Becoming White: The Experience of Raising Biracial Children

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2018-03-18 21:48Z by Steven

Becoming White: The Experience of Raising Biracial Children

Psychology Today

Tiffany McLain LMFT
San Francisco, California

Source: Carlos Enrique Santa Maria/123rf

How the racial identity of white mothers is shaped by parenting biracial kids.

Over the past few months, I have been exploring parenthood through the lens of white mothers who are raising biracial children. As a therapist in San Francisco who specializes in working with individuals who straddle cultural, racial and economic worlds, it has been my pleasure to go back to the beginning, so to speak, and have conversations with the mothers of children who may one day sit across from me as they seek to understand how the patterns established in their youth are playing out today in their personal and professional lives.

I’ve been most surprised to learn about the ways in which becoming a parent to a child ‘of color’ has caused these mothers to re-conceptualize what it means to be “white.” While many of the women I interviewed have thought about their racial identity in passing, it wasn’t until they experienced race first hand through this unique lens of parenthood that they really began thinking about the nuances of race relations in America. For many of them, they became aware that they had been thinking of themselves almost as “neutral,” or the “default,” that is, lacking a racialized body—until they had children of their own.

With a thoughtfulness that inspired me, these mothers were willing to reflect openly on the ways they had unwittingly participated in racist systems. The act of having a biracial child shed light on aspects of their own identity that had previously been locked away…

Read the entire article here.

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Dealing with Everyday Racism as a Black Mom with a White-Passing Son

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-03-18 01:28Z by Steven

Dealing with Everyday Racism as a Black Mom with a White-Passing Son


Ndéla Faye
London, United Kingdom

Illustration by Erin Aniker

Do they live far?” the woman asks me in the swimming pool changing rooms, nodding her head towards my son. “We live across the river, not far from here,” I reply, not quite understanding the wording of her question. On my way home I realize that her choice of pronoun referred to my son’s family—which she assumed I was not a part of. She did not think my child was mine. I bite my lip and wipe the tears from my eyes.

When white professor Robert E. Kelly’s children interrupted his live interview on the BBC last year, many thought his Korean wife, visible in the background, was the nanny. The incident sparked a much-needed debate on stereotypes and racism, but the truth is this is part and parcel of many non-white mum’s life. Having lived in London for more than a decade, where less than half the population identify as white and British, I have – perhaps naively – been lulled into the idea that people don’t judge me based on the color of my skin. But since the birth of my child, I’ve been proven wrong time and time again.

I notice a shop security guard staring at my son, examining his features and trying to answer the big red question mark blinking in his head. “Are you looking after him for someone?” he blurts out. This time I’m unable to hide my anger. “No, I pushed him out myself,” I reply curtly. I make a swift exit, accompanied by the awkward laughs and raised eyebrows of those who witnessed this unfortunate exchange. Swatting away microaggressions with an invisible bat has become part of my everyday survival.

Part of motherhood is being thrown into a whole new world, but as the mother of a “white-passing” child, I’ve been thrown head first into a place where a playgroup leader asks if I am my child’s guardian—but immediately refers to my white friend and her white baby as “mom and baby.” A place where an Irish woman corrects me on the pronunciation of my own child’s Irish name. A place where I see people flinch with surprise as I nurse my son in public, and I wonder whether they think I’m a hired wet nurse, and keep smiling even though I feel like crying…

Read the entire article here.

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I’m Raising A Biracial Daughter In Japan, Where She’s Surrounded By Blackface

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2018-03-17 23:56Z by Steven

I’m Raising A Biracial Daughter In Japan, Where She’s Surrounded By Blackface

The Huffington Post

Tracy Jones, Guest Writer

Tracy Jones
Me, my wife, Haruki, and daughter, Kantra.

I live in Tokyo, in a homogenous society where 98.5 percent of the population is Japanese. My wife Haruki is Japanese, and my 4-year-old daughter Kantra is the only black girl in her preschool class. I remember when the Japanese delivery nurse called her Halle Berry immediately after my wife gave birth to her.

They were the first words my daughter ever heard. When the nurse sensed my confusion, she tried to improve her comment: “Naomi Campbell?”

Kantra was born in the summer of 2013. As a stay-at-home dad, I used online compilations of Sesame Street to teach her the alphabet, colors, shapes and numbers in English. I thought about getting a TV, but my wife explained to me that Japanese television programs regularly use blackface. Minus watching Japanese TV when visiting my in-laws, I never paid it much attention.

I moved to Japan in 2011 and for the first two years, I couldn’t figure out if I was insane or if Japan was like America where, as a black person, I was accustomed to sensing white fear and the possible danger of it harming my body…

Read the entire article here.

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A different portrait of black fatherhood

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2018-03-06 19:31Z by Steven

A different portrait of black fatherhood

In Pictures
BBC News

Zun Lee

Zun Lee was raised in Germany by Korean parents – but as an adult he discovered his real father was a black American with whom his mother had had a brief affair.

After this discovery, he began to explore fatherhood among black Americans.

Lee says the US media mainly portrays black fathers in one of two ways:

  • the absent father, often portrayed as a “deadbeat”
  • the traditional family patriarch, as seen in TV programmes such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

And his project, on display at the Bronx Documentary Centre, in New York, aims for a more balanced and nuanced portrayal.

Read the entire article here.

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A Family Affair

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2018-03-06 03:35Z by Steven

A Family Affair

Ball Bearings Magazine

Merritt Mclaughlin

Photos/Illustrations by Annelise Hanshaw

When a child is raised with parents from different cultures, they are exposed to different perspectives and beliefs that shape how they approach the world.

In the Celtic culture, the most valuable things are said to come in threes—The Earth, the Sea, and the Sky, and the three stages of life. Representing this ideology is the Celtic knot, known also as the Triquetra or the Trinity Knot.

The Celtic knot is composed of lines woven together meeting at three key points. The knot has been adopted into many other cultures despite its Celtic origin.

The knot, a versatile and ornate symbol, adorns wedding rings, glows with sunlight streaming through stained glass church windows, and even shows up on TV shows.

Celebrating Differences

Stephen Baker’s Celtic knot is embedded in his skin, a tattoo laying directly over his heart. For him, its points represent his mom, his siblings, and his step-dad.

Like the knot, his family is woven together despite the staggering differences in their cultures.

Stephen is biracial, and he appreciates all the different cultures and people who came together to create his unique worldview…

Read the entire article here.

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Black With (Some) White Privilege

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2018-02-11 06:08Z by Steven

Black With (Some) White Privilege

Sunday Review
The New York Times

Anna Holmes, Editorial Director

Credit Illustration by Anthony Gerace; Photographs by SensorSpot, via Getty Images

When I was in my early 30s, I started making a list of every child I could think of who had a black parent and a white parent and was born between 1960 and the mid- to late 1980s. It was a collection of people like me, who grew up and came of age after the Supreme Court decision in 1967 that overturned the laws in more than a dozen states that outlawed interracial marriage.

I was thinking of people I knew or had heard of, so of course the list included actors like Tracee Ellis Ross (born 1972) and Rashida Jones (1976); athletes like Derek Jeter (1974) and Jason Kidd (1973); singers like Mariah Carey (1969) and Alicia Keys (1981); and, eventually, politicians and public servants like Adrian Fenty (1970) and Ben Jealous (1973).

It occurred to me, looking at the names I’d gathered, that what I was making was not just a snapshot of a particular generation but an accounting of some of the most notable, successful, widely recognized black people in American public life — cultural, political, intellectual, academic, athletic.

It made sense: The people I could think of were the people who were the most publicly visible. But what did it mean about race and opportunity in the United States that many of the most celebrated black people in American cultural life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries happened to have been born to one white parent? What if my and my cohort’s achievements as African-Americans, especially in fields to which we historically had little access, were more about how we benefited from having one white parent in a racist society than our hard work?…

…Of course, to be a black American is to be, by definition, mixed: According to a study released in 2014, 24 percent of the genetic makeup of self-identified African-Americans is of European origin. Colorism, which places black people in an uncodified but nevertheless very real hierarchy, with the lighter-skinned among us at the top, was a fact of American life long before Loving v. Virginia. Light-skinned black Americans, even those with two black parents, have, for centuries, been considered to be closer to white people, closer to white ideals about, well, most everything…

Read the entire article here.

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The Conversation I’ve Been Dreading: Ijeoma Oluo Talks About Race with Her Mom

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2018-01-28 03:17Z by Steven

The Conversation I’ve Been Dreading: Ijeoma Oluo Talks About Race with Her Mom

Literary Hub

Ijeoma Oluo

‘At this point I’m regretting the invention of the telephone.’

From So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

When my white mother gave birth to me, and later my brother, in Denton, Texas, she became the subject of a lot of racial commentary in her conservative southern community. But surprisingly, my mother and I had our first really substantive conversation about race late in my life, when I was 34 years old. I was well into my career in writing about culture and social justice and my opinions and identity around race were pretty well documented by then. But the truth is, like many families, our conversations growing up mostly revolved around homework, TV shows, and chores.

While I was growing up, my mother had given the obligatory speeches that all parents of black children must give: don’t challenge cops, don’t be surprised if you are followed at stores, some people will be mean to you because of your beautiful brown skin, no you can’t have the same hairstyle as your friends because your hair doesn’t do that. But those conversations were one-offs that ceased to be necessary once we were old enough to see the reality of race for ourselves.

Having a white mother, my siblings and I likely had even fewer conversations about race than black children raised by black parents, because there was a lot about our lives that our mother’s whiteness made it hard for her to see. My mother loved our blackness as much as was possible for any nonblack person to do, she loved our brown skin, our kinky hair, our full lips, our culture, and our history. She thought we were beauty incarnate…

Read the entire article here.

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On Growing Up Mexican Italian American

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-01-22 02:33Z by Steven

On Growing Up Mexican Italian American

the Parent Voice

Gino Pellegrini

I became aware of the world around me during the Reagan era in a middle-class, conservative, predominantly white suburb of Los Angeles.

Growing up Mexican Italian American in this context was difficult and dissonant for me. If I had grown up in a different place or class, my mixed experience might have been very different, but then I would not have this story to tell…

Read the entire article here.

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Let’s Talk About Whiteness

Posted in Audio, Family/Parenting, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-12-26 22:53Z by Steven

Let’s Talk About Whiteness

On Being

Krista Tippett, Host/Executive Producer

Eula Biss, Professor of Instruction
Department of English
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Image by Ann Hamilton

Could we learn to talk about whiteness? The writer Eula Biss has been thinking and writing about being white and raising white children in a multi-racial world for a long time. She helpfully opens up words and ideas like “complacence,” “guilt,” and something related to privilege called “opportunity hoarding.” To be in this uncomfortable conversation is to realize how these words alone, taken seriously, can shake us up in necessary ways — but also how the limits of words make these conversations at once more messy and more urgent.

Listen to the interview (00:51:21) here. Download the interview here. Read the transcript here.

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How my mother’s fanatical views tore us apart

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-11-28 04:41Z by Steven

How my mother’s fanatical views tore us apart

The Daily Mail

Rebecca Walker

Maternal rift: Rebecca Walker, whose mother was the feminist author of The Color Purple – who thought motherhood a form of servitude, is now proud to be a mother herself

She’s revered as a trail-blazing feminist and author Alice Walker touched the lives of a generation of women. A champion of women’s rights, she has always argued that motherhood is a form of servitude. But one woman didn’t buy in to Alice’s beliefs – her daughter, Rebecca, 38.

Here the writer describes what it was like to grow up as the daughter of a cultural icon, and why she feels so blessed to be the sort of woman 64-year-old Alice despises – a mother.

Read the entire article here.

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