Eve’s Colorblind Babies: When Celebrity Gets In the Way Of Remembering Why Race Matters

Now I love Eve, the pitbull in a skirt-turned-“it” girl on the Hollywood scene, and her relationship with British entrepreneur and race car driver Maximillion Cooper is beautiful. But her thoughts about biracial babies and especially her childrearing philosophy has me cocking an eyebrow: Eve says she plans to raise her kids to be “colorblind.”

Eve made the revelation in Vibe Vixen, in an interview to promote Lip Lock, her new album dropping May 14:

I want them to be colorblind, but I do want them to understand both sides of themselves. I’m a black woman and I love being a black woman. And I think my child should know that black part of themselves. But obviously at the same time, their father would be white and I would want them to know that side of themselves. And British! That’s a whole other situation (laughs). But in doing that, I think they can be colorblind. I don’t want them to see color. I never did. I grew up in the hood and my mother was very good at it not being a black thing, even though I grew up around all black people. I want them to want to know everything about all kinds of races. And hopefully they will.

*Deep sigh* I get it: Eve is no longer a stripper. She’s no longer hunched over a motorcycle in leather catsuits, her panther paw breast tattoos announcing her cleavage. She’s not Harlem Shaking with her Ruff Ryders crew or pounding the pavement in her old Philadelphia ‘hood. She’s spending time in London. A lot of it. She’s fallen for a white British dude. Hard. And she’s living the life of a star who can remove herself from the bondage of race and all the foolish, illogical, foul things that come with it because, well, she’s breathing the rarified air of celebrity. Sometimes, that air does a fine job of helping you forget…

Forget that here in America, black families make, on average, 1/3 less than white families, regardless of education and background…

Forget that in our parents’ lifetime, Jim Crow was law, black bodies were swinging and today, our country is still rife with segregated neighborhoods and schools and businesses and churches…

Forget that as we black and brown folk move throughout our communities, we are still followed by suspicious eyes and met with a general lack of acceptance from those who do not look like us, until we disprove their suspicions…

Forget that black boys are getting stopped and frisked for no other reason than the brown on their faces, and shot for wearing hoodies and listening to their music too loud…

Forget that black girls are being judged not by our character, but the color of our skin, the size of our asses and the latest episode of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, and being paid 62 cents to a white man’s dollar and being denied basic, simple stuff like healthy food options and quality healthcare and decent school choices for our babies…

Colorblind? In America? For real?

The veneer of money and celebrity means Eve doesn’t have to look in the eye of the hotel receptionist doubting she has a reservation…

She doesn’t have to worry about the cab driver who won’t stop to pick her up and drive her to Brooklyn or Harlem or the Southside of Chicago or the grimy parts of Philly…

She doesn’t have to fool with the lady in the high-end boutique and that stupid smirk that says, “Yeah, you know you can’t afford that dress.”

She won’t ever have to hear the private school admissions officer talk about how they don’t have any financial aid, even though she never once mentioned she might need it…

Wait, Eve’s never parented a black child. So this is all kind of theory until somebody says something sideways to or about her babies, who, if their mama has their way, will be delightfully blind while the rest of the world harps on that brown in their skin and that kink in their hair and their African American rapper mom from Philly who made babies with the white guy. That shit is inevitable.

I love that the rapper/actress wants her children, who may be biracial, to know and accept every bit of themselves—both their African American and white British selves. It’s beautiful that she doesn’t want them to harp on race. What I need her to know, though, is that the rest of us regular people who breathe regular air and live regular lives can not afford to be blind. Or to raise our children to be deaf, dumb and blind to the realities. And neither should her babies, if she does ever become a mother. As I wrote in an open letter to a white mom in a 2011 post, Why White Parents Should Teach Their Children About Race:

The truth is I don’t have the luxury of walking into the room and having my skin color go unnoticed. I don’t have the luxury of applying for a job and having it go unnoticed. I don’t have the luxury of going to a restaurant or shopping in a store or driving in a well-to-do neighborhood—even my own—and have people see my forehead or the color of my hair or the hue of my eyes instead of my skin. The same goes for my man and my hulking, football playing son and my two chocolate girlpies and my 76-year-old daddy, who grew up in the segregated South, and my in-laws, who live in a mostly-white neighborhood where their son is the only black child in the class and their other son, a sweet 12-year-old kid who couldn’t and wouldn’t hurt a fly and loves pretty much anyone he comes in contact with, was called the “N” word for nothing more than that his skin is brown. This is the American way.

And seeing as it can’t be hidden and I’ve worked so hard to love my brown skin despite all of the negative storylines/assumptions attached to it, the last thing I and oh so many more who look like me want is to have someone say she doesn’t “see” it. I won’t speak for all African Americans because we are not a monolith. I will, however, say that a large part of who I am and what I love about myself is rooted to my race and the culture connected to it; my skin is no less a part of me than my limbs, my breath—my heart. I know for sure that I am not alone in my thinking on this. It does not define me, but this brown skin has helped shape me in immeasurable ways. I can say the same is true for my babies, who, even as they are being encouraged not to dwell on color, are being taught that color and culture is important—a part of the myriad of things that makes each of us special and different and beautifully human.

That, Eve, is worth teaching the babies, too. Trust.


RELATED POSTS:

1. Black & Proud: How I Teach My Children to Love Their African-American Heritage
2. Study: Arming Your Children With Race Pride Will Boost Their School Performance
3. They’ll Wear The Armor: Guarding My Babies From The “N” Word
4. Black Children and Black History: The Importance Of Teaching Our Kids the Complexity Of Us

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

26 Comments

  1. jim upchurch

    And from an additional angle… colorblindness is a deficiency not a virtue. God did not create different colored flowers so we would say, “They all look the same to me”, but so that we might see the creativity and beauty and rejoice.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      This. Is. Beautiful.

      Thank you, Jim.

    • Spot-on. Truth be told, “colorblindness” is another way of sweeping racial inequality under the rug and covering up White Guilt. So it’s easy to do when you can say “I don’t see race.” And that’s when racial discrimination becomes most dangerous, when you don’t realize it.

    • Jacquelne Lewis

      You’ve got that right Mr. Upchurch. It’s a fantasy, and it’s just not right. I love my color, and everyone should love themselves also.

  2. Wow. Did you really write this? In my humble opinion you are exactly the problem with the world today. Seriously? I’m still reeling. I happen to have a ‘black’ child. She even has kinky hair and caramel skin. From a very young age I taught her to be ‘color blind’. I never refer to her as my black child, nor does anyone else I know. I don’t teach her that it’s OK to be a slave owner, despite what my ancestors over a hundred years ago might have done. Yes she knows of her history. In fact just did a report on Rosa Parks. When we had a discussion on the subject she simply said in the beautiful way children do, ‘That’s stupid’. She doesn’t walk into a room and feel uncomfortable, because I never taught her she should. When people stare at her, its because she is beautiful, not because she’s black. I might add I am just an average person who does not breathe ‘celebrity’ air. There are ignorant people of every color. Trust me I have met many ‘blacks’ who just sound stupid. Its not because they are black, its because they are stupid. Ignorance comes in every color. May I kindly suggest you let go of your color issues and move into 2013. The first step starts with you. I wish Eve the best and believe she can teach her child to be color blind. I know, because I have.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Sharon,

      Welcome to MyBrownBaby—thanks for your comment. Clearly, we see race from two different perspectives, perhaps because you’ve never been an African American woman in America. I’ll be really interested to hear your daughter’s thoughts on this subject when she is grown and negotiating this world through her own eyes, rather than those of her mother.

      • And Denene, you don’t have to be an African American to understand it. I’m a white man with beautiful brown babies and, of course, I don’t understand it like you do (nor will I ever), but I get it. And for my kids’ sake I can’t afford to ignore the reality.

        And again, I can’t for the life of me figure out why we would want to be colorblind and miss out on God’s beautiful creativity. “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, gray and gray and gray and gray, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

        The problem is seeing color in the wrong way. The solution isn’t to not see color, but to see it in the right way.

        • Denene@MyBrownBaby

          Thank you, Jim: beautifully stated. Your words in that first comment should be plasted on t-shirts and handed out in maternity wards. Humans need to understand this. All of us—no matter the color, culture, background or heritage.

    • So, when ppl teach their children to be “colorblind” does it only apply to people, or are they not allowed to notice color in their box of crayons? So is it only “wrong” when a child notices that I am brown and my child is white, or also that I’m wearing pink? How do parents explain it, really? I would love to understand. Because I am proud of my color and really don’t appreciate my race being a subject of taboo. Another person’s inability to feel comfortable with the subject, and thus preferring to pretend it isn’t there, isn’t the same thing as noticing it IS there and being accepting of it. If I am proud of my cultural and ethnic heritage, why are you teaching your child that conversations of the same are “wrong” “inappropriate” “bad” “the problem”? Please. Don’t teach your children to be colorblind for my sake and my comfort, because it does me no favors – nor does would my white husband ever deny that my skin color was, in fact, the first thing he noticed and attracted him to me. Let’s be real – admit that the problem is in “you” and that “you” lack the ability to have these conversations with “your”children, thus “you” teach them that we are invisible in the one area we are most certainly not.

    • Sharon,

      Speaking from the perspective of a biracial (black and white) woman born in the 70’s, it sounds nice that you want her to be color blind, but the reality is, she will see and experience things that you will not be able to identify with because you haven’t had to deal with them. My white mother made it very clear to me that there are some stupid people in the world, there are some unfair occurrences in the world that I would have to deal with that she couldn’t understand. If you leave her unprepared for that, she is going to have a very hard time dealing in the real world.

  3. And from that white mom, your letter is still the most kind-hearted and loving way I’ve heard the problem with “color-blind” expressed. I still refer to it constantly.

  4. My husband is Asian and we have 3 kiddos. We don’t harp on race but we are also not raising them to be color blind. We teach them that they are 100% both cultures and never allow anyone to tell you differently. We have always lived in a racially and socioeconomically diverse neighborhood. As parents we do what we can and think is best for our babies and pray that they’ll be ok. That’s all we can do. There is no right or wrong way.

  5. Lovely article! For those bent on being “color-blind”, please define it’s meaning? I am a Black woman who loves and appreciates other races, ethnicities, and cultures, and I am more concerned about one’s individual characteristics than their skin color. However, that doesn’t make me color blind. For one, there is nothing wrong in appreciating that we are different and that means acknowledging we’re all different colors. Second, we can’t deny that people (and entire cultures) have been shaped by the experiences they’ve had partaining to their race, especially if they’re persons of color. I am who I am because of my Blackness and all that has come with it (history, family, scrutiny, racism, prejudice, etc). Lastly, turning a “color blind” eye is not going to change things- honest and constructive dialogue will. There is absolutely nothing wrong with “seeing” a person’s color because it’s who they are and what helps to make them beautiful. The problem is when people use those differences in a negative, oppresive, or discriminatory way. We can be proud of who were are (as we should) without diminishing others. For me, to look at a person and not see their color is limiting and quite honestly, absurd (it’s literally the first recognizable trait outside of gender). Whether we like it or not, race and color are part of who people are and that can be celebrated without being divisive.

  6. Oooooooh Ms. Denene, you leaned into this one here!! And Mr. Upchurch you just added the icing on the cake. I have nothing to add. This was fabulous!

  7. I understand the point you’re attempting to make with this article.. but I don’t completely agree and I think you’re making a jump to a conclusion based upon you’re own personal feelings… not what Eve actually said. Nor do I think the way Eve wishes to raise her children has to do with her “celebrity.” Eve said she was raised in the same manner before she was famous. Colorblind = not automatically making judgment about another human being simply because of the color of their skin. While we should know our history and understand that there are racists in this world, you do not necessarily have to raise your child to automatically see everyone and everything about color and race. My parents raised my siblings and me to be colorblind and I will raise my children the same way. My parents taught me the reality of racism and my history but they did not mentally handicap me because of the color of my skin.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Tamina,

      So let me get this straight: wanting to be accepted and valued and respected for ALL of that which makes up me, including my color, is a “mental handicap”? Oh.

      Here’s what I’ve learned in my almost 45 years on this Earth, with three children under my parenting belt: when someone says they are colorblind (usually white folk), they are saying they choose not to see ME in my entirety and chose to elevate to importance those parts of me that make THEM comfortable. This greatly devalues who I am.

      It is most certainly possible to refrain from making judgements about your fellow human beings based on skin color WHILE acknowledging and valuing their race, culture, heritage and background. I do it every single day of my life and teach my children to do the same, despite that we are hardly ever extended that same benefit. In other words, I’m teaching my children not to be colorblind but to see the beauty in ALL of us, including one’s skin color and all that comes with it.

      • “So let me get this straight: wanting to be accepted and valued and respected for ALL of that which makes up me, including my color, is a “mental handicap”?” …. No, I did not say that. How you jumped to that conclusion when I didn’t say that I am not quite sure but it was not my intention to convey that thought.

        When I say “mentally handicap” I mean I will not teach my children, “because you’re black this, that, and the other are going to happen,” or, “you can’t do this, you can’t do that, and things are going to be hard for you to do because you’re black.” I’m not going to start my child out that way, thinking they lose before they even play the game of life all because they’re black because it’s not true.

        The thing is, not everyone or every black person has your same view point on this issue, rich or poor, and that’s okay. I have come across plenty of black people, latin, asian, etc who use the term “colorblind” it is not usually whites in my experience. But, as you pointed out, you’re 45. I am 27. Perhaps it is different because I was raised in a different time period and around a mix of cultures and people and the term “colorblind” does not mean to me what it means to you. My parents saw colorblind in a different way than you do.

        There is nothing wrong with teaching your children about your culture and others. They should be aware. Being “colorblind” does not mean being unaware of our culture and different cultures it means not making judgments about your fellow man based upon skin color. Skin color is not all their is to humans. At least, that’s what it means to my parents and to me and I have a suspicion Eve has a similar view point.

        • Denene@MyBrownBaby

          Perhaps we are working from a generational definition, Tamina. Of course, I realize that we are not a monolith—that black people are humans with the ability to think differently from one another. We also have the right to different parenting styles, and I respect that you plan to raise your children in a very specific way that may not necessarily jibe with the way I’m raising mine. But I need you to be very clear: I am on the same page as you with respect to the way I talk to my children about race. I do not, nor have I ever, told my children that they are limited because of the color of their skin. They are, however, being taught to be realistic about this world we live in: OTHERS WILL TRY to limit them because of the color of their skin, but that doesn’t give them the excuse to not try, to not do their absolute best, to curl up and withdraw or to use inevitable negative experiences to characterize others according to race, background, economic status, gender, etc. This piece is very clear, as are my views on the word “colorblind,” which do, I think, line up with at least part of your thinking: skin color is not all there is to THIS human. I just wish the rest of society would get on board. Unfortunately, we are far from that day. A wise parent readies her children for that reality and helps them build up the armor in ways that I’ve spent quite some time writing about here on MyBrownBaby.

  8. I do have a feeling that Eve was not denying that her children understand their blackness, but rather teaching that skin color is not all there is to a person. I can understand too what she meant by saying she was raised in the hood, and to a certain extent was “colorblind” – just like white folks who grow up with only white folks in their world, some of us black folk grew up only seeing black people, and thus were unaware of our blackness. Or, better put, unaware of the social meanings that are attached to race. We knew we were black, but it simply was not a big deal because everyone around us was black. Eve will find, I suspect, that it is those blacks who have more privilege in the world that most have to “teach” their children about the realities of racism. For kids in the hood, like she and I, that education was a natural part of our lives. For my kids, who live in white suburb, teaching them about race is much more explicit than my parents ever were with me.

  9. I grew up in a military family, and that made me kind of different from kids that grew up in “all-Black” neighborhoods. I was often the “only one” in class. My parents didn’t talk about race or cultural differences that I could remember. Therefore, I always had a “can-do” spirit and I felt comfortable around people, except other Black people. Inside, you know that you’re Black (culturally), but other Black people have a way of letting you know that you are not Black enough! Now, I’ve never wanted to be anything other than who I am culturally. No choosing white dolls for me. I had two Baby Tender Loves and the white one was always in the bed sleep. :-)

    If Eve can do one thing, that is to instill confidence at a young age, and ensure that her children make something of themselves intellectually. The confidence should not derive from ethnic roots. You can see that with the proud ethnic Chechens who bombed Boston. In their sad demise, the Muslim community, Russia, and their own family have all abandoned their dumb asses and the statement they wanted to make about being proud ethnic Chechens. Anyway, confidence from having purpose and a vision goes a lot further than one based on ethnic roots.

    The one thing I cannot stand is watching Black folks become quiet, docile, or afraid to speak up in business or job situations. All of the bravado, machismo, bossiness,sassiness, know-it-all, self-pride, Black pride, feistiness, balls, assertiveness, aggressiveness, Bible knowledge, whatever you want to call it – false confidence – seems to go right out the window for many of us on our jobs. Some of these descriptions seem negative, but honed properly, they are leadership strengths.

    I get what Eve wants to do with raising colorblind children, but maybe that’s an odd word for today. Perhaps raising children that are a force to reckoned with for the future is a better way of putting it.

    Guaranteed, the Black children of today won’t be just contending with the “white man” in the next 20 years. Nope, in 2033 they will really be contending with the “brown man” and the “yellow man” who are ready to displace us and have no intentions of joining us in any fight for equality gained through any government programs.

    The realities of racism…psh! There won’t be any use in teaching the realities of racism. That will never be a battle won except through economics. Besides, why drill into a child’s heads that they may not get selected for the school play, can’t play with particular kids, may not get invited to sleepovers, may not go swimming, may get lower grades, may get talked to roughly, may not receive the best school counseling for college, may get left behind on a school trip, may not get a picture with Mickey Mouse, etc – all because there was some form of racism or matter related to the color of their skin. That’s depressing.

  10. Yes, Yes, Yes

  11. Good article overall. I don’t think Eve is saying she wants her children to ignore and not honor their bloodlines and hertiage. I think she was meaning “color-blind” as in; she does not want her children to subscribe their attitude, personality, and value system to majority one race. Some interracial children grow up choosing to associate their social sense of reality to either white or black. Eve is saying she wants her children to learn and honor both black and white equally. Not giving favortism to one or the other.

    There is plenty of racism in Europe, thus, society is going to act upon them like it does anyone else metamessages trying to force them into making a choice. It’s one of the most difficult experiences interracial children face in today’s society- feeling forced to give favoritism to one or the other. I have siblings who are interracial: black father/white mother. My sister married an Asian man and they have two children together. My sister makes sure both my nephew and niece are raised to be colorblind learning and honoring both their African and Asian hertiages.

    I am clearly black, however, my mother raised me to be colorblind in the essence of learning all cultures and honoring all cultures. Since God careless about color, it’s not absurd to want to give honor to all heritages, instead of giving favoritism to the color you were born with.

    Racism is something we can not control, and I don’t Eve is trying to deny or help her children avoid it. She is simply stating she wants her kids to honor all of their heritages and treat each equal as one.

  12. I was raised colorblind. My mother was a refugee whose father fled a tyrannical colonialist regime in Africa more than 80 years ago. I did not learn about race issues until I started reading magazines and saw Eisenhower send troops to help some kids get into school. I still did not know what race was. The old books I liked reading talked about race as an ethnicity, not a divide that adults tried, yes, tried to teach me. I had already learned that teachers lied with we had nuclear bomb drills. In school, some kids had darker brown skin that others. Everybody had brown skin, some people were lighter, some were darker. If that is the world Eve wants for her kids, I say go for it. As I got older I noticed that people really got hung up on what they called race. I heard the words that people used, words that would have gotten me a bar of soap in my mouth… from my mother. When I was much older, I finally decided I wanted to go to a university. Much of what I studied was about what makes people tick. My mom had told me to be proud of who I was, so I studied the different ethnic groups that I knew I was descended from. One of the was the first people in “modern times” to have an apartheid set of laws encoded and used against them. We could not even teach our children to read, speak our native tongue, or marry outside our ethnic group. That was in 1366, the Statutes of Kilkenny. It was a terrible thing to read about, and I do not believe people have yet recovered. I have ‘kinky’ hair, although the weather has a lot to do with that. Nevertheless, I have been called the N word more times that I could ever sit down and count. It’s strange. I have usually been attracted to woman who look nothing like me. Both they and I get harassed for that. People say they want equally, justice, and end to exploitation, but, that mostly seems to apply to people that they ethnically identify with. I finally married. Her skin was much darker than mine. My daughter, at first glance, looks more like me, and my son, at first glance looks more like his mother. People have called us names, my son taking more abuse than anyone in the family, and I was afraid for him when he rode the bus. He used to get threatened or attacked nearly every ride home from school. While I was in university, knowing the N word mean black, but, in another language, I studied the origins of the use of Black and White as “racial designations”. In human time, these are very recent things, the attempt to establish colors as racial markers only getting into the real public about mid eighteenth century. The word ‘Wight’ may well be why the English confused white with that word. It has nothing to do with ethnicity or skin tone. All that being said, I am a strong believe in what some people call miscegenation. I think that if we are not mixed, then maybe we are inbreds. Frankly, I would rather be a mutt. I could go on for days about slave trading, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and the terrible results of these things. For instance I know the percentage of West Eurasian slave owners in the Antebellum South and North, as well as Native American slave owners and African slave owners. In all cases, there was brutality. Terrible things happened. In all cases, the slave owning group was a very small percentage of the overall population. The group owning the least amount of slaves in the United States was the Native Americans, then the Africans, and then the mostly English and Dutch, Spanish,and French, of the group I call West Eurasians. We need to know our own history much better than we do. Africans became the slaves of choice for the same reasons jobs disappear from this country, the bottom line. Overall, they had better immune systems than the Native Americans, the Irish, the various Eurasian convict slaves, because so many of them already had some immunity to Black-water Fever, malaria, small pox, measles, and dozens of other ailments. Average life expectancy was 3-5 years longer. Profit, or should I say greed, was the driving force of slavery. All of us know, that if our eyes are open, that slavery and genocide, along with its cousin, ethnic cleansing, continue. For me, being as color blind as possible has been very rewarding. You meet so many nice people, live with them, love them. Why, really, why, it it such a terrible thing to be colorblind, as long as we really study and teach our histories. The way I figure, it is the only chance humans have left. Racialist thinking, or even ethnocentricity, must become a part of our past. Viva ‘la difference’, only please remember, we are all shades of brown.

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