Why you so dark? Why you nose so big? You look just like you daddy.
Why you hair so curly, like one big dreadlock? Look at you hips so big like black woman hips.
Why you so desperate for love you go in any man car? Do you want to get pregnant? Do you want to throw you life away?
I should have never marry you father.
Don't make same mistake I did and marry black man.
If you marry black man make sure he good one, not one of those ghetto man.
Now you child gonna be so dark because you half-black already and you husband so dark, real black.
Why you say that? Of course I love you. I sacrifice everything.
How can I be racist against black when I marry you father?
No, I never shame of you. Why you believe that?
Look at you baby nose so black. Hair lips feet tongue hands body
So black. So black. So black.
I never wanted to write about my mother. The hands that did everything. Pulled out baby teeth and cooked ham hocks and collared greens and grabbed my hair in fists before twisting the strands into two frizzy pigtails. The mouth that said “I love you” before cursing the color of my skin and the mark of my father’s race, the two things that robbed her of her pride whenever she walked by other Chinese people who could only imagine her going home every night to a big black dick; the big black dick that made those brown-skinned children walking beside her. How could she have married and made a life with a big black dick? A big black dick that paid twice the interest for the expensive suburban 3 bed/2 bath home she currently lives in. The big black dick that delivered on the American dream back in 1980 with a cut-grass lawn and a dog that was eventually given away after it kept getting beaten for digging holes in the yard. It cried just like her children did when it was beaten, the dog not the dick, although, I’m sure the dick also cried being the product of a nation that hates black people and the dicks that produce them. See, even now I’m writing about my daddy when it began as a testament about why and how I cannot write about my Chinese immigrant mom.
If I admit that I was raised by an Asian mother—short, Chinese, generous, unfiltered, small feet, Christian, stubborn, and armed with a chicken feather duster—what does that do to my blackness?
Asking for a friend.
A reiteration of #3: There is a racial lexicon for understanding blackness in relation to whiteness. Blackness and whiteness are every black person’s history.
Answer these questions: who was the slave master slash rapist slash founding father/who did our breasts suckle and shrivel up for/who was the reason for the lynching party/who brought the rope/who took the picture/who did we get our heads busted open by when we marched across bridges and assembled in public spaces/who always wanted a piece and loved the music/who invited us to dinner/who knew their daddy would get mad/who still refers to their nephews and nieces as mulattos/who always considered us like family/who talks about us to their peers and says we’re one of the good ones/who is always interrupting our lives/always creeping (or resurfacing) in our gene pool and DNA/always why we struggle?
But for black Asian folks, it’s basically fusion food, Korean stores in the hood, and hip hop video vixens. That’s the lexicon. Mumbo sauce, fried chicken, and combination fried rice from the sketchy Chinese takeout with the rude cashier behind bulletproof glass. Oh, and being the trophy of every successful brother who only wants to date you because you’re fine with slanted eyes and “good hair” but still black so it’s not considered selling out.
Write your truth, my paternal aunt says. Not just the black part with the pain and migration and skin and history but the mother, the womb. The veins like blue silly string that gave you life and connected you to heartbeat and breath and other inherited things like eczema, a youthful face, the tendency to open-mouth laugh and carry pain in your thighs, that same sad lover’s heart, and the jade necklace on red string pressed into your chest.
Write about that, about what it means to be mixed race.
But all I can think about are the words sung like a lullaby across my face my whole life:
So black. So black. So black.
-- Wendy Thompson Taiwo is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies at San José State University. Her writing has appeared in Typehouse, Mn Artists, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, Nokoko, and numerous anthologies.