The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Reflections on Mothers and Daughters of Different Colors

My daughter dragged me into her classroom. She wanted to show me a drawing she had made of herself.

While we often joke that her name is Mimi, for a reason, her drawing was simple and devoid of conceit.

My daughter is multi-racial. She is Chinese, Korean, Hawaiian, Austrian, Russian, Jewish and Methodist.

Every mother thinks her child is beautiful. I’m no exception. But I believe it because I’ve had enough people tell me that she is exotic, attractive, tall, and thin, with perfect skin.

It is the color of her flesh that drew me to her drawing. Her skin was drawn brown.

The wall was filled with self-drawings of all the children in her class. Most of the kids had colored their skin pink or yellow.

I never look at either of my children or my husband as dark-skinned Asians. Though I always notice when others do. I just see them as my husband and kids.

But I was curious.

I told Mimi I loved her drawing, but wondered why she colored her skin so dark. She thought about it. Perhaps she became self-conscious. She said it was because it was the only crayon she could find.


I found another drawing she made of herself. Her skin was about the same tone.

“What color would you have drawn my skin?” I asked her.

She thought, even going as far as dramatically placing her finger on her chin and wrinkling her brow.

Skin deep in thought.

“Yellow or pink, probably,” she said.

“Ah-ha! It was deliberate,” I said. No I didn’t say that. Why would I? It didn’t matter. It was simply intriguing because while we have discussed that Mommy has the biggest nose in our family, including the cats’, we’ve never discussed the tones of our skin.

Yesterday we went into a hip store that Mimi discovered in downtown San Rafael. I bought a cool dress and teardrop black Bakelite earrings for twenty bucks!!! Mimi wanted a necklace but it was twenty-four dollars! Major bling. I told her to go to the woman behind the desk and bargain.

“This is in your blood – on both sides,” I yelled out.

She didn’t know what I meant. But she seemed to recognize that this was an important rite of passage. She got the owner down to twelve dollars. I knew from somewhere above my mother, the world’s greatest bargainer, was beaming with pride at her seven-year old granddaughter. We agreed that if Mimi did her homework for a week and cleaned her room daily – it was hers.

The owner and I chatted and laughed, and then I was taken aback when she asked, “Is she your daughter?”

It was not the first time.

If we were the same color and Mimi didn’t look Asian and I didn’t look Caucasian, I doubt people would inquire as often. I would think it would be apparent from the way we speak and interact as only mothers and daughters can.

That the world may see us a bit differently was not a revelation.

That my daughter apparently does was the bigger surprise.

By Dawn Yun

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I like how matter of fact your daughter is about her skin color - why should she question or over think what "shade" she is? Apparent to her that it's just part of who she is. Should there be a need for her to explain why she drew herself in her own color? Allow her to not have to second guess...or think she should.
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