Q: Hello, I live in Alabama. I am raising my biracial nephew. We are basically white of Indian origin. My son (yes, I do feel that way) is 7 years old. He is a wonderful bright spot in many lives. We have found that there are so many biracial people and interracial couples now that no one really notices except the older white crowd. I worry that he will never find acceptance or understanding within the black community. He is around mostly Hispanics and whites with very few black children. Most of those he is around are also biracial. How can I educate him about his own history and culture? I want him to be a well
rounded person but he needs to know about both sides. A lot of African-American music that is popular today depicts violence and a lifestyle we are not accepting of (black or white). What to do?
A: Bless you for taking care of your nephew. Love may not solve every problem, but it goes a long way toward helping find answers. Your note lets me know you and your nephew are and will continue to be fine. The factors or people who help shape all of us are: family, school, teachers, friends, religion, race, gender, geography and the media.
Expose your nephew to black culture in a way that doesn’t seem condescending, piecemeal or inconsistent. One way to do that is to become part of the black community in your area. Build your own village, a group of people you trust to help you influence your nephew.
Build the village with the help of your family, school, teachers and friends. At the same time, be mindful of race, gender and geography as you choose people to help you raise your nephew.
Monitor media. All of it isn’t bad, and keeping children away from media altogether isn’t fair. We opt for what’s age appropriate for Simone and Nadia. We monitor everything they do, and they do not have a television or computer in their room.
Tell your story to as many people who will listen and ask for help. Sometimes you just have to ask. To the outside world, everything may look fine. Ask for help and see who steps forward to help.
Find a mentor for you and your nephew. Parents are a resourceful bunch, and your nephew will appreciate having someone else to talk to other than his “Dad.”
Read to and with him. Books are wonderful learning tools and icebreakers. Click on the bookshelf tab on my site for a short list of our favorites. Visit leeandlow.com and candlewick.com for exceptional books about the black experience.
Tap into resources. Take a look at the list of the blog links on the right or click on the resources tab at the top of my site. Send an email to honeysmoke (at) honeysmoke (dot) com with your snail mail address. I’ve got a copy of MAVIN’s Multiracial Child Resource Book that I’d be happy to send to you.
Have fun. Children don’t always know they are learning when you take them to a festival or church or some other social gathering. Enjoy yourself and enjoy your nephew.
I hope this helps. Keep in touch. Tell me how you’re doing from time to time.
Honeysmoke readers, I am not an expert. I don’t even play one on TV. Chime in with your thoughts.