Do you identify as black or white? Such a simplistic question can have a very complicated answer.
As we grow up we often grapple with the idea of who we are as we try and form an identity for ourselves. We often have to decide what we believe in, who we believe in, what our purpose is, etc.
But identity formation for biracial children in the United States is a more complicated matter. It is complicated because children are often taught to only identify with one race.
Growing up with a White mother and a Black father was never perceived as a burden in my eyes. I often was asked about my race, but I never minded answering people’s questions because I, too, was a curious person.
I have always had a fascination with race and ethnicity. I never minded people’s inquisitiveness into my racial background, but what I did mind was the ignorance.
Questions and comments such as, “Is she really your mom?” “Are you adopted?” and “You look nothing like your mom!” bothered me as a child.
I knew that I was not the same color as either of my parents. I was darker than my mom, but lighter than my father. Yet, people could not see past my tan skin so they had no issue classifying me as my father’s child.
Most people could not comprehend how a white woman gave birth to a brown child.
My parents, especially my mother, raised me to embrace both races. She would often tell me when people asked me what my race was that I should tell them I come from the human race.
My mother fostered my identity formation because she allowed me to embrace my complete heritage and taught me to notice humanity before the color of someone’s skin.
I never struggled with who I was because I had a concrete foundation, but other children are not so fortunate.
Parents raising a biracial child often do not know the importance of providing that child with access to education about their history and surrounding them with people of both races.
A biracial child needs to know that it is okay to identify as more than one race. This foundation is critical to happy and healthy identity formation. Children need to know that there is more to who they are than the color of their skin.
The number of children born to mixed race couples is increasing and there has been a slow increase in the number of people identifying as biracial.
According to the U.S. Census in 2000- about 7 million people identified as more than one race and in 2010 that number increased to 9 million Americans.
This increase was probably due to an increase in births, but also by Americans feeling more comfortable with identifying as mixed race.
In order to continue this increase it is important to allow people to embrace who they are and feel comfortable coming from a multi-race background.
No one should be ashamed of who they are. As people, we need to embrace our differences to create a beautiful, tolerate and more united country.