Raising Biracial Kids…ain’t nothing new

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.

16 thoughts on “Raising Biracial Kids…ain’t nothing new”

  1. just stumbled onto this one… one of these days we’ll get together and have some great conversations <3 There is a certain WOC blogger I avoid because even tho she writes some excellent stuff about race, feminism, and ableism, she also maintains that only a Black mother can/should raise a child that is part Black.

    I can't remember, do you watch the show Parenthood on NBC? They recently had an episode called "The Talk". I'd love to hear/read your take on it.

  2. I was wondering what all this fuss over bi-racial childrens hair was about? I always thought it was pretty logical and was no different from any other kid with very curly hair that had a tendency to dryness, or is there something massive I’m missing? Some magical problem I’m unaware of? I’d like to know since my first kid is due later next year and will be bi-racial, though here in Uganda we call them Grey, or more often Grey Babies even when they’re an adult.

  3. I happened upon this blog tonight. I appreciated it. Well written and not too uptight (like some people who go bonkers over such topics). I am the white woman who is raising 2 bi-racial daughters from my first marriage (husband/father deceased) and another daughter whom is fully ‘white’ (so to say) with my current spouse.

    I can agree that it may be different for the white woman raising the non-white child simply because that woman was never ‘of color’ for a moment of her life (whether or not she tries to convince herself and others that she somehow is or that she somehow qualifies as being so due to circumstances, ha!). However, with that said I will state that my experiences were mostly what they were due to aspects like geographical location, socioeconomic status, the ages of myself and my children at any given time, the participation of both maternal and paternal family members, etc. I couldn’t always help those things… if I was broke and on welfare we were treated one way and if I was the Exec VP of my company we were treated another (both actual circumstances in my life). You know the cycles…. everyone goes through that.

    My point is this. What never changed was me. I never worried about how to do their hair or carry on about how ‘exotic’ they were. Nor did I engage in discussions about whether or not they were more black or white. That to me is nonsense. Big deal…. so my girls are destined to be more “white” because they are raised by me. Good! I like me! And because their dad died when they were little his influence simply isn’t there. Sad but true. What it all boils down to is that my kids are just kids and people are just people… no one is all that unique. My bi-racial and non bi-racial girls all believe in God… and to Him we are made in His image…. and so far that’s enough for them. And for me too….

  4. i definately believe there is a difference in raising biracial kids compared to mono-racial kids. sure, you raise them the same in morals and right from wrong and etc…but the sole difference is how you raise them considering they are two races.

    i am biracial, i have a white mom, most biracials i know are the same, and most also only know or are connected with their white side more.

    my mom sometimes has stereotypical racist views of blacks which have affected me alot growing up…although she said i was both black and biracial and nobody could say different, she didnt exactly show me any black culture other than Motown music.

    i wouldn’t be surprised if white moms are worse at raising biracial kids than blacks…i think its because for the first time they have to think outside the white privelege box. they have to start thinking in terms of being a minority themselves which they aren’t accustomed too. I cringe when I hear a biracial say they grew up as one of few people of color in an almost all white town…they have some horrifying stories, and i just don’t understand how a white parent could subject their kid to that other than the fact that the white parent forgot that they can no longer life that “all american white” lifestyle.

    there is a difference in raising your kids…because you have to pay attention to you respond or interact with the other that is your child…you have to remember especially white moms, that once you have a child of color, you are playing by a whole new set of rules. I feel like i was not well prepared for this racist world, this racist country…i am having to learn on my own because you can’t talk about race in a white conservative family like mine…

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