food for thought

i've had some interesting conversations in my day but a few convos that seem to consistently happen are because i've been born with a certain melanin count, it then becomes my job to educate certain people about me.

case in point...

let's start with my name.
when people meet me, they've often assumed i'm asian, are taken aback, then respond with such pleasantries like, "oh, you're not asian?!"

really, captain obvious? 

to be fair, i usually give them a pass, even though my name is also west african but i see why they've thought that and smile graciously while explaining it's dual origin. but typically, this is where the conversation runs amok:

exhibit a:
they often express a certain level of disappointment after they find out i'm not asian and then i'm asked "how'd you get that name?"

to which i want to reply, "i was found in a manger, the local town adopted me, this is the name they bequeathed me."

but i usually answer with, oh...my mother. extra, extra added emphasis on mother.

but what i find especially interesting is when an asian person asks me, "why'd they name you that?"
me: you're asking me my name when you introduce yourself as rebecca? really?
(usually i get stank eye after that remark but they know i'm right and dead the conversation.)

exhibit b:
another question when someone meets me...

question: you don't sound (insert race).
answer: hmm, you didn't sound like a racist until you opened your mouth but...

exhibit c:
question: how did you get your hair to do that?
answer: do what? (foot shifting ensues as they tap dance around the question)
question: oh, i mean...you know, look like that?
answer (given with a knowing smile): you mean, dark? oh, i dye it. i started graying early.
statement (often blurted out in frustration): i mean it doesn't look like (insert offense).
answer: ohhhhhhhh. i'm sure you being critically thinking and all know we come in different skin tones, sizes and hair textures...you know, like other humans?

usually there's an awkward pause as said person tries to change the subject or reformat the offense by making it your responsibility to make them feel better about their cultural faux pas. they may even say, "oh, don't get angry"...start snapping their fingers, swiveling their necks all while saying girlfriend in jest, even though you've been calm and staring quizzically at them the entire time.

exhibit d:
statement: your hair doesn't match your skin complexion.
*blank stare*
(yes, this really happened.)

and of course, these conversations don't extend to me only:

i have friends that it's assumed they're trustafarians because of the color of their skin

friends that it's assumed they're demure and subservient (one of said friends is from oakland. for your own safety, please never say that to her, lol)

friends born and bred that are asked, where are you from? was it hard coming here?

friends that bear the brunt of both cultures for being mixed race...it goes on and on.
i know, welcome to life.

so here's a nice little "how-to" the next time you run across one of our less than critically-thinking brethren.

an extra bonus, the makings of "no homo"


  1. Brilliant! Maybe I can use this when I talk about race on thursday at school...

    As always, you are thoughtful and on point!

  2. that guy's not only a verbal master and wit but cute to boot!