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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Pii Mai Lao 2014 With The Laotian Commotion Family

As much as I hate visiting my family, the food and reasons we usually get together make
up for all the crazy Lao-ness. Pii Mai Lao 2014 was an obligatory event where I must exploit my children to such culture so off we went for the entire weekend. It will forever be something that will be a tradition no matter the hassle and no matter the unworthiness of the time and energy. This year was just as nuts and we didn’t even get to do a water fight.

Now that I’m rocking the Two Toddlers At A Time life, it’s even more Lao’d and crazy. Throw in even more Lao’der and crazier family members and I am ready to drive five hours back home. The festivities were pretty timid on Saturday and we were exhausted just from the day and I’m not talking about going to the Wat (Lao Buddhist temple). My family is just e x h a u s t i n g. So, we drove five hours just to go to the Wat and eat overpriced Laotian pho. It was a stark contrast to the first few years of Lao New Year.

Lao new year 2011 humnoy

Pii Mai Lao 2011 was Humnoy’s very first New Year. He was barely a month old and I drove my crazy postpartum ass down there just to start this tradition to be a part of my cultural renewal process for my mixed family. It’s that important to me and I have done so ever since. I did it the following year when Humnoy toddled and danced around. The next year was when our family added a new member to celebrate the New Year. Lanoy was a little older than Humnoy was at his first Pii Mai.

This year. . . This year was nucking futs. Have you ever had to disarm wide-eyed destructo-ddlers from touching Buddhist relics? Well, it’s not only embarrassing but pretty fucking low key damning. Lao people love money and Lao New Year is no exception. Money is blessed and then donated to the Wat, monks and, in turn, the community’s only religious mainstay. You know who else loves money? Lao toddlers so they can try to rip it because paper. Please do check out GH as the Token White Guy Getting Buddhist Blessings.

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I love it all though. Lao’d and crazy and all. It’s the perfect and most annoying excuse to be with family. Lao New Year is all about family to me especially now with my own and I’m just going to continue on the crazy train.

Sabaidee Pii Mai, y’all. Sa. BAI. Dee.

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Does your family drive you Lao’d and crazy too?

Raising ‘Em Lao: Letting Your Biracial Kids Dance With The Other Culture

Perhaps the biggest perk of being raised bi-culturally is that it is double the fun. Lao culture has a strong footing in how I would like to raise the -Noys to experience the world but lest us not forget the other identity:

Photo courtesy Perfect Moments in Time Photography in Seattle, WA

Photo courtesy Perfect Moments in Time Photography in Seattle, WA

Humnoy and Lanoy are half-Caucasian (or white, whichever PC term you prefer) and I cannot forget that. I once heard that “Asian genes are strong” and I was vainly excited because that part of my identity is so strong for me. It has influenced every bit of life I intentionally plan for my kids down to their names. We live in America, the kids will have American friends, and we dominantly speak English in our home. If I wanted the kids to hear full conversations in Lao, we’d need at least another Lao-speaking person in the household. If I wanted the kids to learn to write in Lao, I’d need to have my mom teach them. If I wanted to let the kids embrace the songs of my people, I would need to stand through Lao lam (pronounced ‘lum’), a form of Lao folk music, and admittedly not particularly my favorite aspect of the Lao life. I just had to let it happen and it did in one moment with their dad.

What happens is a show of what I stereotypically place on the spectrum of “shit white people like.” I didn’t even realize that the Other Culture’s appreciation would come without such effort until one quiet evening after dinner when GH entertained the kids long enough for me to clean up. All GH did was turn on his white guy playlist to see first-hand how The Other Culture is strong:

Which aspect from which side of family is the strongest for you or kids?

For further reading, please go laugh and laugh at this Yahoo Answers thread: “White people songs