Today's guest post is from Diedre Anthony, a full-time school counselor, mother, and wife. In her blog, Are Those Your Kids?, she focuses on her experiences of raising her biracial kids in an interracial marriage. Her posts are filled with helpful tips about raising children, diversity, and curly hair as well as entertaining stories and anecdotes. She has been published by the Huffington Post, Babble & Red Tricycle.
I remember growing up on an Air Force base where interracial families were the norm. I attended school with both military and nonmilitary kids. I remember my peers asking biracial kids what they were mixed with, and the discomfort it caused them. I never understood their discomfort until having biracial kids of my own.Later that evening as I replayed the exchange in my head, my feelings changed to fury. A day that was supposed to be a fun shopping day left me confused and disheartened by one question.
I was 27. A new young mother who was utterly in love with her light skinned baby. I was shocked that people were so obsessed with the idea of our family not matching. I was used to people asking my husband and I if it was one check or two. I didn't associate their question with race--I thought they just asked because we lived in a college town and were looked young (after all black doesn't crack, right?)
Now as a seasoned mom of three, I don't get that question as much. Maybe it's because my girls actually look like me now. Or because in the summer, their skin is brown instead of tan. I'm not sure of the reason, but now I'm ready for it. I've realized that I don't owe anyone an explanation for my family dynamics.
My family's racial makeup is no one's business and I don't have to discuss it IF I DON'T WANT TO. As my children age, I know that this is something they will be faced with. Their peers will be enamored with their hair or features and they may have questions about why they look the way they do.
I never want my children to experience a moment when they are either unsure of how to identify or ashamed of who they are. One of the ways I work to instill confidence in my children is by having age appropriate conversations with them. We talk about the things they have in common with me and my husband. We not only discuss our physical features, but also mannerisms, likes and dislikes. We recently had a son and he is three months old. He is a little lighter than the girls, and they like to comment that he is close to their skin color.
My youngest daughter told a stranger the other day that one day his skin color will match. The lady looked stunned and wasn't sure how to respond. I laughed because to my children, these kinds of conversations are normal. We look at skin color as just one facet of who we are--it doesn't make us any better or worse than anyone else. This message is especially important to me given the climate in our country right now. There are so many hidden messages in the media that cause great concern for brown people.
I worry about the day my children will learn about black history in this country and associate it with me. We haven't had those conversations yet because they are too young. But one day, we will have them. Despite the difficult nature, it is my responsibility to raise world conscious children. No matter how the world chooses to identify them, I will raise them to know that they are biracial.
I will raise them to treat all people with respect, and to respect people whose ideas and lifestyles differ from theirs. Those kinds of lessons start when they are small. We started reading books with minority characters and diverse families before my children could even sit up. In my house, diversity is their normal. For some families, diversity is not their normal. They are in interracial families and struggle with having those deeper conversations about race and differences.