As a teenager, when I would see commercials or TV shows in which a father was depicted playing ball in the house with the kids, (while the mother looks on with resigned exasperation) I used to scoff. “Ridiculous!” I thought.  “Grown men do not play ball in the livingroom!”  I thought it was some anti-male propaganda designed to make men look immature.

Fast forward to July 26, 2007.  A quiet street.  My very own husband, playing baseball with my very own son.  In the livingroom.  I stand corrected about the behavior of fathers, but I look on with a smile instead of a frown.  My son is thrilled to pieces to have my husband’s full attention,  to spend some time playing with the bat and ball that daddy surprised him with.  He bends at the knees and leans forward slightly, his face a mixture of joy and concentration.  His bat is poised mid-air, ready to swing.  My daughter is curled up on the couch, already deeply engrossed in a book that daddy picked out just for her.

How could I be upset?  My children have a father that always takes time to play with them.  Who tosses them in the air, laughs with them, always asks them “What did you do today?”

And I have a husband who makes sure to buy soft foam balls for playing baseball in the livingroom.

I came across the blog today of another “interracially” married black American muslima.  We are not unheard of, in fact when you see a white american muslim male he very likely has a black wife.  I don’t know how many of us are bloggers though.  Anyway, her blog is not only about her marriage and family life although she has several posts on those subjects.  It is UmmAdam’s blog and is in the link on your right.

“Culture is the bridge that links the present with the past, and the past with the future,” according to the Washington, D.C., group’s policy statement on biracial adoption. “It is a person’s values, beliefs, learnings, practices and understandings.”–The National Association of Black Social workers

One cold winter day I stood around chatting with the other parents as we waited for our children to get out of class.  As it was a cultural enrichment class, the topic turned to cultural inheritance.  One of the dads, himself a product of an intercultural marriage, said “culture is passed on through the mother.”  Wow.  I had never thought of that before.  I found myself pondering his assertion for the next week or so, examining my own beliefs on the matter.  I realized that I had held the view that, much like children take on their father’s name, they take on his culture.  I had heard this sentiment expressed all my life and had never thought to challenge it. But is it automatically true?  Wouldn’t that only happen if the mother made a conscious effort to (abandon her own culture and) adopt her husband’s culture and teach it to their children?  I suppose that this is often what happens. But does it have to?

Who generally sings the children to sleep at night?  Who usually prepares the food the children eat? Whose tone, inflection, and colloquialisms do the children hear all day every day?  Who chooses their clothing?  Styles their hair?  Mommy does.  Who is their first and primary teacher of habits, views and tastes?  Mommy.  And so unless she makes a conscious effort not to do so, the children will have a lot of their mother’s cultural heritage.  The lullabies from mommy’s culture will live in their hearts.  Their tastebuds will be used to the food from mommy’s culture.  They will speak like their mother.  They will wear, at least some of the time, hairstyles common to mommy’s people.  And on and on.

I live this everyday.  When my husband raises an eyebrow at something our children have done, they will say “What?” in the same tone and with the exact same feigned innocence as their mother.  My daughter will occasionally wear her hair braided, and once sported a full head of beaded braids for 3 weeks.  I read them many of the same stories that I read as a child.  When we have a turkey dinner it is always served with cornbread dressing, just as it has been in my family for generations.

This is not to say that my husband’s heritage has disappeared, because it hasn’t.  I make sure that my children also learn about and love the art, music, and food of Ireland.  I take them to the festivals and events.  They are learning about that history just as they are learning about African and african-american history.  Again, as the mother, I have that power.  And I have every intention of using my powers for good (LOL), and teaching them to appreciate their Irish heritage.  I know this has been of some comfort to my mother-in-law, who has already had to adjust to our children not carrying on her cultural traditions surrounding Christmas.  I imagine she doesn’t want to disappear.

An “interracial” or intercultural marriage with its resulting children involves the blending of cultures just as it does the blending of physical characteristics.  And unlike your children’s phenotype, you have alot more control over what they inherit from you culturally.  You’re afraid your children won’t have your cultural heritage?  Don’t be. 

assimilationAssimilation. 

It’s a scary word.  It sends chills down the spine and conjures a clear image of the Borg:  The expressionless eyes, the grey skin.  The threat delivered in an ominous monotone:  “You will be assimilated.”  The dread of the Borg was not caused by fear of living under their rule.  The worst thing about being conquered by the Borg was the obliteration of self.  Ones hopes, dreams, personality, history, likes and dislikes, gone.  Vanished.

There is a notion among some black people that to marry “interracially”,  (white especially) means assimilation, that one is necessarily dissolving oneself and relinquishing identity.  It, along with the “self hating” label that some may try to put on those considering marrying “out”, can be an effective deterrent.  Who wants to disappear?

 There’s a funny issue that no one speaks on (as far as discouraging black people to marry ir).  The white spouse is in as much danger if not more of being “assimilated” and “disappearing”. 

When I go out and about with my children, people see that they are lighter than me but few people doubt that I am their mother.  I may get a second glance or two, but there is rarely confusion as to our relationship.  Apparently it’s quite the opposite with my dh.  We went out shopping once with the children and I went off to another section of the store.  When I came back to where they were, I noticed a black couple studying my husband and children with open curiosity.  Who was this white man and what was he doing with these brown children?  I came closer and my son ran to me saying, “Mommy!”  You could see the lightbulb go on and their faces said “Ohhhhhh.”  I ignored them but I was thinking, “DUH!”

In our society a “biracial” child is still seen as black.  White father + black mother= black children.  Black father + white mother = black children.  There’s a reason why a “black” person’s color can range from lighter than Vanessa Williams all the way to darker than Alek Wek. 

Of course, if your biracial children then also marry white, it is very likely that your grandchildren will appear white.   In that case, blackness is gone.  Your descendants henceforth, unless they marry black, will be white people.  They will look nothing like you!  Cue the violins and get out the tissues. 

But guess what?  If you marry black the same think is likely to happen, except that your descendants will likely be black.  I have a black friend with two black parents.  She and all of her siblings look like her mother’s family.  Her father, as a result, has a bunch of children who look NOTHING like him in the face, although he did manage to pass on other physical traits such as height and build.  I wonder if he feels that he has been erased?

That’s what happens anytime two people get together and have children.  One’s features may dominate. The children may appear to be a blend of the two.  But as each generation grows and marries, new genes will be added, and the appearance of the family continues to change.  Sure, your large eyes or slender fingers may pop up now and again in your great-grandchildren.  But odds are that only a very few will bear a strong overall resemblance to you.  In any case, you will be dead and gone and long past caring.  Seems a bit silly to worry about it now.

I just discovered a blog written by a muslima who is wife #1 in a polygynous marriage.

OK so I am not against polygyny on principle (obviously).

But when I read that her husband had taken a second wife without informing her I was FURIOUS. FURIOUS!  For crying out loud, how can you justify keeping something like that a secret from your wife for ANY length of time?  Anybody got an explanation? What could he have been thinking?

 If my husband did that to me (may Allah protect me from such a thing) I would be emotionally crushed but I would also be spitting nails.  If you are having sex with someone else I have a right to know damnit! How could a man do that and then his wife finds out after weeks or months? She has been sleeping with him all this time not even knowing that he has been exchanging bodily fluids with someone else, possibly exposing her to an itchy rash or something worse!  At the very least you’d think a sister would be entitled to a blood test from a possible additional wife before the wedding!  Damn!