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Is Love Enough When Raising A Bi-Racial Child?

June 26, 2012

All families encounter challenges.  Those challenges may surround finances, discrimination from others based on race or religion, work schedules or cultural differences.  The list is too long! I grew up as the daughter of immigrant parents and I often felt like my mother and father had mentalities that were starkly different from mine and such differences sometimes had emotionally painful consequences.  Clearly, mixed race families may also experience particular issues. 

I’ve heard of black mothers being mistaken for a very fair-skinned child’s nanny.   One of my white female in-laws who is married to my cousin (a black man) told me that her son’s teacher told him that he should paint himself gray because he is half black and half white.  How ridiculous!

But I pray that at the end of the day the most important gift that we can give to our children is the unshakeable belief that they are worthy and that they are loved and that with that belief they can go forth and conquer whichever challenges come their way.  Surely, parents of any race, culture, or financial background can give their children that crucial gift.

The following article by Alex Barnett which is entitled “When a White Dad Feels He Failed His Black Wife and Bi-Racial Son” discusses a white father’s horrible feeling of impotence when he could not think of the appropriate response to a white man’s racist insult to his unborn bi-racial son.  However the father realizes that his ability to be a consistent and reliable provider, protector, nurturer and teacher to his son outweigh any inability that he might have to relate to his son’s  experiences as a boy/man of African descent.

“Give him a banana!” the man shouted at the stage.

I looked at him then scanned the rest of the crowd, reeling, as if I had been slapped in the face.

Seconds before, I was a stand-up comic regaling the audience.  When I segued into the part of my routine in which I noted that my wife and I were an interracial couple expecting the birth of our first child and that I was concerned about being a white man raising a biracial son,  he interrupted and stopped me cold.

That he had such an ignorant and hate-filled thought was disturbing.  That he said it in public was mind-boggling.  We weren’t at a minstrel show in the antebellum Deep South.  We were at a comedy club in the New York suburbs in the Age of Obama.

The room went quiet, as the audience processed what had happened, looked at the man, then at me and waited for my answer.

It is a beautiful piece.  Please read the rest of it here at Beyond Black and White.   

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