by the squid
I am not a sentimental person; but Tuesday night I was rocked to the core.
My wife and I are raising three mixed-race children; I am the black, she is the white. We have a nice life, but sometimes I worried. I worried about how our children were going to identify themselves to others and I wondered how they will feel about me and their mother while growing up.
In our community, I am still a minority; however there is a wide range of people and experiences with which my children interact; but to know going forward, for the next four years, they will see a man of color – one the same hue as their father and uncle – being articulate, being vigorously debated, having state dinners, making decisions that matter for millions of people and who has a wife which reminds them of one of their grandmothers really affected me.
After Obama was elected, my wife and I spoke about race (as it occasionally comes up in our lives) and she said, “He is not African-American, he is half white…” For the record, she said the same thing years ago when Halle Berry won the Oscar.
My wife’s point asks: What about the mother? My wife doesn’t consider our children Black, but hers, and she feels the mother’s genes should be considered as well. So my wife and I came up with a name for my wife’s condition: White woman with Black kids syndrome.
For the first time, Wednesday night, my five year old daughter said she was African-American; but to be accurate, our kids may have to identify themselves as half Black, a quarter Irish and a quarter Italian.
However, America considers them Black because of me.
Now my children will see someone, who looks like me and who is not an actor, or a sports star or an entertainer, but as a person who has to make important decisions about life and limb much like their father, but only on a smaller scale.
It was a selfish racism which, I felt, would deter America from electing a person of color. There have been times in my life where, as a father, I have held myself back with feelings of inferiority and hoped that my fear would not translate or be seen by my children.
Now I feel I have a little bit of help from Mr. Obama. He won’t be able to pay my mortgage, but he may be able to alleviate a burden my children would have to bear because of me – and that was a point on which both my wife and I agreed.