Soon after Simone was born, my maternal grandmother told me how she felt.
“You didn’t do nothing for yourself,” she said.
“Well, Mom was light-skinned,” I said.
“Light-skinned? That child ain’t light-skinned. She’s Caucasian.”
“Don’t you think she has my eyes and nose?”
“Nah, she is the spitting image of Ken, like he went, ‘puh,’” she said, making a spitting sound for effect.
“Grandma, don’t you think she will have curly hair like mine?”
“What does her hair look like now?”
“It’s straight,” I said.
“There you go.”
I was not offended. My grandmother made a career of saying what she wanted to say when she wanted to say it. While it wasn’t fair to blame me for Simone’s complexion, even I was troubled by the color of her skin at first. By the time Nadia arrived two years later, I didn’t care what anyone said about my little girls and me. I am their mother, and they are my daughters. End of story.
This conversation was first published in an essay that appeared on The Root. You can read it here.