I came across this interesting article in Harper’s Bazaar by an Indian-American journalist, Nandini D’Souza who talks about the challenges about having a mixed-race daughter, who bears very little resemblance to her. The author being Indian, is medium to dark brown complexioned while her husband is Irish German and the polar opposite…white, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Their daughter Asha has gone completely on the father’s side leaving Nandini to often face the question of whether she is her daughter or be mistaken for the nanny.
The article also raises some interesting questions about race and color and the assumptions that go along with it, as is conveyed in this excerpt:
“When Asha was born, it seemed as though I had to start explaining myself again and, harder still, explaining how this beautiful child fit into my world. I’m not the only one, I told myself. Assuming your name isn’t Angelina or Madonna, this must be how parents who adopt feel. It starts with a stranger’s double take, followed by a mental calculation of whether the circle fits in the square. Yes, it does.
At first, I tried taking it in stride, believing that the comments weren’t malicious: the mother on the playground who asked me my weekly rate. The dry cleaner who asked if Asha’s parents lived in the building and if I liked working for them. An elevator passenger who curiously looked from Asha to me to Myles before asking him, “Is she yours?” It was the first time Myles had been on the receiving end. “Did that guy think you were my mistress or the nanny?” he joked. We laughed it off together.
And yet a few instances hit a nerve and brought up a greater concern of how I could protect my daughter from the insensitive things people say. One day in music class, while I was trying to get Asha to pay attention and return a toy she had swiped, another mother snapped at me. “Can’t you see she’s tired? Leave her alone!” she said loudly in front of the whole class. “That’s the mother,” her friend whispered. I was equal parts infuriated and humiliated.”