Mezclados in STX

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 Aye que chulo, los mezclados! Que tiene?

Oh! How cute! Little mixed kids! What do they have (mixed in)?

As a black mother I hear it all the time. I’m sure my hispanic husband and mother-in-love hear it even more often. 

In the 20 years that I’ve been with my husband – both dating and married – we’ve come across many instances of racism and stereotyping of interracial relationships. 

Mixed race marriage in South TexasYou would think (and hope!) that in this day and age it wouldn’t exist. Trust me it does. Even in South Texas. 

I first experienced racism as a young girl. I remember being in a convenience store on a trip with my parents and, of course, as a kid, you want candy at every stop of a road trip. I remember getting what I wanted, turning around, and bumping into a man. 

growing up black in texasHe said, “watch it little n!??er.”

And I just stood there confused and waited for him to move. 

I was probably 6 or 7 years old.

I don’t remember saying anything to my parents, but I distinctly remember that feeling. I didn’t know what that feeling was until later in life, but I remember that moment even 30 years later. A terrifying fear I never want my children to experience. 

I never thought they would have to encounter these things, but as my children grow up, I hear and see things and I don’t know how to answer the questions they have. 

I don’t ever want them to think they’re different. They are not different than any other child. We are really just a typical Texan family. And, to be fair, no one has ever been horribly ugly to us, just ignorant. 

Growing up I spent a lot of time at my godparent’s house – who just happened to be our next-door neighbors! My godmother is an old school Hispanic lady who made tortillas from scratch. {Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about them!} She taught me how to make Spanish rice, carne guisada, calabaza con pollo, and all the delicious recipes that you would typically learn in a traditional Latino household. I had the joy of being a part of those family traditions. They had a little girl, who was close to my age, and another little girl lived across the street. The three of us traveled from house to house to house. And even though we were all three different races we never saw color between us. At one point, I remember having a lesson at school near MLK day. We had an optional art project. So, on a poster board, my godbrother helped me draw a picture of us three little girls: one Brown, one light brown, one peach. We didn’t have flesh-colored crayons then, so we sat and blended and blended to get the skin shades right. I don’t remember the caption I put on the project, but I won an award for it and it was even on display at the mall! 

I thought I won an award for my amazing artwork. Many years later I realized it was more than that. The story I was telling through my art was powerful. My friends and I were all just different shades of beautiful in my eyes, even at that young age.

Fast Forward to 8 years ago: I had only been holding the baby for a moment when they took him away. I remember the nurse coming over and, while the doctor is literally still between my legs, the nurse began asking me to fill out papers regarding the baby’s nationality and race. I asked her if I really had to do this right now? She said yes, so I directed her to speak to my husband. He immediately stopped taking pictures of our tiny, minutes-old baby and came to my side. 

She continued looking at me and said something along the lines of “we usually put what the mother is”. 

At this point my husband was confused about the context of the conversation, so he asked what was going on. She repeated what she needed on the forms, and he said, “What do you mean what is the baby? He’s American!”

The nurse embarrassingly excused herself and said we can do this later. I still have no idea what we ended up putting on that form. Nor does my husband when I asked him to write this up.

Here I was, barely anesthetized and being stitched up after having my firstborn, and already facing questions associated with having a mixed child in south Texas. I wasn’t prepared for that.

I mean, really? In the 21st century? What does it matter? 

Don’t get me wrong: I love my family and I am proud of my heritage. 

However, heritage and nationality are distinctly different concepts. I have never been to Africa, nor have my parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. At what time in our genealogy will we just be able to simply say that we are American? 

I am legit sitting in a McDonald’s playroom, watching my kids play tag, sipping a McCafe while I write this on my tablet. We are Americans, plain and simple!

Mixed Race in South TexasOur daughter was so “weda” when she was an infant, I often got strange looks while out in public – as if to say she wasn’t mine. She is my doppelganger with a different skin tone. My children are the pride and joy of my Hispanic mother-in-love, she talks about them to everyone, everywhere. 

When she takes them places, she also gets looks and people questioning that they are her grandkids. People ask, “They’re mixed?” And she says yes with a puzzled look on her face – as if to say “what does it matter?” 

Why is it ok to ask what are they mixed with or if THOSE are your kids/grandkids? 

Children understand tone, even if they do not understand the words you use. 

I really want to know, is what are people thinking when they ask somebody a question like that?

 Like, does it even cross your mind to think about the words that are coming out of your mouth? The words that you are saying to another human being?

Apparently saying you condemn racism, that you uphold the teachings of Dr. King and the 5th amendment and actually living that are different concepts. 

I have a running joke with my husband that on the dies y sies de Septiembre, our Princessa gets to stay home from school. She loves to go to the Taqueria and her favorite food is Spanish rice and beans. And on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our son gets a day off and we will have a backyard cookout party because he loves BBQ ribs and fried chicken. This is just our way of making light of a situation we deal with all the time. 

So, we celebrate all the days, with tacos, menudo, fried chicken and watermelon, cause who cares! 

We are a mixed-race family. We are Texans. And we are beautiful. 

Interracial family in South TexasSide Note: I don’t watch much TV, but I came across the series premiere of Mixedish on ABC – you should watch it! 

Read more posts from LaToya here.

 

 

 

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LaToya is loving life in Corpus Christi. Although she is not a native Texan she claims she got here as fast as she could! She graduated high school and college in Corpus Christi, and considered moving, as a newlywed but decided to stay close to family and friends. She easily makes new friends everywhere she goes, and is extremely excited to be apart of the CC Moms Blog. As a working wife and mother of two she is always on the go. You will most likely catch her jamming to gansta rap when her kids aren't around, at the beach with her family, or representing Aflac at local events. She loves the outdoors, but enjoys a good Netflix binge, or reading a book in one sitting.