Wednesday, March 13, 2013

(This was originally written on election day...) There's always a conversation... While no one has yet to come up to me and say "You tell his mother..." (I'm so WAITING for that!), I have gotten a few remarks. The latest today came at the polling station. My district is primarily Latino and black, so when I walk in with my large pink baby in a stroller, it draws a bit of attention. I like to think that they are initially stunned by how adorable he is... but then they do look at me, and it goes from how cute my son is to, "how the hell did THIS happen?" "He looks like his father, right?" I tell them how he actually is the near spitting image of my Danish grandmother...and it begins. It starts with the 'REally?" and then continues into their family history. Today, it was the lady who mentioned how her sister is the only one in the family with red hair and freckles... There is always somethin'... Peace --Alex

Okay, how can I have NOT known about this: The race card project. It is fantastic and a great way to continue the conversation. My six words: I just thought I tanned better. Take a look, add your own card, continue the conversation. Peace --Alex

It finally happened - part deux

So I'm on the upper west side, as Trader Joe's has yet to go any father north than 72nd Street in NYC. The boy and I do our shopping, I get to the register, and, as I unload my groceries, M. at the counter looks down at Ben and says "How long have you been with him? Since birth, huh?" It's official. Someone not just thought I was the nanny. They said it out loud. Sadly, I had no clever comeback other than, "Well, yeah, I'm his mom..." to which she replied, mildly embarrassed. "Oh, man..I love just never know..." For anyone who reads this and thinks that I dealt with some ignorant white woman, you'd be wrong. The lady at the counter was Latina. And mind you, while you see more actual moms than nannies than say, on the upper EAST side, you still have to go with the fact that I am a brown woman running around with a PINK child. And she is working at a store in a neighborhood where most likely more than half the babies that come in there are being brought in by nannies rather than their mothers. And those nannies, more often than not are black or brown ladies leading around white children. It's all too easy to jump to the conclusion. Heck, as I have written before, I have been WAITING for this to happen, and am pretty darn sure more people than not, think I'm the nanny. Personally, I cannot wait to take Ben to Scandinavia House for Scandinavian culture classes for toddlers. Facebook friends responded in a range from livid to clever. They all inspired the comeback I hope to use if it happens again: "Dammit! I did it again. All these strollers look a like. EXCUSE ME, WHO'S GOT MINE?!?" On to the next adventure... Peace -_Alex

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The many facets of "Oh..."

So yesterday I was out with my son. As it was a bit breezy, I put him in the new sweater my friend had knit for me. On my way to the subway, an older black gentleman smiled and was commenting on how cute we seemed to be...until he actually saw Ben to whom he remarked "Oh..." There were so many questions and thoughts in the delivery of that one little, monosyllabic word, "Oh...". I don't know if he was upset that this was a white baby; that he thought I must have been the nanny taking out my ward for the afternoon; was he upset that the little hood on the sweater had devil horns? What I do know was that he was surprised and not pleasantly. And I was left thinking "Yeah, whatever..." Later that afternoon, I passed by another, yet younger
black gentleman, the size and shape of a bouncer. As he passed, I heard an "Oh!" as in "Oh, he's so CUTE!" Same little word, totally different delivery, totally different meaning. To him, he just saw a cute baby, in a cute sweater and on a nice day. This indeed could be an example of the generation gap, here. It also is a prime example of an improv game I used to play where you would have a conversation with only the words 'yes' and 'no'. It's all in the delivery. Discuss... Peace --Alex

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Good Grief...

Somehow I feel like Charlie Brown who is stuck exclaiming "Good grief!" as the people around him spout some crazy talk or he finds himself stuck in a bad situation. I luckily have yet to be caught in a bad situation of late, but the crazy talk abounds.

Ever since Obama declared that contraception needs to be covered by insurance, even at institutions connected to religious organizations which may be against contraception, we have been left to witness the extreme of the extreme right crying foul and throwing about the latest talking point catch phrase "religious liberty!"

Now, churches do NOT have to include contraception in their insurance benefits, but if your religious organization is a hospital or other such business that employs and services those beyond your particular faith, the insurance must cover contraception. This is something that is not new and many groups (primarily Catholic groups) have agreed to this compromise and the issue has faded away. BUT, of course, there are other groups who have cried that this violates "religious liberty", thus they should not have to cover anything that goes against their religious views.

And, of course, the Republican candidates, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich in particular, have jumped on the religious liberty bandwagon to he point of Santorum even declaring that the separation of church and state should not be absolute and makes him want to "throw up".

When I hear "religious liberty", I keep finding myself thinking of the phrase "foreigness". Why "foreigness"? During the 2008 presidential campaign, the GOP used "foreigness" as a catch word against Obama. They couldn't just say "Black" or "mixed" - 'cuz you know, that would be racist - so they used Obama's "foreigness" against him - 'cuz that is somehow not racist...or just less racist. (and we all know how that worked for them.) Now, "religious liberty" is the catch phrase the GOP is using rather than admit to creating what is essentially a war on women. A number of extreme anti-abortion bills have been introduced - some actually signed into law - where a woman or girl has to look at a sonogram of the fetus, have a transvaginal - re: extremely invasive - sonogram before getting an abortion, or go to pro-life "crisis centers" for consultation. This was happening BEFORE the "religious liberty" hoo ha. But now, with the "religious liberty" hoo ha, various conservatives are taking the opportunity to throw their ideas around about how to handle the pesky issues of abortion and and contraception seemingly in the most invasive and embarrassing ways. It is appalling and truly mind boggling that news about more such bills continues to hit the airwaves and internet. I mean, our present unusually warm weather is already a sign of End Times, but I can't help but think that this rash of woman-hating crazy appears to be yet another. At least, to me, that's the only way I can explain this irrational ridiculousness.

As you continue to tweet and read up on this hoo ha on Facebook, I recommend joining the group I'm A Grown Woman. (hope the link works!) It is a place to discuss the crazy and share our stories about how we are dealing with these issues. It also can be a place to, perhaps, discuss what we can actually DO to fight the crazy. But we should at least get the talking started.


Peace --Alex

Friday, February 17, 2012

So I am sitting here in the living room looking down at my son asleep in the "bouncy seat" by the couch. He is, biased as I am, one of the cutest bundles in a blanket I have ever seen. At the same time, he reminds my husband and I a bit of Winston Churchill (It is terribly tempting to make a video of Ben's face quoting Churchill with like, 10 Downing Street or Malta in the background).

Like most parents, we look at him and wonder how we created this beautiful little boy. Like many mothers, I look at him and think "How did that come out of ME?!?!" But as I ask that question in awe, I also ask it in...sheer curiousity. I am mixed. And brown. And this boy is PINK.

PINK to the point of potentially having red hair. (Not sure how long it will last, but we can see it now!)

My mother married a man with dominant genes and it appears I have done the same.

My boy is beautiful, but there is nothing like looking down at this child that came out of me and seeing, at least at present, NOTHING of me. Jeff swears that he has my eyes, and he might, but I don't see it just yet. I was swaddling him the other day and saw these brown hands wrapping this white child and for a moment disassociated with MY child and felt a bit like...the Help. But he's MINE. He came out of ME. It's just that for the moment, he doesn't LOOK like me...

Yes, people may think I am the nanny. And a part of me is actually WAITING for someone to make that mistake. I'm working on a proper comeback. But then again, this may not happen to me as, in this day and age, interracial marriage is at a record high: 1 in 12 smug marrieds are interracial(!) How fantastic is that?

It makes me think of how a friend of mine came to visit me here in New York around ten years ago with her then 1 year old son. She was part of an interracial couple and was living in Western Massachusetts. She asked me "Do you see a lot of mixed couples here in the city?" I was left to respond with the truth as I had seen it at the time: "It's almost weird when you see a same race couple here. It's almost as if all the couples are mixed."

I feel very lucky to be in this city and in our well mixed neighborhood.

And I hope other mixed couples and families across the country can feel as comfortable where they are as our population grows.


Peace --Alex

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Loving Story for Valentine's Day :)

This is the one problem with not having premium cable: no HBO. No HBO when they are showing this assuredly excellent documentary about the Loving case which made it legal for mixed race couples to be married. Seeing as my parents married a year before this case - luckily in Rhode Island - you bet I feel a connection to this story.

At least I should be able to catch this exhibit at The International Center of Photography. They are gorgeous and poignant photographs from what I've seen and I can't wait to see them in person.

In the meantime, whether you watch The Loving Story and/or see the Loving photos, I recommend supporting Loving Day, as well. They are great people and what better way to celebrate The Loving's love, than with a holiday :)


Peace --Alex

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Really, ladies?

You know, I like to think that ladies want to help each other out, particularly when it comes to health care. Until recently, most medical studies were only performed on men thus women's health issues were vastly ignored. These days, women have come together to make sure our health needs are taken care of. Groups like the Susan G. Komen foundation partnered with Planned Parenthood, making sure they had the resources to provide breast exams and such.

And then, this happened:

The Susan G. Komen foundation says that it was due to Planned Parenthood being under investigation. But out of 2000 organizations to whom they give grants, Planned Parenthood was the only one losing grant status.

And this would mainly be due to Karen Handel. Karen Handel is a VP at Susan G. Komen AND a fan of Sarah Palin AND anti-abortion.

Due to the reaction to this on social media - I am guessing the Komen people HATE social media right now - two Komen staffers resigned in protest, Planned Parenthood got more money donated to them in two days than the amount of their grant from the Komen foundation (this included a $250,000 donation from Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC), AND it forced Komen to reverese their least for the existing grants. Most likely, particularly if Karen Handel is still there and gets her way, Planned Parenthood may not get their grant for the following year.

Hopefully, this will not be the case.

Particularly if you go here, and ask Susan G. Komen to fire Karen Handel.

And also stop giving money to the Komen foundation. Only 24% of their donations actually go to research and "the cure". And they have spent a lot of your donated funds fighting groups that use "for the cure" in their title. I generally do not like to ask people to stop funding a group that aids in women's health, but as they are proving more sketchy than helpful, I have to at least suggest you educate yourself before giving them more money than you may have already given them.


Peace --Alex

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where have I been? What have I been working on?

This: Benjamin.

And yes, I will look like the nanny when we head out, but I know the truth. He is all mine...and my husband's.

He is, yes, I am going to use this terribly overused word, amazing. And yes, he is a genius, creative, curious, observant...all at 15 days old.

My husband is convinced that he will get darker as he gets older, though I personally think that his pinkness is permanent. My mother married a man with dominant genes and it appears I have done the same. But it does not matter as Benjamin is certainly no less handsome. But it will be amusing that first time someone says something like "You tell his mother..." (this happened to the friend of a friend...)

I plan on being back to work and getting more seriously back to this blog by March at the latest. The present presidential candidates are giving us all far too much material to work with at present for me not to be writing, even if it is with one hand typing while the other holds the baby...


Peace --Alex