Friday, July 31, 2009

Biraciality and other odds and ends

So I'm just barely now reading Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, a birthday present from my dad last year (before the election was over), and I'm honestly impressed. (Although I do feel kind of dorky reading a book by the president. USA! USA! USA!)

I mean, I'm not even past the introduction and I'm nodding in agreement. Let me quote this paragraph:
When people who don't know me, black or white, discover my background (and it usually is a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites), I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am. Privately, they guess at my troubled heart, I suppose -- the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds.
And let me say that I have had exactly this feeling before.

Another thing I watched recently is volume two of The Black List on HBO. (No, I have not yet fully clued in to the fact that I can't afford cable anymore. Petty indulgences are the American Way!) Here's the trailer.

Anyway, Maya Rudolph is in it, and she talks about being biracial, and how everyone always wants her to choose, and actually, she doesn't have to choose, thankyouverymuch. And I've had that feeling too.

Which made me think of the several occasions that I've had to choose, for Abbie, when filling out this or that government form for this or that government program. The first time I had to fill in the little spot next to "race" I didn't know what to put for her. I mean, she's Irish-German-Italian-Afro-Cuban-Chinese. Where's that bubble? I remember trying to explain to the lady behind the desk and getting a blank stare in return, and an insistence that I had to fill in something. I just put "white" on these forms now, although it doesn't feel right at all.

Anyway, back to my book, although I hope to leave enough of it for beach reading. Have I mentioned I'm going here in a few weeks? (Thank you, Dad! Best graduation present ever! Summa cum laude, bitches!) Any recommendations for nice places to eat on Kauai that are also cheap and not touristy? I hate being a tourist, it makes me think of this movie (come to think of it, though, I don't know that, other than a honeymoon in San Francisco, I've actually ever been a tourist). Although, damn, do I need a vacation like, right now. I think my mind is already there, waiting for my body to join it.


DaisyDeadhead said...

Jennifers Beals checked "other" on her Yale paperwork, and then People magazine found it and "outed" her during the big FLASHDANCE hoopla. "OMG, she's BLACK!"

Thing is, she never said she wasn't. People just assumed. Why is "white" the default? People who don't "clarify" are NOT the same as people "passing"--but that is what it is considered to be by many whites...

I learned these lessons during the Beals "outing" (I even argued with my then-mother-in-law, who said "she should have told people") --I was amazed how important it was for people to "know" this about her...

DaisyDeadhead said...

Just one Jennifer, actually!

(sorry for typo)