Biracial & Multiracial Families
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I'm looking to discuss the challenges of raising a bi-racial
teen in todays world. I'm feeling depressed about the
challenges my son will face as a young black man - from
racial profiling to simply the daily judgements he gets from
the larger community to my own family. I'd love to find a
support group, or classes to attend. A website would be
fine too. Thanks.
Check out: http://www.ipride.org
You can also fiind some good role models for your son by visiting the East Bay
Church of Religious Science: http://www.ebcrs.org/main.html
He'll be just fine.....
mom of 17 y/o bi-racial girl
Check out http://www.ipride.org/. It's a local group that
has been around forever. They do parent and school
trainings and you can find a great community there. I have
two biracial (black/white) teens 16 and 19 (though they
prefer to be called mixed) who grew up in ipride and we all
have really benefited.
My soon-to-be five year old, bi-racial (Asian/Caucasian) son
seems to be rejecting his Asian heritage. He frequently says
that he wants to change his middle name, which is my (Asian)
surname, to an ''American'' sounding name. When I told him that
his middle-name was my name because I (and his Asian heritage)
were a part of him, he responded that ''that name'' and
presumably being Asian, was O.K. for me, but not for him. He
also refused to take a picture of himself clad in Asian clothes
to school saying that his classmates would laugh at him and no
one would want to be his friend. My (Caucasian) husband and I
have tried to instill in my son pride in both his European and
Asian heritages, but my son seems to have internalized the idea
that it is somehow shameful or inferior to be Asian. Obviously,
this attitude is very distressing to me. I'm very worried that
my son will grow up to be self-hating or rejecting of his Asian
background. His preschool class is pretty diverse with about
25% of the kids being of mixed Caucasian/Asian backgrounds and
also with several kids of Afro-American and Hispanic, as well
as Caucasian backgrounds. I should mention that I am second-
generation, do not speak my language of origin and am not
observant of Asian customs. We have, however, tried to expose
my son to Asian food and certain other limited aspects of Asian
culture. Any words of advice or suggested resources or books
for dealing with this issue would be much appreciated. Thanks
Don't want my son to be self-hating
From what I've read about raising biracial children (we have
caucasion/latino kids), it's normal for them to reject one race
for a while and then switch to the other one. ''Childhood
Matters'', the radio show, had a show on raising biracial
children and issues that come up. You can listen to old shows
on the computer at their website. I read one of the books they
recommended: ''Does anybody look like me? A parent's guide to
raising biracial children''. It was great for making you aware
of issues that may come up at different developmental ages, and
talks that you need to have with your children while they are
Your posting saddend me! I would guess that your son is having
difficulty identifying with his Asian heritage because it is not
a prominent part of your life. If you want hime to value his
Asian culture, I believe you have to demonstrate to him
firsthand how to. Even if you do not speak your native
language, which is not uncommon, you can become active in an
Asian community based organization, an Asian church group, take
him places like the Asian art museum, share in folk tales from
your country of origin. Lots of fun can be found in these
enriching activities. There are books out there for children as
well. I am 5th generation Japanese-American, and we
enjoy ''Nikkei Donburi, A Japanese American Cultural Survival
Guide''. It's a book written for children about Japanese
American customs, holidays and the history of these customs in
Japan. I wish you luck in this endeavor.
A believer! in customs and traditions
I have given a lot of thought to this topic, as I have lots of bi- and multi-racial
people in my family (son, step-daughter, ex-husband and 5 nieces and
nephews). There are lots of good books to read -- 2 that I found helpful were
''Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other
Conversations About Race'' by Beverly Daniel Tatum, and ''40 Ways to Raise a
Nonracist Child'' by Barbara Mathias & Mary Ann French. There are also lots of
good novels about the experience of growing up bi- or multi-racial in our
society -- one that comes to mind is ''Caucasia'' by Danzy Senna.
One thing that I learned is that forming a racial identity, especially for a bi- or
multi-racial person, is a long process that begins very early and can extend
well into adulthood. It is not uncommon for children (and adults) to go
through stages of not accepting one or another part of themselves. There are
huge pressures in our society, and in school, for people to conform and fit in.
Your son's desire to minimize the parts of him that he sees as ''different'' is
possibly a response to this pressure.
My advice would be to educate yourself as much as you can about race and
racism in our society, and keep giving your son appropriate information as he
goes through various developmental stages. Most of all, try not to take it
personally -- it might help you to keep in mind that he is working hard to
figure all this out. With your understanding and support, it will be easier for
him to move through this process.
One of the wonderful things about living in the Bay Area is for
our kids to be surrounded by biracial peers. I grew up biracial
on the East Coast and while many of my friends were biracial,
none of us thought that way. In our minds we were black,
chinese, japanese... whatever the darker of our parents were...
There are obviously a lot of good children's books out there and
I would ! make sure you have a good handful lying around - Two Mrs
Gibbons (about an Asian and a Black grandma), Aiko's flower's,
Everyone Eats Dim Sum...
I would also buy one of those ''ABC's of whatever your specific
culture is.'' I have found that supplying a basic resource for my
kids who are asked to represent their Japanese heritage at times
gives them the power to ''know something'' even if they look it up
in a book. It is amazing how some of this stuff loops around
again in a subtle way - ie Katagana writing on trading cards,
New Year's traditions, liking traditional foods...
A good book to check out at the library for you is ''I'm
Chocolate, You're Vanilla.'' I would not push anything with your
son now - incorporate what feels natural for you. He can tell
what does not.
I think the most important thing is to supply him with positive
images, a language for understanding who he is and a sense of
pride and comfort in be! ing a part of the mixing of the world.
His job is to come to terms with his racial/ethnic identity
himself (which may not be an issue til later), your job is to
give him the building blocks. I have found that the more
challenging work is my shifting sense of identity and
expectations for my kids identity-- it is amazing how being a
mom can bring this up!
I'm so sorry your son and you have been going through this. You
may well have already considered this, but could there have been
a specific incident at school that sparked his rejection? Or are
there perhaps specfic kids who are making life difficult for him?
If you could narrow the reasons for his comments down to
something like this, they might be easier to tackle. Just a
thought. Good luck!
Please read this book...it should be available! at the library
and is one of the best of it's kind. I too have a biracial child
and found thi sbook t be one of the best of it's kind. it is
tilted I'm Chocolate You're Vanilla by Marguerite Wright. Please
click on the link provided below which leads you to a
description of the book. It is an excellent book that is a must
for parents of biracial kids---regardless of the specific
anscestry of the child this book is superb!
My 7-year-old daughter is also bi-racial. (Asian/Caucasian) Not
sure why but she is the opposite of your son. She gravitates more
to her Asian side. (her mom/me) Her middle name is my surname and
her last name is my husband's surname. She wants to change her
name to my last name (''because she came from me,'' she says) and
have a ''girly'' middle name. I think she feels this way because we
see a lot more of my family than my husband's. She also attends
Jefferson Elementary in Berkeley and is part of their Chinese
bi-cultural program. (I happen to be of Japanese heritage) In the
summers she attends a Japanese cultural summer school in El
Cerrito - Daruma No Gakko. I'm ! third generation and didn't learn
any Japanese growing up but took it in college so I have some
knowledge of the language. I wouldn't say she shuns my husband's
heritage - we observe Hanukkah (in addition to Christmas) which
she really enjoys. I would also note that I am more connected to
my Japanese heritage than my husband is to his Eastern
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