Friday, January 8, 2010

A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother......


Oh my Mother...you gotta love her!  She always buys gifts for my husband that nobody would buy or would be "embarrassed" to buy.  It doesn't matter if it is for his birthday, Christmas, Father's Day, or whatever celebration it might be, she will find that "perfect" gift for Jamie!  The funny thing is when she purchases these gifts my Dad always asks her, "Are you sure that's appropriate?"  He thinks Jamie might get offended, when in actuality he loves the gifts because they make him laugh, especially since they are coming from my Mom!!! So that being said, one of the gifts he got this year from his lovely Mother n Law, was a book entitled "The Color of Water, a Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother."  I love it! I am going to read it too!!! (A New York Times Best Seller by the way). =)  Last year it was a book called, "Things White People Like." Truly one of the funniest and dead on books ever!   Then it was a "Soul Food Cookbook".....Oh how I could go on and on!!!  I love that my Mother, who is the sweetest woman on the planet always finds these "perfect" extra gifts to give to Jamie!  He can always count on that "special something" being added to his "pile" that will once again, year after year, continue to make him smile.  =)      

10 comments:

"J" said...

That's soo funny! In my case it was the reverse . My ex's dad didn't want anything to do with his Surinam/black heritage. Consequently she was somewhat in the dark about this whole "mixed" thing, and more specifically about the black side of her..
Soo, I bought her " Caucasia" by Danzy Senna.
Funniest bit: In Dutch the title was translated to ,roughly, "Being Black for Beginners"
It sorta gave her the courage to go to Surinam, to meet the black part of her ancestry.

All in all, I was always the one that bought her Black Literature. She was raised as a completely white kid ,and accepted as such because she looked, to most people, like a Mediterranian girl with frizzy/curly hair and a somewhat darker skin.

She later admitted that by searching for books for her, I helped her to embrace part of her heritage that was "witheld" from her by her dad's aversion towards his Surinam family(Mind You, he was a member of an Elite-black family in Surinam ,and had split with them .Never knew why)

I often wonder if the blanks left in her black heritage early-on, later added negatively to her already precarious mental stability, and maybe even made things worse? Not knowing half of Your ancestry, yet looking "different" enough to make people ask..
Could be , dunno.., confusing.

Amy said...

J how funny that you had the "same" experience!

Interesting that your ex's Dad didn't want anything to do with his Surinam heritage. That always makes me sad to hear. We are who we are and if we don't embrace it and instead deny it, then we aren't being true to ourselves and in the end living a "lie" only hurts. Sad. I think it's great that you bought her the books to help her "see the light" or I guess in the case "the dark," okay bad joke....but seriously though I think it's wonderful you did that for her. I am sure to this day she appreciates everything you did to help her find another part of who she is. So sad that things ended up the way they did in regards to her mental health.

Glad to have you back online! Have a great weekend!

Amy

"J" said...

Thanks for the kind words.

You know what is really odd in all of this? My ex looked "sorta" white/mediterranean and was, in the end , longing to know of her Black/Surinam ancestry, while my BFF who is much, much "blacker" looking (just a tiny bit darker skinned though than my ex), couldn't care less about her Zimbabwean background. She knew of it, but just wasn't interested, unlike f.i. her sister.

However.. In their respective art, they were, complete opposites: ex: Despite longing and intensely studying her African identity part, very white-anglo saxon in her paintings and drawings, Fairies, Goblins Tree people etc.Those drawings and paintings were from her heart. I know that for a fact.(It later became scarily like Some works of Edward Munch. By then I knew something was eating her from the inside, but couldn't do a thing about it..) .

My BFF..Well.everything she made was decidedly "African' in shape, colouring etc. Despite the fact that she never really put any time in studying or reading about Africa...

And still, up to this day, the moment Peanut takes a brush and starts to paint on an instinctual level.."Shazam!" out comes decidedly African-styled art... Something that even baffled Zimbabwean mother.
Peanut has been studying on an Academy of fine arts for years, so she knows about western art on an academic level, yet, out comes Africa...odd, but great!.

All in all, it ,again raises the ever interesting question of "Nurture to Nature"

Have a nice Sunday and a good week!

PS,
Felicia or "MIXooNooMATCH" has removed and blocked the nasty commenters from most of her video's after I asked her, she's sorry for intervening a bit too late, and hopes You will take the time to watch her vid's.

Amy said...

J,

So interesting that you mention the nature vs. nurture and how two different people embrace the same situation in completely opposite ways. I was adopted as a baby and my biological heritage is half Russian half Swedish. My adoptive family (that sounds so strange because they are just my family) is Swedish, German and a mix of some other things. No Russian what so ever. However because I had no contact at all growing up with anything Russian I connected to it in a way. I love Russian food, architecture, literature, nesting dolls, =) and so on. I have never been there nor have I ever met any of my biological "family" yet the nature side of me draws me to anything Russian. On the other hand I grew up with everything Swedish and am half Swedish myself yet I don't connect to that as much if at all. What's up with that? Notice my daughter's name, "Tatiana" is a Russian name. Because I didn't have that "part of me" growing up I tend to make it a part of my life when I can. I totally get how your friend connects to her African hertiage naturally through art. Interesting how we work isn't it?

Amy

"J" said...

Yes, odd, but very interesting. I had an ongoing interest in all things caribbean. I read about all I could get my hands on about, especially, the lesser antilles (like martinique, curacao, tobago etc..)

Well, "shave my legs and call me Grandma" As it turns out, my Mum dabbled in genealogy and discovered that my great, great, great etc. grandmother was a s.c. "Cafe aux lait"(=mixed white/black) from martinique, who married a white French trader(It was the time before the plantation-slavery took real nasty shape in the caribbean).

They had at least 1 daughter(it is the only part that is somewhat certain) that went to France, married a French Hugenot and subsequently had to flee to The Netherlands when the persecution of hugenots took on grim proportions in France(around 1589) So, in the end i discovered there was "a drop" of caribbean black in my ancestry...A bit freaky actually... It always begs the question for me "How far will the "one drop" rule take it in this".

Hehm, it could explain my preference for mixed women with natural frizzy hair? whahahah..jus' kidding..

I recently, in my inheritance, discovered a small drawing of my great great grandfather from my Mother's French-Hugenot side and "Lo an' behold" he had unquestionably FRIZZY HAIR and dark skin !!!.[my jaw slammed into the ground!] It taught me that the whole "race thing" is all pretty relative and ultimately nonsensical. White isn't always as white as one would think ,and the same goes for all other fenotypes in the world. The only country with a fairly genetically homogenous fenotype seems to be Japan.
Even China has parts where people look decidedly Arab f.i....

"J" said...

ps..
SHOOT!! Did some checking. I am 100 years early as far as my forefathers coming from Martinique(only really colonized from 1635 on..) to France and finally The Netherlands(got the family tree right here before me)Well, I am not a scholar by far, hence my flopped degree in cultural philosophy.. :-) :-P

Amy said...

J,

I love that story! My husband always says that when people get all hyped about race....he says, "Don't they know they probably have black ancestors down their line." Funny. Thanks for sharing your story! Have a great rest of your week and a fantastic weekend!

Amy

Anonymous said...

This story made me laugh. So nice that you can all have an annual joke at Jamie's birthday. I love the way your Mother's mind works in picking out something special for your husband. Love and Laughter is what life is all about! And its so obvious you all have a great time as a family.
-Heather in Missouri

Amy said...

Heather,

Great to hear from you. Yes our family's sense of humor is pretty wild! We have fun that's for sure! Some of the gifts are just CRAZY!!

I hope you and Ray are doing well and that 2010 is just filled with love and joy for the two of you! Treasure each day together!!

Amy

Anonymous said...

Amy,
Thanks for the well-wishes for 2010. Ray and I are doing great and look forward to a whole year of love and laughter. I hope you and your family have a spectacular 2010 as well.
-Heather