The Melanin Problem Runs Deep


seattle laos
For what seems like a cumulative two months out of the year in Seattle, the sun is actually shining without wind, rain, or some sort of mini natural disaster. I love the area we live in but the weather sucks for this desert girl. My hometown is a tumbleweed womb and it is hot for about 11.79 months out of the year. It was always hot and, if anything, we would always get a gnarly car tan. (Y’know when your left forearm gets all dark from driving?) Both thankfully and regretfully, we do not live in my hometown so my half-White/Lao children are pretty vitamin-deprived. Raising a biracial family in the Pacific Northwest means the weather literally rains on my race parade.

Raising bi-cultural/racial kids has been rewarding and interesting because of the push-pull of which genes they have. For those remaining 10 months out of the year, there is no doubt they are their father’s children especially Humnoy. With both -Noys, they looked much like me when as babies and Lanoy still does resemble me quite a bit. Would people think they were Asian, let alone Laotian? I never connected how anybody would always get confused when I told them I was ‘Asian’ when they didn’t know what ‘Laotian’ was. I got great grades in school, had a weird name, and many more stereotypes of a good Asian but still never fit in the mold of “Asian.” Forget my almond-shaped eyes, dark hair, wide nose, and all the prominent ethnic features; it was because my foremost characteristic is my skin tone. Thankfully, my children get the melanin problem too.

Summer’s here and Lao roots be so strong, I tell ya. It may have taken a couple decades of unlearning and self-acceptance but my skin color is no longer my problem. When people are paying to artificially and unsuccessfully attempt to reach the same color range as I have been born with then it’s society’s problem. My children may still experience the same problems for their presumed traits rather than their unique traits, physical or otherwise, but I hope their only problem is not having the appropriate weather to bask in the melanin from their strong, deep Lao roots.


Mixed family melanin
rat tail by the pool

What physical trait did you hate and have since embraced?

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11 thoughts on “The Melanin Problem Runs Deep

  1. I have little “halfsie” cousins (that’s my name for them), and in the summer their skin tone is hard to describe…kind of golden brownish? And their hair is close to auburn. Do your Lao relatives ever refer to the ‘Noys as “kee-nok”?

  2. My skin is chocolately. My kid’s skin is caramel. We say their melanin activates as soon it touches the sun because they tan right up. Love when that happens.

    I think the hair is the biggest thing. My hair was such a pain for me growing up. The maintenance is a bear. But I live it on my kid (the second one is only 6 months, so Baldy McGee). It’s funny how things you may not have appreciated about yourself are so treasured in your children. I love all of them totally because they’re my husband and me in one perfect package.

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