Philosophical Monday: Is She Yours? or Does Ernessa T. Carter Have to Slap a …

Share This

Philosophical Monday: Is She Yours? or Does Ernessa T. Carter Have to Slap a …

Friendly Reminder...

Friendly Reminder...

I had been warned by several other black mothers of bi-racial babies/bloggers. I had also read an in-depth column in Essence, detailing how hurtful/annoying this is when it happens. But I still didn’t feel properly prepared when two days after bringing Betty home, a woman asked me outside of the hospital where she was about to get tested for jaundice, “Is she yours?”

Maybe it was because the woman was black, and all the stories I had heard before, involved white people mistaking black mothers for the babysitter or the nanny or in one truly rage-inducing case, a woman attempting to kidnap someone else’s baby. I also thought I would be protected b/c I live in California, where interracial couples are practically the state’s mascot.

Either way, my blood stopped cold, and all I could do was mumble, “Yes.”

“Well, she’s beautiful,” the woman said.

Luckily, CH, who had been parking the car, walked up a few moments later and I was able to extract myself from the conversation.

I didn’t even mention what had just happened to him. Betty’s jaundice test was a much more pressing concern — BTW she did have a bit of the jaundice, but she’s all good now, thanks to the California sun and a healthy appetite.

I haven’t been asked “Is she yours” since. Like I said, Californians are pretty used to the byproducts of interracial love.

But I still go back to that short exchange and wonder what I could have said differently, if I shouldn’t have been nice about it, if I should’ve turned the horrible question into a teaching moment — which is usually what I do when people ask me horrible questions.

I still haven’t come to a firm conclusion. I’m conflict-adverse and a new mother. I’m so not looking to get into an argument with a stranger. I’m also short on time. Do I really want to use this now super-precious resource on strangers?

So after much thought, I decided to say something about it here, since this column reaches more people than I could ever hope to while dashing from place to place with Betty.

Here’s the basic lesson: Don’t ever ask another woman if the child she is holding is hers. Just don’t do it. Ever.

The fact is that there’s only two answers to this question: Yes or No. If the answer is “No,” then there you go. But if the answer is “Yes,”  you’ve just succeeded in hurting someone else’s feelings for absolutely no good reason and it also makes you seem ignorant. So err on the side of safety, and just don’t ask this question at all.

Sigh, just as I was about to finish up this article, CH peeped over at the screen and told me that someone asked him, “Is she yours?” at church yesterday. I should point out that even if the woman had asked CH this because she thought Betty was adopted then it’s still offensive, since adopted children are just-as-much “yours.”

So seriously people, if everyone who reads this piece could just promise not to ask that question ever again, you would succeed in making this a much better world for the parents of adopted and bi-racial children alike.

That’s all.