Here is a list of 50 Experiences of Racially Mixed People. It is written by Maria P. P. Root, a clinical psychologist who has written and edited several books about multiracial people.

I have been an unwilling participant in some of these misinformed observations. I have laughed, and I’ve winced. A few of these encounters surfaced in my life long before I married and had children. It is my hope that this list will dwindle and eventually disappear during Simone and Nadia’s lifetime.  Check it out.

4 thoughts to “Good Read

  • Blanc2

    This is a fascinating list. As somebody who has been around many biracial people, from different generations and backgrounds, I can see bits and pieces of many of my friends’ histories in this list. For example, a former girlfriend who had a black biological father but was raised by her white mother within a white extended family, often got the “what are you?” or “where are you from?” type of questions, as well as overhearing the sotto voce “does she know?” from an inebriated aunt or uncle.

    Another former biracial girlfriend, raised by her black father within his black extended family (mom out of the picture), was targeted with many of the “you’re acting white” or “you think you’re better than us” or the “you have to choose” or “you’re not black enough” type of comments.

    A very close friend, a male, Chinese mother and caucasian father, heard more of the “curiousity” type comments.

    Certainly in a highly polyglot nation like the US, this type of curiousity will be rampant. Some years ago, a new co-worker, exotically beautiful, inspired this even in me, who thought he had seen or known everybody. As it turned out, she was from the Seychelles, where many of the inhabitants are a mix of Indian (from India, in Asia) and African, where they speak several languages, including a a local pigin and French, but this young lady was educated in British boarding schools and then lived for some time in Canada. Her accent was impossible to pinpoint because of these varied inputs, and her exotic beauty was of a type I hadn’t previously seen. She got a lot of attention, especially from me, specifically because she was so exotic and lovely.

    From what I’ve seen so far, the world is a bit different for my kids. They’re used to being around a variety of mixes, including various ethnic or religious mixes, blended families, and families with two parents of the same gender, etc.

    I think it helps if the mixed individual learns to have a sense of humor. Some years ago we hosted a foreign exchange student, a young man from Denmark who was ethnically Korean (an adoptee). He was quite tall, about 6′ 2″, and muscular, with a heavy Danish accent. To Americans who don’t recognize the Danish accent, they saw a tall Asian kid with heavy accent that didn’t sound Asian. “Where are you from?” “Denmark” (pronounced “THEN mahk”). This almost always elictied stupified, uncomprehending stares, which became a source of uproarious humor for us.

  • Blanc2

    By the way, we’re finding the experiences of our son and our daugher are different. As our daughter enters middle school and the “mean girl” thing is coming along, we are seeing some catty comments by some girls in her class. I had no idea girls could be so viscious. As seredipity would have it, our daughter is a very strong soccer player who is playing C1 level travel soccer. The presence of her soccer team, her acheivements on the soccer pitch, all of this has been a fantastic stable presence in her life to help her weather some of the mean stuff girls in her class try to do or say. On the soccer pitch, hair type or skin shade has no bearing. Points on the board at the final whistle are all that matter, and at this age in C1 soccer these young women are serious, hard, physical, even brutal competitors. The ability to be a consistend “force” player on the pitch at this level, to contribute to the team’s success, that’s a great thing.

    Sort of consistent with that, we’ve found in general that the busier we keep our kids doing things that are good for them, the less the superficial stuff has an effect. Both play a sport, both play two instruments, participate in various clubs at school, etc. They don’t often have a free moment, and they certainly don’t have energy to be worrying about somebody in class who might have a question about their hair texture or skin shade.

    • Honeysmoke

      Yes, a strong foundation and knowing who you are great weapons against bullying. Sports, I’m told, is especially good at this.

  • MusingMomma

    I read this list and my first thought “Oh, I wish my boys wouldn’t have to deal with some of these!” It also made me realize there may be things on this list that, as a mother, I need to be careful not to participate in. For instance, can I make sure I know how my children identify themselves, so that I don’t unwittingly identify them in a way they aren’t comfortable with? I love Maria Root’s Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage.

    It also occurred to me that some of these also apply to being in an interracial family – #9 especially jumped out “9. People say things they might not otherwise say if they knew how you identified racially.” – the variation would be that people say things they wouldn’t say if they knew your partner and children! I’m always aware of that possibility (since it certainly has happened). Or, the way people suddenly become less comfortable mentioning race in front of me for fear they will say something wrong. Becoming part of a multiracial family means experiencing racism in a whole different way!.

    Last thought… in reading Blanc2’s response I was thinking about how I’ve lately realized that part of my desire for my boys to become involved in sports is not only the protective factor that sports play for all kids, but knowing that athletes are often afforded a certain status among their peers and thinking that might gain my kids a level of acceptance they maybe won’t have otherwise. I struggle with realizing that in some ways my efforts to protect them mean “buying into” the system that exists (i.e., why couldn’t they be just as accepted without that extra status? why do I feel the need to make sure they defy stereotypes? etc.)

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