Thursday, September 29, 2022

“Stop Asking Me If This Is My Baby!’

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When Ena Miller had a baby last year, she was unprepared for the constant comments about her daughter’s appearance.

From the day my baby was born she was judged by the colour of her skin.

After spending a day and a night in intensive care, Bonnie had been reunited with me for only a few hours when a woman popped her head around the door to ask what I would like for breakfast.

Before I could reply, she asked, “Is that your baby?”

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I anticipated the next thing she said would be a compliment – “Isn’t she cute!” or “Her cheeks are so chubby!”

Instead she repeated, “Is that really your baby?”

Her tone was surprised, slightly shocked. Her use of the word “really” triggered a few alarm bells.

“She looks so white. Look at her hair, it’s so straight. She’s so white,” she continued.

And that’s when it all started – strangers feeling free to question whether I was Bonnie’s mother, or comment on the colour of her skin.

It happened in the hospital where I had just given birth. It would happen again later when out shopping, sitting in restaurants and visiting friends.

I have brown skin. My partner’s is white. Bonnie is mixed-race.

From the maternity ward I sent pictures of Bonnie to people I loved and a few responded with one-line sentences, not sugar-coated in the way a new mum might expect.

“She’s really white.”

“I prefer the picture where she looks more African.”

“She’s very pale isn’t she?”

One felt the need to use capitals: “She’s STILL white.”

(A mixed-race baby may be born with skin a shade or two lighter than it will end up.)

It hurt.

Bonnie and I spent five days in hospital alone. It was during the first Covid wave – no visitors allowed. My partner could only check in on us via WhatsApp video, and this meant I had plenty of time to Google and worry about people’s comments.

Would people always assume I wasn’t Bonnie’s mother?

Would Bonnie always have to explain who I was?

Would I always be mistaken for the nanny?

I wasn’t ready to live with this.

Five weeks after we left hospital, a lovely walk turned unpleasant. A man appeared, aggressively shouting, “Why is your baby so white?” He circled around us, seemingly enraged.

“Why is she so white? Did you get with a white man? That’s what happens when you get with a white man! Look at her, look at her, look at her – why is she so white?”

I was appalled, afraid, and embarrassed by the audience he had attracted. I couldn’t understand why this man, who was the same colour as me, was so offended.

In fact, all the negative comments about my baby’s skin colour were from people the same hue as me. I didn’t get it. I had never imagined mixed-race families had to go through this.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t defend my family. I said nothing. I walked away from this angry stranger, holding my tears back until I reached the safety of my own home. I never spoke about the impact it had on me – until I met Wendy.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.


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