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21 July 2011



No, I'm absolutely not at all offended, just needed some clarification, and you answered a number of questions. Maybe I should have just asked those questions to begin with instead of getting all Auntie on you.
Anyway, as I said, I don't really know, because I wasn't there, how much my brother has taught you about Gibbs/Bott/and all the other on his side people.
If I ever veer into that generic whiteness, please smack me upside the head. I will totally admit I have no basis for any kind of real understanding of what childhood or teenagehood or adulthood is like for any person of color. I just want to hear from smart, funny, introspective people like you about who you are and how you got there.
I'm not sure what it feels like, but not a slight, really. Just a little puzzlement. Keep writing about this whole thing. I think it's important to look at it, poke it, bounce it up and down, turn it inside out a little.
I also don't want to offend anyone, most especially not you.
It's interesting. My daughter is half Greek, but that culture is such a different thing, maybe it's because it's European or something. She is dark-skinned, and has been asked if she has Asian heritage. I've been asked that. I'm honestly not sure how to answer that. Okay, yeah, I know, she's not Asian, but it's like people somehow need to know that, or if she Hispanic, but when they learn she's half Greek, they say "Oh, well okay then...." Yeah, what does that mean?
Anyway, not to ramble...thanks for an honest, thoughtful response. I love hearing about you and your family. I wish my siblings would blog more, because I really miss being near and being able to be a real part of their lives.
Love you,

Mommy (not yours, but theirs)

As you say, Gibbsness is separate from socially constructed "whiteness." I would not have nor have I ever denied being a Gibbs. I haven't equated being a Gibbs with being "just" white. I apologize for offending if my post seems to suggest that.

I've know more about my Gibbs/Bott family tree than I'll ever know about the Reyes one. I have spent time with my Gibbs family AND my Reyes family. It is not one or the other. Or one at the expense of the other. We live in a both/and world, where there is always room at the table. And for me to have been raised Filipino or a Reyes or to raise my daughters as such does not deprive them of access to their Gibbsness or, even, their whiteness. It merely provides them with space to be proud of and accept who they are entirely. Looking at the whole of society, I don't see too many people who are ashamed to be or have had damaging experiences because they are white. The same can not be said by most people of color, whose unemployment, incarceration, earnings and education statistics as well as representation in media leave much to be desired.

As you also mention, I wouldn't deprive my daughters of spending time with my Grandma, or my dad or (remember) beadle's parents, or Super Auntie M or you and Lindsay. And on the other hand, exposing my children to Filipino culture has little to do with spending time with Filipino family. Because of my mom's family dynamics, my daughters and I have spent more time with my Gibbs relatives in the past fifteen years than with any Reyes relatives (lovely and crazy though they may be-I know you're reading!) So, if my father's decision to focus on Filipino-ness or Reyes-ness feels like a slight to Gibbs-ness, that is frankly not evidenced in my own relations to my family.

You may disagree. I feel, that by drawing attention to aspects of their heritage that their teachers won't, I am only adding to the list of reasons-Gibbs, Reyes, Beadle or otherwise-that they have to be proud of who they are.

In terms of gender and interests, I heed your warning and will do my best to listen to listen to my children. I just think my listening ears work a little better when they're asking to make the couch into a pirate ship instead of inquiring when the princess dress will come out of "the laundry."


I totally understand and love that my brother and your mother raised you with so much awareness and love of Filipino traditions and culture.
I don't know how much (and I've taken this up with Joel, too) "Gibbsness" he's stuffed you with. Gibbsness is entirely separate from Whiteness, as Reyesness is separate from Filipinoness.
I'm sure, as is evidenced by some of your personality and characteristics, the Gibbsness can't help but be there.
I do also understand how White culture is so predominant, and that pink is a girl color and everyone assumes stuff about you that might or might not be true (like that you must love vampire books because you are a young teen girl). I guess what I take some exception to is that the Gibbs part of you is relegated to being "just" white. That part of you is a whole long line of real people who lived and breathed, and still do, some of them.
It's your choice as a parent to teach your kids your values and your ideals. It's your kids' choice to figure out what fits them, eventually. Like when they're 30 and have a job...or maybe earlier.
I'm glad you take the time to see Grandma, and to get to know her. People are who they are through lots of complex influences. Who they lived with, where they grew up, what kind of people they were around when they were young.
I found that raising Lindsay to like what she likes (she still loves Pokemon and dragons and brandishing a sword now and then) was more a matter of my being interested in what she thought and said about these things, and also making those superhero capes with the logo she drew and finding swords and scabbards. She wouldn't have liked pink foofy things even if I had provided them for her, which I didn't. I think we should respect and listen to our kids when they talk about stuff...even if it is about a Pokemon character and you have no idea what she's talking about.
Just listen, and try to figure out what it is about this that they like...and ask them what they like about it. Could be something you would never have guessed.

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