Touchy subject?

Maria - posted on 03/10/2009 ( 7 moms have responded )

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I am a bit timid about bringing this up, and I will try to choose my words carefully, so please bear with me... sorry about the length.



When I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter, who is biracial, I found out the hard way my husbands family were not going to be in the picture. His Mother basically accused me of being racist, after telling us she is racist, and is proud of it...



So, since then, I've been looking for positive role models for my family in people of all colors. We are lucky to have my husband's aunt still around, who is one hell of a wonderful woman! I've also been reaching out to friends and family, teachers, and coworkers. I joined groups, chat rooms, read up on all kinds of things, etc. What I have been faced with, repeatedly, is a great deal of negativity towards whites. Now, I don't need a Masters degree to understand why that is, but my being argued with based on the color of my skin, has started to wear me down a bit. Even my husband defends some of this, however he tells me constantly, that the best thing for us to do is to present ourselves as the happy family we are to prove to people this (interacial relationship) is not a "bad thing".



That said, my situation is this. There is a group for biracial families at the local school. There is a Mother (white) who chases after me everytime she sees me to get me to join. I've explained to her my issues. I am on the fence about going. The other day I explain to her that my family does not experience too much negativity - or we are just good at ignoring it. She touches my daughters hair and said "well, I suppose you don't get much of that since her hair has soft curls, and her skin is light." She tells me that I'll hear more as my daughter gets older, where she is different. I point out 5 children within 20 feet of us that are biracial mixed in amoung the rainbow of other kids.



Now, I'm floored. What difference does the texture of my daughter's hair make? OK - I know, it makes a difference to some - but, this Mom, trying to recruit me to join a "positive" group for biracial families????



So my "open mindedness" that I once had is slowly closing in.



My question: Do I live my life and not be bothered with "groups" like my husband wants? Will my daughter benefit by being involved in the biracial community? Or will we hear so much negativity she may be negative towards race herself?



Thanks for the input.

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Holly - posted on 03/12/2009

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Hello girls.  I also am a white woman and my daughter's father is black.  She has the "good hair" and is a honey complexion.  I actually was going to start a group for biracial kids and parents here in Philadelphia because despite the fact that this is a very diverse city, racially, it is very segregated.  I am have experienced alot of hatred from black females and some "afro-centric" black males.  Surprisingly, I haven't encountered any racist experiences with whites-although I have been told that whites tend to be more subversive in their actions.  That being said, I felt the group was important because I got tired of blacks telling me that I had to "accept" the fact that my daughter is black.  Not only is this a biological and physiological fallacy, but it is rooted in Jim Crow/slave era "one drop rule" mentality that is so destructive.  I wanted to develop a group not to focus on differences, but to empower biracial kids to be able to say "I AM A BIRACIAL PERSON--STOP MAKING ME CHOOSE ONE RACE OR THE OTHER!!"  My daughter, since she was 3, would tell people when they would ask what she was, "I'm chocolate and whipped cream--daddy's chocolate and mommy's whipped cream".  I am a very strong and educated woman and my daughter is like MV's daughters--tough as nails and not in the least affected by her race.  However, the purpose of the group should be to encourage biracial kids to stand firm in acknowledging both of their races.  It is so divisive for the "one drop rule" to be perpetuated--and it is a rule that is an insult to the parent of non-black descent.  In order for my daughter to be black, I could not have conceived her with my caucasian egg and carried her in my caucasian uterus.  I, like you all, want my daughter to embrace BOTH races.  I think we are being naive, however, if we do not realize that racism will in fact have a different effect on our kids.  Look at our president for example.  The media continues to call him black despite the fact that not only did he have a white mother, but he was raised primarily, if not solely, by white family.  How hurtful and insulting to the white mother and grandparents who sacrificed so much for him to achieve what he has.  I think it is so important for us, as parents of biracial kids, to break this cycle.  If groups for biracial kids has the effect of doing this or encouraging our kids to stand strong against the "one drop"mentality, then I'm all for it.  After all, think back to when blacks were considered property, rather than human beings.  Groups created by civil rights leaders were the only reason that blacks succeeded in making that major societal change.

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Maria - posted on 03/12/2009

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Holly, I think you need to be my neighbor! I couldn't have said all of that better. Thank you. I have staed your sentiments elsewhere and was beaten down for it. And your comments on Obama - I have said the same. People "see" him as "black" - and embrace him as "black" - and I know many people who voted for him - BECAUSE he is "black" (and for no other reason unfortunately). I see him as a man, with political views - that may or may not agree with mine, but still, a politician, not a person of ANY color.



I have said "is white not a color too?" But then, my point is lost with that.



We should be judged on the content of our characters. If there is a group that is character building - I am all for it - and I hope yours is one, and I wish there was one in Boston!



I suppose as the world and our clultures progress there will be more open mindedness, and no race lines to cross.

Maria - posted on 03/11/2009

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MV & SR - thankyou - I think you totally get me. I was starting to think something was wrong with me that I don't want to be in that group - but you've made the points I ccouldn't verbalise.



MM - sorry about your friends - that is horrid. My MIL was (is) light skinned and was terrorised in her black neighborhood, then treated horribly by whites when she was bussed to a white school. Ironically, my in laws just moved to Atlanta because they thought it would be less racist than New york. Who knows. It's everywhere.



More Ironically, the black kids who were bussed to my school became my friends. Honestly, back then, someone had to explain the difference. I thought people who live in different neighborhoods look different because they are from different places in the world. In Boston, there are so many ethnic neighborhoods (this is starting to go away a bit) and I never thought of it as "race". I thought the Italians like me lived in my neighborhood - of course, I was treated badly by neighbors because I'm half Irish - go figure.



All that said, I stayed in the neighborhood I live in, even though it is more expensive, because of the diversity. The school my girls are going to, and will go to are a great example of a diverse school system. I'm lucky I don't have to find a private school for that!



Thanks all - I know now what I can say to my lil' stalker.... I don't need a group to define who my daughter, my children, or my family is (are?).



Thank you!

Michelle - posted on 03/10/2009

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Hi Maria! I've got good deal of insight as to why that woman made the comment about your daughter's hair.
I'm not sure where you are from. I live in Atlanta, GA in an upscale black community. I am white, my boyfriend is black, and of course our daughter is mixed.
I know many biracial people from all income brackets and most have had the same issue. Many biracial children are not accepted by either race due to their dual ethnicity. I've had friends that attended predominantly black schools that were beat up and picked on. One girl had her head held in a locker door and the door repeatedly slammed on it until a teacher finally walked by and stopped it. Why? Because according to the black kids, she was "white". Friends that went to predominantly white schools didn't have it as bad, but it was no picnic for them either.
You have racism on both sides of the fence, which is extremely sad.
Many biracial babies have the appearance of being Hispanic, Native American, Italian, or some other mid-range skin tone. As biracial children get older, many kids change in appearance. Their hair texture may change and their skin may get darker. Other children begin to notice these changes. If the children your child is around are growing up in racists homes, the adults views are going to be influencing the kids views and a whole new generation of racists are born. And it is very sad because it does not have to be like this.
I hope your child (and everyone's kids) does not experience the horrible things my friends had to go through. Personally, we are putting our child into an ethnically diverse private school when she is old enough to go.
In regards to your question: I feel that the best way to raise your kids is to educate them on all sides of their heritage, teach them to embrace and accept differences in others, and allow them to make their own decisions regarding a "special group". If they feel it would benefit them, by all means I would allow it, but don't make the decision for her.

Sharon - posted on 03/10/2009

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Maria, I agree with Michelle. I'm white and my ex-husband is black. We have 3 kids, 18, 16 & 12. I didn't even know that they had groups for bi-racial kids. I can't see any value in exposing your kids to anything that focuses on how "different" they are. We never raised our kids to focus on their race. They're just people like everyone else. Today, they are healthy well-adjusted teen-agers and have friends of all races. Stop thinking about race; if insensitive people make stupid comments ( and they will, sometime even if your kids are not bi-racial) laugh it off. Don't get offended or angry. Just consider the source.

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I had a similar experience. My children are half mexican and half white. My oldest was invited to a "special" group at school. This group was for children of mixed race or anything other than white. It was (is) intended to make minorities feel empowered, welcome, etc... I laughed about it initially because my daughter doesn't feel weak, nor does she feel unwelcome. She is very secure, strong willed, level headed. When I told her about the group she couldn't understand it and didn't want to go. I don't blame her. I understand the purpose of the group but I think they are better off used for people who need it. IMO they are singling out minorities as having issues when none are present and putting the idea in their head that they are different and have special issues to face. Maybe that is the case for some but in my opinion these groups can create more harm than good. Like promoting racism, especially when singling out a certain race as needing "special" attention. The intention of these group organizers is good but lacking understanding. My kids will face racism in their lives, they already have. They generally don't recognize it but I do and so does their father. I take it more seriously than my husband and children do. We address issues as they arise and if my children ever feel the need for group bonding with people of their own race then I will consider it but for now we will pass. My kids don't see themselves as different from others and I don't want to encourage them to think that their different either. I hope I've made sense.

[deleted account]

I had a similar experience. My children are half mexican and half white. My oldest was invited to a "special" group at school. This group was for children of mixed race or anything other than white. It was (is) intended to make minorities feel empowered, welcome, etc... I laughed about it initially because my daughter doesn't feel weak, nor does she feel unwelcome. She is very secure, strong willed, level headed. When I told her about the group she couldn't understand it and didn't want to go. I don't blame her. I understand the purpose of the group but I think they are better off used for people who need it. IMO they are singling out minorities as having issues when none are present and putting the idea in their head that they are different and have special issues to face. Maybe that is the case for some but in my opinion these groups can create more harm than good. Like promoting racism, especially when singling out a certain race as needing "special" attention. The intention of these group organizers is good but lacking understanding. My kids will face racism in their lives, they already have. They generally don't recognize it but I do and so does their father. I take it more seriously than my husband and children do. We address issues as they arise and if my children ever feel the need for group bonding with people of their own race then I will consider it but for now we will pass. My kids don't see themselves as different from others and I don't want to encourage them to think that their different either. I hope I've made sense.

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