Mixed Parenting & Identity: ‘Black’ Or ‘Biracial’?
I was asked recently about how we are raising our daughters. The questioned pertained to whether we are bringing the girls up as black women or biracial women. My answer? They will be black women and they will be biracial women. If there are any out there who think this is confusing, hear me out.
They are half of me and they are half of my husband. I am white and he is black, so they are both – black AND white. We teach them to embrace all the parts of their whole and to love every cell within them, however, how they self-identify and how they are viewed by various other members of society won’t always be the same thing. For example, I have heard it stated several times since his election in 2008, that President Obama is considered our country’s first black president – even though his mother’s skin was white like mine. Halle Berry was the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress – and her mother’s skin is also white like mine. Tiger Woods is the first black man to win The Masters, even though he is only one quarter black. Here’s one you may not know – the United States Navy’s first, black Four-Star Admiral was J. Paul Reason, and he also came from a multiracial background. With all of that said, we are raising women of color who will be viewed as biracial OR black, depending on who is doing the viewing.
Many whites and, as illustrated above, much of white society will consider my children black. The remainder of the white population will either: #1. Have biracial friends or family and know enough to know better, or #2. Be so confused by my children’s racially ambiguous appearance that they will simply consider them non-white. I feel the black community is quicker to recognize them as biracial – although there have been instances when some of the black people in my children’s lives have expressed that they are “too white”, they “talk white” or “act white”. With that noted, now comes the part when we talk to our children about not only embracing the skin they’re in, but also about self-pride, self-integrity, and self-respect. They don’t ever have to pretend to be someone they’re not…and they should never deny a part of them they are.
My husband and I are both present and active in the lives of our kids. This means that, as with parents of all races, we talk to them about drugs and alcohol, sex, disease, and pregnancy, getting their educations, loving their God, and being the best people they can be. For us though, it also means involving ourselves in conversations about race, history, and how what has historically been kept separate, by hate – is now mixed in them, by love. I believe our children are very proud of themselves…and I hope they will always be proud of us.