Yes, he’s mine!

Many of us with biracial children have or will experience an “Is that your baby?” moment. Sometimes it can be funny in the comical or ironic sense and sometimes it can be outright rude.  One evening I went to the grocery store, got my shopping done and headed out to my car with a cart full of goodies to be consumed over the next couple of weeks.

I realized I did not have my keys.  My son was 6 months old and I had recently got his portraits done and proudly carried his picture on a key chain.  It was easy to identify.  It was dark outside and I started to panic.  I emptied my purse, ran back inside to ask the cashier (a white woman) who had just rang up my purchases if I had left my keys behind.  She said no, so retraced my steps in the store, then I went back to the groceries I left by the car hoping that no one had bothered them or stolen anything.

A couple of the employees saw me and asked if they could help.  I was glad for the assistance.  As they started to remove the groceries bag by bag, one decided to go in and check with the office.  He came back with my keys.  I was relieved but still asked where in the world he found them.  He said the cashier had them.  Puzzled, I told him that I went back to her first and she said that I did not leave my keys there.  When he asked her if anyone had left their keys, she told him yes and a lady already came in looking for some but these are not hers.  When she showed the employee the keys, she said “See, these aren’t hers.  This is a picture of a white baby.”  I guess under the fluorescent light my son may have looked white.  But the black male employee told her that the pic was of a mixed baby, and this woman is outside frantic looking for her keys.  I was mortified but too thankful to say anything or complain.  The nice gentlemen helped me put my groceries in the car and I thanked them again before driving away.

After I had time to think about it, I became angry as I could have been in danger.  I felt vulnerable enough as it got dark on me while I was shopping.  But because someone decided my son could in no way be my son, she did not even check to see if the keys she had were mine.  I asked her point-blank.  The level of ignorance that some people display still astounds me.  That was 1998, but it is now 2012 and the recent Facebook discussion I had on this subject prompted several responses that prove people are still asking questions and are still ignorant on many levels.

All races of women get the stare, double take or the nanny question as well.  I have heard from Asian, Latina, African and even white women and their children.  But this by far happens more to black women of all skin shades because people don’t expect us to have white looking babies.  Sometimes people are curious and will look admiringly and ask questions with a sincere heart.  But some with these ignorant questions will come from nowhere and may throw you for a loop, so it may help to have your responses ready.