Friday, June 20, 2008

Beautiful


Sometimes I stare at her when she’s not looking. I’m in awe of her beauty. Her perfect features... her mouth, her cheeks, her nose, her eyes. The ringlets in her hair and her widow’s peak. Her beautiful skin. Sometimes I have trouble taking my eyes off of her. She’ll usually notice my stare and flash me a beautiful, loving smile, and if I’m sitting on the couch she’ll climb up next to me and snuggle into my arms. She’ll then play with my hair and kiss me on the cheek.

She knows she is beautiful, but in a matter of fact way. Growing up in a family that does not speak Amharic, she still knows the Amharic word for beautiful. Konjo. It’s a word she heard a lot as a baby in Ethiopia and a word she still hears now, because her oldest brother uses it as a nickname for her. While she was still in Ethiopia, she spent time in the hospital for pneumonia. Even her discharge papers from the hospital stated “beautiful infant female”.
How did I end up with such a beautiful daughter? I’m absolutely certain I could not have biologically created a daughter this beautiful. Her beauty shines from well beneath the exterior. Her intelligence, her joy, her friendliness, her innocence, her nurturing spirit, her warmth... all of those make her even more beautiful.

My good friend, who is African American told me that beauty transcends everything. In a world where racism still exists, will her beauty give her an advantage? My friend thinks it will. I don’t know. But I need to prepare her with the assumption that her beauty won’t give her a get-out-of-racism-free card.

How do I look into her beautiful, precious face, and those beautiful loving eyes and explain racism to her? That is a conversation I’m dreading even more than the Birds & the Bees.

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