Friday, February 22, 2008

Raising Bi-racial children

If you couldn't tell, my husband is black, and I'm white. And when you mix our DNA together, you come out with bi-racial children. Not only are they amazingly beautiful (but I'm not biased, at ALL!!) but they have the unique advantage of embracing two different cultures. I chuckled the other day at Wal-mart when we were walking down the aisles looking for hair products for Makenna. I went down a new aisle I myself have no clue about: the "African American hair products" aisle. I felt a little lost for a few minutes because Kenney had taken Braydon to see the fish really quick. Not only did I feel like I didn't belong there, I had no clue what I was supposed to be getting. Eventually I found something and Kenney returned and affirmed my choice of hair product. For some reason, I felt instantly validated that it was okay that I was on that aisle when Kenney came to my side. It sounds silly, but I did. A lot of the black people in Rocky Mount assume all white people are racist. And often times, they are. But not all of us are, and it can be weird to have to "prove" you're "okay" and not a racist.

I know that my kids will face racism, since we live where we live and in fact Braydon already has. There are a lot of racial tensions in the area, and I am not naive enough to think that they won't ever feel the hurt of someone's insensitive words or harsh stares.In today's society, it's hard for them, despite the growing number of bi-racial people. For example, when filling out Makenna's application for a social security card, I got to the "race" question, and reached a dilemma. Normally, if a form does not offer a "bi-racial" option, I select both black and white. But this form offered no bi-racial option, and it said I could only select one. What was I to do? Was Makenna more white or more black? Well, she was neither, because she has half white DNA and half black DNA. But they didn't allow for this option and that frustrated me. If I selected "black" would Makenna grow up feeling she was more black if she found out that her "official" race was black? Or the same with white? I called Kenney and he didn't know what to do either. I hadn't filled it out with Braydon, because the hospital had applied for his SSN. I finally decided to leave it blank because it was optional and I couldn't pick one over the other. So how do I raise my two children (and any more that God might give us someday) to recongnize both their races and to be proud of who they are? To not claim or prefer one over the other, since they are equally black and equally white?

I suppose we raise them according to the Bible, to love all people, to serve others. We teach them lessons we've learned and be ourselves. Kenney is black, not "ghetto". Braydon can grow up having a Godly, successful black man as a role model, and won't feel like he is trapped into becoming what unfortunately has become a norm in his culture. Braydon can also look to his maternal grandfather and see a Godly, successful white man. He can see that he can become both Godly and successful, and race does not have to limit him. The same goes for Makenna.

My prayer for them is that God would allow them to use their race as a tool to bring people into His Kingdom, to advance the knowledge that God loves the world, and that Jesus died on the cross for all races and all cultures, for everyone.


Rachel said...

Interesting post. Here's my 2 cents.

It's SO important, especially in RM, to have godly, hard-working, no-chip-on-their-shoulder, "it's because I'm black" examples for your children to emulate and become!

One of the most tiresome things I experienced there and even more so as a teacher, is for black people to treat white people in a nasty way just because their white, and to blame everything, no matter how unrelated, on racism.

I would be so far beyond cluess on that aisle, by the way! What did you end up getting? And when did B experience racism? Give me their names and addresses and I'll take care of it!

Aprille said...

The south is an interesting sociology course isn't it? The good thing is that I am noticing more and more couples like us. It was just 41 years ago that it would have been illegal for us to marry. We can thank Mildred Jeeter and Richard Loving(Loving vs Virginia - a name I found perfectly fitting) for their contributions and love.

I never noticed biracial couples till I was one myself. I feel sort of like a little club with our little swirl babies. I saw a hispanic/white couple out last night and they had the cutest little baby. It made me smile. I actually wish, probably selfishly, that my kids looked a little more Hispanic. I was so glad when Nate's skin darkened up a little, mostly because I burn so badly, but really because I want them to look like the marriage I am so very proud of. I haven't had any of the logistical differences like hair products, just a lot of different chili peppers to learn! The two of you are a beautiful couple. I am so thankful that my mother raised me so that I was completely open to love in any form.

I have found lots of opportunities to help educate people and correct their misconceptions through my mixed marriage.

this got long. I even deleted a lot. lol

Melanie said...

You know, I never ever experienced any sort of racism in California...and was extremely shocked (and disturbed) by it when I first moved here to the South. I think it will only stop being an issue when everyone stops pointing it out and talking about it, because honestly we shouldn't care about what color someone's skin happens to be. I hope that your children will be a part of the ever evolving part of society, that doesn't seem to notice or care what color their skin is. We can hope!

Aprille said...

I remember when we were learning the colors with Ella she asked what color Ella's arm was. I said it was "Ella colored" because it was the best color I could think of. It is interesting though at this young age we have a little choice to make with such a simple question. I mean, "white" isn't really white and "black" isn't really black so it isn't helping to make this determination as far as their colors go so why would we tell them that except for the social aspect of it. More sociology oops.

KT said...

I am glad you wrote what you did....because K is bi-racial, and our situation is quite a bit different considering he is adopted....but we deal with similar things. I remember filling out his paperwork for his social security number and not knowing what to put down for race....and the looks I get when buying hair products for him! But, like you said....we are going to raise him the way the Bible says and teach him to love all and serve the Lord. We pray for wisdom as we raise K (especially in those areas)!

Choofy Mama said...

We are preparing ourselves for the same type of feelings/questions, as the odds are the baby we adopt will be AA or biracial. not that rochester isn't pretty diverse and cool, but just the fact of a white family having a black baby-there is no validity that is found in having one of the parents be black or biracial themselves, kwim? Some black people feel very strongly against white families adopting transracially-so we've done all we can to prepare for anything we may potentially encounter (there is an awesome book I read, about biacial families, lmk if you want the linky)

Also if we do by any chance get a girl, I'll be coming to you for hair help :) My college roommie is black, so she said her mom would help me too. Good to have resources ;)


Anonymous said...

I had to pipe in on this one. This is Kathy, btw, from Oklahoma. Uncle Ray's Kathy.

Anyway, I commend you for your stance and commitment to teach your kids the biblical view. The fact is according to Ken Ham, we're all (black, white, red, yellow) part of the HUMAN race. We all came from Noah. The only difference between black and white, for instance, is the amount of melanin we have in our skin. And that difference only amounts to .03 percent!

And yet, most people act like there's such a huge difference in between the races and there just isnt. I don't understand it. Ignorance, I guess.

Good job!

Innocence Underrated said...

Good stuff. Funny how Jesus is always portrayed as white with blue eyes and blondish hair, even tho he was from the Middle East area???!!! I'm thinking he'd be darker skinned and dark hair right? My parents adopted two Puerto Rican (dont call the mexican, sheesh) kids and the hair thing... yeah me and my mom looking for Pink Lotion in about clueless!

OdeToFantasy said...

It's difficult for me to even comprehend how racism is still an issue. Clarence and I have had our experiences where we've been discriminated against, but it still blows my mind that in this day and age, even in the South, people are racist. Like Mel said, I hope our children's generation is part of that ever evolving part of society where no one even notices skin color. I really don't understand how it's still an issue. *shrug* I'm glad you're finding ways of dealing with it though.

RaIsHaWn'S MuMmY said...

Reading your post, i can relate. I too have a wonderful and beautiful bi-racial child (not biased at all lol) and am happily married in an interracial marriage.
I have come across too many times, racism when it comes to going somewere were "white women" are not supposed to shop..
My only hopes for my son is by the time he is old enough to feel the burning stares caused by the colour issue, that there will be so many wonderful bi-racial children on thsi earth that colour will no longer be an issue. I pray that in the future there will be no more Black OR white, just black And white. Equal.
i have also written a post about the the race issue
feel free to check it out, its labeled "what is the right answer" and delas with the questions asked by children about why we are different colours.
have a blessed day, laura.

Anonymous said...

As a white upper middle class women (democrate) married to a very educated black man (republican)shake-up those sterotypes for more than 20 years.
I can say I know exactly what your going through our two children 9 and 10 are very well adjusted, well liked and pretty much issue free. My son was asked by a black child in 1st grade how come your mom is white his response was " because jesus made her that way"
We tell our children they have the best of both worlds and Jesue loves all his people

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone - Does anyone on this post have preteens?