Raising Biracial Boys in America
I’m raising three biracial children.
I know, it’s not a very unique position to be in in today’s America, but as far as I can tell, it’s still a pretty important part of our existence.
When my husband begged me to love him long time and I got together, we didn’t really think much about the fact that he is Mexican and I am black. We were more concerned with the things we have in common: the same undergraduate major, and our love for movies, $2 bills, and gangsta rap.
We became great friends and then dated through most of college (well, for me anyway, because I’m younger).
We were pretty young when we had our first son, and unlike many, we didn’t plan it for years, or try for weeks, we just suddenly were, um, having a baby.
Our first baby. Our first boy baby. Our first half black, half Mexican boy baby.
Despite being knowledgeable about the origin of offspring, we were shocked and awed by the fact that I would soon bear a child with his laid back personality and my stunning good looks decision making. So you can see how his racial composition was the least of our concerns.
But, once he came and we fell in love with him, and we finally figured out how to keep him alive, it started to get more important.
Mostly because other people made it so by saying say things like, “Are you the nanny?” and, “Is he yours?” when I ventured out and about with him stuck on my hip, weighted down with a plethora of baby accoutrements, looking like I’d just been released from a bomb shelter in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (what? Our first few months together were HARD).
I’d usually respond by staring into oblivion, attempting to remember how to manipulate my tongue to form words, before finally providing a very eloquent, “Uh, yep.”
I was confused mostly because I was sleep deprived, but also because he looks like me. And, I held him like I owned him. And, I have a hard time imaging that a nanny would keep her job if she looked as shot up and blown out as I looked and felt in those days. No one works as hard as a new mom. No one.
As he aged, people started asking him questions and I realized that I needed to do a better job of helping him know and love who he is.
He and his younger brothers are going to carry on their father’s Spanish surname. And, they’re not going to be able to speak a lick of Spanish while they do it (his father doesn’t speak Spanish because of his Americanness). They are going to be different shades of brown (some light, some dark), and when people look at them they are going to think things that have nothing to do with the awesomeness inside, and everything to do with what they think they see outside.
I want The Dudes to be proud of all of those things. Proud of the heritages they get to call their own and informed about the history of the two. But, I mostly just want them to be comfortable and confident with who they are. On the inside AND on the outside.
I want them to feel confident answering questions (nope, it’s not a tan), and dispelling myths (my dad and even his parents were BORN in America, just like yours). I want them to understand why people stare (they do, seriously) and why people say things in front of them that they don’t understand would be hurtful (sometimes they don’t know they’re half black and half Mexican just by looking).
And I want him to know that no matter what other people say or think or do, they are special. Not special weird. Not special funny. Special awesome.