One reason for this blog is to share the stories of families that share the multicultural/multiracial/multiethnic experience (both through birth and adoption). I am more interested in providing a platform for others, so I hadn’t really thought of sharing about my own family.
However, two recent writings inspired me to write a little about us….
The first was the post on this blog by a recent contributor, Gina, who was gracious enough to send me her story. Many moms probably feel like her….that their families just are what they are, and it’s not something they think about much. But my own experience/viewpoint is quite different. While she said of her kids “I don't really think of them as biracial. I think of them as themselves.” I realized that I DO see my kids as multiracial (as well as themselves of course). I consider their “mixed-ness” as an integral part of who they are. And unlike Gina, I often think about the “melting pot” nature of our family. So while some families don’t really think about it and “just live”, others may think about it every day. And some may be in-between. I’m sure several factors come into play (race, geographic location, etc.). But bottom line, our different experiences/vantage points as “Melting Pot Moms” are case-in-point that the melting pot experience is just as varied as the ingredients that make up our families!
The second writing was also a catalyst that inspired me to share. I am a big fan of Light-skinned-ed girl. Her introspection, her raw honesty, and her ability to see, feel, and articulate the complexity of her “mixedness” always inspires me and makes me think. Her recent post , along with a comment by one of her readers (Chuck) deeply moved me....and caused me to think even more about what experiences my boys may - or may not - have.
Our family is multiracial (emphasis on “multi”) because my kids are Black with Native American - from dad – (he doesn’t really like the term “African-American”, but I digress) and Norweigan, Mexican, German, Italian and ?? (from me). One day I hope to find out more about my heritage, as it has been somewhat ambiguous (long story there)….add to that the fact that throughout my life I’ve had people claim (with certainty) that I’m part Korean, part “Hawaiian”, part Spanish, part Japanese…and all those were in one week. Bottom line: my kids are a big mix!
So referring back to Heidi’s and Chuck’s post, I often wonder how my boys’ “blackness” will come into play. Because, like Chuck, my kids do not “look” black – they have fine brown hair, very fair skin, light eyes, and my older son’s straight hair really throws people off. When my youngest son was a baby – and being seen by many medical specialists – I told the doctor his ethnicity as it related to a particular disease he was being treated for. The doctor (who was Asian) looked at my son, then looked at me, and said wide-eyed “Where did your husband’s genes go?!” My husband has often been asked “Is he yours?” and I’ve been asked “What is your husband?” When I tell them he’s black/African-American I’ve heard “He must be REALLY light” (he’s not) or “Is he mixed?”
Right now, at ages three and four, my boys seem very comfortable in their own skin….they have friends of all ethnicities, many of whom are in multiracial families/transracially adoptive families/etc. (they’re always around our Melting Pot Moms group)! We’ve had conversations about skin tones, and the colors of our family. Ironically (or not so ironically) one of my son’s favorite colors is “tan” (second to red, that is). So while we’re in a good place now, I realize that the journey has just begun. I love Elliott Lewis’ Fade: My Journeys In Multiracial America, which I read as soon as it hit the shelves. In it he shares (from his own experience) the various phases of self-identification a multiracial child may go through (from early-childhood to young adult) and how various external factors (i.e. social contexts, peer groups, etc.) come into play. The way they identify themselves just might change several times throughout their life.
No matter what, I hope that my sons will know that while others may perceive them to be different things….and while they may go through different stages themselves….one thing will remain constant: they have the RIGHT to define themselves (see Dr. Maria Root’s Bill of Rights).
So that is our melting pot story, as it continuously unfolds….