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Mixed Kids Are the Cutest!?

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January 17, 2012

When I tell people that I am working on a project about mixed-heritage families, people often respond with something like “Oh, mixed babies are so cute!” or “Mixed-race people are so beautiful!” This is meant to be a compliment - but it's also stereotyping (and objectifying) a large, diverse group of people. 

What do you think?

I've wondered sometimes if complimenting how mixed kids are (especially) cute is sometimes meant as a quick way of  saying "I'm cool with interracial partnership [even though it was illegal in many states until 1967]." ?  

I do think that could be part of it. It's hard to say unless you ask the person making the comment. People can have so many reasons for saying it... but where I have questioned, more often than not, I get the response: "They really are the cutest!" So sometimes people really just think that way on a very basic level.

Jen Chau's picture

You have to check out "Sh*t People Say to Mixed Girls" by my friend Meadow Braun. She gives a shout out to the comment, "mixed babies are the cutest."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OmF33IeXa4

And Sady, I definitely think that's a possibility. I do like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I think sometimes people say this because they are trying to express their "open-mindedness." I always like to find out what's behind the statement for the person. I usually say, "Tell me more about that." Or "Did you always think that?" And then hopefully a conversation sparks from there...

Good topic, Margaret! 

This is a comment that gets all kinds of emotions/reactions/memories flowing through me, and it's still something that I haven't quite figured out how to respond to.  

Whenever I'm faced with this comment, I'm set into this kind of whirlwind of questions of why this bothers me, why people think this, why they say it (to me), and why people don't understand my frustration with it.  After long discussions with family & friends who can relate to my frustration, and also have trouble pinpointing exactly why this is so problematic or after long train rides home with my thoughts, I'm always left with some sort of conclusion that feels like a combination of Jen & Sady's reactions: People want to prove that they're down... but what are they saying about non-mixed people? 

I also notice that these comments didn't start appearing in my life until some time in the mid-90's-- maybe because I moved to NY, where I'm not the only racially-mixed kid in town--or maybe because it became "fashionable"-- literally, as more racially-ambiguous models were becoming the big thing in fashion shows & magazines.

In the end, I've pretty much accepted that my reaction to this kind of comment is something that I'll probably never understand 100%, even though I'm sure I'll spend a good number of hours trying to.  But then, that somehow feels similar to my experience of being multi-racial and feeling strong connections or emotions for which this society doesn't have a vocabulary yet.