Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cheerios Family and Charles Ramsey

When I was a young woman my therapist told me to "envision the life I wanted to live."  She said if I could picture inside my head what I wanted my life to look like, I'd have a clearer understanding of what I needed to do to achieve those goals.  It sounded to me a lot like what us laypersons call "fantasizing" but heck, I'd give it a shot.

My three main goals at the time were this: find a life partner, have a kid, publish a book.

That was twenty years ago.  I'm pretty pleased with my slow, steady progress.  After about a decade of being single and "working on myself," I found a life partner when I was 31.  I had a kid at 35.  And although I haven't published a book, at age 42 I downloaded the app to Google Drive so I can read the manuscript of the memoir I wrote, Unashamed: From Anorexia and Anxiety to Body Acceptance and Bravery, on my Google Nexus tablet as if it's an ebook.  When I read it and pretend it's an actual, published ebook, it's not petty child's play or fantasy: I'm envisioning the ebook I want to publish.  

Back in my younger days, when I was envisioning the life partner I wanted to have, what I saw was this: a black guy, or maybe a biracial black and white guy, with long dark hair, who was tall and kinda looked like a cross between Anthony Kiedis and Lenny Kravitz.  I'm superficial, what can I say?  But no, my "envisioning" went a little further than looks.  I imagined this life partner of mine to be a high school teacher at some impoverished inner city school who, in his free time volunteered for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and scooped poop at the local animal shelter on the weekends and visited elderly patients in nursing homes and read them the paper or from one of their favorite novels or just sat around and chewed the fat with them and let them tell him about the good ole days.  I wanted him to be the kind of person I wanted to be if I could figure out a way to heave myself out of my depression bed.

I don't know why I envisioned my future life partner to be black or biracial.  Probably because I have daddy issues and I wanted to marry someone who looked the polar opposite of my own father, who is white, short, and bald.  I dated a black woman for three months back in the day, but I've never dated a black man.  Well, there was that one boy named Michael who in high school gave me a ride home and then kissed me on my front porch, but that's as far as I'd ever gotten romantically with a black guy.  I started to say "with someone of African descent" but we're all of African descent if you go back to Mitochondrial Eve.  

As things go, my life partner turned out to be tall, yes, and with long hair, yes, but he's even whiter than me.  Blond hair.  Blue eyes.  No matter what your therapist says, no matter how much envisioning you do, you cannot predict who you will fall in love with.  I lucked out.  Will's better than my wildest dreams.

I still have an affinity for black men, though.  Some black men walk into the library and they have those long dreadlocks or braids and I'm like, mmm hmm, that's what I'm talking about.  I would never cheat on my husband.  I'm not a multitasker.  I can only handle one lover at a time.  But come on, no matter how solidly monogamous you are, who doesn't notice attractive people?  I know Will thinks lots of other women are hot and I don't feel threatened by it.  If anything I feel honored that of all the hot women in the world he chose to stick with me.  

I kinda feel like Jerry Seinfeld did in that one episode of his eponymous show where he makes a statement about loving Chinese women and Elaine calls him on it.  Isn't that a little racist?  And Jerry's all, if I like their race how can that be racist?  It's not like I'm attracted to all black men.  Or that I'm not attracted to white guys or men of other race and ethnic groups.  Obviously.  My lily-white-assed husband is who I picked to stick with partially because I love his lily white ass.

What I really love is when I see a hot black man come into the library with his white wife and their biracial kids because then I get to remember my long ago envisioned future and pretend that's my family for a minute.  Just yesterday there was this family that stopped in front of my desk.  The dad was black.  The mom was white.  The kids were biracial.  And there were two grandparents with them, both white.  The white grandmother pulled out a small bottle of hand sanitizer and bent over to gently rub it into both her grandkids' hands.  The contrast of her old, wrinkly, pale hands against their young, smooth, dark hands was a thing of beauty.

I remember when I was a kid and we drove by the high school one day to pick up my brother and we saw a black boy and a white girl on the steps outside, kissing.  My mom made a comment about how that never would have happened at her high school, that it was only in her junior year that her school was forced to become integrated and three black students began attending classes with her.  I think about that time, when I was sitting in the back of my mom's Vega, the vinyl seats sticking to my thighs as I sat with the window rolled down, looking out at the world.

The times are changing.  For the better.  Slowly.  Now it's commonplace to see white grandmothers holding their black-and-white grandkids' hands.  In Katie's class last year there were twenty-two kids.  Out of those twenty-two kids, eleven had white skin and eleven had brown skin, and many of those brown-skinned kids have one white parent.  Katie has two classmates in the same grade, one white boy and one black boy, who are brothers.  The white boy's mom is white and she had him with another white guy before she married her husband.  The black boy's dad is white, so I'm assuming his ex is black, or maybe the boy was adopted.  So when the white boy's mom and the black boy's dad got married, the two became brothers.  This is the world we live in now.  And that makes me happy.

That's why I'm disappointed to read about the Cheerios ad with a biracial couple in it that had its comments feature disabled on YouTube because so many racist rants were popping up.  Bad Internet!  When a hero like Charles Ramsey gets songified for his comment about how you know there's something wrong when a pretty little white girl runs into a black man's arms, I don't know whether to be happy that that Internet feels comfortable enough about race relations that we can joke about it, or to be disheartened that the Internet continues to be a cave for anonymous trolls to hide out in.  But man, the song sure is catchy.

And dang that Cheerios ad is cute.