7 Days of Sex
Raising Biracial Children in an Increasingly Interracial World
According to a Pew Research Center study released earlier this month, 1 in 12 marriages in the United States are interracial. To date, 4.8 million couples and their children are changing and diversifying the face of America and in the process influencing the conversation and opinions on race in this country.
As a woman of color in an interracial marriage raising biracial and bicultural children, I can say that my marriage was done with no real thought to how it would change the racial landscape of where we live. We simply fell in love. We, like most people, didn’t really give much thought to our family history, our background, etc... until we had kids. Having children together has made it important, and even fun, to search out those things we really love about our heritage so that we can teach our boys and share with them all the different elements that make me who I am, my husband who he is, and them who they are.
Anytime the topic of biracial marriage comes along, there seems to be this idea that an increase in interracial marriages will some how lead to the disappearance of the individual’s heritage, customs, and culture. And for some, Utopia is a place where “we see no color” and “everyone is the same”.
The simple fact that I married a white man does not mean that I no longer value the elements of my culture and heritage, nor that I no longer experience the world as a woman of color. Nor does it mean I no longer appreciate the beauty of what it is to be a woman of color or want to pass on that message to my own children. This idea that my mixed babies won’t feel or “see” what it is to have a white father, or brown mother will never be their reality. When they have questions, and they often do, we answer them, making being different okay and comfortable and maybe even a source of pride.
My children – all children – see color. They can see the differences in people. No amount of interracial marriages will change that. No one will be blind in this sense. We can “pretend” it’s not there, but then that’s just weird and makes everyone feel awkward. What will change, and is changing, is the amount of importance that they put on these differences when making relationship choices in their lives, whether in friendships or in love and how they view themselves in this world – their sense of abilities and their confidence in following their aspirations. But the conversation won’t “go away”, on the contrary it will be enriched and encouraged, because we will teach our children to embrace and be proud of all the differences that make them the beautiful beings they are. They are luckier too, because they are not one check box on an application or census form and it will be hard to label them.
The biggest impact I see from our biracial and bicultural marriage on our kids is that my children will be more comfortable to talk to others about the things that make them the same and different. We take on each other’s individual experiences and feel safe to have those conversations and ask those tough questions without fear of attack or repercussion.
Couple like us are affecting change in such a way that next time someone like me identifies as being black (by way of say, her Haitian heritage) no one will be able to argue that she is not –as was recently the case for me –simply because of how she looks or sounds, in the same way as no one can deny her Latino heritage or even Greek one if, like me, that’s her case.
My children have the freedom to identify to an array of cultures that have been mixed into their being and we will teach them to celebrate and embrace every one of them.
For us, the conversation isn’t dying down, it is just beginning and we are leading the way. We didn’t set out to but I can’t think of a better way to bring forth change if not through the power of love.