((Art by Grieta Butjankova))
Hello friends & happy Wednesday to you all! This week I wanted to talk about a topic close to my heart & important to my family as we raise our son….”raising a bi-racial child”
1. Of, for, or consisting of members of two races.
2. Having parents of two different races.
Multi-racial: composed of, involving, or representing various races
According to Census data, the population of multiracial children in the United States has grown from approximately 500,000 in 1970 to more than 6.8 million in 2000. The number of people of all ages who identified themselves as both white and black has soared by 134 percent since 2000 to 1.8 million people.
Among opposite-sex married couples, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000. In 2010, 18% of heterosexual unmarried couples were of different races (1.2 million couples).
I could go on for days with statistics & data but I would rather just tell you my thoughts.
Growing up in the 80’s & 90’s & attending a private school in Texas meant that I was one of the only “brown kids” in the school. Me & Jemeh Kalawa (R.I.P). He was one of my best friends in elementary & high school.
Back then, I knew I looked different, but I was never made to feel that way. Race didn’t come up in our school, I wasn’t singled out, made fun of, or taught to feel different because of my skin color. We were taught about Jesus, the Bible, being kind, & enjoying recess!
The first time I actually felt different or out of place because of my skin color was when someone made a comment to my mother (Caucasian) about adopting me. Someone had assumed that because of my color difference, I was adopted. It didn’t just happen once. If you took away our skin color difference & made us the same skin tone, my mother & I share a very strong resemblance. But for many, skin is the first thing that they see.
In high school, I had no problems fitting in & being around multi-racial, bi-racial & students of many colors & cultures. I was grateful for this. I never felt out of place or different….but by this age, I knew I was. I was referred to as “light skinned”, “mixed chick”, “white girl”, “curly sue” & many others.
I was fortunate enough throughout my life to not suffer any hate, anger, or resentment for my skin color. No one threatened my life, said evil things to me, or tried to hurt me. Ignorance? Yes! But not hate. Unfortunately, as we have seen in recent days many others have experienced hate. Many other kids have been targeted for their race, gender, sexuality, & it’s getting worse.
This is the world my son will grow up in.
It scares the hell out of me!
Even though my son is only 3 years old I worry all the time that his skin color will make him a target. That he will be judged, made fun of, or singled out for being mixed. That we might send him to a school where he won’t be “white enough” to fit in, or he will be told that he “talks white” like I was told.
In a world that has come so far & is so diverse, it is still a long way from accepting, loving, & embracing differences. Because of this, my husband & I have vowed to make our home a safe, fun, loving, uplifting & comfortable place for our son to grow up in. We will do our best to raise him with a sense of acceptance & pride for who he will be inside & out.
There are 5 specific things we have vowed to do in our home….
1. Tell him about his roots: It will be so important as my son gets older to show him pictures of his family on all sides & let him spend time with them as well. We want him to love & be proud that his grandma, his aunt, his uncle & cousins are still his family even though they are not the same color as he is. My son has Caucasian grandmothers, African American grandfathers, blonde haired, blue eyed aunts & uncles, & bi-racial aunts too!
Logan will probably not even be the same color as us, his parents. Right now he is a color blend of both my husband & I but a different color from the both of us. It’s important that he know WHY we are all different colors & to be taught how awesome that is!
2. Tell him not everyone will be nice & accepting…and that’s ok. There will come a time where someone will ask my son “what are you?” They will not realize that this is an ignorant statement & that their question sounds like he is a pet. Someone might call him a name because he is brown or has different hair & skin than they do. I want to teach my son that some people just don’t know & that it’s okay. In life we cannot avoid certain situations or encounters. Just like when someone asked my mom if she adopted me, someone might look at Logan as weird or different & that’s okay. We forgive them for not knowing & remain happy with who we are.
3. Give him diversity when we can (pick schools, neighborhoods, play centers, etc) that are diverse & accepting of all. We have a choice in where we live, work, play & socialize. We want to make the best choices we can to ensure our son is not in a hostile or stressful environment for his development.
4. Love him when he’s down-if one day Logan feels he doesn’t fit in, feels different, feels hurt, or weird; it’s our job as his parents to love him, listen to him, comfort him, & encourage him. May we never stop doing this for our baby boy.
5. Don’t make him choose–it’s important that we allow our son to create his own identity to where he feels most comfortable in. We do not need to make him choose what race he will identify with. Whether he wants to be called mixed or black. To us, he will always just be Logan & whenever he makes the decision to identify himself, we will accept his choice.
On a side note, I am already reading books about being mixed & bi-racial to my son. Although he cannot fully understand what I am saying, he will one day. Although he cannot tell who is who in the books, he can see the diversity & will one day ask questions. I will continue to read these type of books (along with all our other simple favorites) to him. Below are a few of my favorites.
1. Mixed Blessing by Marsha Cosman ((my favorite))
2. I am mixed by Garcelle Beauvais
3. Mixed like me by Gina Golliday-Cabell
4. Black is brown is tan by Arbold Adoff
Though my little prince is so young, innocent, & oblivious to the world around him; my husband & I are not. We discuss his skin color & talk about what we think he will look like when he is older or who he will look like (which is ridiculous because he is my husbands twin). It might sound silly to read him these books at such a young age, or it might sound silly that we discuss how we will talk to him about race, but it isn’t. The world isn’t a nice place these days, kids are cruel, families are jealous, people are hateful. It’s our job as parents to love ourselves, our skin & to embrace our sons as well. It’s important to be proud that we are husband, wife, & son…even though we are all 3 different colors.
I have so many bi racial friends that have embraced their differences as a family & it makes my heart happy. It’s not just about black & white. There are differences in race through adoption as well. Maybe a Caucasian family has adopted an African or Asian child. Maybe a Hispanic family has adopted a Caucasian child. Maybe, a family is made up of parents from different countries or continents, maybe a family has some children with darker skin tones than the other children.
No matter the race or the diversity it is important that in our society we embrace our children for who they are, that we teach them when they are young that it’s okay to be different & that we always let them know how proud of them we are & how much we love them.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!!! (I would love to hear your thoughts as always, my email doors are open!)