Monday Notes: Don’t Ask. 🤐

img_2910I’ve been holding this in for a while. I almost named this, “Things I Wish Black People Would Stop Asking Me,” but people of all races and ethnicities ask these questions. Here goes.

Q1: Is Dwight Desi’s father?

No one has ever asked me this question. I suspect because it’s rude. However, people have asked Desi. She’s a few shades darker than Dwight, Kesi, or me. And I guess this causes confusion. They’ve asked this her entire life. She’s 15. If it was just her peers, then I probably wouldn’t be upset. But it’s not. The people who typically inquire are…adults. Yes. Adults ask her all the time.

“You two must have different fathers?” a hairstylist once asked.

You must be Dr. Garland’s daughter?” a colleague once asked Kesi.

To which Desi replied, “We’re both her daughter.”

Her friend’s mom asked, “He’s not your dad, right?”

Desi said that it doesn’t bother her. I halfway believe her. She is her father’s child; they both let things roll off their backs. But I do not. Sometimes my ego still drives the bus, and this is one topic that gets me going. If anyone ever asks, I have ready answers.

Have you ever heard of recessive genes?

You do know African Americans come in all shades, right? Sometimes those colors are reflected in the same family.

Your question doesn’t even make sense. You do realize this is my youngest daughter, right?

Q2: How do you get your hair like that?

This happens all the time. The most recent being a month or so ago. It’s usually a black woman, who follows up with, “I can’t get my hair to do that.” But this time a black, male cashier asked.

“How do you get your hair like that?”

“It grows like this.”

(snickers) “That’s what they all say!”

“Yes, but this time, it’s true.”

I went on to explain that I use products to hold my curl pattern, but when I wash my hair, it looks like this. Curly. When I wake up in the morning, it looks like this. Spiraled.

I’m not sure why people don’t always believe me. Is it because so many women wear weaves? Did you know they sell natural looking weaves and wigs? I had no idea. I digress. Here’s my point. If you have the wherewithal to ask someone how they get their hair to look like it does, then be accepting of the answer you’re given. Implying that a woman is lying is just offensive.

Q3: Are you mixed?

Listen.

I identify as black. I was adopted and raised by a black family. Culturally, I’m black. It is common knowledge that in America one drop of blood means you’re black, still.

So, I usually answer, “Yes. But I’m black.”

That’s my reply because it’s too long to offer the following transparency.

My biological grandparents are both half Cherokee. I know what you’re thinking. We all are. But, according to my grandfather, his and his wife’s mother were full-blood Native American. That part is evident in my cheekbones.

As far as my parents, I suppose it hurts too much to say, “I don’t know,” because I don’t.

When I met my biological aunt, she told me that my mother pointed out my father. He was indeed a “lanky, white man.” However, I haven’t gotten around to finding him and proving it. Until I do, I’d prefer that people just don’t ask.

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86 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Don’t Ask. 🤐

  1. Wow. That is so incredibly rude.

    My mom had something like this happen to her when I was little, although it was because I’m so pale (mostly Irish and Swedish). When I was a baby, you could see the veins in my face. Complete strangers would stop her and ask what was wrong with me. Was I sick?

    Seriously? What mom wants to hear that? She quit taking me outside until I tanned a bit out of embarrassment. She was pretty young, only twenty, and she didn’t know how to deal with older people insisting something must be wrong.

    So people made her feel like there was something wrong with her daughter, and why? What do they get out of it? What do people get out of the rude things you related? I don’t even see how it makes them feel superior.

    I’m a writer, and I’m supposed to be able to understand things like this. But I still draw a complete blank.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not quite sure what makes people think they can just ask perfect strangers any old thing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve learned that people are just nutz. I can imagine how insecure this would make a young mother feel.

      Like

  2. I cannot BELIEVE people have the audacity to ask your daughter about her father. That has to be the most disrespectful, underhanded approach at sticking your nose in business that has nothing to do with you. As Kelley said above, why does it matter and what are you planning on doing with the information? I wonder if the question will bother your daughter as she gets older. You’re a trooper for holding your composure because I don’t know if I could be so strong.

    I can understand other black women (only black women) inquiring about the hair texture though; especially now that I’m trying to learn what all is possible with my own. I don’t always specify that I’m asking about their product choice(s) because sometimes the method and routine play a big part in our hair care, styling, and maintenance. I would definitely be offended if someone challenged the honesty of my answer, though. VERY inappropriate and interestingly enough, only happens to black women. I love these Monday Notes *giggle*

    Oh, I’m going to share this with Kelley and thought you might like it too:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Girl, by the time she tells me about the incidents, the people are long gone, so I never get a chance to say, “Hey…”Scuse me!” lol

      As far as the hair goes, that’s exactly it. I’ve gotten used to people asking questions, though I wished they wouldn’t, but to ask me again as if I’m lying??? Yeah, that’s just nonsense. Each time I respond to a comment, I think of another response. Here’s one: “Get your life!” That should end it.

      I’m so happy about you liking the Monday Notes! Someone else mentioned it. Guess I’ll be keeping it 😉

      Okay, Josie…the video would take an entire write-up for me to respond. Think I saw it last year. Was she standing in a garage doing reciting it? Well, like I said…would take a whole post, so maybe I’ll think on it for a bit and see if something comes up and out 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hahahhaa don’t kill them Dr.Garland, don’t kill them!

        YES Monday Notes are a pleasant treat. I definitely think they are a keeper!

        As for the video – she’s not in a garage (at least I don’t think so). It almost looks like there’s a chalkboard behind her. Although a garage poetry reading sounds kind of sexy. I could get with that!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh…that father question would burn my biscuits too. I would be so annoyed with that. I get the hair question too but I always just thought they were asking to know what hair products I use. I never thought that they thought my hair couldn’t naturally do that. However, now that I think about it, sometimes their follow up questions lead to that assumption. Hmmm… and I wrote a poem about the last one. It’s a witty one that break downs my DNA culturally in a list and then at the end, I say something like “but I am Black and I’m cool with that.” It’s in the Narcissism, Notes, and Niceties ebook if you want to check it out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Girl…every time she comes home with another one, I get heated up all over again. She keeps reassuring me that it doesn’t bother her though.

      So, I figured that out about the hair too. Usually, if people want to know about products, they’ll actually say, “What do you use on your hair?” But when they say, “How do you get your hair to do that?” lol it usually translates to something else. I’ll be checking the Narcissism book out soon.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Good piece Dr. Garland. I swear…there is a deep rooted need, in the collective unconscious, to monitor and surveillance the sexuality of black folks. Asking if Dwight is Desi’s father is, at bottom, an attempt to feed into stereotypes about black families: that “their” women have multiple “baby-daddies”. The nuclear family is at odds with the image most people have (and want to maintain) of blackness. The question itself is an attempt to frame you as promiscuous and to bastardize your daughter at the same time.

    Glad you handled the hair question nicely. It wasn’t even a question, it was a declaration – seeing as he didn’t accept your response.

    I did this: ✊ when you cited the one drop of black blood rule. Straight up and down! I am glad you understand the difference between identifying and being identified. Asking if someone is mixed has this very odd tenor to it: it presupposes that the races are separate and “mixing” them is good. Asking if you are mixed is another way of saying “you are too pretty to be JUST black, so what other races did your ancestors have sex with!?” When you break it down … it’s a question about the racial/ sexual habits of your biological parents and grandparents. They want details about how your grandparents were having sex back in the day. It sounds like this: “what race is he? what race is she? Ohh, her grandparents were naughty, having sex across racial lines”. It’s odd…they are monitoring the sexual liasons of our ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Darryl! I’m glad you recognize the sociocultural/sociopolitical intersections of these questions. I’m also glad you’ve noticed the identity thread. I agree with everything you’ve said here, but allow me to take it one step further. Black Americans tend to have an identity crisis; this is not a new statement, but as an observer of the race, this is what I’ve noticed. Like anyone with insecurities, Black Americans tend to project this identity crisis onto everyone else. I’m not saying we’re the only ones who do it, but the ‘who are you’? ‘is that your daddy’? questions seem to really plague us. And I think it stems all from not knowing who we are, really.

      We’re searching for roots.

      Let me explain. Before I met my biological family, I saw myself in nearly every lighter-skinned, short, Black person, often wondering, ‘could those people be related to me?’ I think we, as a race suffer from the same crisis. We don’t really know who we are. Even the term “African American” is a catchall, right? I mean, from what country do we hail? Many of us do not know. So in some ways, I see those annoying questions as a search for identity too.

      And to tie this all back to my baby, who continues to answer adults who question her lineage, who ask her to validate her identity within her own family, well, I see it still as an extension of projecting our fears on someone else. At the root, some of us don’t know, so we try to make other people feel just as insecure.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Love it! Beautifully stated, and sadly true. To be black is to not “really know who we are”. Most of our history was destroyed; our familial and cultural connections severed. A lot of our last names can be traced to white folks who owned our ancestors. Who are we? This makes me think of Malcolm X: he changed his last name to ‘X’ because in mathematics, ‘X’ represents the unknown.

        I really like your point about black folks posing these questions as a defense mechanism … a form of projection. We try to spread that sense of insecurity.

        Please allow me to ask you a few questions that came to mind. You said “from what country do we hail? Many of us do not know”. Science has come a long way. For maybe $100, Ancestry dot com takes a sample of your saliva, and weeks later, they “tell” you from which regions of the earth you are from. I am sure you’ve seen these commercials – with black folks sometimes – saying they gained a sense of “identity” by hearing they are 74% Nigerian, 26% South African, etc, etc. What do you think of this? Can lab results give us that sense of identity? Does it depend on the person and their psychological make-up? Or are black folks simply prohibited from a traditional sense of identity?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I forgot all about ancestry.com maybe I’ll do that one and blog about it. I can see how you would gain a sense of identity by learning about your heritage. It’s that sense of belonging to something else that existed before this particular experience. Who really wants their identity tied to slavery? No matter how strong it shows we are…who really wants their identity tied to slavery? I would think that having your lineage traced back to a specific country would be enlightening to say the least.

        On the other hand, I suppose how you take it could depend on your psychological make-up because there are some of us who simply do not care about that part. They’re just living in the present being who they are now and doing the best they can today. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I do believe we have access to what you call a “traditional sense of identity.”

        I honestly think we have to just decide to love who we are today (the good and bad), and either find out who we were and let that strengthen us, and/or create a new sense of identity and let that strengthen us.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I feel you! That makes sense. If you are interested in Ancestry, there are a bunch of YouTube videos on their page that guide a bit; and there are a bunch of random vloggers who presented their results, so that may help as well. It is interesting to watch!

        My girlfriend is a triplet adopted from El Salvador. She doesn’t want to search for birth parents, but her siblings do. They were/are thinking about doing 23andMe dot com … I think it tells a bit about medical history. That way, even if one does not know who one’s biological parents are, they can get a heads up as to what they are predisposed to. Maybe that is something to think about? I’d be interested to hear your Ancestry results if you decide to do it ☺

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Your lineage is so interesting, typing that I realise it must be something you also get tired of hearing. Black women’s hair is an issue I always try to treat delicately because I’ve never had to go through the pressure of choosing whether you want to be “faux white or real black” as some people see it. Okay, wait I have had that pressure but not with regards to my hairstyle.

    I think people love labels. Categories. Everything has to fit in a box or it doesn’t make sense. So you’re either a weave girl or a natural girl and all those two hairstyles imply about your personality. I won’t lie I’ve been guilty of confining people to their stereotypes of their hair. Which I know is so rude because I hate it when people confine me to the stereotypes of my skin. I think if people don’t want to believe you on how your hair grows they can take a long walk off a short pier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks kg! I don’t tire of it because I don’t typically talk about it much. I remember we talked about the hair part a while ago. I don’t know why we can’t just leave it alone, but I suppose it’s a visible extension of one’s identity and culture, so it’ll always be an annoying topic.

      I absolutely agree that we just like to categorize everything. But you’ve made an interesting point. We don’t like it when people do it to us, but then we do it to others in different ways. I’ll have to add the long walk/short pier comment to my arsenal of responses 😉

      Like

  6. Huh, I didn’t think you were mixed. I’m going to have to take a closer look next time I see you. 😂

    Also, someone told my friend she couldn’t be related to her sisters because she was, like, two shades darker than them. 😐

    People are dumb.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. We didn’t talk about your Dad but we talked about the color issue too because I shared that my mother got questioned about me and my brother all the time.
        So you mentioned that scenario about your baby. Girl you know if you say parentage then it is a word. LOL!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  7. My daughter is bi-racial, more noticeably when she was newborn. She literally looked like a tiny version of my Italian mother in law! I certainly got the looks as if I were the nanny.
    I’ve also had black women ask if she were my granddaughter, sighs. Though I had Olivia at 40 do you really have to ask that? Is it my appearance, or that you perhaps expect we all have children young?

    I always say, don’t ask if you unable to accept my response. As for the comments about your daughter, well that’s just inappropriate especially asked directly. Shame on them for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omgosh! If someone asked me if I was my child’s grandmother, I think I’d either go off, or pass out lol I have a couple of friends in the same situation (e.g., having children at or over 40) and getting those questions.

      Glad you agree about the inappropriateness…burns me up every…time.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was like, whoa hold up. I know I have on sweats and no make up BUT really? Then I thought you know, I have friends just a few years older who are grandmothers. Admitedly my mom had me at barely 21..I guess I was late to the pary to so speak.:)

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  8. Aaarch, does boxes people seem to need to put other people into…terrible!
    It should not matter if you are mixed, black, white, purple, jeeeeeeeeeez. That also goes for hairstyle…
    I am mixed and I am proud of it, but I don’t feel the need to introduce myself as the Indonesian-Dutch woman I am, because I am a creature of Earth and sure I have some other DNA in me too. And if someone asked ‘Are you Indonesian too?’, nowadays I respond ‘Why do you want to know?’ Most people, fortunately, realize how weird the question actually is.

    Great post again Katherin!
    XxX

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You KNOW I’m kidding, Dr. G! It is odd, the nerve some people have to ask such dumb questions. I always think, 1. why do you care?/why does it matter? and 2. what the heck are you gonna do with this information?

      Kudos for staying classy; I know people can make it difficult.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. I can relate to this so much. My mom is full blood Native American and my daddy is black as night. I identify as black. People have tried to reject my black membership the second they meet my mother. I’ve gotten the “are you mixed” question at least one million times. My answer as an adult? “Yes. And you are too.” My daughter was born with a thick head of kinky coils and people have asked my husband if that’s his daughter from a previous relationship. Sigh. I’m so with you girl!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh wow! Yes, those are a lot of similarities! So people actually ask him that question??? Sheesh! Those questions about who’s the father/mother from strangers are just very odd to me! First of all they’re personal and like so many others have said, once they get the answer, what was the point?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes ma’am they do! It’s ridiculous. I cannot understand those kind of invasive questions. And, exactly! What’s the point? People think they can say anything they want to anyone they choose.

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  10. I don’t know what it is, but people do seem to have a fascination with what other people’s race and ethnicities are. I guess it’s human nature. But to comment to a child who her father may or may not be, and by extension on her skin tone, is just plain rude. And the bottom line is neither is anyone’s business. It’s to your daughter’s credit that she doesn’t get angry. I was at a garden center once and the owner asked me point blank if I was Peruvian. I am half-Italian and half-Polish, but sometimes the way I look and my skin tone confuses people and/or makes them curious. I was so annoyed at the question that I just said no and didn’t give him the satisfaction of what he really wanted, which is to know what my race/ethnicity was. If that dude had dared asked me about my father, that would have been it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you understand my frustration with them asking my kid all the time. I just asked a friend, “What if he wasn’t her father and she didn’t know?” or “What if she knew it wasn’t her father, but hadn’t dealt with it yet?” People are just insensitive…well, and rude.

      It’s that “Let me guess what you are” factor that seems to get me. It’s one thing to ask someone’s ethnicity, but to begin guessing…yeah, just don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Was is it? 🎵 Jealousy. You have good hair and good genes! It’s ALL good 😉 The next time someone asks a question that gets under your skin, never let them see you sweat. Instead, smile and reply “Nunya.” Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I feel you. My daughter is three shades lighter than me and my wife, and although she looks like me, people are confused at my “golden” baby. Lol.

    Other irritating questions include a random (black female) cashier asking my wife “Where did you get your hair at?” In front of white people at the grocery store. My wife blew the cashier off and kept it moving.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Just talked to a friend of mine about this…most of us have several shades of brown in our families. So it’s surprising for people to ask such ignorant questions, especially TO my baby. Smh

      Not “where did you buy your hair?” Lol that is super insulting

      Liked by 1 person

  13. People seem to think they have the right to ignore good manners and common sense and ask anything they want. It’s unfortunate that refusing to answer makes the one questioned look like a clod, instead of the nosy one. “It is none of your business,” seems like a valid response to me. Since when did store clerks become the National Enquirer? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true Joan! It happens to me so much that I can tell when it’s coming. First they stare so long that they can barely scan the items and do their job and once it’s my turn to swipe my card, they go for it lol And you’re right. If were to just ignore the person’s question, then all of a sudden, I’d be the person with the problem smh.

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  14. Ugh. I’ve had so many variations of these ignorant questions, sometimes while the questioner helps themselves to feeling my hair. I suggest next time you’re asked, after responding (should you choose to), tell the person you hope you’ve answered all their questions and that you’d like them to complete a quick survey to gauge their satisfaction. Question 1. Has my answer to you today changed your life in any way? If so, how? 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s my other answer. As I wrote this, I figured you did. No one has touched my hair in a very long time!

      I had laughed at your responses. Those are good ones. Told D next time somebody refuted my answer I’m going to say, “Well you tell ME how I got MY hair like this then.” Lol

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  15. Sigh….why are people so rude? What gives them the right to ask such questions? I don’t get it. Have you ever watched Black-ish? I’ve learned a lot watching that show. It’s taught me what not to ask or what not to say, etc. I mean I already kinda knew but every white person should watch it. It’s a great comedy and of course I think Tracee Ellis Ross is trapped inside my white girl body, swear it! Because I act just like her and I think that’s a fabulous thing because SERIOUSLY, I want to be her! Like Come On! She’s stunning, talented, funny and the list goes on and on. Ok, enough of my rambling, good day to you Kathy!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Girl, I have no earthly idea! Yes I watch Black-ish lol love that show! The girls’ friends have said I resemble TER…probably the big eyes, big hair and red lipstick! You are too funny! Let your inner TER shine💫✨

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  16. I agree people are nutz! But your post made me laugh, I’m glad you’re keeping your sense of humor (instead of socking someone in the face!) My daughter-In-law is very pale, having a Swedish mother, but both her kids are little olive-skinned Greeks. When they were little, everyone asked her if she was the nanny…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I don’t understand why people think it’s okay to try and guess your ethnicity. I’ve had many people actually ask me if I’m biracial…some even guessing that I had similar ancestry to them. I say no, but thanks for asking. I don’t even know what to do with it anymore. It’s invasive.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Wow. Just smdh. Dr. Garland you shouldn’t have to answer to nobody. Honestly I didn’t think people were that foolish to do so. The Audacity right? I’m the type of person, like honestly I don’t care. Ain’t my business, who is doing who, who is so and so father, what nationality someone is. But Black people right? Sigh*

    Liked by 2 people

    1. People are nutz. That’s what I’ve decided. Exactly about the audacity Tareau! I’m pretty nosey, but I’d never ask a child if that man that I see you with is your father…lol I always think what if it wasn’t, then what will they say? Or what if he wasn’t and she knew and it bothers her, then you just opened up a child’s wounds? I just thinks it’s craziness. Black people are definitely the most people who ask these questions, but been pretty much anyone asks her.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have big racial children and one of the reasons why I don’t f#%% with my family are because of that type of behavior. “Ohh Tareau, if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t know your children have black in them.” Yea…. You say that for the first time in not seeing them in over 6 years. Smh. Being nosey is one thing but being disrespectful is another.

        Liked by 2 people

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