“All of the stars, you make them shine like they were ours…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…You and I…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…- You & I (Nobody In The World), John Legend

This song doesn’t go with this post. At all.  It’s been a very tough go recently (writing and awesome friends have helped) and this song is quite meaningful to me and for a person who’s world was shattered a couple of weeks ago. Love you. Always.

Anyways…

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A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook that sparked some interesting discussion amongst her FB friends AND made me reflect on my experiences.  The article is called “The Question Light-Skinned Black Women Say They’re Always Asked” and here’s the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/16/light-girls-what-are-you_n_6490038.html.

If you don’t have time to read it or watch the video (yikes), I’ll summarize it (a bit) for you.  The piece features several light-skinned women who “share the common experience of being questioned about their race.”  Apparently, this is a preview of a new documentary called “Light Girls” (http://www.oprah.com/app/light-girls.html).

Now.  I’m not light-skinned.  I’m brown-skinned.  My daughter, though, has light skin and light eyes.  Until the age of 5, her eyes were blue.  They’re greenish/grayish now.

So she’s clearly lighter than me, and from the time she was born, people have asked me if she’s biracial.  Or mixed.  Or my kid (gasp!).  Or something.  And now that she can answer for herself, they ask her directly…”What are you?”.

When she’s answers that she’s black, the next question is often about the race of her father (I’m generally with her or they may have met me so they see that I’m a brown-skinned lady…I was gonna type a brown skinned cutie but I don’t want y’all to think I’m completely full of myself…But I digress…).

“You must be mixed.”  “Is your dad white?”

So why do we do this?  Actress Tatyana Ali had this to say, “There’s a safety in being able to categorize you or categorize a person. ”You can assign all of your preconceived ideas about who this person is: the type of person they are, what kind of behavior you can expect from them — only if they know what you are.”

Is this the reason?  Are people more comfortable with folks who they can categorize?  And if you’re black and you’re skin is lighter does that somehow help you?  Does it matter? Does it somehow help to know whether or not my daughter’s father is white?   I don’t know.

From the article, “Soledad O’Brien, an award-winning journalist and news anchor, says she was shopping for a new coat when the sales person behind the register asked her: “What are you?” When O’Brien responded that she is black, she says the sales person refused to believe her. “She said, ‘No, no, you’re not black. Because black people are thieves. So, what are you?’”

Ummm. WOW.  Advantage #teamlightskinned?

Skin color has definitely always been a “thing” (ever heard of the brown paper bag test?).  Is it generally the first thing people focus on when they meet light skinned women (or men)?  No one asks me where I’m from before they get to know me…

Help me out world.  What’s the deal?  And be honest!

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All of the stars, they don’t shine brighter than you are…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…You and I…You and I…

Nobody in the world tonight…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…

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“They say it’s your birthday…It’s my birthday too, yeah…They say it’s your birthday…We’re gonna have a good time…I’m glad it’s your birthday…Happy birthday to you…”- Birthday, The Beatles

I was so tempted to post… “Go Shorty, it’s your birthday..We’re gonna party like it’s birthday…” by 50 Cent but this post is about my kid.  So no.  That doesn’t work.

And then I thought about posting some lyrics from Taylor Swift’s song “Fifteen” (I’m liking her lately…and it’s the correct age…) but I Googled the lyrics.  Whoa. And…no. Absolutely not good for this post about her.  Nope. (or as M says, “LMANo”)

Where do I start?!  Well, HAPPY BIRTHDAY M!!!!

(Bear with me.  I’m gonna brag just a little because I’m very proud of this girl.)

M, you are my superstar.

You started out as my little baby who didn’t want to cry (they forced you to use those lungs!) or eat (you must always give me props for feeding you with a syringe because you refused to open your mouth or latch or even drink from a bottle!) and who pooped on my arm two seconds after you were born.

You became my precocious toddler/preschooler who talked super early and walked super late (It’s a shame when you can say “please come over and pick me up” before you can walk…) and who potty trained herself (Thanks. I’ll give you credit. You made up for the feeding situation.) and who loved school (Go JBMS!) and Baby Born (that baby doll went everywhere) and nature (especially woodchips!) and pacifiers (which led to some really expensive braces) and giving other kids haircuts…that you charged money for!  And who disliked anything related to a swimming pool, clothing, and basketball, tennis, soccer, or any sport with a bat or ball. (Expensive lessons but we had to find your thing…)

Then there were the school years- elementary and middle.  You blossomed into a lovely, smart girl who still loved school (Except for gym.  And art.  I may be the only parent who had to have conferences with the elementary school gym and art teachers.)  We rocked through the middle school years (some drama! but not too bad.  Well, 7th grade was a little interesting..). You met some lifelong friends and fell in love with small boutiques, cheerleading, skinny jeans, certain cities, dogs, random kid fads (those ugly skater shoes!), helping others, smoothies, Instagram, winning awards/medals, and Uggs.  So many pairs of Uggs.

And now you are:

Still my early to bed and early to wake kid (I thought this would change when you became a teenager!  Please learn to sleep in!)

My math/science girl who is just trying to crank out very decent English papers (your words).

My sarcastic, witty funny girl who cracks jokes regularly. (My favorite of this year was when I asked you about the volleyball team you guys were playing.  I called them a powerhouse.  You said they are the….(drumrole)…mitochondria of volleyball).

My “I’m gonna go to a high school where I don’t know anyone and I’m gonna make it work (because I don’t quit) even when it’s tough to make friends” kid.  And now look.  Great job, M!

My (brand new) volleyball player, former (?) cheerleader, and current track star.  My actress and chorus lover.  Even though I sigh sometimes, I’m perfectly happy driving you all over the place! for your activities.  I love to watch you run, cheer, hit (spike?), sing, and act.

My homebody who would rather stay home and watch “Bones” than hang out.  (I’m enjoying that! I know it won’t last forever!)

My “sometimes I just say the first thing that comes to my mind and it gets me in trouble” girl.

My model (Sorry but I’m still not sure about this…)

My addicted to texting kid (“Please don’t take my communications tool away as punishment, Mom..”)

So like I always tell you, our lives are not perfect (and neither are we) and they never will be.  Try to make good decisions (or as I told you everyday you got out of the car at JBMS..”make good choices, M.  Choose challenging work. Don’t cut anyone’s hair or throw wood chips. Lol”), use good judgement, work hard so you can play hard, use your words, and have faith.

Thank you for being my kid.  You changed my life for the best.  It’s hard to be down or upset or sad when your beautiful face wakes me up (super early!) every morning.

You are smart, beautiful, kind, and helpful. (And as you know, I was saying that way before The Help came out…lol)

Happy, happy birthday.

Love you. Mom (And stop calling me Candace! And bae! And bruh!)

I would like you to dance (Birthday)…Take a cha-cha-cha-chance (Birthday)…I would like you to dance (Birthday)…Oh dance! Dance.