I need something from the Department of Snappy Retorts.
February 2, 2012 8:14 PM Subscribe
What can I say to people who make racist comments about my baby?
posted by gentian to human relations (79 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I am white; my husband is black. Our son is almost eight months old and obviously, he is of mixed race. When I'm alone with my son, strangers frequently comment on his skin tone. I know that many people are curious about the skin tone and general appearance of a mixed race child.
But some people say, "Wow, he's really light-skinned," and follow it up with an enthused, "That's good!" The first time I heard someone say that, I thought they were making the arguable point that with a lighter skin tone, he might encounter less discrimination later in life. But I keep hearing it, and I no longer think that's what they mean. Tellingly, no one makes these comments when my husband is present, and it is almost always white people -- never black people -- saying how grand it is that his skin is so light.
The other day in line at the grocery store, the woman (probably in her 70s) standing behind us in line said, "What a sweet baby!"
I thanked her.
She leaned in for a closer look. My son still has his "baby" hair. No curls yet, just short, rather straight hair, so I think sometimes people think he's a white baby. "Look at his skin color!"
People often compliment his skin color, which I assumed she was doing, so I just said, "Yeah!"
Then she said, "Well...at least he's not like that baby born on TV who weighed 14 pounds when he was born and blah blah blah."
Granted, this could just been her awkward segueway into talking about a really big baby in the news, but there's another more obvious way to interpret the comment. And since I hear so much from other people about how great it is that his skin is so light, I lean towards the less charitable interpretation. It took me a few minutes for the crumminess of this to sink in and by that time I was already walking away.
I'd like something short and cool and relatively polite to say next time this happens that shuts down the person talking like this and lets them know they are out of line, without igniting a conflagration. Any ideas?