to be fully in control of what she reveals and what she doesn’t.

Mistaken for the Nanny

Indian-American writer Nandini D’Souza comes to terms with the playground politics of raising a mixed-race daughter.

“Is she yours?”

Of all the things you expect to hear as a new mom, that is the last. My daughter was barely two months old, strapped to me in her BabyBjörn, with only her cheeks and nose visible. “Yes,” I said, clearly peeved at this stranger’s lack of belief. The young man standing next to me on the street who uttered those words leaned in for a closer peek. “No way. She’s too white,” he insisted.

I chalked it up to a stranger being overly presumptuous. But then a few weeks later, at my daughter’s three-month checkup, a mother in the doctor’s waiting room asked if I worked with toddlers too. It took me a moment to figure out what she meant. I didn’t know how to respond except to say that I was her mom and avoid eye contact, as she obviously felt the discomfort of her foot in her mouth.

I’m Indian, a medium to dark brown depending on the season. My husband, Myles, is Irish-German via Queens. He’s milk white with blond hair and clear light-blue eyes. But honestly, we never paid much attention to color. Until I got pregnant. Like most parents, we spent hours wondering whether our daughter would be an extrovert like me or shy like him. Would she be good with words or numbers? Would she listen to Wilco or Metallica?

However, I swore that she’d look more Indian than anything else. I had science to prove it. I conceded that some half-and-half children are a balanced blend but that because of Myles’s extreme fairness, there was no way my big B’s wouldn’t trump his little b’s. Asha would have a swath of thick jet-black hair, dark-brown almond-shaped Asha eyes, and buttery light-brown skin.

Shocker! The very first thing out of my mouth when my daughter was born was “Oh, my God, she’s beautiful.” The second was “Oh, my God, she’s white.” The latter elicited a chuckle out of my Asian doctor and However, I swore that she’d look more Indian than anything else. I had science to prove it. I conceded that some half-and-half children are a balanced blend but that because of Myles’s extreme fairness, there was no way my big B’s wouldn’t trump his little b’s. Asha would have a swath of thick jet-black hair, dark-brown almond-shaped Asha eyes, and buttery light-brown skin. Shocker! The very first thing out of my mouth when my daughter was born was “Oh, my God, she’s beautiful.” The second was “Oh, my God, she’s white.” The latter elicited a chuckle out of my Asian doctor and African-American and Hispanic nurses. African-American and Hispanic nurses.
…..

Fortunately, I’ve already had practice, thanks to my brother’s four beautiful mixed children who, interestingly, are a rainbow of brown, none of them matching. Recently, I had to come up with a clear analogy for my four-year-old niece on the spot. All I could think of was “It’s the difference between fluffernutter, peanut butter, and Nutella. All different flavors, but all tasty.”

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