Raising Biracial Boys in America

biracial boys

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.

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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.

What do you think?

Raising Biracial Boys in America

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. As it turns out, her parenting advice is not generally useful for more than a good laugh, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Amanda spends her offline time (which is embarrassingly limited) running a photography business, working as a social media director for a local magazine, writing freelance articles about stuff she loves, wrangling her 3 little Dudes ... More

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6 comments

  1. Rachel says:

    I am a “European mutt”, aka American. My daughteris half Hispanic and gorgeous. We are all mixed in 1 way or another, wether we look like it or not.
    My daughterasked my why she can’t have white skin like mine and in tears wanted to change her “different” brown skin. I told her she was made exactly how she should ne and is gorgeous just the way she is.
    I won’t lie and say it was easy or took only 1 day…. It took about a week of reassurance and pointing out everyone we know who “looks different” and why (fat, skinny, tall, short, hair and skin color, etc…). Being a very smart first grader at the time, she absorbed everything and took it all in. All the while I had to let her make up her own mind and accept herself.
    She now is more confident that she’s not “weird”, just her own kind of unique.

  2. Katie says:

    My husband is guyanese and I’m white and many times I’ve been asked if I was a babysitter or just complemented my very young looking mother in law on her beautiful twins. But the my favorite questions was from another parent at gymnastics. She asked if they were Indian I said..sure and her response was oh did you have to fly there or did they bring them here? All I could do was stare and I finally just said no uh they’re from my birth canal…… she said oh and seemed very satisfied with that answer but then turned back to another parent and said see I knew they were something. It still makes me laugh. She meant no harm and regardless of what I said she wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with what she said.
    When my 3 girls ask me “what” they are I say strong women.

  3. MomAgain says:

    I agree that mixed race kids are some of the most beautiful creatures on this planet; two of my sisters are mixed (lovingly called black and white and red all over due to the shared American Indian on both sides) and I have never seen more gorgeous girls. Their children are also stunning, both married Mexican men. I also have one mixed race baby, her daddy is Mexican and Pinoy. I am also mixed, just of white and whiter with a shake of Jew to make things odd. I also remember how hard it was for my younger sister especially, she got teased by the kids here in Ca, and even worse when she went to visit her dad in DC – in the 80’s especially the racism toward mixes were relentless. Personally it is something that I cannot wrap my head around; aren’t we all just a mix of one thing or another? Where we come from racially is an important part of the foundations for how we view the world, both positively and negatively; however I think where we come from *personally* is more important. Who were these people past the genetic indentifiers? All that said the mixing of the races is responsible for some of the most stunning beauty – inside and out – and we should all be grateful to share in it.

  4. Francesca says:

    I’m half Puerto Rican, half Italian. My husband is half Japanese, half Native American. Our son is just plain adorable and everyone says so. Mixed races are the best! My friend gets a lot of weird comments though. She’s half Hispanic but very dark. Her first daughter came out dark like her. Her second daughter came out with her dad’s Irish genes: red hair and fair skin. Nobody believes they’re both hers, or from the same father.

  5. sdixon2012 says:

    All my kids are black and white, and different shades. The older two are very dark, my middle child is almost white, my last two look mexican, and who knows what shade the new baby will be. I get stares, looks, questions, "They yours?" CLEARLY when they all look like me. Its not the boys I have identity issues with, its my only daughter. She has the prettiest big brown eyes and skin tone, but her hair is CRAZY. She wants white girl hair. She doesnt understand why she has to get perms and braids and curlin irons and why she cant just put it in a ponytail and go. I tell her everytime, cuz your a beautiful half black half white girl and you need to embrace it instead of being embarrassed. The boys dont care, they think they are hot sh*t because they are mixed and cute. I teach them about my family and their fathers family and where we came from.

  6. Grace says:

    i too want my biracial children to be confident in themselves, they are amazing!

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