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Thinking About Blackness

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So for those of you who don’t know, I’m biracial. For the most part I consider myself black. I have a black daughter and an African-American daughter. Why the difference? Well my oldest child’s father was African and I’m American, so that makes her African-American. My youngest child’s father is biracial (black and white like me) and when added to my racial identity you get a black child. I’m not from Africa, nor is my mother nor was my mother’s mother. There are many shades of black in America and my family is a prime example of that fact.

I don’t press race on my children, but they are aware of their self identity in a way I never was. My parents never spoke to me about race. I learned early that I would never be white enough for the white people or black enough for the black people. As I aged I realized the need to choose to be either white or black. There was no option to be “mixed” or “biracial”. I tried to just be me. I’m not really sure how well that worked, but today I raise my kids in a very different way.

I don’t use derogatory slang that I may have used as a teenager. (Although I never really said much back then either.) I don’t just watch movies with black actors and actresses or listen to rap and R&B to avoid being made fun of by my peers. Today I like many things. I’ve raised my kids to like many things. Sure we eat a lot of fried chicken, but macaroni and cheese is not a staple in our home and my kids dislike watermelon. We listen to just about all types of music. I hate jazz, but my oldest enjoys it. My kids’ favorite band is Maroon 5.

While my children are aware of race, it has not impacted their lives in the way it did mine. I grew up knowing about racism, slavery and discrimination. It was on television in shows like In the Heat of the Night and Walker Texas Ranger. Today my kids have Jessie and Ant Farm, shows which are diverse. Today’s topics are often silly vs. the let’s improve society shows of the 90s. My girls don’t think of blackness as their identity the way I did at their age. I don’t think they’d consider it at all if I didn’t bring it up. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

So now I bet you’re wondering why I bring it up if it’s really not a big deal. I bring it up so they aren’t shocked when they enter the real world. I want them to know that while it doesn’t change the person they are, it may affect others they meet. Cause let’s face it, there are still jack-asses out there who will look at my kids and say they aren’t black enough or white enough. As much as we like to pretend color doesn’t matter, it does to some people. I see color everywhere and I want my kids to as well. Color is beautiful, all shades from the palest white to the darkest black. February is a month to appreciate blackness. So here’s my nod to…

The Many Shades of Black!

My babies are 9 and 12.

A much younger me with blonde hair and blue eyes.

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3 responses »

  1. I’m white (blonde hair) and my husband is Latino (black hair). Our daughters turned out looking more Latina, but they still have my face shape. I hate filling out forms that ask for my daughters’ race or ethnicity, as though they must choose one box to check. I suggested they tell people they’re whitina. Although it’s a cute term and people may think I’m joking–I’m 100% serious. There’s nothing wrong with being bi-racial and refusing to be put in a single box. To me, children with mixed races are beautiful expression of the changing times, and I hope that one day we won’t have to check those boxes at all. 🙂

    Reply
    • I remember my seventh grade history teacher pulling me aside and telling me that if I choose two boxes the government would select a race for me. I’ve always said, “I’m not an other” so that leaves out checking that box. I knew I’d get more offers for college aid by checking black, so that helped me decide (when it comes to government issues) which race to select.

      I agree that there is nothing wrong with being bi-racial, but not everyone thinks that way. I believe educating kids about possible reactions is easier than dealing with the fallout after they’ve run into issues. My mother didn’t feel the same.

      A few years ago I asked my mother why she never talked to her children about race. She said race wasn’t important. I told her I didn’t agree. She said well you all had each other. While that is true, it didn’t help me deal with society’s views of bi-racial and black people.

      It’s amazing how we can always see ourselves in our children. One day I think there will be other things to worry about and people won’t fixate on race. I think it’ll be more of an economic status, but I think that day is quite far away.

      Reply
      • I do think our country is in a better place now than it was even twenty years ago, and I hope we continue moving toward inclusiveness and healing. Hugs to you and your beautiful daughters! 🙂

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