For some reason I keep coming across the issue of how to raise biracial kids, now I have been the mother of biracial kids going on 17 years now and honestly when I had my first kid, I never thought much about it. That said, over the years given the increase in interracial pairings particularly Black-White unions it seems I encounter more and more folks particularly women who grapple with this issue.
To be truthful, this is not an issue I think much about. Since there have always been biracial folks in America, shit we used to have mulatto’s, quadroons, and octaroons, all terms I despise but the fact is being biracial in America is nothing new. What is new is the fact that folks can lay claim to all their heritage, and whereas once upon a time, you got lumped in as Black, now you can pull a Tiger Woods and call yourself a Cabalasian or anything else you want to call yourself. As a sista friend told me who is also mothering biracial sons, she wants her sons to grow up strong and feel they can lay equal claim to being Black and White. Well I think its an admirable goal, but truth is that is not how I raise my kids, in fact I know some would say “Black-girl, why are you so stuck in the past” Well maybe its because when it comes to race in America, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Yeah, we have a biracial man with a decent shot at becoming president yet to the average Joe Six-Pack White Guy, they look at Obama and they don’t see half a white man, they see a whole Black man and if I got my facts correct Obama was raised by his white side. See, shit don’t change.
No, the issues for me in raising a biracial child come down to how does the white parent, see things racially? In my first marriage, my ex-unit didn’t like racial talks, which made for some thorny discussions and I suspect he flinches when elder child refers to himself as a Half-frican. No, elder child is connected to his white side but the past year he has started to truly grasp that despite the lighter than Mama skin and the wavy not kinky hair, that when folks look at him, they see young Black man. Shit, the local po-po made sure of that not too long ago.
No, my kids are raised to know who they are but understand that race is complicated in America and frankly folks will make decisions based off your looks. Also mine is a household where Black history is discussed and dissected on the regular, baby girl has many dolls and only one is white. Instead she has dolls of color in a multitude of hues that reflect what she sees here in our house ranging from mini-me’s caramel complexion to Mama’s cocoa complexion to Grandma’s dark chocolate complexion. That’s what beauty looks like in this house.
As far as the day to day of raising of biracial kids, in some ways I suspect its harder for white women, after all Black women have always had babies in varying hues, shit my own family ranges from what the ole folks used to call high yalla with blue eyes to almost jet Black. Never have I grappled with how to comb my kids hair, or tend to their skin to keep the ash off.
That said, when I was younger with my son, I did encounter a few idiots who mistook me for the nanny, to my son learning about race at 3 when a kid told him he was adopted since I was darker than him. Right now mini-me has started to tell her Dad that he is light and we are not, then again she also tells him he has no hair and we do..poor bald Papa.
In the end raising biracial kids is no different than raising any other kids, though now raising a girl, I do worry about the societal fetishivation of biracial women, now that scares me. Lord, knows I don’t want to end up with a remake of the Imitation of Life in our family. Seriously though raising biracial kids they need to know who they are and ideally have access to all their family, but I also think a healthy dose of understanding of race in America will also take them far.