My family recently gathered to celebrate our newest off-spring – our first grandchild. He is small and wiggly and periodically stretches his little body so he can fit perfectly in the crook of your arm.
I tried to check the tips of his cuticles to get a hint of just how brown he will be. Checking a newborn’s cuticles is what black folks often do because many newborns don’t show their true color until they are a little older. Color, of course, has been our crucible and our joy. This time, though, the cuticles spoke not at all —and perhaps that is as it should be.
As family members held our little one, they automatically began gently swaying back and forth as they smiled, eyes soft, with soothing hums sliding between their smiling lips.
In just minutes there would be a hand-off as a new family member would shoulder in to hold the child. And that family member, like all the others, would become transfixed by the flood of emotions that a new life brings.
My grandson’s mother is white. His father, our son, is black. The babe’s maternal grandparents, too, have a mixed history. His maternal grandmother is Jewish. His grandfather is not. When they were young, the couple had to fight for the right to love each other – to simply be a couple. It was not easy in those days to follow your heart rather than custom. Yet decades later they are still together and taking joyful photos of their first grandchild.
Beyond doting grandparents, the baby was also surrounded by other kin.
One uncle is black, his wife, the baby’s only aunt, is white. A maternal uncle is white, his husband, another uncle, is Filipino.
As I looked at the family, who were in varying stages of laughing, cooing and just talking, one fact became abundantly clear. This family, my family, is a true American family. As is a family with two moms and two dads. Or maybe just a dad or a mom. Perhaps a grandma or an aunt. Or a family that formed without any blood connection at all. All are true families based on love and caring and not just the rules of conformity that support some and deny others.
The American family is changing. People are broadening their horizons and recognizing that family by blood or choice is still family.