From The Inbox

On August 9, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke


What to do when someone you care about shows his thoughts.

Q: I would love to get your opinion on the following…My husband and I are a happy interracial couple (I’m black, he’s white) living in the South. Race is not an issue for us and this is how we hope to raise our kids. We’ve developed a friendship with a white couple who have been very good friends over many years and are in fact our children’s godparents. They were raised in the South by very traditional white families, and even though they seem to be very progressive, they prove that you can’t escape your past. Last year, the man was animatedly recalling a story and used the n-word to describe a group of people in his story. My husband and I were shocked and really didn’t know how to react. He went on with his story as if it didn’t happen, following which, we left. Discussing it in the car, my husband and I were more disappointed in him than angry. We briefly discussed whether or not we should talk to him about it, but decided against it. He hasn’t done it since, but it’s hard to forget. Any thoughts?

A: Thanks for your question. It’s a tough one, but I will take a shot. My take on this is that you should always say something when something like this happens. It could be something simple like: Really? That’s the way you describe this group of people? It may not be the thing you want to say or thought you’d say, but you have to let the person know that you don’t appreciate that kind of language and that he shouldn’t feel comfortable using it in front of you.

I was on a plane that was experiencing turbulence when the woman sitting beside me made a comment about the pilot’s race. I, too, was flustered and didn’t know what to say. I managed to get something out of my mouth that did not condemn her speech but hopefully let her know I didn’t appreciate it.

Were your children there? I would not want to explain how my child’s Godfather used a racial epithet to describe Mommy’s people. (If he can’t see how his word may be hurtful to a group, he may see how it is hurtful to his Godchild.) The moment may have passed, and it may not have the same effect if you talk about it now. But if it ever happens again or if he’s joking about this story or some other opportunity presents itself, I’d take him aside and tell him. Keep it sweet, to the point and make sure your talk lacks emotion. If you stay cool, maybe he will follow suit. I wouldn’t do it in front of other people, if you can help it, because he’s likely to be embarrassed and may respond in anger.

Weigh in, folks. What would you do?

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Quote, Unquote Classic

On August 7, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke


Simone, developing her vocabulary.

Simone spent two years in the home of what I like to call her Dominican Day Family. While in their care, she learned several Spanish words. We’re not sure whether she was trying to speak English or Spanish when she uttered the word above. Believe me, we asked. She repeated it so much we were saying it to ourselves and to each other to see if we could figure out what she was trying to tell us. Until this day we have no idea of what she was trying to say.

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Don’t Call Dr. Laura

On August 5, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

A serious repost.
A black woman married to a white man called Dr. Laura and told her she was growing resentful of her husband because he would not put an end to neighbors, friends and relatives saying the n-word and making other insensitive comments in front of her.

Dr. Laura didn’t answer the caller’s question. In fact, she berated the woman with the n-word 11 times and accused her of being hypersensitive. To make matters worse, Dr. Laura said most blacks voted for Barack Obama because he is half black, leaving the impression that blacks are single-minded. Way to go, Dr. Laura.

Dr. Laura later apologized for her remarks. It is clear to me she didn’t understand the topic and couldn’t possibly advise anyone who had a question about it. I don’t have 9 million listeners, but here is what I think.

The caller said a neighbor had come to her house and asked her why blacks do this or do that. Without getting upset, I would say something like this: I am not the spokeswoman for black people anymore than you are a spokesman for white people. I can’t tell you why some people act the way they do.

As for your husband, it’s time to have a very frank conversation about race and respect. I am concerned your husband, not your boyfriend or just a friend, would allow anyone to come in the house he shares with you and make insensitive remarks about you or your race. Please talk to him and tell him how the word or words make you feel. Let him know that you should feel comfortable and respected in your own home and such words are disrespectful and make you feel uncomfortable. I hope he hears you out and makes it clear to friends and relatives that such talk will not be tolerated.

If you are out there and somehow get this message, send an email to honeysmoke at honeysmoke dot com, find a group of sisters who are also married to white men or seek some professional guidance. You definitely shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable in your own home, and your husband should understand and stand up for you.

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Our Painted Lady Butterflies

On August 5, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

A fun repost.
Nadia loves butterflies, so it was no surprise when she asked for a butterfly garden for her birthday.

She received a net on her birthday, and we ordered the larvae a little later.

Yep, you can order your own baby caterpillars, put them in a well-lit place and watch them grow and grow.

Just like expected, they move to the top and each forms a chrysalis.

After they form a chrysalis, you or your designated chrysalis transferer move them to the net.

Before you know it, there are butterflies flapping their wings inside the net.  Put a little honey in some water with a piece of paper as a wick, throw in some leaves and you’ve got yourself one fun science project.

I’m not sure who was more excited about the butterflies. Simone and Nadia checked on the project every day, marveling at the changes. “Wow,” they said. Ken and I also thought the science project growing in our bathroom was pretty neat. “Wow,” we said.

Nadia wanted to invite her entire preschool class to our house to meet her butterflies. Instead, she took them to preschool for share time. Ken said they would walk a few steps, and a child would stop them and stare at the butterflies.

The next day we released them.

Simone and Nadia put their hands in the net and tried to get the butterflies to sit on their fingers. It almost happened. The girls squealed as the butterflies flew away.

I was relieved. I had worried about those butterflies. What if they died or we killed them? I am happy to report we did not disappoint Mother Nature. We received six larvae and released six butterflies. Whew!

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Good Read

On August 4, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

This piece by Ellis Cose explains the difference between racial and gay civil rights. Enjoy!
Posted from 34,000 feet with help of iTouch and free Wi-Fi coupon.

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No Children Allowed

On August 2, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Restaurant owners are fed up. Parents have been bringing children to their otherwise decent eating establishments. Children get in the way. They are loud, and they are messy.  What to do? What to do? Ban children under age 6.

When I first heard about this, I thought surely this move would put them in the red. The more I heard and thought about it, the more it seemed like the restaurant owners could cash in with all those people who don’t want to dine with children.

I like being able to take Simone and Nadia with us for a bite to eat. Ken and I take the girls to family friendly eating establishments, the ones with kids’ menus and Crayons. If we’re going out, it’s for lunch, where the crowd is smaller and the menu is less expensive. If we dine at night — and we rarely do — we go early. Children don’t take long waits well, and nothing gets in the way of our nighttime bath routine.

When trouble arises, we act fast. We packed up and left a restaurant one day when our girls wouldn’t listen to us. Going out is a treat. We also scoop them up and take them outside if they start to wail.

The general public doesn’t love my kids like I do. While banning children seems extreme, some restaurants know what their customers want. I still wonder what will happen when those young children grow up. Will their parents skip those establishments that weren’t friendly to them and take their money elsewhere? We shall see.

What do you say? Should restaurants ban young children?


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From The Inbox

On July 30, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

It turns out curlies aren’t the only ones who are looking for good shampoo alternatives.

Q: Other than to tell you that I enjoy your blog thoroughly, I want to ask you a hair question. I am not a curly in any fashion, like I said, I’m a white girl and I have relatively straight hair, but I’ve read your curly blogs and I wanted to try to look for a shampoo and conditioner that are sulfate, silicone and paraben free and was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I just started looking at all the backs of bottles in my shower, and ALL of the shampoos I have at the moment have sulfates. I was also wondering if I need to look for other key words, if those three things may be hiding behind a different name. Sulfates were easy to identify, but I didn’t see silicone or paraben. Thanks so much for your blog, Honeysmoke.

A: Thank you so much for visiting Honeysmoke. There are tons of low sulfate or sulfate free shampoos out there. I bet if you go to a local salon or check out the health and beauty aisle, you may find some affordable options. I am afraid a lot of the products aimed at curly hair can be quite expensive, and those are the products I am most familiar with. At any rate, I have tried Jessicurl products and love them. I don’t love the shipping costs, which keeps me from buying them all of the time. The line has two mild shampoos. Here is a link to one of them. As for keys words you can search, try: low poo and no poo. That may broaden your search a bit. I hope you find what you’re looking for and thanks again for visiting Honeysmoke.

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Quote, Unquote

On July 30, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Aren’t you glad I didn’t say banana again?

Simone, developing her sense of humor.

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Going To First Grade

On July 28, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Ken did the honors. He ripped open the envelope and read the letter inside. He read every word aloud about what a good school year it will be, when to pick up school supplies and when the school’s open house will be held. What we wanted to know was in the very last paragraph. The name of Simone’s first-grade teacher.

We had gotten the heads up from a parent that we would learn our child’s fate this week. With the teacher’s name in hand, we launched a fact-finding mission to learn as much as possible about her. In seconds, we landed on her web page and read all about her education and teaching philosophy. We even know the name of her cat.

Ken plans to get the lowdown from a few teachers we know, while I will shake down some parents for information. If all else fails, we will do a full background check on her.

Sad, huh? Ken didn’t think so. It’s a big deal, he said. This teacher will be part a part of our family for the next nine or 10 months. Whether we like it or not, we will send our child to her five days a week. Much of what happens at school will shape our lives. There will be school projects, homework and trips.

Simone is ready. We think she’s bored with day camp. She comes home and reads or plays with her learning games. When I told her her teacher’s name, she ran up to other kids to share the news like she had gotten into college or something. What can I say? The kid loves to learn.

Simone is fine just knowing her new teacher’s name, while we have so many questions. Will Simone like her? Will we like her? Will she be tough, hard, mean? A softy? The answers will come in the first few weeks of school. This is what our life has come to: anticipating the what ifs of another school year.



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Positive Rejection

On July 26, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Trust me when I say last week was not a good week. It was awful. Like a rain cloud was hanging over my head with its own lightning bolt awful. Seriously, I cried last week — twice, and I am not a crier. This week didn’t start out much better. For starters, there were more tears. I cry one time a year, if that, so I am done, with a capital D, with crying for the next three years.

I couldn’t take much more rejection or bad news. Then I received a letter in the mail. Writers know what kind of letter I am talking about. It’s one of those letters from you and addressed to you, the self-addressed, stamped envelope writers include in query letters so that agents can deliver rejection on our dime.

There are two types of these letters. There is the dreaded form letter, which is practically useless, and there is the personal rejection. Thank goodness, this one was the later. Agents are busy people. They don’t have time to write personal notes. They have clients to represent, deals to close. So, it’s a compliment when one of them takes a moment to reject a writer’s project and encourage her at the same time.

What in the heck am I talking about? This 12-word sentence: “Your picture book is an original and effective tool for all children.” I needed that positive rejection. That sentence let me know I am doing something right. The agent didn’t offer representation. She can’t take on any more clients during these tough economic times. But I am close to finding the right agent for me and my work. So close.





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