Texta Better Than Shoe-Polish For Blackface: Boy

Apart from the regrettable incident when I publicly referred to a whole group of Ru’s schoolmates and their parents as yellows, I reckon I’ve done a reasonable job teaching the kids tolerance.  Racial tolerance I mean, not any other kind.  Because to be honest if you were anywhere in the vicinity of Yi Chun Street today and heard someone yelling “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!  FUCKING IDIOT!” out the window of a violet Honda Odyssey, that was me.  The angelic voice piping up with “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…” all the way home was my 2-year-old daughter.  In my defence, who parks a semitrailer outside the local 7/11 and then pulls out without indicating?  A fucking idiot, obviously.  So if there’s anyone to blame here, it’s not me.

But you won’t find any ethnological discrimination in our family.  We work hard to help the kids be aware and respectful of the various national extractions of their classmates and neighbours, whether through our vigilant efforts at sticking bindis on their little foreheads for Diwali celebrations at preschool, to limiting their take-away choice to pizza only a couple of times a week, to hardly ever letting them hear us denounce Hello Kitty.  They are world children who are learning three new languages and embracing all that this expatriate experience has to offer.

Which is why it was so crushing to see the illustration on the front of the birthday card Rufus made for MaryJane yesterday.  The few time I passed the table where he sat quietly drawing, I felt an overwhelming burst of sentiment for my wonderful boy who had set about making the card of his own volition, complete with a loving portrait of the recipient.  But when he showed me the finished product, I had to restrain myself from yelling my go-to “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!”, for…

That’s right, he’s given her a brown texta face.  Maybe a couple of years ago this would have been okay, but after Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s blackface furore, these sort of shenanigans just don’t slide.  I’ll be expecting an email from Kamahl shortly after this post goes live.

It’s not really Rufus’s fault. MaryJane spends a lot of her time lamenting how brown she is, and praising the kids’ black-Irish whiteness.  One of their things is to “pinch” each other’s colour and rub it on themselves – an absolute, if odd, example of racial acceptance.  In its innocence, maybe this clear, un-back-storied picture will be the logo for an equal opportunities commission somewhere one day.  Though I can already imagine the lawsuits from all the stumpy-legged and/or handless people it’s explicitly vilifying.  SOME PEOPLE WON’T EVER BE SATISFIED.

Anyway, Rufus made up for it later.  We went to MaryJane’s birthday party at the local helper shelter, and as the only male allowed in, it behove him to chivalrously squire a succession of Pinoys around the dancefloor to the karaoke soundtrack.

The reluctant gallant.

Zadie owned the mic with a medley of hits including Twinkle Twinkle, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Happy Birthday.  Her finale, delivered with all the gravitas of Celine Dion performing on Oprah, was “”I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me too” (to the tune of Nick-Nack Paddywhack).

And I, I will always…lo-o-o-ve….you-ou-ou-ou-ou, YOUUUUUUUUUUU…
I guess I should capitalise on my kids’ unique talents.  I’d be a fucking idiot not to.  So Zadie can be booked for half-hourly karaoke performances if you’re happy with a bit of high-repetition and an unprofessional tantrum at the end of the set.  Rufus can provide greeting cards for any occasion, custom-made with the skin colour of your choice.

And they’re both FLIPPING ADORABLE.

Happy birthday MaryJane!

The moment Rufus realises she’s going to kiss the nearest boy…

6 Comments Add yours

  1. ellebee08 says:

    Great read for a Monday morning, here in Canada. Once again, I’m lucky to have met Mary-Jane and your kids a little while ago, so I get to really visualize the scene. Keep ’em coming!

  2. ellebee08 says:

    Oh … if we’re using Brit spelling, “visualise.” Sorry!

  3. Rufus with face cover at the end is so awesome.

    This is natural. It’s silly to expect him not to color her a different skin tone. He’s acknowledging it, as long as he isn’t making racial stereotypes and slurs. NO WORRIES, MATE. RUFUS IS STILL THE BEST BOY. Zadie is so so amazing in that singing picture.

    Happy Birthday, MaryJane!

    1. Jade says:

      So awesome.

      Yeah I’m not really worried about racial stereotypes and slurs. You know me, I’ll exaggerate anything for a blog post 😉 I mean…

      Ima Skype that guy SOON. Proms.

  4. Your kids are so cool!
    Like previous comment – it seems totally normal and right for Rufus to draw her skin the colour he sees it. Did MaryJane love the card?! I bet she did.
    On the other hand, we have kids coming home from school here with black facepaint on, being “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete) – the slave who ‘helps’ Saint Nicholas deliver presents to kids here on the 6th December. The kids are now told that Zwarte Piet is black from the soot in all the chimneys. Yet still every single ‘helper’ in the shopping centres and on TV is covered in black shoe polish…. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    1. Jade says:

      Oh yeah, she loved the card 🙂
      Zwarte Piet – how have I not heard of this guy before? Nice save with the chimney soot. No way I’d put shoe polish on my face for a job by the way. Imagine how hard that stuff is to get off. What crazy adventures we have Rhi 🙂

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