That Ain’t Your Mama!

That ain’t your mama…If I had a nickel for every time I was told this, from as early as I can remember, I would be one wealthy woman.  I first became aware of my difference in the way I looked at an early age.  Sometimes when we would go to the store when I was a toddler, our trip would end with mama grabbing me by the arm and us leaving the store with mama scowling.  I would wonder what did I do wrong.  I kept my hands to myself, like she always told us, and I didn’t ask for anything.  But still she was mad.  It was later when I became old enough to look outward, that I realized mama was not mad at me, but at the people who stared at us.  She was just tired of the staring.  Once, I even remember mama saying, “Yes!  She is mine!” with a controlled degree of anger, while once again sweeping me up and rushing out of the store.

Mom and I as a baby
Me in my mama’s lap, along with my sister and brother in 1952.
My mom's lap is a comforting place, even today!
My mom’s lap is a comforting place, even today!

In our family, including cousins and Aunts and uncles, we saw a little bit of everything from the lightest light to the darkest dark in skin color, and straight to kinky in hair texture.  And often this is the case in almost all black families.  But as I grew in age and my circle of friends began to grow, the differences and the values people put on those difference became more apparent.  I began to feel very uncomfortable and uneasy around people, always having to explain that I was not adopted, and yes, we all had the same mother and father.

I had relatives who would beg my mama to let them bring me home.  Mind you I had a sister and 3 brothers and never did they ask to bring any of them home.  But to this day, I thank God for the mother He gave me.  She would say “If you take one, you have to take them all”, knowing full well that was not going to happen.

In forming early friendships, kids would tell me I was adopted.  They would look at me and mama and say “She ain’t your mama”.  I always was told that I didn’t belong in my family.  After hearing it so much as I got a bit older, I even began to wonder, until I realized in the 1950‘s, not a white person in the world would allow a black family to adopt a white child.  So in a twisted way, that gave me comfort.  But then I found myself developing a hard shell and a low tolerance for teasing and for what I know now, is ignorance.

Me and my siblings at the Lincoln Park Zoo back in the day.
Me and my siblings at the Lincoln Park Zoo back in the day.

Back then,  I was told I was too white or I didn’t belong and I would cry.  That is until my daddy had had enough.  He definitely was from the school of hard knocks, which you will see in my additional posts, and he did not believe in coddling us.  He was a wonderful provider and I knew he loved us, but he did not coddle.  So when I would go to him and cry, he would say “if you ever let anyone make you cry over something so stupid, I will give you something to cry about.” I knew he meant it,  so I began to stop crying outwardly and started fighting back.  If anyone teased me, I would beat them up, pure and simple.  That did not stop the hurt, which I know now, I repressed.   I think it got to the point where I fought at least once a week.  And thus began my days of becoming a fighter for those who couldn’t fight back for themselves.  I hated teasing and I hated the feeling you felt when you are treated as an outsider.  Fighting, not physically but with words, is something I still do today.  I will always side with those who are victimized or bullied or threatened.

I would like to say I got a better handle on my skin color, but truly, I have not.  It is still a big issue with me today.  I will be sharing more feelings on this whole “color thing”  in blog postings to come because whether we want to admit it or not, this whole color thing still is an issue today, not only across the races but within as well.


  1. Your blog is so refreshing and I am enjoying reading it with my cup of coffee! I love the pictures. This blog reminds me of the common misconceptions regarding black families. My family also has a variety of shades of color. My mother often told the story of a day when she had to take public transportation. She said that as she walked up the stairs of the bus, she had my brother and my sister holding hands, while she carried me in her arms. My brother is one shade, my sister was a much darker shade, and then there was me ( I was the baby who would not be given to my mother by the nurses in the nursery because I could not have possibly been her child!) Anyway….as my mother boarded the bus,the driver looked at her and looked at the three of us. My mom said she just shook her head and said “Yes, and they are all mine!” She knew exactly what he was thinking!!! I bet there are many stories like this in every black family. This would be a nice place for your readers to share similar encounters! You have some wonderful topics that should generate a lot of dialogue! I can’t wait to read your future posts!!!


    • Thanks Michele! I am so glad you are enjoying it. You are so right. There are countless stories among black families with similar experiences. I like you, was not brought to my mom right away in the hospital, when I was born because they thought I was white. I think my mom said they were totally puzzled and didn’t know what to do. My gosh! Well I have a thousand more experiences to share, so buckle up, my friend. You are going to get an earful! LOL!


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