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Opinion

Straight Up | A letter to the just-born, mixed-race baby


Zach Khadudu is a Kenyan by birth and a journalist by choice. He is a commentator and an activist with a passion for refugee and human rights. He may share a heritage with a certain US president, but his heart lies elsewhere – in the written and spoken word.

June 1, 2014
06:59

by Zach Khadudu



The future is ours, Baby

This is my letter to the just-born, mixed-race baby – prescribed reading, I hope, for a progressive future. 

Welcome to the world, Cutie! To Denmark, to be specific. By virtue of your mum being a Dane and your father being a foreigner, you have to decide where you want to belong. 

That is the law, Baby. And the law is a blind ass. Never mind that you are being born in a country that cherishes individual freedoms. When it comes to citizenship, your individual freedom is null and void. 

You cannot decide to have dual citizenship to embrace both your cultures. The choice to be fully Danish and fully your ‘father’s nationality’ is inapplicable. 

You have to decide, Little One: be a Dane or remain a ‘foreigner’ like your dad. It is a tough choice for a zero-year-old to make, but when the men and women at Christiansborg speak, their word is law.

Transcend the labels
You are being born in a beautiful country, Tot. But not everything is as rosy as it may seem. I wish I could promise you paradise as you start your life’s journey, but I’m obliged to inform you of the reality. 

As a ‘brown’ kid in a predominantly white country, you are bound to raise some eyebrows. Note, that you are being born in a society that is obsessed with labels.

At best you will be labelled half-caste or mulatto, at worst they will call you neger, despite you being as fully white as you will be fully African. 

I urge you to transcend the labels and live your life. Your mixed race does not subjugate you to any half measures; rather it will make you doubly rich in the cultural heritages of both your parents’ races.

Walk with pride 
You are beautiful. Raise your head high, your chest out and shoulders wide and walk with pride. Never mind the curious hands that will want to feel the texture of your hair because it looks different. 

They are but a few ignorant elements, and ignorance is a hard malady to cure.

Note also, that sometimes your strange last name rather than your credentials and competencies will determine whether you get the job or not.

If lady luck smiles on you, however, and you grow to be a platinum-selling musician, famous footballer, successful captain of industry or world-class athlete, they will forget your race and fully claim you as a Dane (think of Wilson Kipketer, black as night and full-fledged Dane).

Otherwise you will have to stand up to be counted.

Listen to your inner voice
Finally, remember to smile (but don’t fake it) as it is one of the happiest countries in the world you are being born into. Millions of kids are not as lucky as you are – just think of those born in Syria, kidnapped in Nigeria, shot in Pakistan and locked up in asylum camps in Denmark.

They too are children, just not as lucky and free as you are. They are slaves of draconian laws and brutal orthodoxy.

It is still a beautiful world, Babe-In-Arms, and not everyone is mean. Grow to overcome the trivialities of ill-intentioned laws that deny you dual citizenship and skewed minds obsessed with labels.

Instead, grow to find your place in the universe and your voice in the important conversations of our time: justice, poverty, globalisation, climate change and human rights.

These, and the dignity of your humanity, are more vital than the colour of your skin or texture of your hair.




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