our handsSoon 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.

One thought to “Conversations”

  • Victoria

    I’ll be curious to see how things are when the girls are older. My niece is biracial and had a really hard time when she was young. She wanted to look like the other girls. It was very hard on her dad. Today, she is 16 and loves the color of her skin, eyes and hair and I can still see her mama when she smiles.

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