Racism. Bigotry. Colorism. All ugly things, and as parents of multiracial kids in multiracial unions, there’s a good chance that someone on your side of the family–whether it’s a grandparent, sibling, or cousin twice removed–who may harbor sentiments that you and your partner want to shield from your children.
I know I do.
“We are typically aware that family and community influence the social and emotional environment of a child. However, with multiracial children we need to look at the influences within the family that can derail identity,” says Maria P.P. Root and Matt Kelley in the Multiracial Child Resource Book.
As a mother of one full black and three biracial children, I’m very aware of the colorism (preferential treatment of blacks based on the lightness of their skin) that is often perpetrated by some members of my family–particularly those who were raised in The South.
As a child growing up, I witnessed how poisonous and damaging colorism was to dark skinned kids like me. My mother once told me that a cousin told her that I wasn’t cute, because I was dark. I was a baby. Little baby. Unfortunately, my mother, who is also dark skinned, has internalized the hierarchy of shade and I’ve had to more than once chastise her on cooing over my biracial children and “letting it slip” about how fortunate they are they they’re light skinned, and fawning over my son’s nearly straight hair. I fume over this, because I am determined to not allow that poison to enter my children’s bloodline. I’ve been threatened her with not allowing her to see them if I ever catch her saying such things again.
On the other hand, my husband, who second-generation German, had an late uncle who was a nazi.
We don’t talk to those cousins much. Like, never.
Are there people in your family you try to shield your children from because of their skewed views on race?