Raising Mixed Kids 101: 1. Educate yourself, so you can educate your children.

1. Educate yourself, so you can educate your children.

That awkward, or, rather, tragic moment when you meet a person who has a child who is half Black, and you realize they know little to nothing about Black culture/history.

If you’re going to, or already have a child who is half Black, you need to learn about Black culture.** I’m writing this piece with the assumption that you also know about your child’s other identities, and will pass those along to her or him as well. If your child is half European-American, the good news is our education system is set up to teach them about that half of their culture. If they’re half Black and half something else, then you need to work twice as hard.

So how does one go about learning about Black culture? This is not the type of question that can be answered with a few websites and book titles. Nor should you sit somewhere and attempt to “observe” Blackness. That’s ridiculous. Your learning experience is not synonymous to an anthropological dig, but a life long dedication to learning about a group to which you don’t belong. The learning process will be multifaceted, complicated, and eternal. Hopefully you’ll continuously immerse yourself in Black culture while passing down the richness of the African Diaspora down to your children.

How did my mother do it? Again, a question that isn’t easily answered. My mother was raised in the Bahamas, and came to California in the 70s. She says she felt rejected by white Americans because they looked at her as being different—she had an amazing tan (before tans were lucrative), and a thick Bahamian accent. She was often told to “go back where she came from.” Black-Americans, and other people of color, accepted my mother, and her community of friends has always been mixed. While my mother knew about Bahamian culture, she learned about other parts of the African Diaspora through friends, and her own “learning experiences.”

When I was a little girl, together, we read books, and watched films centering  African-American history. We went to cultural events where she was often the only non-Black person, but I always noticed it more than she did. Together, we  learned about African-American traditions, about soul food, about soul music. When school history books got Black history wrong, or simply ignored it, she told me what she knew, and supplemented the rest with books. She introduced me to Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Alice Walker when my schoolteachers didn’t. Billie Holiday, Bob Marley, Al Green, and Natalie Cole sang my childhood lullabies.

In order to learn more about Black culture, my mother didn’t take an “Intro to Black Culture” course. She didn’t have a token Black friend who broke down my complicated history. My mother immersed herself in a culture that was not her own with the same investment that she had when learning about her own ethnicities. And she’s never stopped learning. She still sends me articles about race, about Blackness, about being half Black. We continue to have conversations surrounding Black/mixed-race politics. My mother’s investment and eagerness to learn about Black culture not only allowed for me to learn more about myself, but it also showed me that I come from a culture- a race of people- that is worthy to be learned, to be loved, to be celebrated.

 

** I want to clarify that I’m not suggesting you should learn what it’s like to be Black, as that is impossible. While you will have great empathy for the Black experience, you will never understand what it’s like to be Black, or mixed, unless it is your experience, and that’s okay.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Raising Mixed Kids 101: 1. Educate yourself, so you can educate your children.

  1. As a white woman newly married to a black man, I want to thank you for writing this series of blog posts. It really opened my eyes to some of the challenges that my future mixed children will face and how I need to begin educating myself more on how to raise them well given that. Your series was so helpful and has given me a lot to think about. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for reading! I’m happy that my experiences resonated with you, and I commend you for thinking about your future children now. My mom didn’t have all the answers (and still doesn’t), but the beauty in her is that isn’t afraid to ask questions and seek support. Many blessings to your future children!

  2. “…but it also showed me that I come from a culture- a race of people- that is worthy to be learned, to be loved, to be celebrated.”

    Aww. When I realized my black boyfriend and I were serious and would probably have children, it first hit me that i was in a conundrum when I was standing in Chapters in front of a Disney book and I was like “Wait a second! There’s no Black Disney princesses! What! Am I going to do??!!?!”. Not that I’m into Disney. But it’s been a slow dawning that that’s just the tippity tip of the iceberg.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s