Posts Tagged ‘Redheads’

Who gets to define you? My first step into studying Buddhism asked this very question in a different way – how would you describe yourself? Easier maybe than a definition. I’m a nana and mother, a writer, a wife, stringer etc…easy. These are the simple ways, stating what you DO in the world rather than who you are!

An old friend from high school was visiting this weekend, and though our hair has turned a pale blondish white, we stood out in high school because we were both redheads. Being a “Redhead” has a certain cache. But when I was little I hated my hair, I wanted to be like everyone else, I wanted to fit in and belong. I wanted black hair like Snow White!

Edie and I were also both raised as the one and “Only” child in our families. Does that define us?

I woke up this morning to National Geographic’s special edition on Race through an Instagram video. They contend that science defines us by our DNA, but the environment, our culture defines us by the color of our skin. Their mission is to make us re-examine that paradigm; their example was a pair of fraternal twin girls, about ten years old.

The April edition of the magazine, The Race Issue, features a pair of black and white fraternal twin sisters from the United Kingdom, Marcia and Millie Biggs, on the cover (more here). The Biggs twins on the cover are a catalyst for readers to rethink what they know about race. The full issue is available now at natgeo.com/TheRaceIssue.

Now you know, and I know my DNA because I spit in a tube and sent my sample to Ancestry. Although I really didn’t need to know I was almost 100% Irish, because the priest at Sacred Heart School always told me I had the map of Ireland on my face! And I was mortified whenever he picked me out in class, although I’m sure it was meant as a compliment.

When our L’il Pumpkin was born with my exact shade of flaming strawberry blonde hair I was determined to help him feel proud about his carrot top. Well either that or ignore it altogether. But how will his ghostly white skin affect his journey through life? Will his schoolmates tease him when he’s putting on sunscreen before playing baseball? Will he yearn to have brown skin like some of his friends?

I remember when we visited Duke on the Bride’s college tour, and the Rocker, only 13 at the time, watched a group of African students walk by in colorful traditional dress. He thought it was so cool. Isn’t this what we want for our children, to enlarge their cultural influences, to expand their minds beyond a neighborhood of white privilege.

With our nation so divided – by political party, by religion, by geography – I wonder if we can turn inward to see what in fact we all share. Has Mr T unleashed this underbelly of white-neo-nazi terror in order to make us choose sides? Can we reject that? I choose to embrace our common sense of decency and civility, our humanity. We ALL want better schools for our children, schools without guns and active shooter drills. We ALL deserve comprehensive healthcare.

America, in our many shades of white/beige/brown/black, is at a tipping point. On the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s murder, I remember marching in the streets of Boston with my black armband. I was a college student then, and I would have defined myself as a “Dancer!”

Here is our superhero Spiderman. I can’t wait until he’s old enough to see Black Panther.


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Just sent my friend from high school, the only other redhead in our class, a Huffington Post article titled “Being a Redhead: Why it’s a Love-Hate Relationship.” It talks about the common theme of feeling different, even scorned by our peers.

For most of us Titian-types, we would have gladly dyed our hair a darker camouflage color. I can remember desperately wanting black hair in Sacred Heart School; I felt like a beacon for any nun’s wrath sitting there in my dark maroon (think blood colored) uniform, hands clasped together on desk, a bow tie at my neck, with my halo of strawberry blonde hair. The Post author, Katherine Bindley, takes the historic view: “…red hair is often the mark of sin. The roster of corrupted redheads includes Eve, after she had been seduced by Satan, Cain, after he offed his brother, and everyone’s favorite disciple, Judas. Redheaded Mary Magdalenes are also common, emphasizing what a harlot Jesus had the compassion to befriend.” There is even a term coined in the UK for hatred of redheaded people – gingerism.

Cut to today. It was my man, Bob, coming up out of anesthesia after yet another shoulder surgery, who turned to the recovery room nurse and asked for his wife, “The Redhead,” in the waiting room. At that point my golden highlights had pretty much morphed into an ashy grey white, and I decided to turn back the clock and embrace my redheadedness. I dove wantonly right into the depths of red high and lowlights, wanting to look more or less like myself for the wedding photos. Will the true Gingers among us please standup! Could we reds become extinct soon? I was the only child, out of six, to have red hair. My Mother, the Flapper, was a blonde. But my Grandmother was a redhead. Here is the genetic mumbo jumbo from the website How Stuff Works:

“Red hair is caused by a mutation in the MC1R gene. It’s also a recessive trait, so it takes both parents passing on a mutated version of the MC1R gene to produce a redheaded child. Because it’s a recessive trait, red hair can easily skip a generation. It can then reappear after skipping one or more generations if both parents, no matter their hair color, carry the red hair gene.” All is not lost! The Rocker’s beard is mahogany and the Groom, being part Irish…it’s time to take back our red roots. Claim the color ladies, bottle or not. Look at our cousin, the angelic redheaded Flower Girl. It’s time to teach our children that different=delightful.

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