We are a mixed family, in many senses. My husband and I were raised in different regions of the US, in different faiths, in different sorts of families. My husband and I look different. He is taller, stockier, and white; I am shorter, slimmer, and brown. You might say he looks all-American and I look… And, that is where I might stop. My family has been in the states only a few decades less than his. But, my Asian self still looks foreign to a lot of Americans. Nevermind, that I speak with an Ohio accent (I know, we don’t have an accent). Nevermind, that I wear the latest in soccer mom fashion. (I used to be cooler.) It remains for many that my face, or rather the color of my skin, looks foreign. And, therefore, my husband and I don’t match each other to many people.
When I was pregnant I remember a colleague, who has no children, asking, “whatever will your children will look like, as well, you both look so incredibly different.” I stood there wondering if her parents had been siblings, or something. Few people marry their carbon copies. What, of course, she meant was that we were different races. While this is a fairly small example, it came to mind this week with all of the people who decided that Robert Kelly, man with the awesome daughter, had an Asian nanny rather than a wife who happened to be Asian.
It is natural to wonder about other people. Interacting with others involves acts of imagination, empathy, communication, and finally, action. Imagination and communication help you grow empathy for others which in turn helps you act in reasonable ways. When these factors are out of whack or missing, then we act in inappropriate ways. So, when people can’t imagine falling in love with someone who looks different, or have empathy for many someone who is different, then they communicate or act out their ignorance.
So, back to the case of that old colleague, not was not a master of emotional intelligence anyway. She probably could have just waited to have her answer without asking the question. (I was already at the waddling stage of pregnancy when she caught me.) And, to all those people who have said that we don’t match, they might have also bitten their tongues. Because, what they were all sharing was that our family doesn’t fall into their stereotypes. If they were sincerely curious, let’s say because their grandchildren are multi-racial, they would need to find a way that felt more positive.
What do I mean? Think of an example that is not as racially charged. I grew up in a family that had both cats and dogs. I was probably in college before I learned that the issue of cats or dogs could be divisive. I married into a family that is militantly anti-cat. They were the sort of people who made cat jokes in mixed company. They had no empathy for cat-lovers. Then my sister-in-law married a guy with a cat. Years later, the cat jokes have abated. Now, I wouldn’t say that my husband is climbing trees to save whiskers, but at least he is no longer voicing his cat ignorance.
This seems like a baseless metaphor, perhaps. But, for a lot of the issues of race, people often speak and act with little knowledge. Cat haters don’t actually hang out with cats. People with inherent distrust of other races have not actually shared a meal with anyone different. When you interact with something, it feels more familiar and less surprising. In the case of cat-haters, being around cats desensitizes you to them. You might not want to own them, but you no longer question their ownership altogether. Similarly, being around families that look differently than yours expands your definition of family, even if you still choose to have a family that looks as you originally defined family. Then from this place of empathy and imagination, you will communicate and act in ways that are not hurtful. You might still ask questions, but they will be from a place of knowledge.
These cat rings are cute for the cat lover and those with other pet leanings.
You need some gold jewelry wire and pliers.
Cut about six inches or wire. Shaped the one cat-head, starting at the one end of the wire, then connect the slack to make the tail. Bend around your finger to form. (Words escape me, but the video should make this project a breeze.)