That Awkward Moment When Strangers Come Up To You And Ask ‘What’s Your Daughter Mixed With?’

May 8, 2013  |  

Source: Shutterstock

From MommyNoire

“What’s your daughter mixed with?” asked the cashier at the value grocery store I often frequented as a new mom with my, then, three-month old daughter. She was smiling then, so I knew that her question was well intentioned, or at least that’s what I thought at the time. The question proceeded something about my daughter being pretty and something else about her then “wavy” and “pretty” hair “Ummm…mixed?” I asked, not really confused but mostly trying to buy more time before facing the questions that I knew would inevitably come when I told her my daughter wasn’t mixed. “Yeah,” she said, confidently. “What’s she mixed with?”

Like many persons of color who look a bit different, I grew with questions about my heritage. So by the time I had become a parent, questions like “Where are you from?” and “What’s your background?”and “Are you (fill in the blank nationality)?” had come to be colored in my head as racial identifying questions. I had come to accept them as just part of my identity as a brown-skinned African-American woman, in the same way, I assume, my East African husband had come to accept them as a brown-skinned, black man in America. Our ethnic backgrounds are mixed, but we are black, and so, too, are our lighter-skinned, curly-haired daughters.

I try often to explain this to strangers we encounter in public, but it’s tricky since so many, it seems, have a predisposed notion of what it means to be black and not black and that anything that veers from that notion is odd. “No, they’re black,” I always say when asked about my daughters being mixed. To this, the person asking usually looks confused. And then there’s a silence between us that makes me feel like I should explain more. And I usually do explain more by saying something about how my husband and I have many ethnicities in our backgrounds, but that we, and they, my daughters, are black. This usually does the trick. But, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, the person asking will want to know specifics.  So then I say, “I’m American and my husband is from Africa” but the inclusion of Africa in a conversation about being mixed just complicates things even more.


Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • Marina Calis

    I had someone recently ask….is your daughter’s dad white? WOW ignorant and who else would it come from…an ignorant black man.I was thrown away.I will never forget it.It pissed me off so bad..It ruined my day.I couldn’t even stand to look at him anymore.She is not mixed with white but even if she was…what a thing to say to someone.

  • PleaseDOBetter

    She is mixed with her mommy and daddy. Enough said.

  • pickneychile

    Smh people are so hung up on this type of stuff it’s crazy. I don’t have any children yet but I’ve gone through this myself. I had a guy come up to me back in college and ask what I was mixed with because I had long hair and it was a different texture. I was like wth and I told him I was black. And when that wasn’t enough for him to stop prying I made something random up so he’d leave me alone. He clearly thought I was serious though, smh. Since then it’s happened a handful of other times and always by men. I’m just mixed with black and blacker, lol. But seriously, I can understand someone who you’ve gotten close with asking this, but strangers asking is just weird!

  • kierah

    That’s not awkward. That’s rudeness. I wouldn’t waste my time feeling awkward because I’d be too busy blessing somebody out.

  • Bits

    this is a really sad and constant truth. mostly all black people (especially black americans) are ‘mixed’ anyway and so to be black really is to be mixed as well. this is a shared common sense between black americans but its less understood by people of color from other countries specifically latin american countries. it also ties into to why people like sammy sosa and other black latinos do not identify with being black. I’ve noticed this to be true in bigger cities like nyc and LA where people should no better but they still don’t understand that just because a person has lighter skin or wavier hair that it doesn’t make them biracial or ‘mixed’. in america it is understood that black people come in all different shades of brown. we do not focus on dividing people based on who looks more mixed than the other. our families reflect a rainbow of different colors so therefore we understand that to be a ‘black’ person means mommy and daddy might be alek wek dark but have children that look like vanessa williams or michael ealy. other non american blacks do not understand this. this is just what my experience has been.

  • YaY!

    People have really got to stop validating this ethnicity/aesthetic stuff. The better question should be why on gods earth is it that cashier’s business the child background? What will she gain from the information? More than likely the cashier and people like her that are so curious about a fellow human’s ethnicity are sizing-up that person. For what, who knows, but at the least that boldness to question a strangers ethnicity comes from an insecurity in that cashier that does not need to be fed.