A Black And White World
We’re living in a powder keg of racial tension right now and it often makes me wonder how my children fit into a world that is determined to see black and white without acknowledging shades of gray (or brown). When I first started dating my husband at the age of 18 I did feel the need to let my parents know before their first meeting that he was black. I think based on their reactions, they didn’t really understand why I was telling them at all. They could have cared less about his race and loved him immediately.
Bi-racial Babies Are Beautiful
As time marched on, we finished college, got married, and then got pregnant with our first daughter Hannah. I’m not going to lie, I did wonder what she would look like. When my daughter came out looking white, my husband feared that despite her looking exactly like him people might assume he was her step-father instead of her biological father. Being bi-racial himself he had grown up experiencing the polarization of race. In some circles he was considered black or at least “not white” and in others he was told he was “not really black” or “not black enough.”
What Is She?
It wasn’t until a mom in the daycare I ran asked my business partner while I was out of the room, “What is Hannah (racially speaking)” that I truly came to understand what being bi-racial would mean for my kids. It means that they will get quizzical looks as people try to figure out what they are. They were born into a world that sees color as static instead of fluid. Bi-racial children like mine don’t fit the check boxes. For my part I always check both the black and white boxes on medical or school forms. To say they are white because they look white is simply untrue. They are no more mine than my husband’s (though I do like to remind him that I did all the hard work bringing them into the world).
Seeking Out Diversity
I try to immerse my children in culturally diverse environments. Their school is very ethnically diverse. When choosing a church I wanted my children to see people of all colors represented there. When we became friends with our neighbors who shared the same family makeup of a black father, white mother and bi-racial children I said a silent prayer of gratitude. As a white woman, there will always be things about race I don’t know or feel, but I do know that when I look at my husband and children I don’t see what makes us different; I simply see the people I love.
Seeing Relationships Instead Of Race
One day about two years ago Hannah referred to our family as white. I asked her if she thought we were all the same color to which she replied “yes.” I let her know that Daddy is black and white and she is both as well. But I realized later that she had it right. She doesn’t see in shades of color, but rather shades of love and in that way we are truly all the same.
In my effort to make sure she doesn’t neglect her bi-racial heritage, I made a huge error. Children are born ready and willing to be color blind because they see through the lens of love. The best thing we can do for our children is to stop pointing out the ways we are different. If we all saw the world as children, especially bi-racial children, we would see relationships instead of race because in our house there is no “black daddy” or “white mommy,” but simply mommy and daddy who love them more than anything in the world.