10 Important Lessons I Want My Biracial Children to Know
The problem with being an optimistic person is that sometimes the negativity everywhere seems like it could be solved with some BBQs and heart-to-hearts. Or at least a heavy dose of therapy. biracial children identity
It really wears me down. I’m sure it wears everyone down, but as someone who just wants to be happy all the time, bad news and grumpy moods REALLY get me down. So I’ve had to be selfish for my sanity, withdraw and protect myself emotionally. I’ve kept the news off, disabled my Facebook news feed, closed myself off to the world as much as possible and focused on what’s here before me. I’ve planned day trips, shared a lot about potty training, and let my brain relax into jello as I analyzed every Bachelorette episode. I’d checked out, friends. But I’d needed that.
During this exercise I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and you know what? Though I’ve been more removed, I’m still so worried for our kids. Still hopeful, but worried.
There are so many messages out there about minorities, blacks, whites, and so much hatred and I’m so sad that all of our kids are growing up in this mess. We’ve taken huge steps forward and now I feel like we’re taking a giant step back. I truly hope that our children can come out of this more accepting, with a brighter outlook, and more loving than any generation before.
As a mother of biracial children I have a thousand concerns swirling around in my head. In so many ways I want to (and do) shelter them. But ultimately I want them to be armed and ready for what lies ahead. I want them to have a better childhood than I did. I want them to be confident biracial children that are never ashamed of who they are, or their background. And I want them to be ready to stand up for themselves when necessary.
Biracial Children Identity
These are 10 invaluable lessons for my biracial children
1. Know who you are… on all fronts
If society stays the way it is now you’ll likely be considered black, no questions asked. Own it. Embrace that side of your background like the beautiful badge it is. Don’t feel the need to quickly correct anyone who checks you off for that box. That said, YOU know who you are, and you do not have to allow people to shove you into one box or another. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope to be acknowledged as you are. Anyone who asks you to “choose a side” probably isn’t worth your time.
2. Understand how others will perceive you whether that is right or wrong
As a continuation from number 1, it’s important to know that although you may embrace your entire background, others may still have preconceived notions.
My son, some people will look at you differently when you’re playing rough, wanting a turn with your friend’s water gun, or wearing a hoodie. It’s not right, but it’s important to be aware that it still happens.
My sweet daughter. Some people will see your skin as “too dark” while others call you names for being “too light.” You’re in a precarious position but I know you can handle it. No one knows you like we do. Remember which opinions really matter.
My children, be aware of how others will perceive you so you’re prepared for whatever is thrown your way.
3. Don’t be a victim
Now that I’ve told you how the world seems set up against you, let me tell you this… You are NOT a victim. Don’t ever let your skin color hold you back from anything. You may often find yourself in situations where you’re surrounded by people who don’t look like you, that doesn’t mean you don’t belong. Don’t sell yourself short or think that something is impossible because of the way you look. You may be the first. You may be the only in different paths you take. But you are not less-than or incapable.
If I ever hear you attribute being unwilling to try for something because of what you look like we are going to have some serious problems. Don’t you dare allow others to convince you you’re at a disadvantage and can’t go as far because of the way you look. I’ve worked way too hard to prove you otherwise.
4. You are not required to think like anyone else
I hate stereotypes and though there is one for nearly every situation, we certainly get a heavy dose of it. Across the board, people have a variety of opinions, hair styles, sense of fashion, way of speaking and so on. For some reason when it comes to black people, others want to put us into a box as if we all think the same way and then ask why we’re “different” when we diverge from their assumptions. Some people think they’re complimenting us when they say we are “well spoken” or “so articulate” just because they are shocked we aren’t using ebonics. Not only is it not a compliment, it’s offensive.
Just because you share the same color skin as someone doesn’t mean you share the same collective brain, with the same thoughts, experiences, or opinions. White people are allowed to disagree with other white people who don’t think like them. We should be allowed to have the same rainbow of opinions.
You are entitled to your own view point. People aren’t always going to agree with you, and that’s life. But you should be granted the same amount of contradicting opinions as anyone else.
Please always remember, you do not speak for all black people. Which brings me to my next point.
5. You are not a spokesperson and don’t have to be
You don’t speak for every biracial/black/brown person. Give others their chance to say what they believe and share your opinions while also respecting those of others who may feel differently.
Also, you don’t owe it to anyone to be a black history teacher. It’s not your responsibility to educate those who are ignorant; to allow people to play with your hair; to ask you crude or offensive questions because you’re a “safe friend.” Trust me, it gets exhausting. That is not your job. Feel free to direct people to their nearest library or paid educational resource.
All that said, people can learn a lot from you. Just being in your presence will inspire and influence people and peek their curiosity. So…
6. Be willing to teach and willing to learn
If something offends you, be open to explaining why. Having a canned response prepared is totally ok. For instance, the “what are you?” question gets really annoying. Obviously you’re a human being and a thousand other things, but people are failing at finding a polite way to ask about your heritage. You could share a more polite way to pose that question so that they don’t prance around offending every multiracial person they come in contact with for the rest of their lives.
Also, you don’t know everything. So be willing to be quiet and listen to others who are different than you. You can learn a lot from them, just like they can learn from you. Leaving this world without moving beyond our own little shells of experience would be such a waste. Go, meet, explore, absorb!
7. Don’t mind those who don’t matter
Realize that as much as you may wish you could, you can’t make everyone like you. And you can’t make everyone happy. Please don’t let the opinions of others wear you down. Remember the opinions that are truly important and know how to spot a true loyal friend.
8. Have Grace
No one is perfect. People are going to screw up and offend you. Be forgiving. Especially if they are sincerely apologetic. And if they are not… Ask yourself who is that hurting in the long run? Them or you? Give yourself permission to let things go so that others’ negativity doesn’t infringe on your joy.
9. Learn Better and Try To Do Better
Try not to make assumptions. Rarely have you seen the full picture. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Even if you think they are the most disgusting piece of footwear you’ve ever laid eyes on, just stick your feet in and give it a try. I promise you there will always be something you can learn from someone else that you can use to help you to become an even better person.
10. Love Yourself
If I didn’t stress this enough let me drive this point home, there is no one on this world exactly like you. There has never been any other and will never be any other you. Treat yourself as such. Don’t get caught up in trying to be like someone else. Love the beautiful brown skin you’re in and all of your other wonderful qualities. Become the best person you can be, and help others to become their best selves.
When we’re all helping one another to be great, we will all rise to be great, and inevitably make the world a better place… Oh there goes my optimism again.
First of all, you are the best mom these kids can have. And your children are beautiful. It is clear through your words of love and positivity that you will teach them how to be human and humane. There are always haters, whether it is skin color, religion, disability, or difference. I am actually glad that our country is finally starting to become less white and more everything else. I am Jewish and can tell you that hate comes in all forms whether you live here or anywhere else in the world and being in the minority makes you a target.
It is the fights you face in your lifetime that make you strong and you are providing your kids with all the love they need to combat the realities of our world. By surrounding them with supporters and showing them who they can be, you will give them the power to be themselves no matter who that person is. And that is as it should be. It is sad that sometimes being strong means letting go of negative people in your life. But you know that your children will always have you, so that is something you can always believe in. Keep spreading your message of inclusive love. You have plenty of people who believe in what you do.
Thank you so much Paula. You have no idea how much these words mean to me. Positivity is a habit for me and I worry it’s annoying sometimes. haha. But I’m glad when it touches people 🙂 Thank you again, I really appreciate it.
Jennifer, I am a mom of bi-racial children, and especially my oldest son who is 13 is really struggling with his identity right now, and how to handle other’s comments and thoughts on who and what he is supposed to be because of how he looks. As a mom it is heart-wrenching to see your kids struggle, and my heart is sore from an incident at his school this week. Your writing is like balm to my heart, so thank you. My husband found your blog, and I am so thankful. I am considering sharing this with him, maybe posting it on the wall for both my children (my other son is 10) to read, memorize, and remember when things gets tough. 🙂