Despite the fact that I am white, my children will be black

(40 Posts)
PreggersSoonHopefully Fri 20-Apr-12 21:40:52

Have been thinking about this a lot recently as dh and I are now ttc. I am white British, dh is black African.

Have realised that despite having one white parent, in the eyes of the world my children will be black. Sounds obvious I know but it has just fully occured to me. I have no idea what it means to grow up black in this country, except second hand through dh. Am wondering how it feels to be the only "white" person in the family.

Would love to hear how other mothers of mixed race children feel about it. I want them to grow up with as much of my culture as dh's but wonder if they will identify more strongly with his as society will always view them as black.

cheapandchic Thu 13-Sep-12 16:45:41

I am not disrespecting the history of racism. That is not my intent. I just mean that the way I will help my children to process any problems will be the same. I will tell them that if someone judges you on the way you look, in whatever manner, which is something you cannot help, then that only expresses the ignorance of the other person.

I am not pretending that racism does not exist. But I just refuse to carry on such a negative outlook for the future. In my opinion continuing to view your life with a glass ceiling is counterproductive. Sexism is still alive and thriving as well, but I refuse to allow it to limit me or my decisions or my outlook.

If you think my mixed children will make them be at a terrible disadvantage..well one more reason for me to leave, apart from the horrid weathersmile

MoRaw Thu 13-Sep-12 13:21:14

Cheapandchic it might have helped if you read and digested my last sentence. Also, if you have an awareness of how mixed the Caribbean is, then you would appreciate that most Caribbean people are a mixture of all sorts - White, Black, Indian, Chinese, American Indian, Native Indian, and I could go on. The beauty of it all is that for the most part race is not an issue. If people of the Caribbean had to talk about belonging to or being several races all wrapped into one, it would be quite hilarious not to mention strange and meaningless.

However, sadly it is in the UK and pretending that it is just another issue like being blond(e), tall, short, etc is (as far as I am concerned) disrespectful of the history and blood, sweat, and tears that has lined the way where the issue of race equality is concerned. Being teased because of the colour of your skin should never reduced to the same level as being teased about your wonky teeth, or height, etc.

Skin colour matters in the UK otherwise why do you think they have all these programmes, targets, etc? The glass ceiling for brown skinned people is not an illusion. It is real. So too is the greater proportion of brown skin people being stopped and search and I could go on but I am sure you too can think of many examples where the colour of your skin means you are at a terrible disadvantage in this country.

As Oprah said recently, race matters - it always does.

cheapandchic Wed 12-Sep-12 14:41:56

I disagree moraw- when you say "i do not understand how someone can be both races"

Of course they can. Or they can say they are their own special mixture. Its interesting to me that the focus seems to always be in terms of black and white, and leaves out the other "mixes" like white/asian, asian/latino, etc.

A friend of mine is Danish/Argentinian. She is stunningly beautiful and does not look white european. Everyone asks her where she is from as no one can "classify" her... she always answers Dad-danish-mum-argentina. And people seem satisfied with that. She looks non-white, mixed (black/white even) I suppose... but doesnt say she belongs to one single race, as the fact is she doesn't. So why can't other mixed children simply say Dad-Nigerian-mum-Irish, or whatever the mix is.

My children are a real mixed bag. Between us they have blood from 5 european countries and 2 african countries... neither of us are from the UK, but are in London for now. We are planning on leaving in two years time. Will they be confused about their identity? Probably. But I don't see that as a problem. I will teach them to be proud of their 'mix'. And let them know that they will encounter racism and all other sorts of judgement based on looks, skin,clothing, whatever. My opinion is that if you escape childhood with only being teased based on skin colour you are lucky. Focusing on race is silly. People judge you based on your hair, funny teeth, glasses, breasts, being too tall/short, accent, even the wrong shoes!

MoRaw Tue 04-Sep-12 20:29:50

Shrimponastick, your son's response is very interesting when considered alongside what Ladylazarus and others have said regarding telling their kids that they are both.

I am sure your son understands he is a mixture of both black and white but yet he does not regard himself as either. I'm curious, did he say what he regards himself as? Perhaps mixed race? Yet mixed race has no 'uniform' identity insofar as it's not a race.

I can understand educating a child on their dual heritage but I do not understand how someone can be both races.

In any case, most of us from the Caribbean (for instance) are mixed race. However, I do not see myself as quarter white, quarter native Indian, and half black.

shrimponastick Tue 04-Sep-12 13:32:34

DS is 14 - I am white, his father is black.

He looks the spit of his father (which is unfortunate as we split up 12 years ago, but hey!). However my DM still maintains that he has a look of me. I don't see it. Even the immigration guy at the eurotunnel agreed that he could see he was mine (when questioning the differing surnames in the car).

We have quite adult conversations - I have asked him if he considers himself to be black or white. He says neither, but isn't bothered either way. I believe him.

Devora Fri 31-Aug-12 23:36:17

Bless you, OP, I do understand how you feel. Even though my extended family is very multi-racial (eight mixed race aunts and uncles, for a start) I remember having a little odd wobbly feeling when I was just getting involved with my (black Caribbean) dp, many many years ago. Just a feeling of, "Oh. Is this going to be very different?". And then a similar feeling on adopting our mixed race dd.

The little wobble was very quickly drowned out by the busy reality of falling in love (with dp, with dd) and getting on with life. And discovering that, of course, the core experience of loving someone is irrelevant of racial identity. I don't mean that love is colour-blind - it's not; their racial identity is one of the things I love about them, I don't love them despite it - but that the fact of being in love is your entry point into not just accepting but welcoming the changes that brings into your life.

When you become the white mother of a black or mixed race child, life does sometimes treat you differently. Some of us were joking on a recent thread that other people think you're a thick slag - and I do think some of that genuinely still exists. But the main thing is that you become a dual heritage family. It kind of alters your own racial identity too. You become responsible for communicating and developing your child's ethnic identity, and so you have to embrace it and make it part of you, too. Not all white mothers accept that responsibility. But if you do, you will find the journey fascinating and far more positive than negative smile

One last thing: I have a birth child who shares my ethnic identity, and an adopted child who does not. Do I have a different kind of bond with my biological child? In some ways, yes. She reminds me so much of myself at that age, whereas my adopted child is a very different personality. But that doesn't imply an extra closeness; with both children, I love the things that unite us but also the many ways in which they are different from me. And I love them equally, without a doubt. Some people do seem to set great store on biological connection and physiological similarity with their children - but those people tend not to adopt. Or, for that matter, seek partners from a different ethnic background.

It will be fine, I promise smile

Sarah do people actually tut? shock

" ButteryBiscuitBase

There is also a lovely book called "double the love"about a child with one black grandma and one white grandma and what the child gets up to with them both."
Thank you! I think that was read on cbeebies and I wanted to know what it was. Was it the city grandma / country grandma one?

Ladylazarus2 Fri 31-Aug-12 23:01:33

I'm mixed race (UK and black African)

It carries on to the next generation, my DH is white but my children are similarly mixed race.

It's not easy to grow up in the UK as a mixed race child - there's a definite sense of being neither one thing nor t'other.

But, you know, it's hugely enriching. Dual heritage is a totally naff term but it means you can access both perspectives as your own.

By the way - I entirely disagree with the posters who say that kids don't see colour. It just ain't true.

marsiettina Fri 31-Aug-12 22:56:48

MoRaw - I think it really depends on where you live. My children know they are mixed race and in their school they have lots children who are mixed race, whether it is b/w, asian/white or all varying combinations.

My children are also aware that people can be racist about skin colour, but at the same time my children also know that they are part black and part white.

I feel that telling my children they are black, kind of sounds like they are not part of their dad's family. I am fortunate that my children see regularly both sides of the family, so may eat rice and peas with one grandparent and next time eat pasta, pizza or gelato with the other.

Only time will tell if this is a good way to bring them up, but I can only try to make them aware of who they are and their varying family history!!!

MoRaw Fri 24-Aug-12 10:11:37

This is interesting. My son is of dual heritage. As far as I am concerned, he is black. My husband is white (very pale). His father wants him to be taught that he is dual heritage. That's fine by me. My only problem is my son who is 9 months appears white (blond hair and pale skin). If he remains this way, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. If he becomes darker, then I will go the black route. Why? Unfortunately, I want him to be able to deal with the reality of society. There is no race called "mixed race" and when it all comes down to it, racists do not differentiate between black and mixed race. I do not want him to be shocked and dismayed when he encounters racism. If he looks black, then he is black. If he looks kinda white, well I am not sure what I'm going to tell him but one thing is for sure, I will not tell him he is white.

LOL! All very confusing. I am sure my views may change as time goes by. I must admit it is not an easy thing to grapple with. I guess we all just need to do what is in the best interest of our children - to avoid them any confusion and loss of identity.

MUM2BLESS Wed 25-Jul-12 22:01:14

How does your partner feel about this thread PreggersSoonHopefully?

Will you practice both cultures?

Pendeen Wed 25-Jul-12 16:04:09

"... in the eyes of the world my children will be black ..."

Unless you can talk to everyone who sees your DC then I'm afraid that is quite possible.

As regards your final sentence, you and your DH can make the most difference there.

MUM2BLESS Wed 25-Jul-12 09:25:06

Me again.

The replies you get will vary. Does it depend on the race of the person who answers?

How does your partner see this?

We veiw life very differently. I see life as a black felmale.

MUM2BLESS Wed 25-Jul-12 09:17:50

Interesting thread. I've also seen Are mixed race people black?

PreggersSoonHopefully where do I begin with my comments.

In the eyes of some people mix raced (black and white) are seen as black.

I can usually tell if some one is mixed raced. In some cases it is hard to tell.
As a black person myself I notice the shade of a persons skin The black skin comes in various shades. SOME PEOPLE ONLY SEE THE BLACK REGARDLESS OF THE SHADE

Both you and your partner play an important part in how you bring up your kids. Both races/culture are important.

I do not try to fight against racism as it will always exist instead I will not allow it to limit me.

Its important that your children are positive about who they are as a person.

musicismylife Wed 18-Jul-12 12:45:30

I have twin boys (aged 15). They are mixed race. One of them sees themselves as black and the other one sees himself as white. I do not have a problem with this. Mostly, they are lovely kids and I just see them as 'mine'.

My children are mixed heritage, I reinforce this at every opportunity by talking about both heritages.

baboos Sun 24-Jun-12 21:41:30

Your children will be mixed race... not black.. not white

I am white, DH is black (parents from the caribbean) we have twin sons, and one is clearly darker than the other. They are still mixed race regardless.

My sons have never looked at me or DH as different to them. The only important thing here is what you teach your children about their heritage. They will form their own views as they grow, but give them good foundations and whatever they encounter in life, they will cope with.

hardlyhere Sat 23-Jun-12 23:13:27

I know this feeling - but opposite way! My children are mixed race (half Indian half White, I'm the Indian mum) - neither look like me - they "look" white but their mum is Indian. I do remember feeling sad they would not experience the world like me. But hey I'm their MUM - of course my outlook/ view has an influence on their own viewpoint. They have chosen how to define themselves. In general we have handled issues as and when they arise as being OTHER people's issues, and liitle to do with our family life. Some tensions arise between the two families at times esp when kids were younger, but as my mum says; in this day and age half her family is a different colour from her and she isn't going to let that get in the way of her love.

StarryCole Fri 22-Jun-12 21:08:48

Just thought I'd add my 2pence here. I always say my kids have the best of both worlds (half white/half asian).

I'm fortunate to work in a leading organisation that is very multicultural. Most of my colleagues speak at least two languages and we hire the very brightest talent in the world. So I can say I work in a place where colour does not matter at all. I shall be telling my children this when they are older that such a workplace does exist.

As for living in the world, we need to support our children so that they can be independent and appreciate where they come from. Build their self-esteem. I grew up as a minority in a black estate and it was tough growing up facing racism and comments from all circles of life. However if you can give your kids a strong sense of self belief - they have a great chance to do well in life.

misslala1987 Tue 29-May-12 08:52:27

i see it as this and i tell my precious babies theyre 2 halfs. half white/half black and 2 halfs make one, one race, their own 'special' race = mixed race x

ruuca Sun 27-May-12 21:38:55

Mixed race kids are NOT black! They are as much white as they are black. If anyone says otherwise, just educate them and hopefully one day they'll get out of the dark! I'm 12 weeks pregnant (I'm white european and my husband is black african) and already heard one of his friends tell me "your child will be black anyway". I couldn't believe what she said and had to make a point out of it explaining to her that my children will never be black nor white, and she should learn the notion of mixed race! I'm quite passionate about this and will spend as long as I need to explaining this to anyone. Since a couple of years now I've been reading books on mixed race identity so I can better understand my children's experiences.

misslala1987 Wed 09-May-12 20:38:44

ok barack obama is american, im british and speaking from that point of view. we all know how america is towards black and mixed race people. so no im not in 'la la land'

ButteryBiscuitBase Sat 05-May-12 18:48:02

Erm did u actually read what I wrote??? I said you can not tell by looking at people if they are mixed race or full black! Hence using examples of my best friend who is mixed race and dark skinned and my youngest dc who most people do not realise he is not white and my dps dad who is full black and very light skinned! I must have worded my first post wrong but went on to rectify what I meant in a later post!

VanCampsPorknBeans Sat 05-May-12 17:38:02

Oh, and misslala -- you are truly in lala land if you truly believe this:

"and no one has to see them as black aslong as you educate them on who they are "

Go ask Barack Obama what race people saw him as when he lived in NYC and had to hail a taxi!

VanCampsPorknBeans Sat 05-May-12 17:27:20

HA! When it all comes down to to it -- you are what you look like! As a very light-skinned AA (from creole country Louisiana), I am mistaken for mixed race all the time. But I don't have time to go around dispelling all the mixed-race assumptions about my ethnic identity. I don't like it that my true ethnicity is not self evident - but I live with it because it's really not that important!

OP - your kids will be considered non-white to the average stranger and to society at large.

KatyMac - this is really the whole story in a nutshell. Your kids will be seen as what they most look like. If their appearances belie their true ethnicity, then the child (or parent) can choose to correct the constant misperceptions or decide to ignore them.

savoycabbage - your situation is not unique to mixed race families. I am very light-skinned AA and DD is light brown. She went through a phase of disapointment that I was not brown like her. She even opined that she wanted her friend's brown-skin mother instead of me! (but she was barely 3 at the time, so was precious not off-putting) It is natural for a child to want their parents to look like them!

buttery - you must be joking! Who knows (by sight) which brown-skinned person is "full black" and which person is not? You profess a lot o knowledge about something that is very complicated. In America blacks come in ALL shades and with all sorts of features (no thanks, in part to the slave trade). I have "full black" friends who are so pale, they cannot tan in the sun - they burn, like some white people. Here is a photo of a "full black" couple in Louisiana: www.frenchcreoles.com/1.JPG.

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