Beyond FAMILY: “My White Father” by Anne Branigin
Branigin doesn’t mention childhood stories of times when the fact that she was brown and her father was white raised eyebrows, but I’m fairly certain she has a few. My husband still tells the story of carrying our blue-eyed, blond-curled three-year-old son out of a furniture store, waiting for someone to stop him. The fact that my biracial husband has brown skin and my son has white skin (and was kicking and screaming because he wanted to play some more on the bunk beds in the store) probably did raise a few eyebrows, but luckily no one called the police.
On the flip side, I still get questions about my daughters, who look nothing like me. I’ve been asked a few times if my middle child (who strongly resembles her daddy) was adopted, and where in the world my youngest got her glorious head of black curls. Like Anne Branigin, I understand people’s curiosity and know raising children of mixed-race heritage does not necessarily involve tragic identity crises. And I appreciate, too, that a child who may not resemble one parent still inherits mannerisms from both sides of the family. As Branigin writes: “From my mother I get the loud laughter and the ability to function in the limelight. From my father, the downward gaze when recalling memories, and the desire to return back to a safe place, alone.”
We are our parents’ children and our children’s parents, regardless of what the world sees—and fails to see.
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