by Marie Starr
I wasn't allowed to date outside
my race when I was young.
My mother believed it was okay, admirable
even, to have friends who were not white
but that you wouldn't want to marry them.
And if you did, then you shouldn't have children
with them because then your children
would be discriminated against.
As if this attitude wasn't feeding the very paradigm
in which they would be discriminated against.
As if it would be a mistake to have our
children be darker when we spent
all this time becoming white.
It was okay with her, in a way, when my
daughter was born because she looked
like she could be white.
You can't tell she's colored if you don't '
see her feet, she said.
As if I should count my blessings; as if passing
were an option I should encourage her to
take advantage of.
My mother never dwelled on our Seneca
roots, on our Cherokee roots. It was
better to just be Irish; to just be
immigrants who came here
after it was colonized.
After all the distinctions of tribes, of
cultures, of vast and various histories
and traditions had been deposited
into one large burial pit
and labeled Indian, labeled
savage, labeled past.
I just didn't understand, she said,
because I wasn't a parent.
She assured me that someday,
when I had children of my own,
But I don't.
Last updated September 07, 2011