To raise a biracial child in Deepsouth is to live in interesting times.
Recently a customer left a note for my daughter’s employer, praising her excellent customer service skills. A brief excerpt:”A very perky young Spanish girl took my order…this young lady was amazing. She was one of the best servers I ever met…she was so thoughtful…”
It goes on like this for several paragraphs. The hilarious part is that my daughter is Polish and African American; a Polican? Afrish? or as she prefers “mixed.” We are all mixed in some way or another, but in Deepsouth the African thing is still significant. She is asked at least twice a week, “What are you?” If you want to get a belly laugh sometime, try telling a group of biracial kids it’s great that we now live in a post-racial society.
Racism is alive and well, it’s just not cool anymore so it has gone underground for the most part. We could get resentful and angry about this stuff, but in our family we choose to laugh at fools on the theory that fools are pretty darn funny. My daughter decided they were fools when she was in elementary school.
A prominent citizen and member of the KKK was visiting the school on a holiday, passing out candy. He singled my daughter out and gave her extra candy and talked with her at length. The fact is, she is very beautiful and friendly and bright and often wins over bigots, or at least confuses them.
She asked him why he was nice to her since he was in the KKK. He said, “Well, it’s not your fault.” “Whose fault is it?” she asked, knowing exactly what he meant. “It’s your mother’s fault,” he said. “Why not my father’s?” she asked. “Oh, your father is an animal, you can’t blame an animal.”
Now, this is pretty blatant. When she told me about it I was afraid that she might be traumatized. “What do you think about that? Are you upset?” I asked with concern. “No, he’s just an ignorant bastard,” she said calmly, glancing up quickly to see if she was in trouble for using profanity. She was not.” Ignorant bastard” was mild compared to what was running through my mind.
On the other hand, there are white folks here who are not the least bit racist. They stand up to the racists at their own peril-like the pastor at a church I attended who gave a sermon on the subject. “There is nothing in the Bible that justifies your prejudice,” he said. “It is not Biblical, it is cultural. Black people are welcome here and if you can’t stand that, may God bless you in your next church.” About a dozen families took him up on the offer of relocating.
Racism is big, powerful monster and it’s dying hard. For individuals affected it’s like trying to kill a huge wild boar with toothpicks-avoid the tusks and pass the toothpicks, because that pig is going down.
Meanwhile, we keep laughing, like when my daughter sings, “I’m a Redneck Woman”
Yeehaw, y’all. That pig is going down.