Oreo biscuits and bizzare baby dreams

One of the upsides of pregnancy is really detailed and very odd dreams. I’ve been insulting people in very poor French, working as a secret agent, a vampire, and last night consumed a massive buffet of sweets, all from the comfort of my own bed.

One of the most vivid dreams I had involved the baby being born, which was great and then we took the baby to meet Mr Outlines’ relatives. So far, so good, I’m there on my very best behaviour pulling my most convincing demure-good-girl-not-like-those-bad-western-girls-you-hear-about-honest face when someone turns to me and says “I hear you’ve decided to call the baby Oreo, after the biscuits”.

“What?! NOOO!” I scream and to the horror of the assembled relatives, I have a massive temper tantrum, the kind where you bring your fists up and kneel on the floor with rage.

I woke up and my first words to my husband were, “Don’t call the baby Oreo”. Since then, that’s been the baby’s nickname.

I am aware that Oreo has another meaning see here (warning: links to Urban Dictionary, so some of the  definitions may be highly offensive.), related to racial perceptions, which brings me to the fact that baby Oreo will be mixed race, insha Allah. Racialicious is one of my favourite blogs and lately, they’ve been doing a lot of features on mixed race identity, which has really got me pondering.

Genetics are highly unpredictable. I am super-duper only slightly darker than an albino pale with blue eyes, my family are all pretty similar. Mr Outlines is olive skinned. He looks Arab, but for many western people, looking Arab means dressing like a Saudi and being in the vincity of a camel, so they often think he’s Spanish or Greek. He’s in the midpoint as far as skin colour goes in his family. It makes me sad that what colour Oreo comes out as, will affect his/her life.

I don’t write this to sound colour struck, I honestly don’t care, I just want a healthy baby, insha Allah. I’m the sort who’s into forward planning and I want to be ready, insha Allah. I grew up white, in a majority white country, likewise Mr Outlines grew up within the racial (and religious) majority in his country. For us, childhood racism happened to other people, we don’t have those experiences. Oreo may have very different experiences and I don’t want to be one of those white parents who go “Oh don’t be silly, people aren’t racist, you’re just being too sensitive”. I guess a key staring point is to ensure that Oreo feels comfortable with both sides of their heritage and sees how Islam is a unifying factor and how it relates to the other areas of your life.

I know several people reading this are in interracial marriages and have mixed race children, so I’d love to hear your opinions on this.

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13 Responses

  1. I woke up and my first words to my husband were, “Don’t call the baby Oreo”.

    HAHAHAHA

    Blooming marvellous! I am sure Oreo will be a very beautiful child, no matter what colour he/she is, insha’Allah. I often find mixed race children to be among the cutest, masha’Allah, cos they have the kind of looks that are rarely seen in single race communities. The artistry in Allah’s creation knows no bounds!

  2. You’re in the UK, right? Depends where you are there. Or at least it did 20 years ago when I was a nipper.

  3. Salaam Alaikum,

    iMuslim – Insha Allah! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Amnesiac – Yes, you’re right. Where we live currently is extremely ethnically diverse, so there will be less hopefully problems here.

  4. From a US perspective, we will have mixed-race children, as Ricardo is considered non-white according to our way of categorizing the world.

    Since Rico is Brazilian, he’d be lumped into the Latino category, but there are very, very few Brazilians who would self-describe as Latino. However, he’d definitely not fall into the white category, especially not on any Federal government surveys!

    At any rate, Rico’s grandfather was Portuguese, and he’s now obtained Portuguese citizenship as well. So he’s 1/4 Iberian, and likely a bit of Moorish mixed in given Portugal’s history. The other 3/4 are typically Brazilian – a mix of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Black and Indian in unknown proportions.

    As for my side, I’m a mix of Italian, Swiss, English and German – typical American mix.

    Funny, though I’m the unarguably white half of the couple, my skin is much darker than Rico’s. He has dark brown eyes and black hair, with very fair skin. As you know, I’m a sort of middle-toned Mediterranean looking person, with grayish eyes. I often wonder about what our kids will look like as well!

    I’m sure our children will eventually suffer more from being mixed-culture than being mixed-race. Having American heritage is a special thing to come to terms with when you live internationally from the get-go, as I imagine our litte one(s) will.

  5. Safiya,

    We had these conversations before both of our kids were born. They could have gone any direction. My wife’s grandfather was very dark, basically black. One of SILs is like this as well, but my MIL is VERY light as is my oldest SIL. Manal is pretty light herself.

    Either way, the sad fact is, these kids will have issues with other people. Both of my boys, it turns out, will be able to pass for white if they want to. They are very light, dark blond hair and hazel eyes.

    Their names will give them away, of course. So to whites they might be considered Arabs when they find out their ancestry, to Arabs they might not be considered Arab enough.

    We will try to give them the ability to walk both cultures and societies well, teaching them Arabic as well as English will be a part of this. Arabs will sometimes laud them for being so white, we heard this when they were born. White skin is prized in Middle Eastern society, but like we said above their authenticity as “real Arabs” will always be in question as well.

    We cannot get past the failures of peoples and cultures, what we can do is make sure our children are intelligent and strong enough to deal with it.

  6. Salaam Alaikum,

    Thanks for such detailed answers, I really appreciate it!

    Ali – Racial categorisation is a strange thing. My husband generally ticks the ‘Other’ box over here as there is no box for Arab, and although he is technically Asian, in the U.K, asian generally means desi.

    Abu Sinan – Yes, I think our road ahead will be pretty similar to yours, insha Allah. Your boys do fit the mixed race = equals gorgeous stereotype very well though, masha Allah :).

    The love of white skin vs being a ‘real’ Arab is a strange factor in the Middle East. I can’t believe the fuss that gets made over having blue eyes, especially as like you, I don’t believe whiter = prettier.

  7. hey safiya, did not know you were pregnant… congratulations…. I Pray he/ she/ oreo is healthy and a source of happiness and good for you and your husband ISA.

    as for the interracial thing, you do not know anything about the future, so put your trust in God and do not waste your time and effort worrying about the future when it is in the hands of Allah.

    anyways, ma shaa Allah you are a strong woman and ISA will be a good mother, and oreo having a mother like that will help you ISA.

    Congrats again :)

  8. Salaams Sis:

    I have always been confused about racial designations. My father (Jewish) was very dark and olive-skinned. He could pass easily for an Israeli. Jews and Arabs are ethnic cousins. Is being Arab a “race” or an “ethnicity”? Is being a Jew “race” or “ethnicity”? Ya Allah … so much confusion.

    And it seems that few people want to claim the designation “white” lol.

    Mabrook on the pregnancy, sis!

  9. Oreo? Congradulations on your pregnancy and may it be an easy one with an easy delivery as well, Inshallah. I am hitting 7 months now with Baby #2, Inshallah another girlie girl.

    I think you are so in the righ to think about this stuff. Once a person’s racism brainwashing has been erased (a la racism ended in the West in the 60s, we should be colorblind, etc, you know the jibe), and you have become clued in to why and how exactly racism screws up the world, it is so daunting and depressing.

    I grew up white but so called “ethnic” because of my father’s heritage…I have written on how that dual identity and isolation from his heritage and being “the only one” affected me. I think for me lacking a community and being otherized with innocent (or sometimes not so innocent) comments and so forth really shaped my personality…I think the most important thing is to give my own bicultural and biracial kids strong, frequent, involved exposure to a racially diverse and active Muslim community. That way they will never feel not “Pakistani enough” or “not white enough” but instead be confident as Muslims who know other Western Muslims, brown people, biracial people, people who are part white and part of an Asian American subculture because culturally my kids will never be like a person born and raised in Pakistan, and your kids will be navigating being British Arab and not raised in the ME—at least for me, that is important to remember.

    I don’t know how to talk to my kids about racism. I have no idea how I will do that. I feel hurt and hypersensitive to all of the racialization I experience as a hijabi. I get irritated when white non-Muslim people go goo-goo ga-ga over my daughter because I can see now how that is racialized, how they are uncomfortable with our apparent otherness, and cover it with aweing at her cuteness and trying to pet her.

    I dunno, it just gets really complicated, but I guess we just go thru life and deal with whatever comes. But I sure wish it were simpler to teach my daughter to handle a racist world.

  10. this is crazy that I read this the day after my husband and I were sitting on different websites trying to figure out, genetically where the statistical probability of our future childrens’ eye/skin color will be. I’m like you, one shade above see-through; and hubby is a mid-range Egyptian, which means
    he’s dark but not REALLY dark. I know its a probability that our kids will not have blue eyes, and its basically impossible- except through direct intervention from Allah- that they will be blond. All we’re hoping for is light-eyes as both he and I think children with olive-toned skin and blue eyes are drool-worthy. We’ve actually been told, jokingly of course, by his brother that he will not accept any children from us unless they have light eyes.

    I’m not concerned about racism from the outside, I think people will still be working too hard to get over the Muslim thing to then further go on and minimalize them racially as well. I think they will have more issues internally:
    what am I? Egyptian? American? Who do I act like? Think like? and so on.
    This is what I worry about.

    And I also worry a bit about my husband and his family and how they interact with our kids. It is perfectly possible that due to varying gene mixing per kid one of them may turn out to be lighter than the other one, or may turn out to have the light eyes and good hair. I’m afraid that preference will be given to the child with the lightest coloring, and I don’t think thats fair.

    Everything is in the hands of Allah, and I will love my children any way shape or form. Where is your hubby from again? I’m thinking he’s from north africa, but another part is thinking he’s Syrian. I can’t remember.

    InshAllah your pregnancy goes well, and I think Oreo is an adorable knickname. Dreams come for a reason. :D

  11. Mah Brook on the pregnancy, Mash Allah!
    I’m going to make certain that my babies know that Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWAT) grandsons married women from a variety of different racial backgrounds. Imam Hussein married a Persian slave to free her from her captors, another of the Twelve Imams married a Berber slave woman from North Africa to free her from her captors, a third one married a Nubian (black) African slave woman for the same purpose and the eleventh Holy Imam married a Roman slave, also to rescue her from her oppressors. Although most of the Imams had other wives as well, each of these four women then became the mother of her husband’s successor in the Imamate. These are facts that are often ignored by Arab nationalists. It makes me feel good that I can tell my baby boys these historic facts while they are still on my knee.

  12. You sound like you’re off to a great start.

  13. Addendem: insha Allah.

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