The Curated Color: Black & White

I love black and white together. So classic, so crisp, so clean. I feel so confident when I wear black and white, which is a lot. Stripes, mostly. They’re the ultimate juxtaposition, my favorite literary and fashion device. 

I love these two colors together.

Does the world? Based on what I’ve seen and experienced, no. No, it does not.

I’m black and my husband is white. I love us together, too.

Does the world? Based on what I’ve seen and experienced, no. No, it does not.

My daughter is black and white. I love her more than myself, more than whatever ideas I’ve shared on this blog, more than anything.

Does the world? Based on what I’ve seen and experienced–

Well. I’ll let you decide.

Ella is a year old. Practically still a baby. The scar from my C-section still hurts; that’s how young she is. In the short amount of time she’s been on this earth, I’ve experienced a ridiculous amount of ignorance and racism on her behalf. Think about that. People in this world are capable of being racist towards babies. Toddlers. Children. I thought I would have time before the ignorance I’ve come to expect reached out its grubby hands for my baby. “Let me hold her,” it whispers creepily. “Give her to me.” But no, Ignorance isn’t a person I can unfriend on Facebook or avoid making eye contact with in the halls. Like the parasite that it is, it relies on hosts to survive. It’s infected the world as a whole so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised that it’s infiltrated my immediate surroundings. So there isn’t this monster saying, “Let me hold her” and “Give her to me.” Instead, there are real life people asking questions like, “When is she going to darken up?” and saying things like, “Look at this cute mulatto baby,” or that time someone compared her skin tone to raw shrimp. You know, dead fish. Gray.

Of course, Ella doesn’t know what’s going on. But when these incidents happen, I immediately check out. I withdraw, I avoid eye contact, I get defensive and protective of Ella, wanting to keep her close to me. I wish I could intercept these remarks for her for the rest of her life but I know that’s not possible. So while I can, I hold her tight and kiss her cheeks, trying to preemptively comfort her and bandage the wounds she doesn’t yet have.

I know what bothers them. She doesn’t deserve her blue eyes or her pink cheeks because of her black mother. They’re worried her blackness won’t be held against her. They’re worried she’s going to get away with something. They want to hear me say, “Don’t worry, she’ll get darker when she’s older,” or “She’s pale, I know,” or “I wish she was blacker.”

And I won’t.

For them, Ella is the elephant in the room. And the comments are so forced, so unnatural, it’s like a compulsion they have. It’s ignorance working its dark magic.

It’s racism.

My racism story is tiny. It ends with me still alive so I’m already luckier than a lot of people. Not smarter or better, just luckier. I grew up not trusting the police because I knew they didn’t trust me. I felt they didn’t. But that didn’t bother me too much; I had a private school uniform to hide behind and a stable home to return to. I complain about people asking me “what are you?” and where my ancestors are from and telling me that I “don’t look black.” But this is mostly obliviousness and inappropriate curiosity. But when it comes to my daughter, to my helpless baby daughter, it doesn’t seem so innocent. It cannot and will not be so easily dismissed.

I have a good memory and there’s a list in my head of people who have said things about Ella. I hate that this list exists. It’s hurtful to me as her mother but also hurtful to me as your friend, your guest, your fellow church member. The list is growing. And all I have to say to anyone reading this: don’t be the next one.

In fashion, black and white look so great together. I wish it was more fashionable in the real world.

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