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.