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This is a wonderful piece. Dionne writes with simple, sharp as a bell, clarity, on topics that are not usually so easy to discuss. It IS still harder to be black. I too am a little disappointed that Obama identifies himself as black, and not biracial. But I was shocked out of my seat when McCain commented on how Obama would never have been allowed to attend a particular fund raising dinner many years ago, and that it was wonderful that he was present now. I thought we were past even having to pass comment. I expect all people to be able to go anywhere or do anything they like now- within the law. I felt it was a very disingenuous way of reminding everyone that they would be making history if they elected Obama. McCain is banking on the hope that many people are afraid of that kind of REAL change. I want all of our children to grow up feeling that it is just as easy to be any race. I hope that Obama's election will move us towards that.Dionne's piece entertains, and at the same time makes us think. That is the best kind of writing.
I see Rachael Quinn's neutral approach to racial identity with respect to her daughter as a copout. While I can appreciate the hard experiences of her past, the expressed desire to “be white” seems like nothing more than an exercise in denial. It is clear, from the tone of this essay that Ms. Quinn has yet to come to terms with her own issues regarding race. And, albeit intentionally, may pass on a legacy of black self hatred. In my opinion, embracing the black part of biracial identity often presents the greater challenge because black people as a whole are not equally represented and/or celebrated in many facets of main stream America. For that reason, as the parent representing the marginalized half of your daughter’s identity, it is imperative that you approach this issue from a position of pride, sharing both your experiences and the lessons learned.
I see Rachael Quinn's neutral approach to racial identity with respect to her daughter as a copout. While I can appreciate the hard experiences of her past, the expressed desire to “be white” seems like nothing more than an exercise in denial. It is clear, from the tone of this essay that Ms. Quinn has yet to come to terms with her own issues regarding race. And, albeit unintentionally, may pass on a legacy of black self hatred. In my opinion, embracing the black part of biracial identity often presents the greater challenge because black people as a whole are not equally represented and/or celebrated in many facets of main stream America. For that reason, as the parent representing the marginalized half of your daughter’s identity, it is imperative that you approach this issue from a position of pride, sharing both your experiences and the lessons learned.
This is a great article and very timely for me. My four year old son, who is biracial (my husband is white and I am black) recently told me that he is white. I too wanted him to make his own choice about his race, but I expected that choice to be black or biracial. I wish I weren't disappointed, but I am. It has made me start to question my feelings about race - shouldn't it be ok for him to white, just as it is ok for him to be blaclk.
What I find interesting is that many biracial (black & white) children's features become increasing( or subtly) more "black" over time. I have blond hair,blue eyes, and dominant European features but in the company of white people fall into the category of "other". White people are rarely confused about what box I should check. If anything the see me as safe because I am less likely to confront them about their percieved stereotypes about black people or people of color in general.
I am bi-racial (black and white) and my husband is also mixed (black, white and native american), so our naturally our children are mixed as well. Although my husband and I identify as African-American, we have tought our children that they are "brown" - a proud mixture of several races. My now 7 year old son has fair skin, blond hair and green eyes. At the age of 5 he too thought he was white - because he looks more white than black. He now recognizes that he is brown. My 10 year old daughter is also fair, but calls herself brown and claims to be African-American. She sees a distinction, however, between herself and other darker-skinned African-Americans, whom she calls black. The bottom line is, being mixed is complex. For mixed children their identity is about both race and color, which can be two very different concepts.As a child of a white mother and black father, I can relate to the author, but I am also surprised at her strong desire that her daughter identify herself as black - when she clearly is not. Yes, she is African-American, yes, she is caucasian, but she is not white, nor is she black - she is brown. A 5 year old child does not understand issues of race - she sees colors. She looks in the mirror and sees a brown girl, not the darker skin of her mother or the white skin of her father. When told that she is both black and white, she sees neither in the mirror, but feels compelled to identify with one of the only two choices she is given. In this case, choosing white is easiest. Why does this little girl have to be "both black and white" - why can't she be brown?
We appreciated your article and interview on Here-Now. As board members of the Association of MultiEthnic Americans, we wanted to share the following resources with you: www.mixedheritagecenter.org, www.amea.org, and www.mavinfoundation.org We also speak as a couple and parents of two multiracial daughters 17 and 13Kelley and Mark Kenney
This was a great article. While I am not biracial, my mother's people on her mother's side were East Indian, Native American, Caucasion. On her father's side, Native American, Caucasion and African-American. My mother is very fair with straight hair, my father the deepest dark Chocolate. My mother often told me she did that on purpose because she never wanted anyone to question what my brother, sister and I were. I still had issues, and yes they included riding my tricycle with my light yellow security blanket draped on my head (this was in 1972) in our all white neighborhood. My mother was horrified. I think that as time goes on, the author's daughter will figure it out. Her mother will not have to tell her. Unfortunately society will let her know exactly who they think she should be.
This morning my daughter had Muffins w/ mom at her school and she refused to speak to anyone becuse they would know her mommy was "brown." I went home and cried, later learning that she told everyone her dad was white. He has a light complexion but is not white. She was teased at the black school for being light but is ashamed to be brown at the white school. I feel like we do not fit in anywhere.
I deeply appreciate this article as it opened up dialogue between my 2 biracial children and I about their feelings of their identity.My son is 15 and my daughter 13. They are biracial( father African-American and mother Polish-American). Growing up I was around my Polish family;cooking and eating the food, listening to the music. When I moved away from the area my grandmother made sure I came for the summers.I felt connected. Now with my children, I pass my culture down to them the same way, it doesn't matter if they are also African-American. My husband shares and shows his love of his African-American culture/race with our children as well. Same situation, love of food that he was fond of growing up, music he loves to hear, people he loves and the pride he feels for them. It doesn't matter if they are also Polish! The point is... sharing the pride of ones culture is a way of showing LOVE. When we do this with our children they will feel proud of who they are... all of themselves even though they might relate to being one or the other more or being totally both.When I asked my children if they feel like they are white or black or both, they responded... we are both. They both agreed that they cannot be one without the other. They identify as being biracial with brown skin. They said they don't feel like they have to fit in more with one side or the other depending on the situation. I must say that some people do not know what they are exactly. People have sworn that they are Puerto Rican, middle Eastern, biracial or black. What matters is they know what they are and that they are not afraid to say it, a Polish African-American. What upsets them the most is, they say most people don't know what Polish is? "Mom, they don't know where Poland is"I say this because I believe if you show your daughter the wonderful side of the African-American culture and the wonderful side of being Finnish and Irish(I believe this is what you said your husband's families culture is)then she will be proud and over time it will not be an issue. My children identified as having brown skin when they were younger and did not understand that brown was not a race. Having brown skin could relate to people of the Latin, middle eastern or african-american community as well as many other people. For our family, we focus on raising children who are aware and proud of their cultures so as they grow older they will be proud of their race,it is for them to choose and not for me to be upset with because it is a personal issue. As a mother, I cannot choose what race they are when they grow up and identify with one side or the other or maybe both but I can have a powerful influence on them having a wonderful sense of self by knowing their cultures.On the flip side, we also make them aware that there are people that will not like them because of their skin color or where their family is from.We talk about this so we can address any issues that they are feeling. Nothing makes my blood boil more than someone being racists towards another person, so I want them aware that they will face this.I wanted to leave this comment to help others with biracial children. My approach has been to raise culturally aware children not children who are white and black... what is that suppose to mean anyways? Children who are aware of the culture that makes their race white and children who are aware of the culture that makes their race black and in the end what makes them WONDERFULLY biracial which is why they have brown skin!
I remember another essay not long ago. The 14-year-old light-skinned black girl made the statement that kids in her predominantly black neighborhood said she shouldn't try to speak like the TV commentators or try so hard to make good grades in school or wear knee-high socks and pleated, knee-length skirts. They said she was "trying to be white." I think the black self-hate, self-defeat, considering oneself black first before investing identity in one's whole multi-racial community is as strong as ever. Maybe it's time for a different campaign of equality -- something with more bite than the 1960's and 70's "Black is beautiful" -- something like color is incidental, what and who are you really and what are you doing with your life? Maybe it's time blacks also let go a little of color as the defining character of their identity.Yes. She's black. She should know her heritage and history. She also needs to recognize where and what she wants to be and not let her racial community, anymore than others, set the limits for her future.
Wow! I was very emotional reading this article. I have nieces, nephews, and cousins who are biracial and I couldn't help but wonder which one had ever felt like Dionne's daughter. My cousin recently married a woman from Germany. He's African-American. They have three girls and the youngest are twins. All of them look like dolls with beautiful gold locks. I wondered will they ever feel like Dionne's daughter. One thing that stuck with me is the fact that, today, children have the choice to be who they feel most comfortable being. For some, this will come as a resolve at the end of an identity struggle and for others it will be a no-brainer. While I am proud of my reality - I am black, I am also sick that, today, the same reality can still manifest itself to an innocent child and suggest to her that it's hard to be me.
I think every nonwhite child grows up thinking they're white, or that they want to be white. When I was 5 I remember telling my mom I wish I was white(I'm black). I remember the horror on her face and I never mentioned it again.Comedian Maraget Chow said as a toddler she thought she was white and by 6 she realized she wasn't, she said she felt like "someone had did a disservice to her"... I understand that feeling
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