Recently during Naomi and I’s daily walk into town, people have been complimenting her skin. To which I usually reply, “Oh, her dad is African.” But today, I had a different response to the older woman who came up to us. As the woman gently touched Naomi’s hair, she said, “Wow, look at that hair and skin, she’s beautiful,” and then she examined me, looking for our resemblance, and searched my eyes for an answer. In my heart, I knew the resemblance that Naomi and I share, so I replied “thank you” with confidence and continued the conversation like there was no question asked.
As my little girl continues to grow, I know there will be many more opportunities to respond to variations of this comment. I also know she might look in the mirror one day and see a difference between her and me. Yet, I hope that these discoveries will only deepen her self-identity rather than cause confusion within her. I hope that in acknowledging our differences, she will also develop confidence in the fact that she is unlike any other person on earth & that was by God’s design.
As Naomi’s mother, I want to give her a blank canvas to explore what her skin means to her and to give her room to discover her cultural roots. I want her to teach me what it means to be African, Rwandese, Black, and a biracial girl living in America. There are so many rich layers for her to teach me, and my main job as her mother is to simply listen and give her room to discover her identity.
If there is one thing I would like her to store in her heart while exploring her identity, it would be this: God created you, we named you, but you define you. Okay? And I’m grateful we are not the same. I love admiring every little thing that makes you, YOU.