Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The legacy of Census2000

Either it's early-onset schizophrenia or cute baby nieces make me happy, but I've been smiling absurdly and silently narrating my activities ever since getting on the plane in Detroit: "Tia B is going to practice her presentation now. Auntie B could really use a pint of beer... I'm going to get on the bus, oh yes I am!" Etc, etc, etc.

Oy. There's a new addition to the voices in my head!

At any rate, Mi Hermana is already beginning to filter TV shows for her 2-month-old. (Sesame Street = good, very diverse, inclusive of all kinds of families, etc. My Bed Bugs, a local show on the local PBS channel = bad because only one character has eyes that aren't blue or green. Mi Hermana was particularly vehement about that last point... Note to self, make sure all future presents will not cause parental rant sessions...)

But we watched Shrek the Third for ourselves, though. It was terrible. I liked the first Shrek movie and tolerated the second, but the third was pretty bad! King Arthur, who is a fairy-tale high school geek, somehow inherits the kingdom of Far Far Awayland? And even Rupert Everett, reprising his role as the evil Prince Charming, couldn't get me to pay more attention to the film.

Of course, it was hilarious and ironic that in the film, Shrek and Fiona have kids, and there's a line where Shrek says all babies do is cry and poo (I think we all turned to stare at Harmony at that point...) But though it was highly relevant, it wasn't that great. I still like the original the best. Like The Matrix, the Shrek movies just keep getting worse.

Before I left the Wolverine State, however, I did guzzle quite a few glasses of wine and bottles of beer, accompanied by the new parents. (At one point I was even giving the baby her bottle while taking a swig from mine. Mi Hermana refused to take a picture, but allowed one of my near-empty steins to be photographed on a restaurant table with the sleeping baby in the background.)

We were drinking to the end of a family tradition, with the news that La Otra Hermana will not be following the Filipino tradition of the-mother's-maiden-name-as-child's-middle-name. Our surname is a hearty British one, and our other bro-in-law "doesn't like European names," and therefore doesn't want one as part of his kid's (though strangely is OK with his wife's....) Our nephew, due in late February, will have three long Samoan names, and we'll all have to learn the particular consonants of the South Pacific ("T" is not the same, for instance.) All of which in and of itself is cool, of course (Mi Hermana is, after all, a linguist), except for the fact that nobody on our Mom's side has ever not had the maternal surname as middle name. At least that we can trace. So La Madre is upset about this denial of her heritage's traditions. Mi Hermana and bro-in-law, los nuevos padres, on the other hand, are also disturbed that half the child's heritage isn't going to be reflected in the name.

Suffice to say, Nosotros Las Tres Hermanas, ourselves spanning the spectrum of what little mixed kids look like, have been yelling back and forth about "looking" multiracial, "ethnic" names, dominant cultural perceptions, internalized colonization and assimilation, the role of skin tone, and the rest of the gamut of identity politics. It is, of course, incredibly ironic that we're arguing about a Filipino tradition not being honored with a British name in a child who will be half Samoan New Zealander.

Meanwhile, I'll use any excuse to drink...

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