Beautiful Little Girl: Do y'all speak Spanish? Nadia: No, we don't speak Spanish. Beautiful Little Girl: You look like you do. Simone: Do you speak Spanish? Beautiful Little Girl: Yes. I cannot place a value on overhearing such conversations. While the rest of the world is debating the validity of a fictional book and movie, I'm sitting front row and center, watching our future navigate this thing called race. I could not have imagined how many ways people would ask, "What are you?" We have been asked whether our daughters are Brazilian and Asian. A few weeks ago, someone asked Simone whether her father is Chinese, and someone else asked if she was mixed with black and white. I had worried -- Sometimes I still do -- about the questions. A part of me feared people would make assumptions and taunt my girls. I try to arm Simone and Nadia with answers. After witnessing how my daughters handle these situations, I am not sure I need to intervene. The conversation above was so mature. The Beautiful Little Girl spied two little girls who didn't look one way or another. She checked her hunch and was skeptical when it was not validated. She was certainly on to something. Nadia, who can be a bit blunt and sassy, answered her question without judgment. Even when the Beautiful Little Girl told Simone and Nadia she was doubtful about the answer, there was no back and forth. Simone, a reporter-in-training, figured there had to be a reason why the little girl asked and turned the question around. Then I heard giggles and squeals and laughter. With all the mature stuff out of the way, they got down to the business of playing with each other. I think we adults can learn a thing or two from the children.
In THE TANNING OF AMERICA: How the Culture of Hip-Hop Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy (Gotham Books; On-Sale 9-8-11), Stoute draws from his diverse background in the music industry and brand marketing to chronicle how an upstart art form – street poetry set to beats – came to define urban culture as the embodiment of cool. Steve Stoute’s understanding of how hip-hop morphed into mainstream culture enabled him to relate to a new generation of thinking, which catapulted him to the forefront of pop culture – where he still remains today. In THE TANNING OF AMERICA Steve Stoute shows how a company can connect with the youth market without seeming inauthentic and staying true to their core brands. This ‘tanning’ phenomenon – the positive, powerful potential of urban youth culture that, when harnessed properly, can bring disparate groups of people together – raised the generation of black, Hispanic, white and Asian consumers who have the same ‘mental complexion’ based on shared experiences and values. Today’s consumer is a mindset, not a race – and when businesses get it right, and have a proper understanding of tanning, success is imminent. Steve Stoute’s knowledge and observations will allow readers to find success in a new generation’s bold reinterpretation of the American Dream.I am intrigued by this conversation and the book. What do you think?
I was taking Simone and Nadia out of their car seats when a black woman in the car beside me rolled up with her two children and a cart full groceries.“They are so pretty,” she said. “Thank you,” I said, continuing to unbuckle Simone. “Are they mixed?” “Oh, yeah.” “Well, they sure are beautiful.” “Thank you,” I said. “Tell me,” said the woman, tapping into my friendliness, “what are they mixed with?" “White,” I said. “Really?” she asked, looking like she didn’t believe me. “Because they don't look white.” “Oh, we get that all the time,” I tried to reassure her. “Some people think they are Asian.” “Black children who are mixed with white usually have sandy hair,” the woman said, as if she were some kind of expert. “Well, their father’s hair is brown and my hair is brown, so they have brown hair.” The woman didn’t respond and I took the opportunity to tell the girls to say bye-bye. They waved their hands, and we went inside. *** Later, I gave our conversation a little more thought. I think this is what the woman was really saying. Translation: I was taking Simone and Nadia out of their car seats when a black woman in the car beside me rolled up with her two children and a cart full groceries. “Look at those high-yellow girls. They are so pretty,” she said. “Thank you,” I said, continuing to unbuckle Simone. “Those kids look exotic and they don't look like they belong to you. Are they mixed?” “Oh, yeah,” I said. “Well, I knew that. They are beautiful.” “Thank you,” I said. “Their father must be fine. Tell me,” said the woman, tapping into my friendliness, “what are they mixed with?” “White,” I said. “Well, they sure don't look white. Are you sure you know who the father of your children is? I've seen white and black kids and these kids don't look like they are mixed with white.” “Oh, we get that all the time,” I tried to reassure her. “Some people think they are Asian.” “Perhaps you should have a paternity test. Black children who are mixed with white usually have sandy hair,” the woman said, as if she were some kind of expert. “Well, their father’s hair is brown and my hair is brown, so they have brown hair. “Look, you can say that all you want to, but I am not buying it. You got with someone Asian and you know it, passing these kids off as black and white when they are clearly black and Asian. You should be ashamed of yourself. Hmmpfff. A version of this post originally appeared on Singlikesassy.